By Matt K. Johnson, News and Marketing Editor/Writer, Regis University

Yuta Young (photo courtesy of Regis University)

Yuta Young (photo courtesy of Regis University)

One day last year, Yuta Young was humming a tune while walking up the stairs at home, when he stopped cold.

He put down the plate of food he was carrying and pulled out his phone to record what he was humming. A few months later, that short recorded riff would become a song blasting in concert venues across Colorado and pumping through Spotify streams across the world.

As a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for the alternative pop band Pacific Nerve, Young has turned his creativity into a collaborative journey that has changed the course of his young life.

“God gives you these talents, these great talents that you are blessed to have,” Young says. “And He wants you to use them to push forward His kingdom. … I think my pastor said this at church once — you don’t have to play Christian music to push [that] forth.”

The Regis University sophomore’s unexpected musical career started with a small step: a reply to a social media post. During Young’s freshman year of high school in Louisville, Colorado, Reilly Ng, an acquaintance Young knew from playing hockey, posted on Facebook a message about seeking people to play music with. Young, who had written a few songs and taken piano and guitar lessons, replied with an offer to play rhythm guitar.

Ng, a bassist, and Young started playing together, eventually adding a drummer, Ethan Knight, and lead singer, Griffin Tobey, to their group.

“It was actually a metal project; it wasn’t my thing at all,” Young remembers. “But I thought, if this is a way to make friends, then I’m down.”

By 2015, the group had become a performing pop-punk act called Rain in July, which would go on to perform at small venues throughout Colorado’s Front Range and open a show for national punk rock staple, State Champs. Ng stepped away from the band in Fall 2018, and a few months later, Young, Tobey and Knight started their own project, Pacific Nerve. Together, the trio transferred their sound from pop punk to alternative pop, and now bring in thousands of listeners across local live shows and streaming services — such as Apple Music and Spotify — in 50-plus countries.

“It’s just kind of nuts to think that people listen to us. We kind of agreed at the beginning of the project that we’re not going to release music for us to get famous or anything,” Young says. “We’re going to release music that we can look back on and say we’re proud of and, at the time, was something we could use to get all that creative juice out.”

Tapping into that creative side of himself has become increasingly valuable for Young during a college career that has become increasingly scientific in its focus. As a computer science major and pilot — he hopes to one day fly commercial planes — Young finds value in breaking out of a linear mindset. “As a computer science major, everything is math, science,” he says. “Music lets me have a creative outlet a little bit.”

Young says that part of what has been meaningful in his unexpected journey is what his music accomplishes spiritually. The Jesuit value he connects with most is that of cura personalis: “care for the whole person.”

“For us, part of caring for the whole person is creating this music, creating it together… Making yourself more well-rounded, in a spiritual sense too, you can help others better,” Young says.

Refusing to work in isolation has helped Young refine his own songwriting ideas into songs that transport listeners to a new emotional or spiritual space. “67 Pontiac,” the song whose chorus riff first came to him on the stairs, went through rounds of development with Knight and Tobey to become one of Pacific Nerve’s most popular songs.

“I don’t want to release the songs I write on their own,” Young says. “I don’t like my ideas the way they are. I like that filter that they go through with the band — the creativeness Ethan adds in drumming that I could never have thought of, and Griffin’s lyrics and his melody abilities.”

Young’s Pacific Nerve band mates have exchanged emails with record labels, and although they don’t know the likelihood of a record deal, Young says they’re content: “The worst-case scenario is we can show this music to our kids, as something we’re proud of and something we can listen to the rest of our lives.”

As a Christian, Young considers applying his musical talents toward playing in a worship band someday. For now, he doesn’t put limits on how he can serve God through his music with Pacific Nerve. “If this band were to ever get big, the music would provide me a platform to share what’s important to me,” he explains. “Who knows, God could have anything planned for that.”