On Stage (Extra): State Champs goes deep at TLA

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

State Champs

There’s no question that the show at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) on May 9 will be a high-energy blast of popular music.

The popular venue on South Street will host a concert featuring State Champs as headliners along with a power-packed bill featuring Don Broco, Against the Current and With Confidence.

State Champs is a rock band from Albany, New York featuring Derek DiScanio – lead vocals; Tyler Szalkowski – lead guitar, backing vocals; Tony “Rival” Diaz – rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Ryan Scott Graham – bass, backing vocals; and Evan Ambrosio – drums, percussion.

The band released its debut album “The Finer Things” in October 2013 and its sophomore album “Around the World and Back” in October 2015.

If the pattern holds true, State Champs should be working on their third album right now. Instead, they are out on another tour of North America.

“In a perfect world, we would be releasing a new album in October,” said DiScanio, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from a tour stop in Orlando, Florida.

“But, we took a break on this cycle to do our ‘Deluxe CD’ release. So, our next album probably won’t be out until 2018. We’ve already been in L.A. writing new songs and making demos.”

“Around the World and Back” was released on October 16, 2015. By November, the album had reached #30 in the U.S. Billboard Top 200 chart.

Three weeks ago, State Champs released an acoustic version of their smash single “Secrets.”  On May 5, “Around The World and Back” was issued as a deluxe DVD edition.

The deluxe version includes six additional tracks, including the newly released “Slow Burn.” The DVD was recorded by Elliott Ingham across the world in 2015 and 2016 while the band was on tour.

According to DiScanio, “The deluxe edition of ‘Around The World and Back’ is very exciting for us. We spent all of 2016 filming for the DVD that comes with it.

“We’re so proud of how it turned out and the hard work Elliott Ingham put into directing, editing, and putting up with us all of last year. Can’t wait for everyone to be able to go behind the scenes of the best times of our lives as a band.

“Both new bonus tracks were written with Mike Green and our friend Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. It was our first time collaborating with other people in a writing process and we had a lot of fun with it.”

The making of the deluxe edition took a lot of planning and preparing.

“We’ve had it in the works for a while,” said DiScanio. “The main thing was to do the DVD. When I was young, I loved when bands did behind-the-scenes DVDs. I still have a lot of the to this day – and I still watch them.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time. Our videographer did a great job. The DVD was shot on our world tour from January through August 2016. We talk about what we’re3 doing and have chapters from each continent on the tour.

“We had a big premiere for the DVD at the Los Feliz Theater in L.A. That was a really cool thing for us. It was different – and fun. We kept it low-key and hung out with our fans.”

Now, fans of State Champs can see live performances by the band in person.

“This tour is the biggest production we’ve ever done,” said DiScanio. “We have been playing some of the new songs from the DVD including ‘Slow Burn.’ It’s a pretty good mix of the old and new.

“It’s the longest set we’ve ever done. It took us a while to get our bearings to play an hour and 20 minutes. But, we got it together now. We do about 20 songs in the set.”

Video link for State Champs – https://youtu.be/tsQYBKL6CrI

Don Broco

Don Broco is rock band from the sleepy town known as England. Formed in 2008, the band features Rob Damiani (lead vocals and electronics), Simon Delaney (guitar), Tom Doyle (bass) and Matt Donnelly (drums and vocals).

Don Broco’s debut album “Priorities” was released in August 2012. The band’s sophomore album “Automatic” came out in in August 2015 and its third LP is due later this year.

The band has already accomplished a lot in its young career including topping the iTunes Rock Chart and garnering BBC Radio 1 airplay.

Don Broco’s music has appeared in EA’s Madden NFL 16 and Activision’s “Guitar Hero” games. Additionally, the band has played Reading & Leeds festival for five consecutive years.

Now, the band had a new video that is creating a buzz and generating a lot of hits – a horror film inspired video for the band’s song “Pretty.”

“We filmed the video for ‘Pretty’ two days before we started the tour,” said Damiani, during a phone interview Friday from a tour stop in Orlando.

