Young & Divine
Young & Divine will make their major label debut on March 23rd when their new self-titled EP drops. The pop-punk trio hailing from Albany, NY came together when JP Clark (on vocals and bass) befriended drummer Joe Bortscheller in a college psychology class, you know, where all the world’s greatest bands get their start! During the beginning stages of the band they played as a four piece but as their sound evolved and band members came and went they solidified their line-up with Jake Mai (on guitar and vocals) whom they found through MySpace. The only problem – the distance between Texas and Albany, NY. But, a little distance didn’t matter; Mai flew out to Albany and after a few weeks of rehearsals the chemistry seemed to work and a trio was born.
Their sound has been described as pop rock or pop punk but the band draws influence from a vast array of music types from Metallica to Green Day. Their EP boasts a collection of catchy choruses with the guitar riffs to back it with a lyrical backdrop of positive vibes.
The band recently took some time to answer some questions for us about their history and their hopes for this EP.
Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty
You sound like you’ve been doing this forever, and have etched and seasoned your sound, but I get the impression you guys are still fairly new on the scene. What’s the actual time frame you’ve been working together as this final trio and how did all the pieces fall into place?
The trio was completed with Jake in early 2008. Joe and myself recorded the record in December 2007… so it’s been a little over 2 years now (we celebrated our anniversary on Feb 18th). We spent the majority of 2008 and 2009 on the road playing self booked tours… grinding it out, sleeping in the van and on friends’ floors. In early 2009 we caught the attention of a few major labels and signed our deal with RCA. Of course there’s a few other details along the way but there’s our short version!
JP, you are the groups primary songwriter, take me through your writing process, how it works being a musician who doesn’t read music and writes by ear?
I’ve always just played what I thought sounded good. I’ve never had any rules or theory to follow. In the past most of the things I wrote started with an acoustic guitar and a melody. Recently I’ve noticed a change to a more computer based writing process. It allows me to save everything I do and not lose that “perfect melody” when it pops in my head. That’s not to say I don’t pick up my acoustic at least once a day and write something new, I’ve just learned to use the tools available to me and other musicians now. Gotta keep up with the times!
The album has an overall very positive theme – was that by design or do you think that it’s just who you are in general?
I think, or hope rather, that it’s just the way I am. All of those songs were written during a time when everything seemed easier to me. No girl drama, no expectations and little responsibility. I can’t say the same for the newer songs although I always try to keep a positive outlook on everything.
Can we throw out a few song names on the upcoming album at you and ask you to tell us a little something about them?
Nicole Deserved It: I like how the verse is in a major key and the chorus is minor. It’s about a camp counselor I convinced to quit her job to hang out with me for a night. She started crying the next day after I didn’t want to run away with her and get married and that she had just quit her job…… sorry Nicole 🙁
Shake That Bubble: was intended as a parody, it’s about bubble butts what else can I say? (Check out the video below!)
Is there a song on the album that you think best defines your sound as a whole?
Talk to me a bit about the song “Bonus Track” and how it ironically earned a spot as the opening song on the album.
That’s a good question… I just always thought it was funny and it was the opening song of our live set dating back to pre-recorded album days. Seemed like a good opener? Our original manager wanted to change the name of it because he thought “no one would get it.” Jokes on you for trying to “get it.”
There’s a song on the album titled “Strangers By Day” which you’ve coined “the hook up song” can you tell us about it and why you refer to it as that?
Strangers is that song about the secret encounters that are never talked about. At least if you have a trustworthy partner in crime. You’re very familiar with each other “at night” but are strangers by day. No one will ever know.
Before recording the album you spent some time touring the road and dealt with all the good and bad that comes with life on the road. What was one of the best things that happened out there and one of the worst?
I’ll start with the worst… breaking down in the middle of nowhere North Carolina on a Sunday. Sleeping in the van in the parking lot of a mechanic hoping he could fix us up when we got there Monday morning. We eventually got back on our way. The best was being on a crappy tour in 2009 and getting the call from our good friend Doug Ford that we had our first major label showcase when we got home. The rest of the tour still sucked but we were just so excited knowing there was a great opportunity waiting for us in a few weeks. We lost a few thousand more dollars before we actually pulled up my driveway to end the tour. Every bit worth it.
Your first self-titled debut was something that you recorded and released independently, what do you think you took away from that overall process that you’ve applied towards the band’s current philosophy on recording?
I realized that if I trust in my abilities and my band’s abilities that we don’t physically need anybody else to make this thing work from a writing and material standpoint. I’m hoping we can maintain those same philosophies on all future recordings and then trust in our management, label, and agent to give us that added boost and complete the circuit.
I read a quote by Jake that I thought was true and very interesting “A lot of bands forget they’re entertainers” – with that in mind, how would you compare your live show?
We’ve developed a pretty killer light show ourselves that I think rivals just about any small to medium sized band out there. We’re here to entertain and leave people with that “omg” feeling when they leave the show.
Being tattooed men yourself, how to you feel about tats on chicks, yay or nay? And what’s your favorite tattoo? JP- Not a fan of tattoos on girls personally. Maybe a few. My fav is my Young & Divine tattoo on my inner right bicep and the portrait of my grandmother on my right forearm.
Joe- Hell ya!!! …Depending on where they are. My fav is the snare drum on my left shoulder. Reminds me why I wake up every morning.
In a climate where bands are struggling to make their mark, can you tell us a few unique things about the band that set you apart from others out there?
We’re not afraid to step outside the box and try something different. We don’t set limits or boundaries on our music and are always trying to leave our fans truly happy at the end of the day. Whether it’s our recorded music or our live show, it’s our job to entertain while being as sincere and humble as possible.