Finally, things are starting to look up, live music is recovering after the blows it took from COVID-19 and Australia is getting some of the best established, and up and coming live bands in the world. One of those acts is none other than New York’s own State Champs who are heading back to Australian shores in September with fellow Americans The Maine, UK’s Hot Milk, and Melbourne/Naarm’s Paperweight. Ahead of the tour, and I was lucky enough to catch some time with State Champs frontman Derek DiScanio to chat about the tour, dream collaborations, and heaps more!
I couldn’t chat with Derek and not ask him about the band’s latest album Kings Of The New Age (check our review here), and asked him where the name of the album came from:
“Kings Of The New Age is kind of like a new philosophy for State Champs. You know obviously, the pandemic happened and we took a lot of breaks from touring, and breaks for even making music and being in the studio. We wanted to reassert ourselves in the scene here, reassert ourselves mentally as a mainstay in the genre and be proud of what we do and be grateful for how long we’ve been able to do this. But also kinda plant our flag in the ground as being one of the best that do what we do, and have a bit more of a confidence and a bit more of an ego. We were the young, grinding, humble fresh band on the scene for a long time, and now that we’ve been doing this for 10+ years, I think we know the reasons that we’re still here and still growing our community and Kings of The New Age is the story about that.”
I pressed on stating I feel like you guys still are grinding, and that’s something that never really stops even when you are established.
“The grind never stops, that’s true.”
There are a lot of collabs on the album and you guys do collabs quite a lot, if you had to pick a favourite off the record, could you?
“You know the wild card on the album is bringing in someone like Mitchell Tenpenny on the song ‘Act Like That’, and everybody didn’t know what to expect from it since he’s a country star. Everyone thought it was gonna be a country song, or our take on country, but obviously, it’s a little bit more of a shiny pop song, but it’s still a State Champs, energetic, pop punk song in our eyes. It just brings a new take from someone outside of the genre, to bring it together at the end. That was a really fun one to do, it was our first time meeting Mitchell and we got to do the music video together and I think it’s been one of the favourites of the album with the fans so I think that was a special one for us.”
State Champs have done some epic collaborations in the past, including another one on Kings Of The New Age with Ben Barlow of Neck Deep, but I had to ask Derek if there was anyone that they haven’t collaborated with yet?
“I think there’s a lot of ideas out there. One that I think of right off the top of my head, I’m a huge Paramore fan and now that they’re reasserting themselves back in the scene and coming back and doing shows again who knows? Maybe she (referring to the Queen herself, Hayley Williams) wants to be friends.”
That would be so good, I’m just trying to imagine what that would sound like in my head! Derek and I shared a laugh here and I could just hear the smile in his voice as he continued.
“She’s kinda my idol in pop punk and singing in general, my biggest influence at least. I grew up loving Paramore so that would be a dream come true.”
Let’s put that out into the universe!
“You got any plug with Paramore, come on, help us out!”
I told Derek that I would tweet at her, so I also put it to you State Champs fans, let’s get online and tweet at and tag Hayley asking for a State Champs and Paramore collaboration.
I turned the conversation to TikTok and how it’s gotten a lot more popular recently, asking Derek if there were any songs from the new album, or their catalogue, that he could see becoming TikTok trends.
“We had some success with it when the release of ‘Everybody But You’ happened, and we tried to make challenges out of it and there was even people making dances to it. It’s funny how much TikTok is taking over the music scene and how much of a tool it is for growing artists and what it can really do, and leapfrog people from nothing to something. It’s a crazy thing that we’re still trying to figure out and adapt to as marketing and social media has changed the world in music. ‘Everybody But You’ is a pretty cool one that has gone really well on TikTok at least, but we’ll see. It’s funny now, it’s like do we make songs knowing that that’s how it’s gonna go and play into the TikTok game? That’s not something we do, but it works out well when it’s something that can be used wisely.”
I think you can try ‘too hard’ to be trendy, and it’s a weird kind of thing that’s happened.
“People can kind of see right through that I think when it’s a little bit try-hardy to make something go viral on purpose. I feel like it’s more genuine when it just happens and it’s organic like that. “
Next, we talked about the tour, and how State Champs are FINALLY coming back to Australia! Not that it’s your fault that it’s been a while, a pandemic happened!
“Finally! I know it’s been too long. There’s just a big gap in the touring world obviously, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been dying to come back. It’s one of my favourite places to be in the world.”
Why is that? A lot of US artists (at least ones I’ve talked to) seem to say that Australia is one of their favourite places to tour…
“I don’t know if it’s just coz it’s so far away from us, since we only get to go so often. But when we’re there, something about the vibe when we’re there, the fans there are awesome, the weather is beautiful, the people are beautiful. We always seem to make great new friends there and have so much fun. I’m excited to keep growing out there and get back to it, you know?”
Is there a certain city that you’re really excited to come back to?
“I think Melbourne’s always been my favourite city. I think we have the most friends there and we have the best shows there, there and Sydney obviously. But Melbourne is probably one of my most excited cities to come back to.”
