INTERVIEW – State Champs : « I think that a lot of Pop Punk bands on our scene are too much focused on negativity…We always just try to be the band who try to be more hopeful. »

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Their video of Secrets reached over 1.5 million views on Youtube and their last album Around The World and Back enjoys great success! The guys of State Champs were here last month for an amazing show in Paris at La Boule Noire and we were here too to enjoy the show and meet Ryan Graham & Evan Ambrosio. Let’s talk about their sound, their fans, their funny memories on tour with bands like Sleeping With Sirens and so much more!

Guys, can you firstly introduce your band?

Ryan: Yeah of course, so I’m Ryan and I play bass.
Evan: I’m Evan and I’m the drummer.
Ryan: Our band, State Champs, is a Pop Rock band from New-York from 2010.

What the story behind the name « State Champs »?

Evan: Our singer Derek had a girl basketball team in his high school and they went to State Championships. We had a show, like the day after, and we still didn’t have a name yet. They won and Derek had a party at his house after. Everybody was screaming “State Champs” and we were like “That’s could be a great name to use” and we never changed.
Ryan: There’s no special meaning but it sounds good. (Laugh)

Your music is full of energy and happiness, what’s your “secrets” to create such powerful songs?

Ryan: I think that a lot of Pop Punk bands on our scene are too much focused on negativity, being sad, kinda like, lot of breakup, anger… We always just try to be the band who try to be more hopeful. You know, like you said, we’ve an energetic sound but we wanted something that matches with the lyrics. I just think we are trying to break away from the pack and that’s why people come to us. There’s a multitude of bands with similar messages and you find a band like ours: fun, full of energy… I just think sometimes people need to escape from their life and the negativity in it…and that’s why State Champs works.

Actually you’ve done have amazing job with your last album and most of the songs are really catchy but you chose the name of the slow one for the name of this album…Why such a surprising choice? Maybe we could expect something more representative…

Evan: When we wrote all these songs, we were literally everywhere. We were touring for two years and didn’t have time to write a record at home. We were just on the road, writing…Ryan wrote All You Are Is History during The Warped Tour in 2014. I just think when Derek was writing the lyrics, it seems like an obvious choice.
Ryan: We couldn’t think about a great name for this album until that came. It just made sense. We wrote this album around the world and back so it worked out.

Do you already have a favorite track on this last album?

Evan: My favorite track on it is, I think, Perfect Score. Not only ‘cause of the energy but because of the way the lyrics go.
Ryan: I really remember writing that song, me, you and Derek. ‘Cause I play bass, he plays drums, we’re the rhythmic section and I do think we can hear it in this song.
Evan: I think there’s a video online you can see us in the studio, Ryan was tracking bass and Derek started singing the melody over it. When I heard that I knew that song’s gonna be special.
Ryan: Originally, it was supposed to be the first single and obviously Derek changed…For me I think ‘cause there’s a difference between my favorite song on the record and my favorite to play live, I would say Secrets for the album because it’s one of the song I’m the most proud of writing and playing live…All You Are Is History, just because on it, everybody goes crazy.

I do have the feeling you felt more comfortable working on this album…

Evan: Oh yeah, definitely! Especially, the first one (editor’s note : The Finer Things), seemed a little rushed in my opinion. I feel like Around The World and Back took us more time…
Ryan: There is a lot of pressure going into it because people really liked The Finer Things so they were waiting to see what we were gonna do. So that pressure kinda actually made me wanna work harder on the record and I just try to put everything I had into it so people wouldn’t by disappointed. But I think we are more experienced ‘cause we spend lot of time on the road, spending time together…
Evan: It was clearly a more stressful environment ‘cause for The Finer Things people didn’t know what to expect. But I do think this record is better actually because of this pressure.

In your music videos you are most of the time on the road, you seem to like being on tour a lot…

Ryan: It’s actually one of the coolest part of being in a band. It opens you up to so many opportunities to meet people, to see new things and you play in amazing places like Paris. I never thought I’d be here. So being on the road is really cool on that regard but there are also hardships. You miss a lot of things, you miss your family and friends, and sometimes because of the time zone it’s hard to communicate. You are missing birthdays, weddings sometimes, so there are some ups and downs but I think that for all of the cons, the pros win.
Evan: Like Ryan said, it’s the most fun thing. Especially this tour, we are doing so many spots we’ve never done. And I think it’s good because after writing during a long time for the next record, you still working musically, it’s cool but it’s very different, it’s always great to go back on tour and play on stage.

You play many festivals now, what’s your favorite one so far?

