Young Culture shock

Rising UK reggae royalty release debut EP, announced as tour opener for UB40.

Rising UK reggae royalty Young Culture have shared new single All My Days ahead of their debut EP release Hard Times and opening for UB40 alongside Soul II Soul on an eight-date UK arena tour in Winter 2024.

The eight-piece band will release their three-track EP on Friday 28th June, sharing All My Days with fans before then – across all digital platforms from Friday 31st May.

The new music lands ahead of the band opening for UB40, alongside Soul II Soul, which will see the sonic adventurers perform to tens of thousands of gig-goers at venues including OVO Arena Wembley and Resorts World Arena Birmingham from Friday 1st November to Saturday 23rd November this year.

Recorded at the beautifully crafted Summerfield Recording Studio in Birmingham, Young Culture’s Hard Times EP was produced and mixed by Austen Kilburn (UB40, Ocean Colour Scene) and Jamie Travers (UB40), and mastered by Tim Debney (Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Trojan Records, Lauryn Hill) at Fluid in London.

Young Culture are fronted by friends Richie Blake and Stevie Young, who bonded playing football together in South Birmingham and through a love of reggae and vinyl solidified at the city’s legendary Jam Jah Monday night reggae DJ sessions.

On the release of All My Days and the announcement of the support dates for UB40, vocalist and songwriter Richie Blake said: “It’s the greatest feeling getting our music out there. We do this to uplift people through the vibrations of reggae music. Touring with our friends UB40 will be a great joy and help us to reach more people through our sounds, which is a real blessing.

“Being able to communicate our energy and connecting with fans new and old in person, especially people who connect with consciousness and messages of unity will be incredible – thanks go to the whole UB40 family for the opportunity.”

Hailing from Balsall Heath, the same inner city area as the founding members of UB40, Stevie and Richie started collecting and DJing rare, obscure and popular reggae at venues across the Midlands from 2011 onwards. Richie was taught drumming by Damon Wilding of Friendly Fire and Jam Jah, with both Richie and Stevie being informally mentored by Wilding and colleague Robin Giorno.

Giorno and Wilding are part of the team behind the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games hit song Its A Brum Ting, which featured alongside UB40’s Champion ft Dapz on the Map and Gilly G – the official song of the Games – on the On Record album curated for the major cultural and sporting event by Birmingham Music Archive.

Along with developing their reggae credentials, Stevie also has the undeniable influence of his great uncles Angus and Malcolm Young – co-founders of Australian rock greats AC/DC – along with his dad Stevie who has played rhythm guitar with the band since 2014 following spells in Birmingham bands including Starfighters.

The rhythm guitarist and songwriter said: “Growing up with the AC/DC family DNA around me was a big enough inspiration in itself – just to be able to play an instrument like them was a definite ambition for me.

“Coupled with seeing my Dad play in bands and engineer at important gig venues like The Old Railway, these experiences meant there was always an influence there, right in front of me and my brother, and we were absorbing it all, subconsciously taking in learnings along the way. Richie and I still listen to music from many genres and styles, but reggae is the music we fell in love with and feel fully connected to.”

The UK arena tour support slots underline UB40’s long-term commitment to giving back to music and the creative industries in their home city, and a determination to see Birmingham recognised as the reggae capital of the world – thanks in part to its rich heritage of sound system culture.

Matt Campbell from the UB40 management team said: “Birmingham’s position as the UK’s reggae capital and a global powerhouse of creativity has been established for decades, thanks to our rich musical heritage and vibrant sound system culture.

“UB40 understand the importance of giving bands the leg-up and the exposure they need, so we are thrilled to be taking Young Culture on the road with us – helping to fly the flag for reggae music nationally and internationally.

“2024 is an important year for UB40, marking 45 years since we played our first show, and we’re delighted to be sharing new music from our latest release UB45 with fans around the world but especially on our UK arena tour this Winter with Soul II Soul and Young Culture.”

Young Culture – All My Days is released across all digital platforms on Friday 31st May with the EP Hard Times released on Friday 28th June.

The band perform a surprise launch show at RMBL in Birmingham on Friday 31st May, with tickets, priced £5 in advance or £10 on the door, available from Skiddle.

The band support UB40 on a UK arena tour, starting at OVO Arena Wembley in London on Friday 1 November 2024. Tickets are available from the official UB40 website.

Pics – Dan Cohen