We’re going to make it nice and easy. Here are 17 acts from Hangout Festival that you may not have heard of, but should definitely check out.
BY NINA JOHNSTONE
New Found Glory has been in the music world long enough to know how to always bring a riotous show.
Continue reading Live Photos: New Found Glory at the House of Blues
Never one to disappoint, So Cal favorites The Used rocked the San Diego House of Blues to a packed and spirited full house! Continue reading Live Photos: The Used at the House of Blues
Taking Back Sunday has been through a whirlwind over the past few years, Continue reading Live Photos: Taking Back Sunday
State Champs have been a driving force in the pop punk music world for years, and they’re keeping the momentum alive with their new tour, opening for New Found Glory. We spoke with the band about what music they just can’t live without, and the changes they’ve seen for pop punk as a whole.
TheIndieSD: You guys are in the middle of a really exciting tour that even includes some amazing festivals! What has been your most memorable performance on tour so far?
State Champs: We played BLED FEST in Howell, Michigan and it was amazing. The fest is held at an old school. We played in a classroom on the floor and it was intense. Kids piled in until they literally couldn’t fit anymore kids in the classroom and once we started everyone pushed forward and Derek was fighting to keep kids from toppling amps and keep himself from crashing into the drum kit. Needless to say, it was amazing. Those intimate sets are generally the most memorable and fun!
TISD: Speaking of memorable moments on tour, what has been your most memorable show ever? Have you had any embarrassing experiences on tour?
SC: One of the most memorable shows for me was our first time at chain reaction in Anaheim, CA. It was our first time in SoCal and kids set it off for us. To go to an area for the first time and have kids screaming your words and throwing their bodies off the stage to your music is unparalleled. There’s a bunch of other memorable shows but this one just came to my mind. As far as embarrassing experiences? Sure, sometimes rip your pants jumping or lose your balance and fall into a wall or smash your microphone into your own mouth. :(
TISD: How have you been enjoying touring with Cartel and New Found Glory?
SC: It’s been unreal. To be able to tour with bands we’ve looked up to for years is so crazy. They’re all incredible people and great musicians that we have a lot to learn from! I’m still not sure if it’s clicked yet that we’re out here playing alongside these bands. I’m sure when I look back ill be like “0.0 that happened.”
TISD: So, I’m assuming you’re fans of Cartel and New Found Glory!
SC: Yes we are!
TISD: What is your favorite song by these artists?
SC: Cartel – anything off of Chroma, “Faster Ride”, “Deep South” and “Let’s Go”. New Found Glory – everything.
TISD: What can you not live without while on tour? What do you always bring with you or always have to have?
SC: I can’t live without my ear plugs, my laptop, my iPhone, and a book. Being able to block everything out and staying occupied will help you keep you sane on the road!
TISD: What is in heavy rotation on your playlists right now? What artists or bands can you just not live without?
SC: My playlist for this tour includes The Menzingers, American Football, Nirvana and Promise of Redemption. That’s just me though! We listen to a wide variety in the van. Everything from Coheed and Cambria to Juicy J to Valencia to Skrillex.
TISD: You guys describe yourselves as a “DIY Pop Punk Band”. How did it feel to be signed by Pure Noise Records?
SC: It feels good? Haha. PNR is a very family based operation. It’s literally one guy. It’s great because he lets you be yourself. He doesn’t try to tell you how to sound or what to do or how to look. Pure Noise also lets us have a hand in stuff like our album art and pre-order options and stuff like that. Nothing is predetermined for us. Sky’s the limit!
TISD: Being in the genre for quite some time, how do you feel about some of the changes in the bands and styles of pop punk?
SC: I feel like they’re good because things need to evolve to remain relevant. If everything remains the same, why would anyone even start new bands? I think some of the current pop punk bands are the best in the genre (not to discredit any older bands!)
TISD: Do you see and feel a difference when performing on the east coast as opposed to the west coast? Do you think west coast audiences are more excited for pop punk, or is it relatively equal?
SC: It all depends on what city. Some of the better shows we play on the east coast (providence, RI. Albany, NY. NYC) compare to SoCal shows or Seattle shows. I’d say it’s relatively equal!
TISD: Pop punk is a really fun genre that creates very dedicated and appreciative fans. Do you see the band continuing in the same direction, or do you plan to branch out into other, sometimes hardcore influences, like some other pop punk bands in the business?
SC: If we’re going to be branching out, it would be in the poppier direction. While we love hardcore, the poppier side just makes more sense for us.
TISD: I love the album, Apparently I’m Nothing. It plays on some very smart and deep elements. Can you tell me about your writing process for that album? Did you take any different approaches when creating the material for Overslept? (Overslept is really good too, by the way!)
SC: AIN was written when I was 18-19. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing I was just trying to write songs while balancing college and a job. With Overslept, I spent a lot more time trying to write better songs and paid attention to keys and drew from a wider set of influences.
