State Champs are one of the world’s next big pop punk acts and if their new album Living Proof is anything to go by (our review here), it won’t be long until they join the big likes like blink, New Found Glory, Four Year Strong and All Time Low before them. We caught up with bassist Ryan Scott Graham for a quick chinwag about their latest release, their surprise collaboration with Mark Hoppus of blink-182 and how they’re feeling about the demise of the Vans Warped Tour across the states…
Your new album Living Proof is out right now, if someone hasn’t checked it out yet, what are they missing?
You know it’s funny when I was listening to what people were thinking about the last two singles we released, a lot of people were like ‘Oh this has got some Around The World And Back vibes’ or ‘this has got some finer things vibes’ and I just think it’s an amalgamation of everything we’ve been doing up until this point. We’re always trying to push the bar with our songwriting and we want to evolve and sound better. We still want to sound like State Champs, but we want to sound like the next chapter of State Champs so I think they can expect a lot of what they’ve fallen in love with so far, but definitely some evolution.
Speaking of singles, how does a collaboration with the king of pop punk himself Mark Hoppus come to fruition?
Honestly it was really random. We did half the record with John Feldman right; John and Mark actually live in the same neighbourhood, So we were doing a session and John was like ‘Do you guys mind if my friend Mark comes around for a minute?’. None of us had any idea he meant Mark Hoppus.
He said it so casually we just thought ‘Okay one of Johns thousands of friends are just going to stop by. But he just walks in and immediately is like ‘ Hey I was humming this melody on the way over here and I’ve got this idea for a bass line’ and we were just like Okay you’re Mark Hoppus… what’s happening right now?’. Hilariously enough it was totally unplanned and really just this spontaneous fun thing.
Well running with the theme of crazy; since the fruition of the band, what’s been the most “No way this is real moment” for you?
We’ve had some really interesting, fun moments on the road. For me I always look back at the tour we did with 5 Seconds Of Summer in Australia in 2015, because it was so funny; We were playing these sold out arena shows and then on our off days we were playing our own headline shows. So were were going from 15 thousand cap arenas where about 95 percent of them have never heard of us to these small grungy 400 caps where people are sweating and crowd surfing and losing their minds. It was just the juxtaposition of the types of shows that were happening in the span of two weeks of touring that was just so funny and so memorable to me.
One of the funniest things was that some of the people that did come to the 5 second of summer show were like ‘I liked the opening band I’ll go see them on their headliner show’ and you could tell which fans were the 5sos fans because they were standing in the back, probably never seen anything like the punk show that was happening. It was beautiful
So shows are pretty wild, what about your off time on the road? Any crazy tour shenanigans?
Well this isn’t a purposeful shenanigan on our part, but straight after Warped Tour 2016 was probably the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to us on tour. We actually got stranded by our bus driver. He just straight up left in the middle of the night; We were parked in Vegas we were supposed to Phoenix, Arizona. We went to bed that night and we woke up and we were still in the parking lot of the Hard Rock that we’d played the night before.
Evan woke up early in the morning and he called our tour manager and was like ‘ Dave I think we’re where we were parked last night’ and we needed to be in Phoenix which is a 6 hour drive. Come to find out that our bus driver just didn’t want to show up, stole some money from us, told us this crazy story about how he got arrested by the las vegas police for j-walking. So we rent these mini vans and we make it just in time for our set; played a hilarious set, drove back to Vegas to get our stuff, flew in a new bus driver… It was just chaos. But I will never forget that. So I want to say thank you to Gator the bus driver for providing us with that great story also you’re an asshole.
That must make every other bus driver seem like angels.
Yeah I mean bus drivers are just a rare breed as it is; they’re just always interesting people… but this guy took the cake.
Speaking of Warped Tour, State Champs are on the final stretch! How are you going to personally say goodbye to the holy pop-punk breeding ground?
Honestly it’s so bittersweet. It’s an honour to be playing the last one but even to be playing Warped Tour in general; It’s such a cool tour, full of so much history. That’s where a ton of bands got their start. Thats where kids like me grew up going to see those bands before they blew up. I’m so curious to see what’s coming next because it’s been such a breakout tour for a lot of bands, including us.
We did our first one in 2014 and before that we didn’t have a crazy following. That’s when we noticed our crowds getting bigger and bigger. Then we did it again in 2016 and we played the main stage which was such a jump. So I’m really hoping something comes to fill that space for some of the up and coming younger bands.
Best of luck on the tour, congrats on the new album and thanks for the chat.
Interview by Bree Vane @Briebrebree
Living Proof is out now. Grab a copy here