Albany, New York, natives Derek DiScanio and Tyler Szalkowski founded the pop-punk band State Champs back in 2010 when they were seniors in high school. In the years since, they’ve become known as one of the best bands on the scene today. They’re in the midst of a nationwide tour celebrating their latest release, Living Proof, but DiScanio made time to talk to us from the road about State Champs’ rise to the top.
“I think about this a lot,” he says. “Sometimes I think it has to do with being in the right place at the right time, with a little bit of luck factored in. But I guess that’s being a little bit modest.”
We agree. But when pressed, DiScanio attributed the band’s success mostly to building solid relationships with their most loyal fans.
“We don’t even like to use the term 'fans,'” he says. “We like to use the term 'friends,' because we’re making more friends as we go and we’re sharing the journey with them.”
State Champs has tirelessly alternated between time in the studio creating music and touring across the world. That cycle can be both physically and personally challenging, as the group realized after the release of their second album, Around the World and Back, in 2015.
“We toured so much that we were just exhausted after grinding on the road for so long. We needed to take some time just to ourselves before we started thinking about writing music again,” DiScanio says. “We had just spent so much time together, and it really took awhile to start hanging out again and get motivated.”
It seems like some time apart was healthy for them, and they were able to enjoy the process again when it was time to start work on Living Proof. DiScanio says the track “Our Time To Go” continues to resonate with the group and motivates them to keep moving forward, especially while they’re out on the road.
“While we were recording that song, we just started looking at each other differently and got way more excited about creating and being in a band again,” he says. “We got really stoked about the new chapter of State Champs.”
The U.S. leg of the Living Proof Tour wraps up with a show at Granada Theater this Friday. Along for the ride is an assortment of bands spanning the genre.
“We wanted it to be a mixed bill,” DiScanio says. “Not all the bands make sense together, but in the grand scheme of things they really do.”
First on this “mixed bill” is Grayscale, an up-and-coming pop-punk band from Philadelphia. Veteran emo rockers The Dangerous Summer also join them.
“The Dangerous Summer is an outside-of-the-box kind of band,” DiScanio says. “They’ve been a band for a long time and were actually one of my favorite bands growing up.”
Our Last Night is the final supporting act and definitely the outlier.
“They’re pretty well-known for taking pop songs and translating them into this heavy kind of metal style, which is unique,” DiScanio says. “Even though we’re totally different bands, we have some crossover with our fans, which is exciting too.”
See State Champs, Our Last Night, The Dangerous Summer and Grayscale on Friday at the Granada Theater. Tickets are $23.50.