Palisadian Musicians Drop First Single, ‘Former Life’

Dan Picarel and Justin Cole
Photos courtesy of The Underclassmen

By EMILY SAWICKI | Contributing Writer

Dan Picarel and Justin Cole are two recognizable faces around Pacific Palisades.

From their work at the Santa Ynez Recreation Center in The Highlands to walking neighborhood dogs and house sitting across town, they have spent the last few years meeting neighbors and making friends in the community they have both grown to love.

Though you may recognize their faces, what you might not know is that they are also in a band, The Underclassmen, which just released its first single.

Now, the two are hoping to find success in the music industry, fueled by the creative energy they say they found in the Palisades.

“The Palisades just kind of bleeds out talent and opportunity, and we’re just—I thought it was really cool that we kind of fit right in,” lead singer Cole said in a recent interview with the Palisadian-Post.

“There’s just something about here; it’s a place of its own, and that’s why I love it,” he added.

“The atmosphere and the people are just so nice,” instrumentalist Picarel said. “It’s definitely something that I’m not used to, but I really do love it out here.”

Picarel and Cole, both in their late 20s, grew up together in Syracuse, New York, where they used to play music in high school. After graduation, Cole spent seven years in the Air Force before returning to Syracuse.

After he met his fiancée, Rose Emanuel, a Palisades resident for nearly a decade and music teacher at the Adderley School, he realized it was time to make a change and come out to Los Angeles.

About a year later, Picarel joined them and their music career began to take shape.

“I moved out here—I think it’s three years, officially, as of October of last year, which is crazy,” Cole described. “I instantly called this place home … We really love this place and it’s really helped us find a home and give us support.

“We were just able to really tune into what it is we wanted to do, musically, out here,” he said. “Dan followed suit with me; I moved out here first and Dan moved out here later.”

Now, the two spend their days working at the Santa Ynez Rec Center and their free time focusing on music, including a new single and music video they just released on Friday, June 21.

The Underclassmen’s new single, called “Former Life,” has a polished, electropop sound and an earwormy chorus that’s hard to get out of your head—a musical 180 from the acoustic shows the two played in the past.

“We’ve done a couple acoustic shows,” Picarel described, adding that “recently, we’ve just been focused on gearing up for everything we need for live shows. We’d like to get out there soon.”

According to Picarel, he grew up listening to mostly heavy metal, but after moving to the West Coast, he and Cole shifted into mainstream pop music, influenced by performers like Ariana Grande, The Chainsmokers and Lennon Stella.

“Our sound is very commercial radio pop,” Cole explained. “Former Life” also touches on a relatable theme for a lot of 20-somethings: frustration with social media culture and a desire to build more authentic relationships.

For now, the two don’t have any shows lined up, but said they were looking forward to releasing more of the music they have been working on for the past two years.

The “Former Life” music video is available on billboard.com. More information on The Underclassmen can be found online at theunderclassmen.net.