“We flew to the states on my birthday – the 2nd of April – and filmed the video in Athens, Georgia. We finished the video and left on tour the next day. We wanted it ready for this tour.”

According to Pretty” director Benjamin Roberds of Dominar Films, “The guys in Don Broco are a handsome bunch and we all thought it’d be hilarious if they ripped their faces off. It was the first idea I came to and quickly wrote it off as too over the top but kept coming back to it until I finally sent it over to them.

“I think the guys went through the same struggle because we went through a few other concepts before coming full circle back to this idea. I guess it was an insane idea that was just too tempting to not take all the way.”

The band teased the video by telling fans that bassist Tom Doyle (aka the first victim in “Pretty”) was getting married, going so far as to create a wedding invite that would enable fans to see a livestream of “the ceremony,” which turned out to be the “Pretty” video.

“We put ‘Pretty’ out as a single,” said Damiani. “It’s nice to record a song and get it out within a few months. We had a similar quick turnover with our last single ‘Everybody.’

“When we have a song we like, we just cut it and put it out. You can’t rest on your laurels. You have to keep upping your game. You’re only going to be successful if you have the songs.”

Don Broco has the songs and will soon unveil a new album.

“We’re going back to the U.K. after this tour and finish working on the album,” said Damiani. “We started working on it earlier this year. We get some songs written and then go into the studio and bang it out.

“We’re doing most of it at home at our producer’s studio in Hackney. We’ve also been using Vada Studios which is a residential studio. It’s out in the country in an old chapel.

“This is the first album where we’re writing and recording and haven’t been set in song structures. On our earlier albums, we went in the studio with finished sounds. The way we’re doing it now allows us to mix it up and find interesting textures.”

Video link for Don Broco – https://youtu.be/XcYTkySdAwQ.

The show at the TLA will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28.99.

Hell or Highwater

Brandon Saller keeps a lot of irons in the fire. Saller is a multi-instrumentalist and song writer – a man of many talents.

When he is playing with the metalcore band Atreyu, Saller is the drummer and the vocalist – the vocalist responsible for the melodic singing found in the band’s music. He is Atreyu’s primary songwriter, along with guitarist Dan Jacobs.

When Atreyu opted for a hiatus in 2011, Saller shifted his attention to his side project Hell or Highwater. That band released a full length album, “Begin Again,” in 2011 and an EP called “The Other Side” in 2013. In Hell or Highwater, Saller is the group’s frontman.

Now, Hell or Highwater has a new album is currently touring North America – a tour that touches down locally on May 9 at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com).

“We started the tour a little over a week ago,” said Saller, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Destin, Florida. “We going to hit the beach today and head to show number three tonight.”

Hell or Highwater — Brandon Saller- Vocals; Kyle Rosa- Drums; Joey Bradford- Guitar; Jon Hoover- Guitar; Nick Maldonado- Bass/Synth – is releasing its new album “Vista” on May 19 on Spinefarm Records.

“In 2001, Atreyu went on hiatus,” said Saller. “I had started making my own music before that. So, when the break came, I put Hell or Highwater together.

“I put the band together with friends and friends of friends. We’re based in Vista, California.  Most of us are from the North County area. We had no label but we still played some great tours.

“We released our first album ourselves and then did an EP that was self-released. The first time around, we progressed pretty far. We got out and did shows when we could. Now, we have a label involved – and an official release.”

Atreyu just finished a full album cycle and is taking a break. So, it’s time for Saller to head out on tour in support of “Vista.”

“We recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas,” said Saller. “That’s where our producer wanted to do it. The studio has a great vibe. It’s located on a2000-acre pecan.

“We knocked out the whole record in about two weeks. We had spent about two years writing the record. By the time we got in the studio, we had performed most of the songs live. And, we did a lot of pre-production at our studio in Vista.

“Once we got in the studio at Sonic Ranch, we were able to focus on creativity. Fred Archimbault is our producer and he’s like the sixth member of the band. He knows how to get the best out of us.”

Video link for Hell or Highwater — https://youtu.be/-5AXzJSPUNc.

The show at Reverb, which also features Nothing More, Black Map and As Lions, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

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