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State Champs

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Ahead of their appearance with Neck Deep at HQ (all-ages) on Wednesday, September 3, and for Jurassic at Flyrite on Thursday, September 4, guitarist, Tyler Szalkowski, speaks with AARON BRYANS about the emotional journey surrounding the release of State Champs’ debut album, The Finer Things.

Pop punk is far from dead. The revitalised scene has seen its fair share of bands blossom especially in the US; and State Champs has taken the genre by storm quickly rising up the ranks since their formation in 2010.

Having signed to Pure Noise Records in 2012, the band were finally able to release their debut full-length album, The Finer Things, which saw them take a full step forward from their prior release and mature in terms of sound.

The Finer Things was the first album that we had worked with a producer on,” guitarist, Tyler Szalkowski, explains.

“Steve Klein from New Found Glory really got us thinking differently about how to make a record and everything that he has taught us still sticks with me today when working on new songs for the next record. He really got us thinking outside of the box; doing cooler and different things, being more innovative. We as musicians have continued to grow and develop just like anybody would and that couples with working with a producer for the first time.”

“It was a huge obstacle we all overcame together, the record was awesome for everyone. It was the reward we were all waiting for. We’d worked so long and hard on the record and it was a really stressful time for everybody; so to release it and it be received as well as it was, it was really great for everyone and boosted morale. We didn’t really expect to have such a crazy response to it, we all believed in it, we were all excited about it and we’re just happy that the kids like it too.”

The process wasn’t easy however, with the members facing personal struggles within and outside of the band. For Tyler, support from his band mates proved the difference, preventing him from walking away from the project and helping him get his life back on track. The entire struggle became the basis of the band’s first single Elevated.

“Around the time that we were making the record I was more or less loosing my mind,” Szalkowski reveals.

“I had almost left the band and it was a pretty dark time for me. My entire world was falling apart; Derek (Discanio, vocalist) had pulled me aside and had talked to me and tried to ground me and really help me out and get me through what was one of the hardest times of my life. It was a dark time, but I’m better now and everything’s great now; but it meant a lot for him to do that for me as a friend.”

The album has skyrocketed the band into the international scene, opening doors for the band to play in the UK, Europe and recently on the Warped tour. Now they’re set to hit the Australian scene with a huge national tour set for September with UK band, Neck Deep.

“We just spent about two months on the Warped tour with Neck Deep and they were telling us how awesome Australia is. I really can’t wait to get over there, everyone says the shows are awesome and it’s so beautiful so I’m pretty pumped.”