Friday night, the Capitals lost to the Rangers 3-2. I mostly abandoned GIF’ing, but for good reason. Andy Tongren, the lead singer of the Young Rising Sons, came to my house to watch the game. Yes, a legit rock star came to my house to play with my ferrets, play fetch with my kitten, and watch the Caps.
The Young Rising Sons are signed to Interscope Records and currently recording their first full album. They’ve released two (very good) EP’s, which you can buy on iTunes here and here. You’ve likely even heard their monster single “High” before, which is catchy af.
Andy and drummer Steve Patrick play hockey (even with me outside the 9:30 Club) and are huge Caps fans. Steve is the nephew of Capitals president Dick Patrick.
I interviewed Andy in my basement during the game. We talked about touring, Justin Bieber, the Caps obviously, and the Man V.
Hi, Andy. Thanks for driving down from New Jersey to hang out. What brings you to my neck of the woods?
Andy Tongren: I came down just for the Caps game. A really exclusive interview with Russian machine. Actually, my label, Interscope Records, told me it was an amazing opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
You’re a terrible liar.
I know you guys are working on your first LP. How is the album going? When can we expect it to drop?
Andy Tongren: That’s a great question. It’s going really well. It’s essentially done. If we had to release it tomorrow, we could. We’re just going to continue the writing process and creative process just to see if we can’t beat what we already have. As far as when it’s dropping, most likely sometime over the summer.
Does it sound more like your first EP? Second EP?
Andy Tongren: It’s in-between. We revisit our old EP a little bit more. It’s not a step backwards but I think a new spin on what we’ve done. And reinventing ourselves that way.
I’ve always wondered… Why do you always drink Jack Daniels on stage?
— shaboi #1 (@Emma_K13) April 6, 2015
Andy Tongren: Cuz it’s sterile and I like the taste. No, I’m quoting Dodgeball here. Ignore me. Really, it’s cheap and I like it.
How drunk are you by the end of your shows?
Andy Tongren: At this point, I think I’m just drunk all the time. It’s just a continuation that never ends.
Really though, how did it start?
Andy Tongren: It started when we went on tour with the 1975 and they always brought a bottle of wine out on stage. So we were like, we wanna drink on stage too! What’s the most American thing we can bring out. And we were like OH. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
What’s your favorite piece of memorabilia that I own here?
Andy Tongren: Is that someone from Steve’s family? Definitely the Art Ross/Lynn Patrick signed cut. Oh man, I have to text that to Steve.
What’s your best story from the road?
Andy Tongren: It’s just our fans in general. There have been times fans will wait overnight. Actually Chicago was crazy. People were there overnight and it was freezing. It was like March but it was really really coold still. We felt so bad. We wound up going to Dunkin Donuts and getting those big things of hot chocolate. And we gave everyone hot chocolate for waiting. Those are the coolest moments in my opinions: having those one-on-one interactions with fans and really getting to know them. I think that’s a really special thing. It’s really similar to grabbing someone’s phone and using it on stage. Those tiny details don’t sound like a whole lot, but make a big different in the long run.
What is your worst story from the road?
Andy Tongren: Oh man. We weren’t on tour, but Steve and I were coming back from a hockey game that we had just lost miserably. Our night was already off to a bad start. But we always lose so it was nothing new. So we were going down this road and all of a sudden we see these two huge shadowy figures barreling down the street in our rear view mirror. And we were like, “OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THIS?” So it happened to be two cows sprinting down the street. Steve got out of the car, got in the street, stood in front, and tried to slow them down. I don’t think he realized he could have died by trying that. But it had no effect, so they ran right by him. So we were like “man this isn’t going to end well.” It was night time, they were flying down a busy street and they turned a corner and all of a sudden we hear a screech and an impact. We look at each other and we’re like “Crap, this is not good. A cow or a person just died.” So we get back in our car and keep driving and we finally happen upon the accident. We’re the first people there. And there’s this cow laying in the street. We got out of this car, and saw that the cow was essentially not in a good place.
We wound up like holding it until the police showed up and they asked us to leave. We basically stayed with it until it passed away. We got back to Steve’s house, our shirts were covered in blood. We walk in and Steve’s dad goes, “What did you do to the other team?”
I wish the story was that cool, but it’s not. Steve is a vegetarian now. He doesn’t eat meat.
Okay definitely shouldn’t have asked that. Bad question, me. Now I am scarred for life. So to switch subjects, I was watching the NASCAR race last Sunday and a Toyota ad came on. I think you know where I’m going with this.
Andy Tongren: That’s been really cool. I remember the first time I heard one of our songs on TV. It was the MTV Music Awards. We had no forewarning that it was going to be on there. I literally turned the channel to MTV and it immeediately came on. I remember saying, “This song sounds really familiar. Oh, it sounds familiar because I wrote it.” It’s such a cool thing to hear your song as a vessel as another form of art – no matter if it’s a movie or as simple as a commercial.
Was it the Pepsi Commercial? Did it come on then?
Andy Tongren: No they used “High” literally in the MTV Music Awards. It when someone was walking up about to present. It was pretty bizarre.
Do they have to get clearance?
Andy Tongren: That’s why it was even more strange. Usually, we hear about it before it happens. I think it was a last minute thing and our publisher and label didn’t have time to clear it with us. But obviously, duh, automatic yes.
What did you think of my ferrets?
Andy Tongren: It was better than my last experience with a ferret. Second grade show and tell. Someone had a ferret and brought it in on the day I happened to wear shorts and it may or may not have found it’s way up my pants. One leg and out the other.
