INTERVIEW - State Champs's Derek Discanio & Tyler Szalkowski

Photo Credit: Theodore Swaddling

Noizze got the chance to sit down with some of the lads from State Champs, including vocalist Derek, and guitarist Tyler before their set at this years Slam Dunk Festival in Birmingham. Not their first year on the festival we spoke to the band about new album leaks, working with pop-punk legends and how Albany sizes up to the UK.

Noizze: So you guys are Slam Dunk vets by now, you’ve played the festival previous years correct? How’s this hold up in comparison?

Derek: Sick man, it’s good to be back we played Slam Dunk the first time four years ago, on the small stages as an opening act, and now we’re back on the big stages.

Tyler: To be honest, in the first year we were like “This is the best festival of all fuckin time, this is so cool” but now we’re back and this is even cooler.

D: Yeah definitely, to see how the festivals grown, it’s been cool to come back it’s refreshing.

N: So who’s your band to watch for the weekend?

T: Jimmy Eat World. They were the ones I was most excited to see, and they have delivered both nights so far. Awesome.

N: So you signed to PureNoise Records in the spring of 2013, how’s your relationship been with them over the last six years?

D: They took a chance on us, definitely when they first signed us, and they were such a small label, they only had one guy, working out of his parents house. And we’ve just grown, and grown with them as a band, and them as a label.

T: Like we have each others personal phone numbers, we text about things that aren’t business related, it does make for a pretty interesting working relationship when you have to get down to it.

D: But we still have all of our creative freedom, we make all our own choices, they don’t force us into anything, we can hash things out, it’s a great relationship.

N: So I heard something about you guys getting stuck in a desert once, I wondered what the story was there?

D: Oh wow, so yeah, our bus driver left us out in Las Vegas, he didn’t dump us off the bus. We were on the bus, he just dipped.

T: Like long story short, he caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to do, we confronted him, and he ran away. But, we didn’t know he ran ‘cause we had two days off in Las Vegas, we were parked at the same location for two days. So like, he just never showed back up to move the bus. His ass was long gone, have not heard from him since. We wound up renting two mini vans, we took our guitars out of the cases, so we had the guitars wrapped in comforters from the bus, duvets or whatever -

D: And you gotta do it, but it’s something that we’ll never forget, a story to tell for years to come.

N: So your debut was produced by Steve Klein (former New Found Glory guitarist) what was that like working with a pop-punk legend and being in that circle for the first time?

D: Ah it was cool, it was our first real time working with a producer or anything, but it’s cool to have now been able to, since then, surround ourselves with people who can help us like creatively and with songwriting and stuff. Until then we don’t know much about songwriting with other people outside the 5 of us as a band. until we also started writing with people like Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low and most recently Mark Hoppus on our new record. Which is a ridiculous thing for us.

N: So talking about your new album "Living Proof", you recently had the artwork and trackless leaked, how do you go about dealing with things like that?

D: We yell at each other in the group chat-

T: Yeah we’ll be like “FUCK YOU MAN! I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD!” and here’s the thing, whoever reported that shit, fuck you. Seriously, to report a leak is honestly so rude. We know everyone’s desperate for clicks, everyone wants Ad Revenue, but it’s our livelihood too. To report a leak is really low fucking level journalism. It is scummy ass, low level journalism.

D: It did start a little bit of hype though y’know? That’s another thing we try to remember, like just because maybe 100 people have seen it, the fanbase is like, lets say 100,000 people, so they have no fuckin' idea. ‘Cause they check their Facebook once a day, and it’s not as big of a deal as we thought.

N: So you guys have had quite a bit of recognition with nominations from Alt Press awards, what’s it like to receive the recognition?

D: Very cool, we never thought we’d be like rocking up to award shows and stuff, not that it’s not bougie or anything but to be recognised for something like that, when we did get our first award it was really special for us. The fact that we had won something, like we worked for something and we’d earned something.

T: On the other hand we’ve been in battle of the bands and lost.

D: Yeah we’re called State Champs but I think we’ve lost 4 or 5 battle of the bands competitions when we were first starting

T: Yeah we lost at fuckin' everything

D: It did not make us feel good about why we named ourselves State Champs.

N: So when you do win how do you go out and celebrate?

T: Haha we’ll take any excuse for celebration man, we’ll fuckin' celebrate anything.

D: The first time we won breakthrough band of the year, and then most recently we won the best music video of the year, which was a cool one for us as well, but yeah those things are special - I’ve got them hanging up at home.

N: So going back to "Living Proof" for a second, it’s your 3rd full length record, how much has your writing/recording process changed since "The Finer Things"?

D: It’s changed a lot, we come from just sitting in a room, the 5 of us, just jamming. That was very cool and organic and natural. That’s how we started this band and got us to where we are now. But with where we are now we’ve been able to work with more people, more producers, and put ourselves in a position to get the best out of us. Nowadays it’s cool to kinda explore and push ourselves and open up to people and get advice.

T: It’s definitely changed a lot I’d say, exactly what he said, it’s… changed a lot.

N: So you’ve been touring pretty extensively since you started, have you ever visited anywhere that reminded you of back home? Where was it and why?

T: I don’t know, I mean there’s no place like home haha

D: We come from a pretty small city that’s not much, but it’s home, I dunno, trying to think what would remind us of that. Definitely not the UK,

T: Yeah you guys are so different

N: Yeah? So what are the biggest differences between the UK & US then?

D: Everything’s a lot older here I’d say

T: So Albany was founded by the dutch, Henry Hudson, a little knowledge there! Obviously like being a colonial city we have a lot of like english heritage and stuff. So a lot of the people in Albany are kinda like the British in that they’re…. I don’t wanna say mean, but blunt y’know? And it’s something I appreciate, ‘cause I moved to LA for a year and everyone’s such a fucking bullshitter man. It’s so annoying, so I guess there are those similarities in the way the people behave. I dunno you come over here and everyone’s way more blunt, for better, for worse, at least you know where you stand with a person.

N: So that’s about all we’ve got time for, "Living Proof" is released 15th June, is there anything else you want to give a shout out to?

D: We just can’t wait for everybody to hear it, it’s our biggest album, and we’re very very proud of it. Most proud album for sure. And determined to keep the journey going with the fans.

N: So which track are you most excited for people to hear?

D & T (In weirdly unrehearsed unison): Track one.

D: Turn it up as loud as you can, it’s called Criminal.


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