Walking past an eager crowd of pop-punk teenagers with multi-coloured hair and an assortment of band tees, I made my way into The 1865, one of Southampton’s newer venues, to meet up with drummer Evan Ambrosio and guitarist Tyler Szalkowski from the Albany, New York based band State Champs. Here, I got the chance to talk with them about their first UK headline tour, their upcoming album Around The World And Back and their desire to create genuine, refreshing music away from their hometown scene.
So, guys! Sold out show in Southampton, are you excited for it? How are you finding touring the UK?
Tyler: We’re excited for the show, but we’re pretty tired – we were in London in Islington last night and sold out there too! But all of that kinda goes away when you hit the stage so I think we’ll be pretty ready to go. Touring around the UK is awesome – we love it here, we’ve been here three times now and it hasn’t gotten old yet by any means. The shows keep getting better and better and you can’t get sick of that! It’s really cool.
Evan: Plus, after touring the States so much it’s kinda refreshing to be here.
Have you guys had a chance to look around Southampton today?
Tyler: We haven’t left the venue all day! We’d love to go to Starbucks!
Evan: We love visiting Starbucks around the world.
Tyler: Yeah, Around The Starbucks and Back!
Haha! So what has it been like touring with the supporting bands, Knuckle Puck and ROAM?
Tyler: Well we’ve toured with ROAM before, so we knew what they’d be like, but it’s our first time touring with Knuckle Puck and they’re really fun to be out with! They are equally as sarcastic as us, so we can talk shit back and forth and it’s funny – some bands you tour with can be a bit awkward.
Evan: Touring with Knuckle Puck is really cool ‘cause it means the show is just hype the entire way through, it’s really a cool package with them.
State Champs’ new album Around The World And Back is out this October. Some songs have already been released and I’m loving them – what should we expect from the rest of the album? Any hidden surprises?
Tyler: Yeah, there are definitely a couple songs that push in different directions – maybe like two or three songs that are a bit different and do things that we haven’t done before.
Evan: Yeah, looking at things we haven’t touched on as a band yet, which is kinda cool.
Tyler: For the most part it’s still a State Champs record – even the songs that push in different directions still feel like us, just with a bit of a different vibe.
So in terms of musical influences, what influences State Champs?
Tyler: It’s a hard question, because it’s different for each of us and we didn’t start the band to be just like another! Our main influence when we were starting was just to have fun, just hoping to have fun and to do fun stuff. The whole pop-punk thing kinda happened because we came from a scene that was predominantly metalcore and hardcore, and we wanted to be a breath of fresh air and do something different in a stale scene.
Speaking of musical influences, if you guys could go and see any band or artist (alive or dead!) in concert, who would it be?
Evan: Alive or dead? Well I was just about to say Queen, so!
Tyler: I’d love to see a Nirvana show – it would be nuts, the crowd would be insane!
And if you guys weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
Tyler: I’d probably be getting my degree still, maybe a Masters or a Doctorate – I’d maybe be like a teacher of sorts, I like teaching. People think I’m impatient but I’m really not! I’d probably teach History, but also have a large love for computers, so maybe some sort of Computer Science or History.
Evan: I would have probably gone back to university for Computer Science.
So are you guys thinking about collaborating with anyone in the future? Are there any bands or individuals that you guys would like to work with?
Tyler: Well, there’s a difference between who we think about working with and who we can actually work with! There’s definitely some people we’d love to collab with, like Hayley Williams, 5SOS, they’re all great singers!
I’ll be looking out for it! So, do you guys have any favourite songs to perform, or any favourite songs off the new album at the moment?
Evan: My favourite to play recently is ‘Secrets’.
Tyler: I’d have to go with ‘Secrets’ for live – some of the new stuff needs a bit more focus to play, but Secrets is still loads of fun to do.
Evan: Plus, it’s insane ‘cause the crowd reaction to it has been really cool on this tour – people are going out and learning it and the other new songs as well, which is awesome.
State Champs’ album Around The World And Back is available for pre-order now and is out on October 16th on Pure Noise Records.