State Champs are coming out with The Maine, Hot Milk and Paperweight, have you toured with them before?
“The Maine we have, we’ve done a couple Warped Tours (RIP) with them, we did South-East Asia with them, and we’ve done Sad Summer Fest before, so we know The Maine quite well and I’m a fan of the band too so that’ll be awesome. Hot Milk we’re actually out on tour with right now. They’re opening up for us on Sad Summer and we get along with them awesome too. We’ve caught ourselves hanging out late night, outside of the buses with those guys and it’s their first time to Australia so I’m excited to show them the way around as well.”
Do you guys get any time off while you’re down here? Or is it pretty much fly in, fly out for this tour?
“You know, there’s a funny way about touring Australia because we fly every day, the cities are so spread out. Which is something we’re not really used to because you can’t really be in a tour bus in Australia because the drives are so far, but we definitely take advantage of seeing the sights and being touristy, especially when we don’t get to be there for that often. Even if we do just have the beginning of the day before the show, or if we do have a day off, we’re out exploring, finding cool restaurants, cool activities to do, and if we have friends in the area. We like to go golfing in Australia, and we like to go to the casinos and find the best restaurants. It’s gonna be fun to do all that again.”
If you haven’t done it before I recommend going down the alleyways in Melbourne as there’s some really cool artwork.
“That…sounds sketchy!” he replies.
I reassured Derek that it’s not, promising there’s a lot of really cool places and recommended a few, as well as karaoke and escape rooms if they enjoy that. Last time State Champs were here was for UNIFY Gathering in 2019, which is a weird thing as well because that was in a field in the middle of nowhere.
“Yeah and that was crazy too, because we literally flew in for that and then we were out of there. We didn’t have any time to chill at all and the time that we were there, was in that field in the middle of nowhere. So it was such a tease that we didn’t get to spend more time in more cities and enjoy Australia because we jetted straight out to Europe or to Japan. It’s nice that we’re gonna be able to post up in somewhere for a little while.”
Do you think that we’ll get a headlining State Champs soon? Please?
“I hope so! I mean this is technically co-headline, so we’re gonna get the full State Champs experience, as well as the full The Maine experience but we will obviously come back for sure and play even longer.”
What kind of happens in the dressing room before you guys go on? Is there a certain song you listen to to pump yourselves up?
“Sometimes! It kinda always changes and it’s funny because there’s 4 of us in the band, some days some of us are kinda like whatever, maybe just in in a chill mode, and some days some of us are in a party mode. Then if you find the days where we’re all energetic getting ourselves ready to go we’re listening to music really loud, and having drinks and getting going, then some days Ryan (Scott Graham) our bass player will be sleeping under a table until 5 minutes before we play so it’s very unpredictable. We like to chill, we like to snack, we like to drink, we like to just chill and hang with the other bands. It’s always different, you never really know with State Champs.”
Sleeping under a table? That sounds very nice.
“He does that more than you’d think! He always says ‘I’m gonna take a 12 minute nap’ and that’s what he does. It’s a 12 minute nap and then wakes up with 5 minutes before we go and stage and somehow he flips the switch and he’s dancing like a maniac on stage and nobody would ever know he was asleep under a table 7 minutes before.”
Is it always under a table?
“Not under a table. Anywhere he can find he’ll put his hat over his face and clonk out for a little bit. I’ll send you a picture next time I catch him doing it!”
Yes please! Just tweet it and then we can all enjoy it. I asked Derek if he had any flying tips, and if he was good at sleeping on planes?
“You know what, with how much we do fly now I am definitely a trained professional when it comes to sitting down in my seat and I will fall asleep before the plane takes off, and I will wake up upon landing. It’s kind of hard to do that because the flight from America to Australia is so long, but domestic flights that’s what I find myself doing. So I don’t have any other tips besides trying to get a window seat coz that’s the easiest way to sleep.”
That is a talent my friend, getting on a plane and sitting down and falling asleep? Well done.
“My girlfriend hates me for it, because when we fly together she cannot sleep on flights so she’s like ‘you’re just gonna leave me alone?’ and I’m like ‘yeah, sorry!’”
Finally, I asked Derek if there was one thing he’d like to say to us Australian fans before they come out, what would it be?
“They’ve always been so good to us, it’s exciting that we’re finally coming back so I appreciate their patience, and it’s very cool that we’ve been growing this community together and we’ve been grinding. We won’t make you wait as long as we made you wait this time for the next tour, we promise!”
Interview by Kelsey Trevan @Kelsey_139
State Champs kick off their Australian Tour
with The Maine, Hot Milk and Paperweight next week!!
State Champs Australian Tour
Supported by The Maine, Hot Milk and Paperweight
Thurs 1st September @ The Tivoli, Brisbane
Fri 2nd September @ The Forum, Melbourne
Sunday 4th September @ The Roundhouse, Sydney
Tuesday 6th September @ The Gov, Adelaide
Thursday 8th September @ Magnet House, Perth