“We want to push pop-punk into new heights. We want to do something special and leave a positive mark on the genre.” That’s how Tristan Torres summed up Magnolia Park’s mission both sonically and socially: Welcome to the new wave of pop-punk. It’s about damn time.
Magnolia Park may be newcomers to the scene but they are already bringing an invigorating, eclectic sound true to their own musical inspirations. It’s an exciting time to tune in as pop-punk is reimagined and the group builds momentum gearing up for a busy year.
Lead vocalist Joshua Roberts and guitarist Tristan sat down with us just moments after playing a packed House of Blues show for The Gathering in Cleveland—a true birthplace for rock and roll. Even though it is my first time seeing them live, I already feel like I know them a bit because of how their bright personalities come through on TikTok, their vulnerable lyrics on topics such as mental health, and their intentional social media presence overall. This group is earnest through and through so it’s no surprise their live show is a true embodiment of their art and character.
With six members in the band, I was curious what the dynamic is but Tristan and Josh are both quick to explain there is a real friendship at the foundation. “I’ve known Freddie since I was like 12—we’ve been writing songs forever, just skateboarding, writing songs. Then we met Josh and it’s just been like a great connection.”
The group has also formed a deep connection with their growing audience through honest songwriting that is backboned with candid yet hopeful storytelling. As Josh explains, “That’s why, like, in certain songs, ‘Kids Like Us’ for example, that’s a true story that happened. That’s not like a fabricated thing. That’s life. Not only for me but for other people of color, so the fact that that I’m able to write something like that and be able to actually showcase that and have other people be like, ‘I understand what you’re going through.’ I feel that is the utmost importance.”
Magnolia Park is dedicated to spreading the message of #PopPunkInColor to ensure that the genre is one where people of all backgrounds are represented on and off stage. Josh reflected on the importance of having that representation, “Just because when I was growing up, I didn’t have that. The closest thing I had to a person of color in pop-punk was Gym Class Heroes. Travie McCoy. And that was it.” Tristan adds, “Bands like Meet Me @ The Altar, Action/Adventure, Nightlife, Pinkshift—all these bands at the same time are finally getting a chance to speak their truth and speak to the change we want to make together.”
The group’s collaborative creativity brings in exciting elements of other genres such as emo, hip-hop, hypertrap, and alt-pop; introducing pop-punk fans to new sounds with a chance to explore further. If they could put together a dream lineup it would include Kendrick Lamar, Bring Me The Horizon, Linkin Park, The Weeknd, and The 1975, just to give you a taste of some of their unique inspirations. Their energetic new EP Heart Eater is a jam-packed 4-song sampler of bigger things coming soon.
Josh shared one of the special moments from the recording process, “I would say my favorite song off the EP would be ‘Gravedigger’. The chorus is freestyled, that’s the crazy thing. I felt like I was like going back to my roots just freestyling stuff. I remember us just sitting in the studio…Fred was like, what are you singing? Like record that bro. So I ended up doing it and then we started writing the song after that.”
That’s not even the only serendipitous moment according to Tristan, “’Tokyo’ was probably the craziest songwriting process. We decided right before the studio, at 1:00 AM to go to Vincent’s Airbnb. He just flew in from Germany, I came in and he had this like instrumental loop that’s the intro of the song. I was like, what if we did something that was like Joy Division. And then Josh came in and we started writing lyrics together. We wrote that song there and the next day went to the studio to do it and it came out so good.”
Much of Magnolia Park’s music is as cinematic as it is commanding so it is not hard to picture it in a high-production setting like an arena. So what would they do with an unlimited budget to bring their music to life? Well, they’ve already thought about it. “We have a character called Baku, he’s on all the covers. We’re building this world of lore, kind of like Gorillaz. But on stage, I always tell ’em I want like a huge animatronic Baku and I want slime coming out, like Nickelodeon.”
Although the live shows are currently slime free, there is still so much to take away from the experience of going to a Magnolia Park show that is truly intentional to cultivate a community. Josh explains how he wants the audience to feel, “Wanted. I want them to feel as if they’re part of a family, that they’re part of a collective that they can go to anyone who’s also enjoying the music and be like, Hey, I don’t know you. I would like to actually like be friends with you and stuff like that. Because when you look at today’s day and age, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. Whenever you go to a show like that, just escapes your mind. You want to be in that moment, you want to have that fun time. You want to have that moment of release and to have that with other people around you, in that similar mind state, that’s like the most ultimate bliss you can have.”
You can experience the magnetic Magnolia Park this summer at Sad Summer Fest and on a tour with Sum 41 and Simple Plan starting on July 29th.
The band also wanted to bring attention to something close to their heart, the Black Trans Travel Fund which is a grassroots Black trans-led collective, providing Black transgender women with financial and material resources needed to remove barriers to self-determining and accessing safer travel options.
Magnolia Park is already making a splash in the scene with their catchy songs, genuine songwriting, and huge hearts. So if you “wanna sing out loud / And jump around / I wanna touch the sky / Mosh in the crowd / I wanna feel something” then hit play on their new EP and prepare to have a new band to soundtrack your life. This is the future of the genre and it’s a beautiful one at that.