An Interview With The Virginia-Based Pop Punk Band, UNDERGROUND CHAMPS On Their Forthcoming EP, Touring in 2017 and More!
Posted On 08 Feb 2017
Underdog Champs are a Virginia-based pop punk band. On February 24th, they will release their EP, “Skeletons in Daylight.”
Having played a countless number of shows on the East coast US, Underdog Champs are looking to expand, giving listeners a slick combination of catchy pop/rock hooks and powerful lyrics. The band will be embarking on a promotional tour for “Skeletons in Daylight” in early March to coincide with its’ release.
“Hear Me Out” music video: https://youtu.be/obnC7radVU8
Learn more about Underdog Champs in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, now that 2016 is over, what are some words you would use to describe the year for you? What have been some of the highlights for the band? What are you most excited about for 2017? Did you any of you make New Year’s Resolutions?
Thanks for interviewing us! In all honesty we’re not much of new year’s people. We did spend a fair amount of time though reflecting on how far we’ve come as a group. In the past year we played a ton of shows, met some amazing other bands, made new friends, and got better at songwriting as a group. Our highlights of 2016 were definitely playing with Silverstein, releasing Safe in the Dark, and finishing the EP. We are most excited to release Skeletons in Daylight in 2017 and play all of our EP release shows! We cannot wait for everyone to hear the new songs.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall some of your earliest musical memories?
We all have wanted to be musicians from an early age. I think that everyone shared the dream of being onstage every night, putting out albums, and getting to wake up each day and play music. Each of us have been in and out of various band since high school.
Mark – I knew that I could be in a band from a specific moment in high school – I went to JAXX in Springfield and saw my friends’ band play a local show. There were about 100 people there, and bands were playing almost all day. I bought every CD I possibly could and I’m pretty sure I still have them. That day made me take practicing and writing more seriously; this was not just for massive bands – I could do it too!
How did Underdog Champs first come to be a band? How did you come up with your name? Was it hard to choose one name? Why do you think you all get along so well together?
Honestly the original working name was so bad so Mark sent us a list of names that he had and Underdog Champs was the least terrible name… He actually called us “Underground Champs” at the first show because we had decided THAT DAY on a name.
Mark got some friends together to record songs he was working on. There wasn’t a huge focus on playing shows or being a big deal, but we ended up having so much fun that we decided to pursue it more seriously. We get along well together because everyone has similar goals and taste in music. Our four personalities balance out pretty well so we never have any major personal issues or get into fights. We are all just having a great time at every show, every drive, recording sessions, and so forth that there’s no reason to NOT get along!
How do you think your music has been influenced by being a Virgina-based group?
We don’t take a lot of musical influence from our geography, but we have met a ton of cool bands along the way and love our local scene.
Next month, you will be releasing your second EP, “Skeletons in Daylight”. Can you talk about putting this collection together? What was the inspiration for the songs on it?
We originally were re-recording two songs (When the World Ends, Take me Back) and adding Safe In the Dark. Ideas started pouring out, so we focused ourselves on the best 7 songs and worked hard all year to tweak them until we were happy with how they sounded.
The EP gathers inspiration musically from a wide range of artists like Mayday Parade to Dance Gavin Dance. The subject matter dwells mostly on personal vices and struggles; everyone has things they hide away and songwriting is the only way we all know to bring up these personal things that are so hard to say in normal conversations. Mark wrote lyrics about friends, family, and his own experiences. This was definitely an EP of closure for him personally.
How do you think the group has grown or how has the band’s sound changed on this second EP?
Our first EP was comprised of 3 very different songs, so it was hard to really say “this is our sound”. In all reality, we don’t care about labels or what type of sound we are going for. What matters is each song as we are writing it. When writing this EP, Nick had some more complicated riffs and song structures he wanted to try out so we went for it. There is a balance between pop punk, rock, and post-hardcore that we’re happy with and everyone else can argue about what we sound like.
In March, you will embark on a promotional tour of “Skeletons in Daylight.” Where all will you be heading to? Are you excited to get back on the road and play at more venues? Where are you most excited to play at? What do you think is the best and most challenging part of being on the road?
We’re mostly sticking to the east coast. We’ve made a lot of friends in bands in MD / NJ / NY / VA / SC and want to re-visit those places, see old friends, and hopefully make some new ones!
The best part of being on the road is being on the road. We don’t get to play out that often, and when we do we try to stop and do fun things to enjoy the journey. The most challenging part of being on the road is trying to pee in a moving vehicle!
What’s been the most surprising thing about the music industry to you? What do you think are the biggest challenges you face as a new band?
Honestly there are not a ton of surprises anymore. We enjoy doing things ourselves – booking shows, recording, releasing the record, ordering merch, doing social media, and so on. The biggest challenge has been to find time to do all of those things AND focus on the creative side – songwriting. We brought on Hope from 25/8 PR which has been awesome so far to get the word out about the new EP, and plan on doing the rest ourselves until we can’t any more!
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire the band’s music? Who would you all love to work with in the future?
Our collective inspiration for the band is early 2000’s Warped Tour scene bands – Taking Back Sunday, the Used, Underoath, Finch, Brand New, etc. Personally, we say…
Mark – I’ve lately been listening a lot to Moose Blood and the new I See Stars Record. I think it would be amazing to work with someone like Mark Hoppus.
Nick – I take influences from He Is Legend, Every Time I Die, Receiving End of Sirens, Armor for Sleep, and some more pop punk stuff like Mayday Parade. It would be cool to work with Donald Glover, AKA Childish Gambino just because of how talented he is on so many levels.
Josh – It would be gnarly to work with Every Time I Die on a song. We all love heavier music and take a lot of influence as musicians from that band. I’ve been listening to Dance Gavin Dance and Chon a lot lately.
Justin – I just love catchy songs – the Maine, 1975, All Time Low, all are always on my playlist. I’d love to work with any of them. Also Mark Hoppus like Mark said!
When you aren’t performing, working in the studio, what do you like to do for fun? How do you all unwind from it all?
We probably spend too much time unwinding, (Laughter)… We all hang out at Mark and Nick’s house and make fires in the backyard of things we find outside in the alley near the house. Hopefully that’s not too specific or weird of a hobby… Other than that: Nick plays video games, Justin still plays Pokemon Go, Josh works on his car, and Mark isn’t fun at all.
We also really enjoy playing music together and working on random ideas.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
We don’t really strive to have an overt message or push anything on anyone. We just want people to be able to relate to whatever emotion or feeling is in that particular song. We all enjoy music as an outlet and found solace in angry songs in hard times. If someone is going through some rough stuff, hopefully they can listen to our music and it will help them with that situation.
This particular EP is about overcoming demons, vices, addictions. It does have an underlying message – be honest about your skeletons in the closet. Keeping them hidden only makes them worse.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Please check out our EP Picked Last that’s out on Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc.! We are super proud of how those songs turned out and they’ll give you some of an idea of what Skeletons will sound like.
We are also super active on Twitter and reply to everything. Hit us up sometime! Thank you so much for reading.