All Time Low. Huxley’s, Berlin, Germany. 10/10/17.

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With Confidence. Essigfabrik, Cologne, Germany. 03/10/17.

Waterparks. Essigfabrik, Cologne, Germany. 03/10/17.

Neck Deep – The Peace And The Panic

You could tell by the songs that had been released in advance that Neck Deep’s third full length album would be quieter, yet still very characteristic of the band. The result is a solid pop-punk album, this time with an emphasis on the “pop” part, rather than the “punk” part, as it used to be.

“The Peace And The Panic” – two polar opposites that don’t just reoccur in the title track “Motion Sickness”, but are in fact a fitting summary of the album. With a variation of dynamics spreading throughout eleven tracks, Neck Deep effectively demonstrate their versatility. Equally diverse in tempo and topics, it is particularly the teamwork on the lyrics within the band that proves successful, so that the subjects are sometimes of global (“Happy Judgement Day”) and other times of personal (“19 Seventy Sumthin’”, “Wish You Were Here”) importance. The former should, especially at a point like this, be much more present in music, so it is great to see one more band speak up. Architects’ Sam Carter’s contribution on “Don’t Wait” is an excellent example of a concise statement that could be capable of waking up those who otherwise wouldn’t care.

Nonetheless, you can’t deny that it’s not always easy to be original. Some songs, like “Motion Sickness”, “Where Do We Go…” and “Heavy Lies” pass you by, while others linger in your head for days after listening, be it for the lyrical contents or the riffs. Ironically, there’s something about “The Grand Delusion” that makes it sound a little off. Maybe that was intentional and I just didn’t see it, but, either way, hitting the lowest point at track number three and then just going up again is far from being the worst balance. Several songs have the potential of becoming a real tear-jerker, yet surprisingly, my personal highlight is the seemingly inconspicuous, but catchy and very Green-Day-esque “Critical Mistake”.

 

Faultless Rating: ✔✔✔

Song recommendation(s): Critical Mistake, Don’t Wait, Happy Judgement Day

 

The Wonder Years. Rock City, Nottingham, UK. 08/07/17.

Interview: State Champs

State Champs have been touring almost non-stop for the past two years. Read on to find out what they have planned next, how they cope with being away from home, and more.

Faultless Sounds: If you had to trade bodies with someone in the band, who would you choose?

Tyler Szalkowski: That’s a tough one. Derek is too thin. Probably Evan, he has a great body.

Tony Diaz: Same, unanimously.

Tyler: He’s strong and defined, he looks nice with his shirt off…

Tony: He’s a drummer, so he has good cardio, he doesn’t get tired easily. I’ve got bad knees, bad ankles… That’s why I gave up on drums; I used to play drums.

Tyler: Basically, no one would want our bodies. Everyone wants Evan’s body.

Today is the last day of your European festival tour. What’s been the best thing about it so far?

Tyler: For me, it’s been checking out some new cities. We got to go to Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Hungary for the first time.

Tony: We really enjoyed just walking around each city. With a tour this big, we don’t have a lot of responsibilities, so we had a lot of time to go out and explore all these new places.

Tyler: The highlight is actually getting to enjoy it. Last time we were here, we were headlining, there was VIP and sound check and all that. So now we get to be tourists and that’s nice.

Does that mean you prefer being a smaller band on the lineup instead of the headliner?

Tyler: We’ve been headlining for the first four months of this year, so we’re good. Headlining means you get to play to all your fans; they’re there for you, and sometimes those shows are more fun, but when you’re supporting, you play to an impressive amount of new people. They both have their perks.

How would you describe the music you play in one word?

Tony: I would say “positive”. Derek’s lyrical message is very uplifting.

Tyler: Our songs tend to be very resolved. And if you are bummed out, usually by the bridge, you get the resolution. So “positive” is a good word. I feel as though for some people our music is “nostalgic”, in a way. It makes you want to drive with your windows down, in the summer time… It’s always some feel-good, sugar-rushed pop-punk. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s friendly.

Is that why you enjoy writing and playing pop-punk?

Tyler: We grew up on it. Tony is a couple years older than me. I grew up in the era of Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, The Starting Line, New Found Glory etc. and when we decided we wanted to make music, we wanted to write stuff that we liked.

You’ve started working on new music already. Will there be any collaborations on the new album?

Tyler: Maybe. Hopefully. We have to see who wants to collab with us first.

So, nothing planned yet?

Tyler: We have some stuff planned, but no collabs as of right now.

Tony: The door is always open. We keep a pretty open-minded look on our music; we don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves into one thing, we won’t say that we’ll only do a collab if it’s this one person. We haven’t gotten around to it yet, but we’re open to any opportunity.

Tyler: We’re always looking to grow and adapt; can’t keep making the same record over and over. You have to evolve, too.

You said it would be a ‘new chapter’ for State Champs…

Tyler: Yeah, Kerrang! said that. That sounds really dramatic, and it’s not going to be that dramatic. It’s still going to sound like us.

Tony: We’re not going to put out a record where you’re like “what happened? who is this band?”.

Tyler: But there are going to be a couple tracks that go in different directions, but we do that already anyway. We always like to make a record with a core of songs that stay true to who we are and a couple on the outskirts that let us push in different directions and try new things.

You’ve been ‘around the world and back’. What has been your favorite day off?

Tyler: Mine was in Australia. There was this cove with a 20 or 30 ft. cliff, so we went swimming, cliff jumping, we played football… it was a really nice day with us and Neck Deep just hanging out.

Tony: We usually make the most out of a lot of our off-days, especially internationally. There’s not really any that outweigh the others. I liked any time that we spent off in Japan. It’s a really wild place.

Tyler: It’s a completely different world. It feels very futuristic.

Tony: There’s this one restaurant we went to: You pick your food and pay at a machine, and then you go in and you lay down your receipt and the only human interaction is when they hand you your food.

Tyler: That was great, it erased the language barrier. We don’t speak Japanese, you know, it’s very challenging.

You’ve been touring almost non-stop lately, which can take its toll on your mind and body. What do you do to clear your mind?

Tyler: Every one of us does different things. I go out and party a lot, I drink and have fun.

Tony: I just seclude myself and play video games or call home. I’ll face-time friends or family, that kind of stuff. We live with twenty-two other people on this bus; it’s us and Issues, and you’re around people all the time. Personally, I do value alone-time a lot, so it’s good for me to get away for a while and mentally reset.

Tyler: I’m very extroverted; I take comfort in other people. I go out and lose myself there.

What’s been your favorite music release so far this year?

Tyler: The Maine and Paramore are pretty high up for me. And I’ve heard the new Lorde record is very good.

Tony: I’m ready for the new Carly Rae Jepsen. I’m really into pop music. Paramore is my number one right now, though.

Tyler: I’ll also stick with Paramore.

Lastly, what is your personal faultless sound?

Tyler: My favorite sound is waves on a beach. Like a super relaxing, calming white noise. I love that shit. I’ll fall asleep to it; I’ll do anything to it.

Tony: What fires me up the most is like the “load screen” music from a video game or something, it just hits a weird, nostalgic note in me.

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