Ryan & Evan: Reading & Leeds!
Evan: Reading was a dream came true especially on the main stage for the first time being on the festival, it’s something really special…
Ryan: And I’d say Warped Tour…Some people don’t think of it as a festival but it is! It’s just a long one! So the fact that we could do Warped Tour last year was really really fun.
Evan: I think it has always been my favorite. It just THE summer!

It’s a very different concept for a festival. I think that many French people would like to have the same here, we’re kinda jealous…

Ryan: Yeah that’s really different, so American… It’s more like a summer camp.
Evan: Yeah, it’s not like just playing music all day. You are with all your friends, hangout, it feels like a summer camp…It’s the best way to spend your summer in my opinion.

So, I guess it’s the perfect time to share some gossip! With all these festivals you must have some stories to share with us!

Ryan: Strangely, I feel like during festivals we are really well behave. I think that when you’re playing a big stage for a first time you have to be on your best behavior. We wanna play well, you know what I’m saying… Afterwards, sometimes things go little crazy…Actually, last night in Bordeaux, our van broke down. We’re supposed to be here earlier today to do all the touring stuff but our van broke up so we ended up going to this boat party, drinking all night. We were just drinking a bunch of really really great wines…
Evan: People there were super nice. They opened up the kitchen for us. We get there and it was closed…
Ryan: Things became really crazy after that. I mean there was like a party on a boat, like on the river, until 6am. I was definitely partying pretty hard, drinking lot of wine. (laugh)

You have done so many tours with great bands like All Time Low, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Sleeping With Sirens, It must be fun. I’m sure you have a lot of funny stories. You can tell us everything, we’re gonna keep secrets…

Evan: (laugh) They are all incredible people…I don’t know any gossip but all the bands you mentioned just treated us so well…
Ryan: They treated us so well but they definitely like to pick on us (laugh)…but in a friendly way you know. We were the band that they bring on so they treated us like their little brothers or something like that. It was very cool but those guys are crazy. All of them know how to party, especially Sleeping With Sirens. We have a lot of fun with those guys, they are awesome. We played a show in Alaska with them and we got a party bus. We were just going crazy all day, just like driving around, drinking, dancing, just having a good time. So that was a pretty good time for us and for Sleeping With Sirens.
Evan: The party bus is fun. It’s good to see them later.

And you’ll be with them again on stage this summer in France, Lyon, at the Longlive Rockfest Festival…

Ryan: Oh yeah! It’s gonna be fun!

And what’s next?

Ryan: Right now we are working on a new music, on something new and everyone is gonna learn about it very soon. We’re gonna release some new stuff. I don’t wanna give away too much but you’ll find out really soon. But we’re working on a new record, very slowly but we are writing songs and… just touring, touring, touring…There’s this European tour and then we go home and then US tour and we come back this summer in Europe for a bunch of festivals…We’re gonna go to Philippines for the first time too. So we can say that we play lot of shows and between we just write some new songs on the road.

You European tour began this week, how is it so far?

Evan: This tour is just incredible! We don’t do Europe often. It was cool going to Spain and Portugal for the first time and some of the shows are sold out. And at the end of the show, kids are just coming on stage. It was just amazing. The shows are incredible.
Ryan: We didn’t know what to expect ‘cause we’ve never gone to Portugal or Spain before but it seems that everybody’s there was waiting for us to come ‘cause they were excited that we were there. The shows were amazing and I’m sure that tonight’s gonna be amazing too. That’s sold out so…It’s gonna be awesome!

Portuguese and Spanish are really great fans…

Evan: Exactly, they show us so much love there. That’s really cool to see that.

Is it your first time in Paris?

Ryan: Second time. We played here in 2015. We played right down the street (ndrl Boulevard de Rochechouart).

Did you know some French?

Ryan: I studied French in high school a little bit but I was a bad student. I was just like copying on the other papers. But I know the basics like “Bonjour”…
Evan: « Oui, oui… »
Ryan: « Salut, je m’appelle Ryan… »
Evan: I think it’s a beautiful language. I mean very difficult but it sounds beautiful. Love it.
Ryan: I’m sorry I let you down but I don’t know this much (laugh).

No matters, fans are awesome and gonna teach you some french. Do you have a special message for them?

Evan: We love you? (laugh) Thank you for coming…
Ryan: I would like to say something in French but I don’t know any nice words in French… (laugh). No, we just want to thank you guys ‘cause you guys are awesome and last show here was just amazing…
Evan: It’s sold out tonight so we couldn’t thank you enough. That’s the coolest thing in the world.
Ryan: And mostly, sorry we don’t know more French. Please, don’t hold it against us! (laugh)

Don’t forget, State Champs gonna be back in France for two more shows in june, with Good Charlotte in Paris and for the LongLive Rockfest Festival. Don’t keep it secret !


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