INTERVIEW: State Champs

On their first ever tour in the UK, before they took to the stage at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, we had a chat with Tyler Szalkowski (bassist) of NY-based pop punk band, State Champs who told us about how the band originally formed, the best advice they’ve ever been given and what they like and dislike about the UK.

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How has the tour with The Wonder Years and A Loss For Words been for you?

It’s been great! It’s our first time over in the United Kingdom. We went to Scotland and Ireland as well and yeah it’s just been really cool. We’ve never been here before so getting these kinds of reactions is really awesome.

How did you feel about the accents in Ireland and Scotland?

Scotland was alright; Ireland was a little bit harder. Everyone warned me about Scotland but I didn’t really seem to mind it that much, everyone was like “You’re not gonna be able to understand anyone in Scotland!” but it wasn’t that terrible. It was alright, I mean I had a bit of trouble with some words but yeah it wasn’t too terrible to be honest.

What do you like or dislike about the UK?

I like all the old architecture and stuff, that’s really cool. I used to study history and European and American history and now I’m getting to see a lot of places I’ve learned about which is really cool for me. I like how close all the cities are, no drive is more than 3 hours; in America we’ll drive like 8 to 12 hours and there’s like 16 hours between shows and it’s like “Frick man, this is so long!”.

But yeah what I don’t like, my phone doesn’t work over here because I don’t have a plan for over here. I don’t like how everything closes so early, we wake up at probably about 10 or 11 each day, we get on the road by 11 or 12 and then we eat somewhere quick and then we do the whole venue stuff you know, interviews and soundcheck and then you go eat dinner and everything’s usually open after that but when you wanna eat after the show when you’re hungry before bed, that fourth meal kinda thing, nothing’s open… only kebab and it kinda sucks! It’s alright, I mean I’ll eat anything but I don’t like how everything closes.

In the States you could eat at 5am at Denny’s which is an American diner and they’re open 24 hours a day. You can go eat in and they serve a bunch of different foods while kebab places are just deep-fried everything but it’s not the worst thing in the world, it could be worse, there could be absolutely nothing! I’ve found myself getting a lot of chips and cheese… I’m eating really good over here! That’s really it, everything else has been great, the shows have been amazing, the kids coming to these shows have been absolutely amazing.

Have you had any days off on this tour?

We had a day off in Liverpool two days ago.

What did you do with your day off?

I used it to rest, I slept for about 12 hours. I was really tired, I was impressed with myself to be honest with you, but yeah I used it to rest, I didn’t do much. We went to this little mall style area where you have a sit down dinner which is cool. We just chilled out, that’s pretty much it!

State Champs are on the Vans Warped Tour line-up this Summer, are there any States in particular that you are looking forward to playing in?

Pretty much everything in the North East. Over in the States we tend to have some really great shows over there like Boston; Connecticut; New York; Western New York, Buffalo; Southern California; Pacific North West, Seattle, Portland. We always have really crazy club shows there so bringing it to a festival, it’s gonna be that much more crazy.

What are your feelings on the recent Solange Knowles and Jay-Z situation?

I’ve kind of heard about it, I don’t know everything. Correct me if I’m wrong but did Jay-Z cheat on Beyonce? This is what I’ve heard. Even if Jay-Z did cheat on Beyonce or whatever, it’s not really Solange’s business so she should kinda… I think you guys say “piss off” and stay out of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s life but if it was over something else… I really need to know the full story to give you my honest opinion!

Truthfully, if she started hitting him on camera, he handled it well from what I saw on the video, he didn’t hit back, he had his bodyguard kinda push her away and then they cut the tape right? I mean, you never know, it just seems weird.

10321150_796060640411987_1729481402718261294_o© Brittney Tambeau

Have you been taking full advantage of Nando’s whilst being over here in the UK?

We’ve been here for 7 days and we’ve gone to Nando’s 5 or 6 times. Two of which was with Soupy (frontman of The Wonder Years) so yes! He wants to go again before we leave England.

Is there not a Nando’s in America at all?

I think there’s one and I don’t know where it is! We definitely don’t have it so you gotta get your fill, it’s good and cheap. I mean it can be expensive but you can also make it cheap, just get a single chicken burger with no sides and you’re paying like £6 which is important to us because we don’t really make that much money but you can really spend. I mean our merch dude spent like £17 there the other day! He got butterfly chicken, a quarter chicken, two sides and a drink, it was £17. Yeah it’s impressive, he ate it all too! Nando’s is cool, it’s another thing that’s easily accessible, cheap, it’s pretty quick and it’s really good and it doesn’t make you feel as bad as a kebab does!

State Champs are playing Slam Dunk Festival this year, are you looking forward to it?

We’ve never played it before, it’s our first time here, we are looking forward to it. We keep meeting fans at shows and they’re all like “Oh we’ll see you guys again at Slam Dunk” and I can’t wait, it’s gonna be awesome. “If you think this was cool, Slam Dunk is gonna be 10 times more awesome”, I’m like oh shit so it’s actually gonna be sick! Our stage is good too, we’re on the Atticus Stage I believe. We’ve got Real Friends, Neck Deep, Kids In Glass Houses Hit The Lights are on the stage I think. I think Modern Baseball is on the stage too. It’s a really good stage.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The one I’ve probably used the most and always had with me… early on in our bands career, we were told to stay humble and don’t let your head get too big and we still very much believe that, oh and that you have to earn something, things don’t just get handed to you, that’s some really good advice – never stop working. When you think you’ve done it all, figure out more shit to do! Always keep your head down and keep working, stuff like that, that’s really it. People don’t really give me that much advice so stay humble, stay working, stay busy and don’t fuck off.

How did State Champs originally form?

I’m 22 and we started the band when I was 18 with Derek who was 17. It was when Derek was 13 and I was 14 we used to play in two different bands that played together all the time over in the States, like metalcore bands and stuff like that. Other bands in the area at the time just kinda faded out and we decided we wanted something different. Where we’re from, Albany, it doesn’t really have that much pop punk, we’re one of the only pop punk or pop rock whatever you wanna call it, we’re the only band like that really. There’s a couple more but not that many at all but in Albany, hardcore bands there’s like a dozen! There’s probably like 10 hardcore bands to the one pop punk band. It’s super metal and hardcore and we decided we wanted to do something different, something we actually enjoyed. I guess we were playing by default, like “I guess we’ll play it because we like music” but no-one wanted to do pop punk or pop rock or whatever. We were tired of doing the same old thing, also we were tired of being in bands that weren’t ours, we only just played in other bands so we wanted to do something that was ours, something that was just us. Something that we started, something that we’re writing the music for, something that’s very genuine to who we are as people.

What do State Champs have planned for the rest of the year?

We are doing Slam Dunk then we are flying home, doing Warped Tour all Summer and then after Warped Tour about a month later we’re gonna go to Australia for the first time. We’re doing that kind of stuff, there’s some other stuff that’s not announced yet, so I can’t really talk about it but we’re gonna be pretty busy this year so keep your eyes open!

Interview by Jess Pearson.

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— LIVE UK SHOWS —

17.11.2014 – O2 ABC, Glasgow, Scotland

18.11.2014 – Rock City, Nottingham

20.11.2014 – O2 Academy, Liverpool

21.11.2014 – The Academy 1, Manchester

22.11.2014 – O2 Academy, Leeds

23.11.2014 – Cardiff University’s Student Union, Wales

25.11.2014 – O2 Academy, Bristol

26.11.2014 – Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth

28.11.2014 – The Forum, London

29.11.2014 – The Forum, London