TISD: Your music tends to talk about feelings and emotions in a completely relatable way, as opposed to some genres which make music about very over the top themes (wealth, fame, adventure, etc.) Do you feel that it’s important for music to be relatable to the listener?
I don’t think it’s extremely important. Personally, I find it more appealing when I can relate to it though. However I do like songs that I later found out were ghost written or not actually true stories. They kinda lose their touch but I still like them!
According to their official blog, State Champs recently finished a full length album. While you patiently wait, check out this video playlist of the EP Overslept.
Say that five times fast! Or, you could debate on the common themes of “I don’t want to grow up” and “You can’t make me become an adult” — both of which are predominantly explored all throughout the pop punk genre.
I have a theory that certain music genres carry certain emotional themes. Dance music is probably the most straight-forward example of this. If you’re going to be dancing, you should probably be dancing to songs that sing about parties, nightlife, bottles, VIP service and other things associated with living life like there’s no such thing as daylight. It’s almost like being on a dance floor with your very own soundtrack playing in the background. And that’s because, if you don’t feel like the most important party goer ever when you’re listening to the latest Electro hit, then they’re probably not doing their job correctly.
On a more complex level, the same is seen with earlier genres of music, such as hymns. They served a very specific purpose of being able to communicate scripture to church patrons in a way that was musical (and thus very easy to memorize). Furthermore, Blues is one of those genres that not only has very specific moods and emotions behind it, but it was also named solely after that mood! (“You’ve got the blues” becomes a commonplace description of life, not just a type of music.)
Getting back to the point at hand, pop punk does the same as its musical genre brethren. You commonly find what I like to call the Peter Pan Pop Punk Situation, or PPP…PS for short. I’m still working on the name. The idea is that pop punk represents a supreme belief in being young forever. No rules, no authority. No adult life situations. All adventure, all the time.
Even sad and mature themes in pop punk music have a “Oh well, that’s life and I won’t let it get me down or change me” vibe to it. Pop punk kings Blink-182 dive into the subject of broken homes in their song “Stay Together For the Kids”, which is surprisingly sung from the child’s perspective — even though at the time of its release, singers Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge were both married and later became fathers that year.
My most recent example and admiration is State Champs, whose lyrics are associated to the everyday angsty, uncertain, and adventurous aspects of young adult life. A Tumblr search of the band will find lyrics about everything from heartache to sheer defiance, such as:
“So they say, there are shades of grey in a lifetime. If that is so, I’ll let you know that I am looking on the bright side.”
and in another song,
“We’re growing up, but I’ll stay young, even if it kills me.”
Lyrics that would make Peter Pan very proud, indeed.
Recently resurrected punk act New Found Glory has shown that they still yearn for the “We will never grow up” and the “We will never fall in love” ideals that first skyrocketed the band back in the 90s. They’ve built a heavy repertoire of heartbreak songs and yet few of these songs will actually break your heart. New Found Glory’s approach to bad relationships is very relatable to a young adult or a teen, as they take a “Oh well, I’ll move on” approach to relationships — something that we often tend to do as we get old enough to want independence, but still young enough to not worry about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.
It’s lyrics like these that keep that youth spirit alive, and one of the reasons why pop punk can be inspiring and revitalizing. We listen to a lot of music not because we can relate to the lyrics at that exact moment in our lives, but because music is simply the soundtrack to our lives. We are attracted to the songs that embody all the emotions with which we’re already all too familiar. Whether that feeling is nostalgic to a time when we were young and alive! Or whether that feeling is the hope of finding a love that won’t shatter our hearts.
So, despite having a mainstream career that can be compared to the very short-lived and short-loved nu metal, why is pop punk still so popular? Musical vets like New Found Glory prove that you can continue in this genre, based merely on the dedication of its fans. (They even launched a “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” tour back in 2010!) My theory relies on that young-at-heart stance that this genre always pulls out. Its fans will always listen, because they will always be able to relate to that feeling of living life to the fullest with little to no regrets, no matter what age. Or as State Champs say in their single “We Are the Brave”: “Well these days are only getting longer, when everyday we’re only getting stronger.” Stronger, indeed.
If you want to see and feel these lyrics for yourself, State Champs is now on tour with New Found Glory and Cartel, and will be opening up for NFG at the House of Blues, San Diego this Friday. Check out this link for tickets and info.
Check out these photos of Imagine Dragons when they performed at their SOLD OUT San Diego House of Blues show.
With a band name that is oddly appropriate, Imagine Dragons churned out an energy packed show that was almost tribal in nature, backed by a “magical forest” of lights and stage design, which conveniently illuminated different colors to match the mood of each song. It was like being in a Pixar movie about tree spirits who play dance music and occasionally paint with all the colors of the wind. It may be hard to imagine, pun intended, so the photos below will do a much better job of showcasing the brilliance that is Imagine Dragons.
Photos by Christian Rodas, Soul Venture Productions.
Click photos to launch full-screen.
- Imagine Dragons’ nearly sold out tour is our Guilty Pleasure of the Week (theindiesd.com)
- Imagine Dragons – review (guardian.co.uk)