State Champs is one of the most high-energy, fresh, and respectable pop punk bands of the decade. Over the past couple of years, the upstate New York band’s following has skyrocketed and they have generated some of the most loyal supporters. The five-piece’s sophomore album, Around The World And Back, released in October 2015 and proves that pop punk music is progressing. This record has shown growth and maturity for State Champs, and has been a step up from their debut album, peaking at number 30 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart in November 2015.
State Champs is currently on a co-headlining tour with Neck Deep, and they start another tour with A Day To Remember directly after. Vocalist Derek Discanio was able to take a few minutes out of their insane schedule to update me on what has been going on in their lives as a band since the new record released.
Your new record Around The World And Back has been doing extremely well. Were you expecting it to get all of this recognition when you first put it out?
No, not at all. I mean, after the first album, with the way it was perceived and even the charting on the first album, we were blown away by. But the second one, it was a little nerve-wracking to kind of step it up and try to beat it in a sense, but we were really proud with what we came up with. And when we saw the charting, to have a top 30 album on Billboard was something to really be proud of, so we were definitely blown away by it. There was a big sense of pride once that happened.
The Acoustic Things was also a huge hit. Do you have any plans of doing an acoustic version of the new album like that one?
I don’t know about an acoustic version of the album, but we’ll definitely dive into some acoustic renditions of some of the songs. I don’t know if we’ll go and do a whole thing like we did with The Finer Things, but we’ve done a lot of acoustic sessions live and studio things where we already tuned down those songs and have done unplugged versions of them that we think sound really cool, so it’d be cool to do actual studio recordings of those acoustic versions. How we’ll release that, I’m not sure yet, but I’m sure we’ll do something special.
I saw you on tour with The Wonder Years and I thought it was insane how mostly everyone in the room was singing along to every single lyric, especially the new songs. Were you surprised how quickly everyone caught on to the new material?
Yeah! We were blown away because that was right when the album came out. I didn’t really know how much studying everyone’s done or if this was going to be a whole new thing where no one really cared. But, we put everyone to the test with that tour with starting right off with a new song and starting our set with “All You Are Is History,” which is the third single that we did on Around The World And Back, so it was kind of like a test right off the bat because the song starts with vocals. If people were going to scream the lyrics back at me, then I know it’s going to be a good night. And it happened pretty much every night. It was a big weight off our shoulders.
I’ve seen a lot of pictures of State Champs lyrics tattooed on fans. What is usually your reaction when you see these tattoos?
I freak out every time. People show me at shows and I always have to pull out my own phone and ask them, “Can I take a picture of this so I can show my mom when I get home?” (Laughs) When I see them pop up online, I always hit it with a hot retweet or I like it on Instagram and things like that. It’s crazy to me, still.
We’re doing a lot of meet and greets on this tour and I’m having a lot of people ask me to write out their favorite lyrics. They’ll even ask me, “Can you write out your favorite lyric of the album? I’m going to get it tattooed regardless of what it is.” It’s so much pressure on me! I’m like, “I’m scared to even write this out for you right now!” Sometimes I have to double check my spelling to make sure I didn’t spell anything wrong. It’s crazy to me, though. I think it’s a very cool feeling and it’s very humbling to me. I just hope people don’t regret it down the road (laughs).
So, what is your favorite lyric that you write out when people ask for those tattoos?
You know, sometimes it changes. I guess it’s not a bad thing to have multiple favorites. A song that hits home the most for me on the new album is “Losing Myself,” so when a couple people had asked me that, I tend to go back to my default one which is, “I’m losing myself in the best way.” I feel like that’s a pretty good one that will always stick with me on the new album.
That is a good one! I captioned one of my pictures on Instagram with those lyrics!
Ah, see, look at that (laughs)!
I’ve noticed some A Day To Remember influences in the record. Would you say these influences accurate and how do you feel about touring with them in May?
I would say a little bit! I grew up loving A Day To Remember. I used to go see them all the time whenever they would come around. If they haven’t touched most bands in our genre or in the Warped Tour scene trying to be a new, exciting band in some way, then they’re probably lying, I would think. They’re a really influential band, even with the way they’ve carried themselves throughout the ups and downs of their career. They’ve been through a lot of crap with labels and getting out of contracts and legal issues, and just changing their songs where they have the heaviness and the poppiness, they do it all. They’re an all around, 360 band, and I really respect that. I still listen to them to this day.
We’ve never done any tours with them so I’m really excited to finally tour with them. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while but we never knew when would be the right time to do it. This is kind of perfect because it’s not too long of a tour. It’s a nice, little short run in some different cities that we haven’t played before, so it should be cool and I’m excited to see how we mesh together as people. I’ve heard they’re really nice guys and can be very helpful and give good advice. It should be fun!
You just came back from headlining a few shows over in the UK. Can you tell me about that experience?
The UK shows were humongous. It was crazy. It was our third time there and we had done a headline tour this past August, and that even blew us away. We did a lot of smaller clubs and a lot of sold-out shows in small rooms. This time around, we were with Neck Deep, who are obviously massive over there as well. Bringing the two powerhouses together, we could step into some really massive rooms over there. Every show was sold out, which is insane. I think the smallest show still had about 1,500 kids and the biggest one had 2,500 kids. It’s really cool to be that far away from home and play for that many kids and have even them sing back all the songs, like we were talking about before. And, even louder and prouder than ever. They go wild over there. I already can’t wait to go back.
