Courtesy of interviewer Eleanor Hayden, we caught up with State Champs (alongside The Maine and Against The Current) at the Bonner Springs, KS date of the 2016 Tour.
Interviewer: State Champs really started escalating from 2014: one tour, after another, after another without slowing down. How does it feel?
Tyler: Oh we’re perpetually exhausted but it’s all for the bigger picture. Whenever you get down or tired just take a look around, look where you are, all that you’ve done.There’s that coupled with wanting to be home, but after a weekend at home you’re like “Get me out of here.” So it’s just, the grass is always greener or at least you think it is. If you are at home you miss touring, if you’re touring you miss being at home. Everybody has girlfriends, lives, family, but it’s the sacrifice to be living the dream.
Would you say you’re living the dream?
Tyler: Everyday, literally everyday. Sometimes sarcastically but yeah, I’m 24 going on 25, and people I’ve graduated with have kids, married, 9 to 5 jobs, doing shit they don’t want to do. Bands are businesses too, and I’m doing shit I never thought I’d have to deal with like taxes, and crazy stuff like that. But at the end of the day we have a really easy, fun job. Compared to everyone else we graduated with, we’re lucky. We get to have fun, professionally doing State Champs.
How does it feel coming back to Warped?
Tyler: It feels awesome. In 2014 we were on the Kevin Says stage, which isn’t the main stage it’s a smaller one. We were so stoked to be on it but we felt like we had to prove ourselves. We had a chip on our shoulders like we needed to go out there and give it our all, which we always do but there’s a difference between giving it your all because you’re confident and comfortable with the setlist and ripping it versus trying to be like “We’re awesome, look at us, look at what we can do!” We feel so much more comfortable now. We compare it to being like a Freshmen in 2014 and now we’re upperclassmen this year, walking the halls of Warped Tour and seeing all of our homies and slapping high-fives. Whereas 2014, we were timid, and worried about upsetting people, stepping on any toes. This year I’ll step on anybodies toes and apologise for it later.
What would you say your favourite part of Warped Tour is?
Tyler: There’s such camaraderie between everyone out here. The crew, the bands, the production – we’re all out here doing the same grind. The best part about Warped Tour is everybody is on the same level, there’s no special treatment. Like, I was telling a story the other day. I was waiting to use the bathroom and someone in a band I grew up loving ran in and was like “Oh man, I really have to go to the bathroom”. And I was like this is funny because we are on the same level even though your band sold infinitely more records than my band has or maybe ever will, but we’re still waiting for the bathroom together. Warped Tour just erases the idea of a ‘Rockstar Attitude’, and it grounds everybody. You can all have fun, talking to people from Yellowcard or New Found Glory because they’re on the same level, in the same lines, eating the same food, all on the same level. So there are no cliques – I think the idea of cliques only works if you buy into them. If you see a group of people and you think you can’t go over there But I will walk up to people in a ‘clique’ and smash it out. Everything feels equal. A lot of tours aren’t that way.
Would you say this is your favourite tour State Champs have done?
Tyler: It’s definitely one of them, this one was really good and so was the one back in 2015 with All Time Low was amazing. That was a really great show.
I couldn’t imagine being in your shoes – I think I would be starstruck.
Tyler: I used to be, like I dated a girl who knew a bunch of famous people and I would be so nervous talking to them and it was super obvious. I learned in that moment that famous people, or people in bigger bands, don’t want to be treated that way, they just want to be treated normally, which works out well because people want to be treated like people. There are some people who are starstruck by us and in my mind State Champs are nowhere near there yet.
You change your hair quite often, any reason?
Tyler: Yeah, this green is pretty recent. It was purple, then blue, now green. I’m trying to stay with cooler colours. I was thinking about doing a red or pink but that’s kind of mental and too hot and then it might fade to like a bad orange or something. But it’s fun, I change it every two or three weeks. I’m actually growing it out, and when it gets a little bit more I’m just going to cut it all off. Basically, I want it to be long enough so when I cut the colour out I won’t look gross. I don’t have time to let my hair grow back in. I don’t want to look like Bieber after he buzzcut his dreads and bleached it. He looked insane.
You guys are playing a couple of festivals right after this, right?
Tyler: Yeah, we’re going to be playing Reading & Leeds festival, and some other festivals for about a week or so. We have a day and half at home, and my mom has already called and told me “I know you only get a day at home but I’m taking you out to lunch, I need to see you, I need to talk to you.” I’m all hers honestly. I’m hoping she nourishes me back to full health in a day. We fly to Europe, be super jet lagged.
Are the festivals over there very similar or very different?
Tyler: They’re similar, but honestly pretty different. Like it’s still a festival and whatnot but over there it’s huge. One festival does twenty to thirty thousand whereas Warped has maybe ten to fifteen. So it’s like triple Warped Tour. However, over there like merch doesn’t sell as much over there. As far as Warped Tour, people go for bands and for the merch. When I was younger I used to do all my back to school shopping at Warped. It’s like, you want to have that stuff. In Europe it seems like everyone is there more for the experience, chilling out and having drinks. There’s camping and stuff.
How does it make you feel knowing that fans stand in the heat for hours waiting for you to perform?
Tyler: I think they are crazy. Drink plenty of water, which is funny because I’m currently drinking a Coke, but I remember one show in Chicago where we played through one song and this girl passed out and we pulled her on the stage, and when she came to and was okay we walked her off stage. She said “I just wanted to see you guys”. It breaks my heart but take care of yourself, drink water. We met a guy who told us “I haven’t eaten all day” and I’m like “Why not? Take of yourself or you’re going to die at the barricade and you’ll literally never see State Champs again.” It’s super flattering, don’t get me wrong. That’s the biggest difference between 2014 and now, people are here for us. Some people come up during the signing and tell us “We’re only here to see you guys” and I’m like “You bought a $50 ticket to see State Champs?” It’s just crazy.
It probably seems even crazier because it all happened so fast, it’s hard to process it all. But I will say you have remained extremely humble and grounded.
Tyler: My mom would kick my ass if I let it all get to my head, but we were all raised to be humble boys.
You guys have gone to Europe before, do you expect anything different from the festivals?
Tyler: Not really anything different, we get to play with a bunch of different bands like Reading & Leeds fest has The 1975 and The Wombats and I’m super excited to see those bands because I haven’t before. It’s very rare we get to play with bands outside of our genre. Warped is Rock-Metal to Pop-Metal and that’s cool and I like that stuff, but I also liked indie bands. It’s not often we get to do stuff that takes us in a different direction.
If you had to put a concert together and you were headlining, who would you bring on the tour with you?
Tyler: I mean, as far as headlining goes I wouldn’t want to headline but I would love to open for a Catfish and the Bottlemen show. I love them, they’re just a rock band, a four piece who rock out and it’s sick. The 1975 is sick, Foals is awesome. I would want to do something different. But I still want to play a show with Paramore and Fall Out Boy.
You guys recently released an acoustic album, what was the inspiration for that?
Tyler: We realised we only get to be State Champs once, unless you’re super lucky and can do a bunch of different stuff. We did what we wanted to do. We grew up listening to certain bands and when those bands put out acoustic EPs or bonus tracks it was awesome. We half wanted to do the same, but the other half was confidence to recreate our music and strip it back to the foundation and make it sound good. It’s two different worlds but it’s awesome, remodeling the same house almost.