Exclusive Interview: State Champs at Slam Dunk 2018

State Champs have had a busy year – and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Not only did they release their first album in a good few years, Living Proof, last week, but they’re heading out on the very last Van’s Warped Tour, and they even managed to stop by the UK for Slam Dunk Festival in May.

We caught up with Derek DiScanio at Slam Dunk North to chat all about Living Proof, breaking into the industry, and the tragic end of Warped Tour.

How are you finding Slam Dunk so far?

It’s been great, we always have a blast here. We keep seeing some of the same fans coming back, each time bringing their best friends and their sisters and their brothers and stuff who are trying to latch on and create this community which is constantly growing – it’s really special.

We always recognise faces in the crowd. I’m like ‘I remember you, and you, and you’ and that’s something we really try to do as much as we can – interact with fans, and make it an experience where we’re connecting with them.

You’re quite active on social media – always sharing snippets from your days on tour and photos from the shows. Is that to do with this fan connection?

We’re big on the Twitter game too – trying to reply and interact with everyone. It’s just part of our brand.

The online and social media presence is always engaging, and always doing so after shows. We take 15 or 20 minutes to hang outside after the shows, thank everybody, and have conversations. It’s the least I can do.

I think I was waiting outside for Hawthorne Heights back in the day – sometimes they come out and sometimes they don’t – but now we play shows with them ourselves and we can yell at them.

You’re due to release your third album Living Proof next month (released June 15) – what can you tell us about it?

It’s definitely the next chapter to State Champs, there are a lot of new production ideas. We’ve worked with new people as well that are our friends and peers like Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low and Mark Hoppus from Blink-182, which we were really nervous about but he was really cool.

So it’s kind of cool for us to think outside the box a little bit. And we took our time, it took us about two years to make this album so I’m excited for everyone to finally hear it.

It’s got something for everyone, it is definitely still a State Champs album – it’s just huge, it’s bigger production value and there’s a little bit more dynamics and changes and energy and definitely something for everyone.

You’ve been together for around eight years now – do you have any advice for bands trying to break into the industry today?

I would say it’s important to keen everything in the same mindset that you’ve always had when you started. I’m in a band with four of my best friends and we just have fun creating music – and never letting anything seem like a job or like a chore. I think that’s really important.

The moment that you start doing it for the wrong reasons is the moment that you start to be in competition with your own self and with your own band, and that’s something that can be toxic. You see bands break up over that everyday – I think that’s really important.

You have a summer full of festivals upcoming – are there any shows you’re most looking forward to?

This summer we’re going to be on the last Van’s Warped Tour so that’s our plan, but we’d love to come back out to Europe. We’ve done Download and Reading and Leeds and now we’re finally back to Slam Dunk.

This was the first festival we ever played in the UK in 2014 and we we’re on the smallest stage. It’s cool to now be considered a headliner and to be on the main stage with bands like Good Charlotte, Sleeping With Sirens, and PVRIS.

I didn’t want to believe Warped Tour was ending – I thought it was kind of a joke, but I guess I get it. They’ve had a legacy for so long that’s so important for bands and for fans.

Did you catch State Champs at Slam Dunk this year? Let us know @CelebMix.

Written by Faith Ridler

Faith Ridler is a UK based student, music journalist, and twenty one pilots aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @FaithLRidler!