State Champs

Touring strenuously off the success of their latest release, ‘The Finer Things’, State Champs are headed down under for a stint of shows with UK pop-punk kings Neck Deep. The tour will cross the whole country with the bands uplifting and catchy aesthetic in tow. We caught up with guitarist Tyler Szalkowski to talk about the tour and how the band would handle living in the “mainstream”.

Hey Tyler, how are you?

Yeah, good man.

So coming from doing Warped Tour, a huge across the country festival, what are you expectations for this Aussie tour with Neck Deep?

I’m really excited for Australia with Neck Deep, man! They were on Warped with us all summer and they had been before and they said it was the most amazing time; really talking it up. So our expectations are pretty high ‘cause we still have them in our heads saying how great it will be.

What does the prospect coming to Australia mean to you in terms of having a career in the music industry?

It means I’m very lucky and I can visit great places because I have the greatest job in the world.

So I was talking to a mate last night and we couldn’t actually decide on a definition on what pop-punk was. Would you consider State Champs pop-punk at all, especially with it being so hard to define?

I think we dance the line between pop-punk and pop-rock. We started out as a pop-punk band but I think we will always carry that element no matter how old we get or how long we go for.

What does it mean to be “pop-punk” then?

To me, it’s just a genre and I don’t really care about genres. I think you should like what you like and it doesn’t matter what is its label. To some, it’s more of a lifestyle; has to do with tumblr, cats and pizza and that stuff. But to me it’s a style of music that I enjoy playing.

As you said before, you mentioned you guys are bit more on the pop side of things so I want to ask your opinion on the band 5 Seconds of Summer and how some are saying that they’re bringing back pop-punk to the mainstream.

Well, I’ve only heard that one song about the whole American Apparel Underwear but I still back that band. They’re getting songs on the radio and TV, which has actual instruments in it and that is really important to me as all the mainstream stuff on the radio is either RnB or rap or electronic and so there’s
no real rock and roll on the radio or mainstream.

I’ve been following them for a while and I know people who stopped liking them because they got big. What’s your take on that idea that someone can stop backing a band because they got big?

I think people not being a fan of a band because they’re growing in popularity is wrong. You should like a band if they’re big or not, like I said before, if you like a band you like a band. Disliking someone because they have fans or whatever is wrong; you should just worry if you like the music and not care if they have one fan or one million fans.

How do you think your fans would react if State Champs got that kind of success? Like number one songs and albums, and arena tours and all that “big” stuff?

I’m not sure how they would, the way I’d want them to though is to just stick with us, just be one of those one million fans. One thing I notice about 5 Seconds of Summer is that they’re really good to their fans and not jerks or anything. If that were to happen to us I just hope they stick around or if not that’s up to them.

Do you think that notion of becoming mainstream would affect your sound? If ‘Elevated’ hit number one for some reason, would you mix it up on the next release or would you plug that same sound again?

If that were to happen to us, I would stay exactly the same. You gotta think if you got really famous off one song sounding the way you did, why change it? I get why it might affect you but I’d still stay the same.

Again on that though, isn’t there a negative to not changing and trying to kind of go off that same sound?

I mean, I think you should always try new things but not a new style. If you’re to make a record, take some of your older style on half and then try some new things and push on the limits on one or two songs.

So whilst we’re chatting about pop-punk, what made you want to get into this genre and make a living off of it?

When I was 12 , my mother took me to a Green Day concert and I just fell in love. I said, “I wanna do this someday.” That was my dream growing up; some kids wanted to be astronauts, I just wanted to play in bands and the older I got the more I made it happen. I started talking to the right people, getting
in touch with the local scene and playing in a few bands before State Champs. With this band though, Derek and I started it and just wanted to do as much as we could. People responded well to it like on the internet and we were lucky enough to get picked up by Pure Noise. When I was 12 I knew I wanted to
do this but I didn’t realise it was going to be a career.

When did you realise then that this was a career?

When our manager and the guy who runs Pure Noise suggested that we become a full band and tour eight months out of the year. We said “Yeah!” I dropped out of college and it all happened very quickly but it was and still is great.

When you started this band did you realise it may encompass that amount of touring? Eight months out of the year away from home is a long time to be away from friends and family; how do you handle that distance?

It’s hard, it can be REALLY hard. But we all have parents who are really supportive. My mum is great, she always helps me out from home and she is always there to talk. You’ll find a lot of us always calling in to check with our mums and our dads. It is hard but you can manage it. You have to take advantage
of the time you have at home and make the most out of the situation.

One final question, where do you see State Champs in five years?

Honestly I just see us doing the same thing. Touring and writing awesome music.

State Champs begin their Australian tour with Neck Deep this September. Details here.

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