We used to parade around talking about defending pop punk, but it really is so much more fun just to celebrate it. That’s precisely what New York advocates State Champs intend to do, carrying with them a call to arms against toxicity under the banner of their fourth studio album, Kings of the New Age. Currently touring down under alongside contemporaries The Maine and with support from Hot Milk and Paperweight, we speak to frontman Derek DiScanio about the state of the scene in 2022.
Does it feel like this scene is the same one that you left when we all went into lockdown for the pandemic? Is it different at all?
It’s kind of weird because it feels like we just skipped a chapter of the scene’s life. You know, like everyone’s just all of a sudden two years older and no one knows what we missed, if that makes sense…There’s a whole change in the scene and there are new artists and there is new sonic popularity of types, and whatnot. I think the diehard fans are still there and they never left. And then there’s a fanbasethat are new fans that have never been exposed to a scene like ours, that are coming and finding out about bands like us in different ways, whether it’s the internet or mutual artists that are new and stuff like that. So it does feel like it’s still here, that scene that we always knew, but it’s a little bit exposed to new fans as well. And people are learning about our style of pop punk, which is nice. And whether that’s from just the new wave of new artists and stuff, I think there’s a merge happening here that I is for the better. I’m not one for gatekeeping and being like, “No, I knew them before they were popular.” There’s a space for everybody in this scene. And it’s exciting to see where it’s gonna go, you know?
That’s very in line with the message of their latest album, which you’ve said is about pushing away toxicity and negativity. Has that message gone down the way that you wanted it to?
Absolutely. And I think that’s something that everybody needed, after a long pandemic, a reason to, you know, be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel and to be able to push away negativity, but also to be aware that it’s okay to feel those things and know that there are tough times. Everybody can relate to each other when it comes down to just, at the end of the day, doing the things that you love and celebrating the things that do make you happy, whether that’s live music, whether that’s being alone and doing things by yourself, whatever that may be. The reception’s been great. I think it goes a long way and that’s always been the message of the band, more of an uplifting and positive energy, whether that’s lyrically, sonically or with our live show and our presence itself. That’s something that will never change about the band. I do think we’re just being a little bit more vulnerable these days and trying to be more vocal about the process to get there, if that makes sense.
It does. How do you, personally even, defend that? How do you make sure that you do stay positive with everything going on?
I think personally it’s been one thing with me where I kind of keep everything inside. Like, you know, even emotional things or mental stuff that gets you down, you kind of let things bottle up. I know a lot of people do the same thing too, especially with social media and how open a lot of things are, and public things are, in the right or wrong ways. That can get to you sometimes too. For me, it’s been pretty cool to let myself be vulnerable and be okay with talking about things that, you know, get me down or that are a struggle with me, whether it’s mentally, physically, whatever. I think it’s been nice to have outlets and that’s been a thing with me and my bandmates too, with what we’ve been talking about. It’s just like, “It’s okay to talk to each other. We’re brothers here, all going through the same things.” It has been one thing that’s important to me now, knowing that there’s a good support system around me, surrounding yourself in an environment, with a group of people that can lift you up in down times. I think that’s something that everyone should know, and it’s something that we’ve been expressing through the music, through our socials, through our live show. It’s something that we wanna make sure everybody knows is okay, you know?
Given, that’s your message, fans would find solace in the band and, I guess, comfort in the positivity. Is that your message to them when they come up to you and tell you that you changed their lives?
Yeah, definitely. It’s so funny, I was just gonna talk about that too. Fans will come up to me and be like, “You saved my life” or “your songs saved my life and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.” Obviously I don’t want to take it lightly, but always, my immediate response is that I didn’t do shit. You did that. You know, you, you did that yourself. Whatever it took you to get to that point of saving yourself is awesome. We were just glad to be the soundtrack. So thanks for listening, but like, we didn’t do anything, you did it. And it’s cool that there’s like influence and motivation through song and through, you know, through lyrics or something that you can latch onto. But I think people have got to give themselves more credit and stop saying that we saved their lives. It’s definitely cool to be involved and to be the soundtrack to someone doing that and figuring out something within themselves.
The other artists that you’re touring with in Australia, you have The Maine, Hot Milk and Paperweight, such amazing bands. Did you plan for it to be kind of like a mini Sad Summer Fest or was it a happy coincidence to get together such a solid lineup?
I think a little bit of both. We’ve been talking with The Maine for so long about doing a proper tour together, and when the idea for Australia came up, we’re like, “Absolutely.” So this is cool, ’cause we’ve done festival tours together, we’ve done Warped Tour, Sad Summer…But to team up on this Australian tour together is gonna be really, really fun since we already have a relationship and we’re fans of each other’s bands. You can expect us hanging out backstage and watching each other’s sets from the stage, and maybe a little bit of collaboration. even. We’ll see what happens there, and Hot Milk are new, awesome friends of ours. We love those guys and we’ve been hanging out with them all summer here at Sad Summer Fest. It’s their first time to Australia.
State Champs, The Maine, Hot Milk & PAPERWEIGHT 2022 Tour
Thursday, 1st September
The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)
Friday, 2nd September
Forum, Melbourne (18+)
Sunday, 4th September
Roundhouse, Sydney (Lic AA)
Tuesday, 6th September
The Gov, Adelaide (Lic AA)
Thursday, 8th September
Magnet House, Perth (18+)