Vans Warped Tour Interviews: State Champs

“I feel like the art of being a DJ is dead; no one cares anymore.” Tyler Szalkowski, State Champs

At this year’s Orlando Vans Warped Tour stop, we snuck backstage long enough to snag a few interviews with this year’s most compelling bands.  Over the next five days, we’ll feature a different band from those sessions, starting with the red hot State Champs from Albany, NY.

State Champs' Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour
State Champs’ Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour

With a burst of blue highlights sprinkled atop his flowing hair, I spotted talented guitarist Tyler Szalkowski from State Champs.  During our chat, I gained some insight from the affable musician on the band’s upbringing, their new music, the miserable US Radio scene, and their Warped Tour experience.

Monday: State Champs
Tuesday: Young Guns
Wednesday: Ghost Town
Thursday: The Interrupters
Friday: Dash Ten

So, without further delay, here are the thoughts from the young Mr. Szalkowski:

Their hometown – Albany

There’s always been a pretty flourishing local scene but not a lot of big names have come out of there. Coming up in that scene really taught us a lot, mostly to do with etiquette, like respect for other bands.

We were all there supporting each other and building this scene together and there’s a real sense of camaraderie. And, it’s a good location. It’s about three hours from everything, Boston, New York, Montreal and Connecticut, and four hours from Philly and Toronto.

Early Success in Boston

We’ve been going there since 2011 and there are a lot of fans there who are legitimately my friends.  Boston was one of the big cities that always took care of us.

State Champs' Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour
State Champs’ Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour


I used to be a huge Slipknot fan. It’s funny that I play in a pop punk band but I like a lot of that. A lot of my influences are much more seeded in metal, even though I’m not a metal guitar player.  I can’t really play that fast and I don’t know how to shred that well, but I thought I’d like to try that.  I didn’t idolize anybody, but liked Slipknot, Linkin Park, New Found Glory, Blink 182 and stuff like that

Warped Tour

It’s our second Warped Tour.  We did the full tour in 2014 on the Kevin Says Stage and now we’re on the Journey’s Main Stage this year.  We are quite enjoying it, it’s very nice. It’s crazy between then and now and the difference two years can make.

Why an Acoustic EP

We just really wanted to do it and we wanted to give people something to listen to while we worked on the new record.

The Excellent Critical Reaction to Around the World and Back

We thought it would do well, but we didn’t think it would be up for Alternative Press Album of the Year.  That’s friggin nuts. It’s crazy to me.  We did not at all expect any of that.

Next Record?

We’re not going to be recording new music for awhile. I think we still have a lot of life in this record which just came out at the end of last year… Not until next year. The rest of the year is all touring.

Favorite Place to Play Abroad

I really like playing in Australia, but it’s mostly because of the offstage stuff. Everything is so nice, the scenery and the people are awesome. It’s just a really cool place to go. Touring is our job, but it’s also like a free vacation at times. We also love going to the UK because their rock scene is so huge.

State Champs' Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour
State Champs’ Tyler Szalkowski at Vans Warped Tour

The Crappy Radio Scene in the US.

In the UK we get played on daytime radio, which is like mental to me. Over here, the only rock on the radio is from the 90’s, classic rock or country rock.  Our scene is not good at all.  We’re strictly Top 40 and any rock is old rock. Even stations that play current music play the same songs over and over again.  I feel like the art of being a DJ is dead; no one cares anymore.

I have to say, I agree with Tyler 100%.  The rock radio scene in this country is pretty damn pathetic.  That’s why we’re going to set up some hearty and varied playlists on Spotify in the next week.  Check us out and Follow us on Spotify @rarasfarm to see some of the work in progress..

State Champs Photos from this year’s Vans Warped Tour
Warped Tour Photo Albums
Interview with John O’Callaghan of The Maine

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