You’ve been on the road almost nonstop, and just started a co-headlining tour with Neck Deep. Is there anything new and exciting about this tour so far?
We’ve done so many support tours where we kind of have to stand back and let the headliners do what they want to do. We give them their space and do our own thing and keep to ourselves so we don’t step on anybody’s toes. We’ve even had instances where we haven’t been treated the best as a support band on the tour. What’s important for us on this co-headline tour is that we’re kind of like the shot-callers and we get to do what we want. We could be those snobby headliners that don’t do anything cool with the younger bands and the support bands, but what’s different about this time around is that everybody’s friends.
There are no “cool guys” on this tour. Everybody hangs out, everybody is equal, and there are no high horses or egos on this tour. Everybody gets along and everybody’s treated the same way and that’s what’s important about our scene and our genre and a lot of the bands coming up together because we’re all here for the same reason and playing the same shows to the same people. It’s important that we all get along and work together because it’s only going to benefit all of our bands in the long-run. That’s what’s really special about this tour.
I know you all are big gamers, even when you are on the road. Is playing video games more of a State Champs only thing, or do other bands that you’re on tour with join?
We’re open to anybody coming in. We’re definitely big gamers in different ways. We’ve got an Xbox and we just recently acquired an old PlayStation 2 on our bandwagon as well. We’re playing all of the old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games and jamming out to the soundtracks on all of them. We’ll bring all the bands on our bus and have karaoke dance parties while we’re gaming. It’s kind of silly talking about it, but it’s fun. We can get a little more serious and have NHL or Madden tournaments.
Tony [Diaz], our guitarist, is the biggest gamer of our group. He always does his thing on the computer where he plays World Of Warcraft. He’s kind of the nerdier one of us and he takes it a lot more serious. He actually makes some money doing it which is pretty cool. But, yeah. Gaming will always be a big thing with us when we’re bored.
Who have been some of your favorite bands to be out on the road with so far?
Neck Deep have been some of our closest friends since we met them on Warped Tour in 2014, so it’s always good to be on the road with them. We recently became friends with Knuckle Puck who are also on this tour, and they’re some of the nicest guys. They’re really humble and really cool to hang out with. Then there are some of the older bands that we’ve gotten to tour with that have really shown us a good time and that have been influential on us, like All Time Low and New Found Glory. They’ve really helped us out along the road.
We did an All Time Low tour about a year ago and we were kind of anxious and curious to see how they would act around us and if we would even to get to really see or hang out with them that much, but they were super welcoming the first day when we got there. They came right into our dressing room and handed us a couple bottles of champagne and told us that they were super happy to have us out on the road with them. That’s a really cool feeling, especially coming from a band that kind of made you want to be in a band in the first place. That’s something we want to carry on as we get bigger and a little bit older and start to take out younger bands, to have that same kind of mindset.
Your cover of “Stay The Night” is definitely a fan favorite. Do you have any plans of covering more songs either on your own or part of the Punk Goes.. albums?
I’m not sure! We’d love to do any more of those Punk Goes.. albums. Those are always fun. It was cool that they even asked us to do that. We had no intention of what song we wanted to do, or doing that Zedd and Hayley Williams song. Hayley and Paramore have always been a vocalist and a band that I’ve looked up to. Even though she’s a girl and I’m a guy, it doesn’t mean I can’t be influenced by her, so it was cool to try to sing the stuff that she can because she’s a powerhouse as a female vocalist. It was fun to give that a shot and we’d do anything like that again if we had the chance to. We don’t have any plans right now, but I’m sure something like that will come along the way again. I’d love to do some type of punk goes Disney type of thing, where we’d cover a Disney soundtrack song. That’d be pretty cool.
I know you came out with a music videos for “Secrets” and “All You Are Is History” so far. Have you been working on any more music videos?
We’re talking about doing some more. I definitely want to do at least one or two more for this new album. We haven’t even set in what songs we want to do them for yet. I think we’re still kind of arguing over it because some people want to do one song, and some want to do the other. It’s not a really bad problem to have, that we all like different songs on the album because it has variety. But, yeah, we’re going to do some more videos and then we have to work out locations and other stuff. It’s a lot more work than you think, but I’m excited. I love doing those videos. It’s really fun to do. We’ll probably get at least one out before the end of this year.
What’s next for State Champs?
Just busy! We are so busy! This year is going to be insane for our touring schedule. We’re going to have a lot more U.S., actually. We are going to get around to seeing new countries that we haven’t been to, but more importantly, we’re hitting the U.S. really hard this year. We have a lot more touring plans and exciting announcements coming up later this year. Then, once things start to settle down during the holidays, we’ll start to already think about new music. It’s just an exciting time and I hope everybody’s ready for it!
State Champs is bringing their tour with Neck Deep to the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia on March 10 and Webster Hall in Manhattan on March 11. Their sophomore album, Around The World And Back, is available now. For more information, visit statechampsny.com.