Exclusive: The Underclassmen's Justin Cole & Dan Picarel on sports & hit "Former Life"
The Los Angeles musical duo known as The Underclassmen is comprised of vocalist Justin Cole and guitarist/vocalist Dan Picarel. The California transplants are quickly turning heads thanks to their new single, "Former Life," which was premiered a few days ago by Billboard.
"Former Life" was co-written by producer Curtis Douglas, who co-manages The Underclassmen with veteran music manager Scott Waldman (18th & Addison, Dylan Ander, Jess Coppens, Hunter Burgan). Thanks to Douglas and Waldman, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with both Justin Cole and Dan Picarel on behalf of Sportskeeda.
More on The Underclassmen can be found online at www.theunderclassmen.net, while the group can be followed on Instagram and Facebook via @TheUnderclassmenMusic.
Who's the biggest sports fan in The Underclassmen?
The Underclassmen: Neither of us are "true fans" per-say. We both enjoy sports, but if we had to choose who the bigger sports guy is, it would probably be Justin. Dan likes hockey, and Justin enjoys a multitude of sports like baseball, football, basketball and soccer. We just love the atmosphere and the energy that surrounds sports in general.
Any WWE or UFC fans? Or leave those interests that to other bands?
The Underclassmen: I (Justin) was a big fan of the WWE in the early to mid 2000s! If my friends and I weren't watching it, we would always be trying out wrestling moves into the pool and on the trampoline when I was younger -- facelock piledriver, anyone? Then when we were too beat up, we would go play WWE: Smackdown VS. Raw. I've since fallen off of the bandwagon, but it's a fond memory of mine and I'll always have a soft spot for it.
Did anyone in the band play high school sports?
The Underclassmen: While the majority of our high school careers were based more around music, Dan was on the school's rowing team and Justin was on the gymnastics team. Both of us were always active, to the point where Dan was also, at one point, on a community kickball team, and Justin on a flag football team.
What was the last live sporting event you attended?
The Underclassmen: The last game Dan attended was a New York Mets and Florida Marlins game; the Mets were destroyed.
With Justin, it was a New York Yankees Subway Series game against the [Balitmore] Orioles; the Yankees were not destroyed, of course. We have both been itching to get to any sort of game since we moved to L.A., but we have definitely been busy!
A funny story, actually: a friend wanted to go to a Dodgers game about a year ago, and Dan and I really wanted to go despite how busy and hectic the days were around that time. He said he would just buy the tickets if we gave him the money for ours, so we excitedly did. We were on our way there, about 10 minutes away, and we get a call from our friend saying he's really confused because the stadium is empty. I pulled up the email that had our tickets and instantly realized that it was an away game in San Francisco. The poor guy saw that it was in California, but didn't see that it wasn't a home game. To be fair, he had a lot going on in his life, but it's a hilarious story nonetheless. Shoutout to Blake.
Growing up, sports was my main hobby until music took over. Was that the case with anyone in The Underclassmen?
The Underclassmen: Yes, in my (Justin's) case, even though I moved around a lot during my childhood, I had a great group of friends in Orlando, where I did most of my growing up, and we were pretty much constantly playing sports like baseball, football and basketball and games like tag, dodgeball and kickball. I honestly think that part of my childhood is why I enjoy such a wide array of sports today.
Dan had group of friends similar to that, but they spent their youth skateboarding, which was his main hobby. Both of us really started getting into music around the end of middle school/start of high school.
Sports aside, what are you working on at the moment?
The Underclassmen: We are already working hard on our next release! We are also working on merchandise, and gearing up for live performances. It's basically two years' worth of content waiting to be shown, and we're definitely not slowing down.
"Former Life" was recently premiered through Billboard. When did you first know that song would be a single?
The Underclassmen: Honestly, as soon as we wrote it! The song really helped shape the sound of The Underclassmen. While we love being creative with our music, and we love its versatile nature, "Former Life" simply embodies what we're about -- super-fun songs with a purpose.
This song was also our first true collaborative writing effort with our producer, Curtis Douglas, so we obviously have a very personal connection to it. Within minutes of writing it, it became the perfect candidate for our first single.
Do you have a favorite song to perform live?
The Underclassmen: "Former Life," baby! Although the public has yet to experience these songs in a live setting, I can pretty much guarantee "Former Life" will be a surefire highlight of the show. We always have a ton of fun playing it, and it also sounds great acoustic!
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
The Underclassmen: Music truly does run almost every aspect of our lives. If we're not working on our own music, we're usually listening to and discovering other music. Otherwise, I (Justin) am a fan of movie culture, I'm a big Marvel guy; I've been reading the comics since I was young. I also really enjoy getting out and traveling. It sounds cliche, but I truly want to see the world and all of its wonders. Dan still skates, and reads -- mainly books on science.
And we are both huge food nuts. We're easy to please and are always just trying to enjoy life!
Finally, any last words for the kids?
The Underclassmen: Stay classy.
No but really, if there's anything we want to say, it's honestly just to be good to one another. Be real and honest; connections are so important, especially in this current period of time. The world is so divided these days, and it really comes down to looking at each other -- really looking at each other -- as human, and embracing all that it entails. People are simply different, and that's okay, it's what makes togetherness so awesome. Acceptance is the first step to that togetherness, and we need that to start stitching society back together.