Interview: State Champs
State Champs at Warped Tour: An Interview With Evan and Tyler
From the Vans Warped Tour’s smallest stage to this year’s main stage, State Champs show that hard work, a great team, natural energy, and creating solid music can take you to the top and beyond.
It’s hot and unusually humid day Phoenix, Arizona. Tyler Szalkowski and Evan Ambrosio, 2/5 of the pop punk band State Champs, walk to a quite place behind the madness that is 2016 Vans Warped Tour. They stand by one of the many semi trucks and near the band and crews’ busses.
Two years ago, State Champs played the Vans Warped Tour 2014. The band would play on the “Hard Rock Kevin Says” stage, the tour’s smallest stage at the time. State Champs even got to open the “Kia Soul” main stage a few times. Playing on the 2014 lineup of Vans Warped Tour was only a step to where they are now.
Szalkowski, guitar and the business side of the band, mentioned how their time on We Are The In Crowd’s early 2014 Reunion Tour is where they felt things really start to pick up.
“I mentioned that We Are The In Crowd Tour and doing that tour,” said Szalkowski. “Like, at that point we were like, ‘We Are The In Crowd are so big. We’re so blessed and grateful to be here.’ Then like later that year we headlined and we were doing the same rooms that we were doing with them and we were selling them out.”
The same types of moments are happening on this year’s Warped Tour. I was fortunate enough to follow days of the tour: Phoenix, San Diego, and Pomona. At each date Derek DiScanio, lead vocals, told the crowd how last time they were on the tour they played to “only a fraction of the crowd here today.” The crowds grew from only a few hundred people to thousands.
The transformation and where the band is today did not just happen over night though. State Champs formed six years ago in Albany, New York. Since then the band has had multiple line up changes and are only left with two original members, Tyler Szalkowski and Derek DiScanio. The band’s current lineup includes DiScanio, Szalkowski, Ambrosio, Tony Diaz, and Ryan Graham.
“When you start a band everybody wants to play music, but not everybody is cut out for touring,” said Ambrosio, the band’s drummer since 2012. “So right now I feel like everyone in this band is dedicated to, you know having fun on the road and playing music because they love to do it.”
All five current members of the band did not take part in the creation of the band’s debut full-length album, “The Finer Things.” Although the band released an acoustic EP with all the current members, it was not until their sophomore album that all five members took the time to construct and take time to create what is now, “Around The World And Back.”
Since then the release of the album took place last October, State Champs have grown rapidly and are not slowing. With each tour, whether it is their own or they are playing the supporting role the crowds get bigger, the fans sing louder, and the hype becomes uncontainable. The band owes part of this to being able to take the time really focus, craft and design, and much more time into this album, compared to the last.
“There’s so many layers. There’s so many intricate things about it,” said Szalkowski. “ I think all of that time spent making it what we though was really good really reflected…”
As Szalkowski and Ambrosio stand in the grass field with the sun beating down on them, they burn with the same passion as they talk about making an album they were proud of. It is that energy and enthusiasm that tops it all off. There are a lot of pop punk bands out there, there are a lot of bands out there, and there is a lot of music out there. Out of all of those bands, State Champs seem to be the ones climbing higher and faster than any others.
The difference between State Champs and the next band is the undeniable energy they are able to radiate and preserve. From just listening to their albums it is easy to feel hype and the excitement. Whether you are ready to drive around town and listen to some jams, trying to get in the zone to get work done, or just hanging out, State Champs’ music allows people to listen anytime. It is at the live shows where State Champs pull everyone in.
“You can make the best songs ever. You can’t teach vibe. You can’t teach energy,” said Szalkowski.
From not so big crowds and making the best of what they had to masses chanting, “Champs!” before every set, State Champs seem to be taking over.
State Champs are now in the final week of Vans Warped Tour 2016. They will finish out the month playing music festivals like Reading and Leeds and take time off in September until they plan to start touring again in Fall.
If you have been a fan of State Champs’ music, but have never gone out to a show, take time to do so, and do it soon. They put out the most lively shows and you won’t want to miss out being a part of their story.
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Check out the full interview with Tyler Szalkowski and Evan Ambrosio here or below: