Pop punk band State Champs's second full-length album "Around The World and Back" freaking rules. Derek Discanio, Ryan Scott Graham, Tyler Szalkowski, Tony Diaz and Evan Ambrosio make up the Albany, New York,-based band, who is currently killing it on a full U.S. tour with The Wonder Years and Motion City Soundtrack.
MTV News caught up with State Champs' lead singer Derek in New York City on the opening night of the tour to talk about life on the road, international fan encounters, 5SOS hangs, and Taylor Swift references.
Here's what we learned:
State Champs have literally gone "Around The World and Back":
"I had never left North America before we started the band," Derek told MTV News, "It was very cool to finally put the record out and then they were like, 'Well you’re going to go to Australia, Japan, Europe…' and I was not ready for it at all. I thought interacting with fans from countries where they don’t speak English was going to be a very difficult thing but everywhere we go they always speak pretty good English. It makes me feel bad because I can’t speak any other languages but it's very cool to interact and see what everybody else's vibes are around the world."
How a kickback turned into an international touring gig:
"We met 5 Seconds Of Summer briefly back in April when we were out in Los Angeles recording the new album. Michael actually direct messaged me on Twitter and was like, 'Here’s my number. Hit me up tonight -- we’re going to have a party at our house.' We show up and they have this like huge mansion at the top of Bel Air overlooking the whole city of L.A. and we just hung out, it was fun. They’re very normal dudes and we clicked pretty much instantly," Derek explained.
"They told us they didn’t have a band to open for them on the Australian leg of their tour and asked if we would be down to do it and we were just kind of like, 'Yeah, sure, whatever!' We didn’t know if they’d actually have any say in it, but the formal and official offer for the tour actually came in on April Fools Day, so we thought it was a joke! Shortly after that we found out it was a real thing so we were like, 'Alright! Let’s do it! Why not?' It’s not like it was a big commitment or anything, it was only a few shows. We had a blast. We don’t regret it at all. I think it really only helped us as a band."
The band did double duty while in Australia:
"When 5SOS offered us to do the Australian leg of their tour it was only like seven shows. But we didn’t want to take it for granted. We wanted to go as hard as we could and live in the moment for those seven shows. The first night in a city we would do the big 5SOS show in an arena and then the second night we would do a headlining show at a much smaller club venue. It was cool to bounce back and forth from this new thing we’ve never done before -- introduce ourselves to 15,000 people, playing in these huge arenas -- and then switch to the atmosphere of our headlining shows, which were like 300 to 400 people packed into this small, sweaty room and they’re all there to see us more intimately and go hard and have a good time.
We wanted to give back to our fans who actually knew about us before the 5SOS announcement. The 5SOS shows were sold out before we were even announced as openers, so people who wanted to see us obviously couldn’t get tickets so we decided to do those back and forth shows. I feel like everyone really appreciated it and we had fun with it too."
They received a sick invite to The Madden Brothers Studio:
"Before we went in to record the new album, Joel Madden came out to one of our shows in Anaheim. He came by himself and didn’t need anything -- just wanted to come hang, meet all of us and see what we’re all about, which was very cool. The show was at a really small club, sold out, and it was packed with lots of energy. He was like, 'This reminds me of like 2001 when we were just getting going! I see a lot in you guys. I want you to come to my studio and at least track some of your album there.'
"So he would... be like, “I’ve got like two hours, let’s jam, let’s do this!” and he would sit down with a notepad and give us notes on songs. It was cool to see him very motivated and excited to help out. If you told me 10 years ago that we were going to be working with Joel Madden I would call you such a liar," Derek gushed.
The guys try to be low-key when it comes to seeing their faves:
"We’ve toured with a lot of the bands that made us want to be a band in the first place, bands that we looked up to when we were younger. Now that we’ve toured with bands like All Time Low and New Found Glory, it’s cool to now call those people our friends and what not," Derek admitted.
"It’s not so much of an 'OMG' thing. They actually helped us along the way and showed us little tips and tricks for touring. One situation in particular though... We were at The Alternative Press Music Awards in Cleveland last year and walking down the red carpet, which I don’t think we were even supposed to be on, and we turn around and it’s Slash with the big top hat, long hair, his nose ring. We turned around and we were like, 'That’s Slash, we’re definitely not supposed to be here.' We ran away as fast as we could."
"Around The World and Back" has some Taylor Swift references:
"We’re all huge Taylor Swift fans in the band and we’re not ashamed of it. A lot of people are like, 'What’s your guilty pleasure musically?' but we don’t have guilty pleasures we’re all about letting people know that we love like One Direction, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift.
"In regards to our song 'Secrets,' her chorus and our verse are kind of the same, it was just coincidental. But obviously the songs just don’t sound alike at all. I’m glad that so far it’s not something where people would be like, 'You ripped off Taylor Swift!' because it’s definitely not that. First people hear it and are like, 'Oh, I’ve heard that melody before...' and then they hear me say 'blank space' and they’re like, 'Wait a minute!'
"Using the term 'blank space' wasn’t meant to be a reference but then when that song got huge I started to be like, 'Oh it might be cool if I could add in a couple more Taylor Swift references through out the album.' There’s about three throughout the whole album that lyrically and melodically reference Taylor. I’m excited to see if people pick up on them as people start listening to it more."
State Champs fans are hard core and v supportive.
"One thing that’s pretty memorable, and was just crazy to us, is when we did the 5 Seconds Of Summer tour and we flew into the Sydney airport and got off the plane and there were like girls everywhere waiting. We were like, “Oh we’ll get out of the way we know you’re probably waiting for 5SOS or whatever,” and they were like, “No! We’ve been here since the morning waiting for you guys. Can we take some pictures?!” It was like a hundred people just hanging there waiting for us, that’s something that’s never happened, and I don’t know if it will ever happen again, but it was a very cool feeling. We had just got off a long flight. We were all in sweatpants and hoodies, we did not expect that at all. It was fun though."