“I’m going to lay in bed and do nothing for about a week,” says State Champs vocalist Derek Discanio when we ask what he plans to do during the band’s rare, forthcoming break. It’s certainly one that is well-deserved for the Albany, New York pop-punk outfit. The quintet has more or less lived on the road for the past 12 months, with this past summer especially proving to be a busy period; a two month long stretch on the Vans Warped Tour followed by a brief visit to the UK for the Reading & Leeds Festival. It’s the latter where we catch up with Derek and guitarist Tyler Szalkowski.
Armed with the task of opening the main stage on the first day of the festival, they both agree they had high expectations beforehand. “We definitely felt the pressure. We knew it was going to be one of the bigger shows we’ve played but it lived up to it,” says Discanio, “I was curious to see if kids would get moving but they were ready to be energetic and get moving right off the back. We rely on their energy. The crowd kept growing and we saw people running in, singing the songs.”
However, as Tyler states, the opening slot was an advantage to State Champs; “there’s nothing before so we have to set the bar”.
Their appearance at the festival marks the bands third visit to the UK in under a year, following a headline run last Autumn and shows with Neck Deep at the top of 2016. Although this is only a brief stop, they’ve already announced plans to return in March 2017.
“We can’t stay away!” proclaims Szalkowski with Discanio adding “we had to announce it before this festival, to promote it. Being able to say on stage “we’ll see you next year for our headline tour” was a huge help. Everyone seems excited for it.
Tyler continues “they’re going to be our biggest headline shows over here. It’s going to be a kick ass time.”
Despite the March tour being their biggest shows, don’t expect State Champs to produce any fancy production quips as State Champs look to stick an ethos of simply having a good time. Tyler explains “we don’t seem to do a lot of “gimmicky” things. We just want you to come to a gig and loose yourself in the moment, and help you forget whatever shit that is bothering you at the time.”
It is no doubt through their dedicated time on the road combined with the success of their latest album, ‘Around the World and Back’, is paying off. Not only did play on the main stage at Reading & Leeds but received a high spot on the aforementioned Vans Warped Tour sharing the stage with Sleeping With Sirens, The Story So Far, Set It Off, Tonight Alive, and Mayday Parade. Whilst Derek spent his free time watching his long time heroes; “It was a great mix of old school pop-punk we used to listen to like New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Sum 41, Good Charlotte, Less Than Jake. I grew up listening to all those bands and made me want to be in a band.”
Their lengthy run on Warped looks like to have been beneficial as they gradually look ahead to a US run with Sleeping With Sirens and Tonight Alive, as well as their third album. With the band always writing on the road, they will be looking to collaborate with new found friends in the coming months.
“We’re setting some time aside after about a months break, before we go on the Sirens tour, to do some writing and collaborating with friends,” explains Discanio. “We’re going to get together with the Madden Brothers, John Feldman and then a couple of other names that are people we want to see. We also want to see new studios and just figure out where we want to do the next album, who we want to record and collaborate with. It’s kind of an exciting time.”
Although they’ve now been around the world and back several times, the future for State Champs looks to be bright as they continue to move their way up the pop-punk ladder and beyond.
‘Around the World and Back’ by State Champs is out now on Pure Noise Records.
State Champs will be playing the following headline shows in March 2017:
Thu 09 Engine Rooms, Southampton
Fri 10 O2 Academy, Bristol
Sat 11 O2 The Ritz, Manchester
Mon 13 Riverside, Newcastle
Tue 14 Garage, Glasgow
Thu 16 Beckett, Leeds
Fri 17 O2 Institute, Birmingham
Sat 18 O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Leeds Festival 2016 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)