Interview: State Champs talks Warped!

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While we did interview a lot of bands just breaking, we also spoke with a band that is truly on top of the world right now after being on the Kevin Says stage just two years ago. This summer, they’ve been slaying it on the main stage all summer after releasing their sophomore record just last year. While the guys are from upstate New York, they constantly were traveling to the Boston area to perform as the “local opener” on national tours and grinded so hard to be at the point we are today. I caught up with Ryan Graham and Tyler Szalkowski about the last two years have been and the journey they’ve taken to get to the success they’re experiencing now. Read our new interview below and catch them in a city near you soon!

Obviously you guys have had a really good fast year or two things have been going really well for you. Maybe how has this Warped Tour been going with the record coming out in 2015?
Tyler: I mean comparatively to when we did it the first year, it’s night and day difference. Absolutely insane. Everything from like us having fun to the shows being good. Everything from my personal life to the business side of our lives is absolutely incredible I would say.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. We were on a small stage. We were on the Kevin Says stage in 2014. Obviously being on the main stage, that’s probably the most like visual difference to the fans. Like appearance wise. We did the tour in a Sprinter van with four bunks and there were like nine of us in 2014. This year, we’re in a bus. It makes life easier.
Tyler: Morale is high.
Ryan: Yeah, morale is high. You can have your family and be like check out what I’m doing rather then like 2014, you’d be like please don’t come see us.
Please don’t come say hi.
Tyler: Please don’t.
Ryan: We’re embarrassing right now, sorry. No, it’s been amazing. The difference has been amazing.

Perfect! And obviously you guys have obviously worked so hard to be here. Just from living in Boston, I’ve seen you guys open for much bigger bands as like the local opener. You’ve had a really good last few years but we’ve seen you struggle and really grind for this. You’re on main stage now, you were on Kevin Says just two years ago. Maybe the biggest moment for you over the past year?
Ryan: I’m happy with the record being put out. I was really, really satisfied knowing that people thought it was a worthy follow up to a great debut record. And it was great to see that even in numbers too. In our first week, we did 13.5 (thousands) and I don’t think any of us were really expecting to do that.
Tyler: “The Finer Things” did like three thousand clean. “Finer Things” was like #150 on Billboard and “Around the World and Back” was like #30.
Ryan: One of my high school teachers actually messaged me on Facebook saying like ‘that’s the coolest thing that I think I’ve seen an alumni do.’ That meant a lot to me because he’s like an education guy but I’m doing music. Obviously I got my degree but I’m not using it and he was like I just think that’s the coolest thing in the world that you followed that path. The path that you were supposed to be on. So yeah the record.
Tyler: Yeah, there’s some like freaky validation. Like we’re all happy with ourselves I think as well. As far as the records go, the first one when we put it out it was well received but we didn’t think it was like going to be huge. There was no expectations. It’s almost like when you do good on something by accident, like oh these two foods go really well together and I had no freaking idea but then someone’s like oh you got to make that meal again. We were just like, uh I hope so.
Ryan: Like bananas and Frank’s Red Hot.
Tyler: Yeah you wouldn’t think it but this guy over here is innovative AF with his foods.
Ryan: Frank’s Red Hot and bananas, it’s fun.
Frank’s Red Hot and banana, is that real life?
Ryan: Yeah that’s the good food by accident. Like you don’t even know but you eat it and you’re like oh this is nice.
Tyler: So then next time, you have to make like a chocolate banana with Frank’s Red Hot.
Ryan: I’ve definitely put chocolate on cheese before and I know that’s like kind of a thing but like, it was sick.
Tyler: It kind of makes me nervous. It was sick in a good way not in a bad way.
And even though the record is still relatively new, is it something where you’re currently writing? Are you currently working on some new State Champs or do you think that that’s still a while away, kind of riding the wave of this record?
Tyler: I don’t know, I mean we’re still riding the wave I think. I mean at least I am. I haven’t written much. I feel like all writers are always writing. Everyone professionally writes but we’re not actively writing. I think there’s a huge difference between riffing and one-liners and tag lines. You can think of that shit all day but as far as like when we all get in a room and get together and actually try, that’s not at all what we’re doing right now. We’re just having fun.
Ryan: But we do have times in our schedule to make that happen.
Tyler: We do.
Ryan: We’re going to meet with some people that we believe in and hopefully like collab and kind of do some cool stuff before the year’s up.
Tyler: Oh yeah that is the plan!
Ryan: But yeah for the most part, the record’s still new. Some people on Warped Tour are seeing us play those songs for the first time. We’ve got nuggets of new stuff here and there but nothing solid.
Little nuggets.
Tyler: Little tidbits.

Then you still have about half of Warped Tour to go, playing main stage all summer. Kind of what is in the plans for State Champs? You talked about some writing time scheduled but what’s coming up for the band? Take a little break, you have been steadily touring.
Tyler: No breaks. There’s a small break, a very small break. My brother’s getting married. As far as that goes, just tour and write and just chill.
Ryan: Yeah we’ve got the rest of Warped Tour then we go to Europe and do some festivals in the UK. We’re doing some stuff with Sleeping With Sirens there.
Tyler: We play a show in a church there. Like full blown operating church.
That’s crazy.
Tyler: It’s going to be weird as hell.
Ryan: The UK has always been really good to us so we’re excited to go back there and do like some cool supporting shows. The last couple times we’ve been there, it’s been a lot of headlining stuff. So that and then a tiny break. Vacation time for me then we get back right into it. Got the writing scheduled, some touring.

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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.

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