Interview: State Champs [October 2015]

By Tamsyn Wilce

As they return to the UK, for their first ever headline run only a few weeks before sophomore album ‘Around the World and Back’ drops, we caught up with State Champs prior to their London show to discuss the new record, how much of it was influenced by Taylor Swift and what else lies ahead for the heroes of the new pop-punk generation. 

You’re back in the UK! Many of your shows are sold out this time around, have their been any stand out shows so far?

Derek: Yeah! All of them standout in their perfect little way, but we kicked it off in Ireland and both of those shows were great, Dublin in particular. Birmingham I thought was awesome, what else Tyler? What were the other good ones?

Tyler: Um, all of them have been pretty dope, I think my favourites were probably Birmingham and Leeds, Leeds was awesome. Manchester was pretty fun for sure, but Leeds was definitely my favourite.

Derek: I liked Leeds, I think that was my favourite so far

Tyler: I’m really excited about London tonight though, I feel like it might be the best one

It is going to go OFF! Was it difficult deciding how much of the new record to play live?

Derek: It probably will be when it comes out, but for now we have three songs out so we’re just gonna play those three

Were you not eager to play more of the new record?

Derek: We were anxious, but I particularly don’t mind waiting until people hear the songs. Our last headline tour in the states, we were playing one of the songs off the record that no one had heard before and that’s cool and all to introduce a little bit of the new album, but we’re much more of a crowd interactive band where it’s much better for us if they know the songs. Just anxious for the record to come out so then we can play as many as we want!

Tyler: Also for me it’s like, I won’t really dig bands on record, or really dig singles until I see them live. For people who get to see us live before the record comes out, maybe it’ll convince them to pick it up or they’ll like it more when they see the energy live and stuff like that on the new songs, so that’s kinda why we like playing new shit as soon as possible.

The new album is not too far away now, with ‘The Finer Things’ receiving such great feedback, did you find it easier or more difficult writing this album?

Derek: Little bit of both, I would say. More so, kind of easy because of the fact that we have one album under our belts now, so we knew what we wanted to take from that and experiment beyond that. It was a learning process the first time and it will always be still somewhat of a learning process, but at least we have a general knowledge of a whole recording process and y’know, things that we wanted to try which we didn’t get to on the last one. We were more so just anxious to try new things and whatnot, sure it was definitely still stressful at times.

Tyler: I don’t think the stress was derived from having a critically acclaimed record though, people liked it and there is definitely pressure to put out another good one, but we weren’t sitting in the studio like, “Shit this part isn’t as good as this ‘Finer Things’ part”. We weren’t really comparing the two, like Derek said, we were just taking what we learnt in the last one and just doing more cool stuff this time.

So what did you take from writing the first record to work on with this one? Were there any pointers that you felt you needed to focus on?

Derek: Little things, we get very obsessive and critical over the tiny things, like certain little guitar sounds or little production elements that can be thrown in to make the drums sound bigger, those kind of things, nerdy things needless to say. It’s mainly a lot of things that people won’t notice right away, but it ultimately, all these little things, make the album so much bigger and just more in a sense. It just has a lot more to it than ‘The Finer Things’, that was a very introductory album to show us like, “here we are, this is our sound, we are this pop-punk band that writes these kind of songs”  and now that people know what we sound like and know our general vibe, what can we add to it now? A lot more production value, cooler guitar sounds, cooler drum sounds and ultimately just a unique, cohesive album from beginning to end, and that’s what we achieved on this one.

How much of it was influenced by Taylor Swift?

Derek: Uhhhhhh some of it haha. I mean, her melodies would definitely influence anybody because  they’re always stuck in your head. If you’re ever writing a pop-influenced song you’re probably going to be influenced by Taylor Swift if you’ve heard any of her songs ever. That’s the reason she’s a viral popstar, because everything is implanted in your head, so it will always be there, when I’m writing at least.

You’ve been on the road a lot this year, so what are your key tips for survival?

Tyler: We can go one of two ways here, it’s either the fun route or the healthy route. You wanna have fun and you wanna party, you need to have fun else you’re gonna go fucking crazy, but you also need to make sure you get enough sleep because then you’re gonna be miserable and tired.

Derek: There’s time for rest and health and there’s time to branch out and explore, adventure and have a good time

Tyler: completely destroy your body…..

Derek: You have to find that happy medium, to the point where you can party really hard and explore, but you can also eat somewhat healthy and drink a lot of water and get a good amount of sleep at least so that you don’t feel like a zombie the next day.

Tyler: There’s definitely a couple things like, we all have our individual things that we like to do that keep us kind of sane on tour. It’s corny but I really like Twitter and Starbucks and Tony really likes fantasy football and doing those little stupid hobby things, even if it’s me getting out of the venue to walk to ‘bucks, it’s kinda like a step back, a breath of fresh air y’know?

You need time for yourself! Now, 5 Seconds of Summer took you out on tour in Australia and here they’re a bit of a love/hate band within the pop-punk scene, did you worry at all that taking that tour would effect what people thought of you?

Derek: Not really, we were down with 5 Seconds of Summer before we knew them, we listened to them before we were friends with them, before they asked us to take us on the tour, so it was only more fitting when they did ask us. Sure we had those thoughts, like, “okay the internet’s really gonna have mixed feelings about this” and it was, it was basically split in half. Half super stoked and half “what are you guys doing?”

Tyler: “Fucking sell outs”

Derek: But those people that are calling us sell outs or whatever, or have those mixed feelings, they probably just don’t really know. They haven’t listened to them, or seen them.

Tyler: Or they read online that someone said they suck and they’re a boyband or something, when they’re so nice.

Derek: Especially after meeting them and knowing that they’re just normal band dudes that like to hang out and just kick it.

Tyler: We got along well

Derek: We’re very much the same kind of people, which is why it worked so well and we had a great time with them.

Awesome. You played much bigger venues and to a different crowd to normal, did you find that a challenge?

Derek: At first yeah, we were super nervous, there’s no denying the butterflies before that first show.

Tyler: We’ve got some footage from like, right before stage and it was so embarrassing Evan won’t let us have it because he was being real nervous. I hope one day we make this weird documentary and all this weird shit comes out, but we were all super fucking nervous

Derek: We were all giving each other hugs, telling everybody that is was going to be alright

Haha! Was it super cheesy?

Tyler: Like, “Tell me I’ll do well, tell me I’ll do well”

Derek: And we’re not normally like that at all, we don’t ever get that emotional

Tyler: We’re never like, shaking or anything, we just go out and do our thing

Derek: I think once we did get out there, it was just us playing the same songs, same band, same show, except to 19,000 more people haha. But, it was a much bigger stage to run around on so seeing as we’re a pretty energetic band it was fun.

Tyler: I think it was too big, we move around a lot and I was like, I can’t fill this out, I’m nervous

Derek: I was just sprinting back and forth, side to side

Now, you released ‘Secrets’ as the first single from the new album but, are you willing to divulge any secrets about State Champs? Something people may not know.

Derek: We don’t keep secrets, sure we have a song called ‘Secrets’ but that has a totally different message to us keeping secrets for us as a band. We share all of our guilty pleasures.

Tyler: We’re very open online and stuff

That’s true.

Tyler: I was gonna say Justin Bieber but everyone already knows that. We LOVE One Direction, but everyone already knows that.

Derek: We share that we love pop music, we share that we have horrible hairlines

Tyler: We make fun of our double chins

Derek: We embrace our quirkiness I guess

That’s cool. After this, you’re straight back on the road again with The Wonder Years in the US, for over a month, which is a pretty long tour, after that are you going to have a nice Christmas break?

Derek: A little bit, but since the album comes out on that Wonder Years tour, we’ll be ready to go, go, go, because it’s like the beginning of our album cycle, so we’ll be ready. Sure we’re gonna have some time off, but we are still going to do some holiday shows and then once January hits it’s OFF. We’re gone for a long time, busy busy throughout. We are headed around the world and back for realz.

That’s good! It’s a good thing. Are you going to do anything in particular for Halloween?

Derek: Yeah because we’ll be on the Wonder Years tour, we were talking about that the other day, what we should all dress up as, we gotta find something cool, something original.

Tyler: It’s so hard because we’re five, not a lot of things come in fives

Derek: Besides boybands

Tyler: But what the hell are we gonna be like, N*Sync?


Tyler: I’ll bleach my hair for halloween, fuck it, I’ll be Lance

Derek: Maybe we’ll all do something like that, bleach our hair or something, that’d be kinda cool

Tyler: We’ll probably do something, we’ll probably think of it randomly

Probably on the night, last minute dash to the shop for some fake blood

Derek: Yeah right, we tried to do something last year and it was just a disaster

Nice. Finally then, can you tell our readers why they should pick up the new album?

Tyler: Because it’s FUCKIN’ SICK!

Derek: Because it rocks

Tyler: Because it’s the best fuckin’ record hahaha. No, I’m just kidding.

Derek: If you’ve heard of us before and listened to our first record, you’re going to want to hear this one

Tyler: Yeah if you like the first record, this is the next logical step for the band, it’s not like a freaky ass, weird alternative record and it’s not a bad record

Derek: But also, regardless, if you only listen to pop music or if you only listen to Foo Fighters, whatever, I think everyone can kinda relate and find a vibe with our new record in some way shape or form. If you’ve listened to us obviously, we like to say that it is a State Champs album plus so much more, with a lot of surprises and it’s a journey, so I hope everybody is ready.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]