State Champs’ Derek DiScanio: The 10 songs that changed my life

Step inside the record collection of State Champs vocalist Derek DiScanio.

State Champs’ Derek DiScanio: The 10 songs that changed my life
Jennyfer J. Walker

We get emotional with State Champs frontman Derek Discanio to talk about the songs that make him cry and the songs that make him, er, really cry...

The first song that I remember hearing...Hanson – MMMBop (1997)

“It’s the first cassette tape I ever bought, when my mom took me to a music store. It was a smash hit on the radio at the time, so I would sing it non-stop and be annoying. And actually, Hanson are still a really talented band. It’s been 25 years and they’re still killin’ the game and putting out records. They were the first group that I remember being my absolute favourite, but MMMBop’s a total sing-along song. There’s no-one that doesn’t know it if it comes on. It’s a timeless party classic.”

The song that reminds me of being a teenager...Hit The Lights – Stay Out (2008)

“Skip School, Start Fights [Hit The Lights’ second record] was my favourite album in high school. I’d listen to it with my friends when we’d get together to play beer pong and do stupid teenage shit – that was the soundtrack to our summers. It’s pretty cool now because we’ve done a lot of tours with Hit The Lights and they’ve become friends of ours. But I’ve held back from telling them about my high school beer pong days (laughs)!”

The first song I ever sang in front of people...City And Colour – Body In A Box (2008)

“It’s one of the first songs I learned to play. I sang it at my high school, and at the time no-one thought of me as a musician. I was known as an athlete because I was playing hockey and I was ‘the cool guy’. Without telling anybody, I just started playing that song in the gymnasium and everyone was really weirded out. I was really nervous, but once that first performance was outta the way I wanted to do it again.”

The song that got me into trouble...State Champs – Secrets (2015)

“This almost got me into trouble because lyrically it’s hinting at a lot of different things. When I talk to fans they’re like, ‘Wow, this is a total break-up song and a fuck you to an ex!’ But it’s about losing a friend after things didn’t work out. When the song came out, my girlfriend was like, ‘What the hell is this?! What kinda secrets you got going on?’ So I had to do some damage control there very quickly.”

The song that was the hardest to write...State Champs – Time Machine (2018)

“It’s a different kind of song for us. It starts with piano and an electronic beat. We were writing with Mark Hoppus and we were pretty stumped, so Mark and I went outside and talked. It was the day of the tragic [2017] shooting in Las Vegas at the country music festival. We talked about the idea of writing a story about losing someone in a situation where you weren’t able to save them. It was such a diamond in the rough.”

The song I always sing at karaoke...Taylor Swift – Love Story (2008)

“It has to be Taylor Swift, and this one has a really high vocal. Everyone is always expecting me to do good at karaoke, but when I’ve had a couple of drinks I don’t have the same range as I normally do (laughs). So I’ll get a good voice crack out of it and not be able to hit those high notes, which makes it more fun.”

The song that reminds me of my first love...The Starting Line – Need To Love (2007)

“It’s on Direction, which is my favourite album of all time. It’s about lost love. The first lyrics are: ‘A northbound train on a Saturday / Here I come New York City’, and it brings me back to my first break-up. It was a bad falling out and my first heartbreak, so I was pretty torn up. She went away to school in NYC, and any time I go there I listen to this and have a little cry. It hits me pretty hard.”

The song that picks me up when I’m down...Paramore – Turn It Off (2009)

“It takes me back to State Champs starting out, when we were driving through the country in our first van. The lyrics are uplifting, and it goes through ups and downs with mental health and being in your thoughts. After tour, this is a song we put on to lift everybody’s spirits. It’s an automatic headbanger.”

The song that always makes me cry...NewSong – The Christmas Shoes (2000)

“It’s this slow Christmas song on piano. It tells the story of a guy going to the store, and this homeless kid is trying to buy shoes for his mom who’s in hospital – it’s so sad. It has a kids’ choir at the end singing 'Sir I wanna buy these shoes, for my momma, please!’ It brings tears to everybody’s eyes.”

The song I’d like played at my funeral...Phil Collins – You’ll Be In My Heart (1999)

“This seems really cheesy, but it’s from the Tarzan soundtrack, and Disney is special to me, so I’d pick it for nostalgia. Phil Collins is just super talented.”

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