Andy Tongren: Can I post that picture of Tricky on the band’s Twitter?
Oh my god. Yes. I think Tricky would be so honored if he knew what Twitter is.
What got you into hockey and the Caps?
Andy Tongren: I played when I was a kid and I kind of fell off and got busy with other stuff. When I met Steve, I kind of got back into it because he comes from a pretty strong hockey lineage family (the Patricks). He got me into hockey again. We started playing together. His uncle works for the Caps. Needless to say, if we weren’t Caps fans we’d be exiled from the band. It really is cool. It’s cool to get to know the Caps community to see it’s a big family and be a part of that. It’s a fun fan base to be a part of.
Random story: There’s this guy on our hockey team named Phil. He’s like this older Queens, New York, dude. Straight Queens accent. Everything. He’s the worst hockey player I’ve ever seen in my life. He plays defense and he spends the entire time floating around the offensive zone. The last game we played he had the puck in our D-zone behind the net – Steve and I are both forwards so we were in the neutral zone – and Phil passes it directly to the other team, right in front of our net. Rule number one of hockey: you don’t ever put the puck right in front our net. He was alone behind the net and could send it around the boards, but he didn’t. At some point he was like, “Yeah, no. This is the right thing to do.” He gave it directly to the other team who just ripped it top shelf. And then he comes to the bench and says to Steve and I after we had been skating around looking for a pass, “you guys need to get open and start skating around more.” I don’t know. We could only laugh, there was no other response. He reminds me of Brooks Orpik. He’s like the beer-league Brooks Orpik.
Who do you read other than us?
Andy Tongren: There’s no one else. I promise.
Up in New Jersey, who are usually on TV?
Andy Tongren: It’s MSG: Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. Which are just horrible choices. I don’t mind the Devils, but the Islanders and Rangers are hard to watch. Their fans are all really drunk bro-dudes who are angry all the time. I don’t know why.
Is there a particular thing that annoys you about the broadcasts?
Andy Tongren: I just feel like there’s so much bias. I get it’s the local broadcast for the most part that’s what people want to hear. It’s sometimes painful to watch.
Which commentators do you hate the most?
Andy Tongren: All of them. This is random but one of my favorite memories was watching the Caps with Steve and his dad. Steve’s dad would get so upset that he’d eventually mute the TV. He usually only lasted ten minutes into the first period.
Yeah, uh, Andy. What is going on here?
This GIF is my everything pic.twitter.com/b5YaSFBv4t
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 5, 2016
Andy Tongren: The dancing GIF? He’s just so strong. At what point did he take his shirt off? It implies he’s been shirtless for a while. He’s not holding a shirt. I don’t see a shirt in the seat. Whose hand is he holding? Part of me thinks that is Batista. He moves well for a big man though, have to say that. God, I love hockey.
A photo posted by Andy Tongren (@andytongren) on
Andy Tongren: I drink a lot. I don’t know. That’s all I got. And sometimes I drink so much I forget to eat. That’s kind of all I got for you. If I’m lucky enough I’ll forget to eat dinner. Sometimes it happens seriously. The timing of everything, like a tour schedule. You show up to a venue early afternoon, you load in, soundcheck, generally there’s a meet and greet, then doors, and you have like a finite window of time to get food if there’s not catering. But if you miss the window you’re just screwed. After you play, you have to meet more fans. It’s a never ending cycle of random things. That’s something that frequently happens. I’ll look down at my phone and go, “Did I eat today? I definitely drank, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat.”
What is touring like being on the bus the whole time?
Andy Tongren: The laziest, most stressful lifestyle i could ever imagine. When you’re on the bus you can’t do anything. You’re just trapped until you’re at the venue. Once you’re at the venue it’s go go go. It is kind of nice to have a homey environment.
Do you guys ever have privacy problems?
Andy Tongren: They’re not problems. Just no one has any of it. Everyone is all up in everybody’s business all the time. If you’re on tour with a group of guys, there’s a high chance you will see all of them naked at some point. It’s just a fact of life. But I don’t know. I’m one of those people, that needs me time. I’ll try everyday to escape for however long I need. Go on a walk or go get food by myself. Just to break the monotony of it all.
[TJ Oshie scores]
What’s your biggest Twitter moment?
Andy Tongren: Justin Bieber retweeted me. He first liked a tweet of mine and then followed me. Then he eventually retweeted me. The tweet was: “I don’t care, I love the new Justin Bieber single. Sue me.” So I screenshotted my notifications that he did that and tweeted at him again: “Hey, dude. What’s up?” It was the most exciting day of my life. Needless to say. I got like a couple hundred more followers. The tweet got like 20,000 retweets and favorites. I still get notifications from that and it was months ago. That was a weird day.
Is he on Interscope?
Andy Tongren: No. Completely free will.
[Stepan scores in the third period]
Andy Tongren: I hate the Rangers so hard.
What is it like for girls to fawn over you? Especially because you’re so shy and everything…
Andy Tongren: It’s weird. I’d be lying if I said it sometimes didn’t feel nice. Sometimes it’s a little much though. It’s kind of funny how bold some people can be.
You’re going to elaborate on that.
Andy Tongren: Some fans have no filters and no boundaries. Getting into this business though you’re asking for that. Especially with social media and how that is. Everybody sees everything. There are no secrets.
[One minute left. The Caps are still down 3-2.]
Andy Tongren: Antti Raanta’s made some really great saves.
[30 seconds left. We’re both screaming.]
Andy Tongren: Ugh, man. This sucks. You realize we can never watch a Caps game together again.
Do you want to go into the hot tub?
Andy Tongren: Yup.
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