Since forming in summer 2014, UNDERDOG CHAMPS have been grinding hard to gain notoriety in the local scene and beyond. They released their debut EP Picked Last on May 30, 2015, and they have opened for some of the biggest names in pop punk and alternative music. It’s safe to say that these guys aren’t underdogs any longer.

Drummer Josh Bailey caught us up on the band’s latest accomplishments and upcoming EP, minitours, and music video.

On September 4, 2015, your band opened up for CONDITIONS’ five year anniversary of their album Fluorescent Youth. Being a relatively new band, how was that experience sharing the stage with a band that has made such a huge impact in the local scene and beyond?

All of us are huge fans of CONDITIONS, and honestly, we would have been at that show regardless. That band very much influenced the way Mark writes lyrics and songs.

When we were asked to play the show, there was no hesitation at all.

The experience of playing with them and BROADSIDE was beyond words. There were several distinct moments onstage where we all looked at each other and either said or mouthed “holy shit” in disbelief at how positively people were reacting to our songs. Getting a chance to perform with bands of that level who came from where we come from is always incredibly inspiring, and we hope someday to be able to give newer bands a chance to be seen the same way those bands did for us.

Your album art has featured a distinct American traditional tattoo design of a dagger through a flower. Does this symbol hold a particular significance to your band?

We are all fans of the traditional tattoo style, and we incorporate it into all of our artwork and merchandise. We like the consistency of using that style to convey what each album is about. Originally we spoke about getting a heart-based image, but it seems like heart images are everywhere so we went with the flower. The symbol itself actually didn’t have a lot of significance to us or our music at the time, but now it will forever remind us of this band.

Do you think your band would ever commit to getting it tattooed as a group?

We’ve discussed possibly getting matching tattoos, but we have some specific milestones to hit before we get there.

Can you tell me about the progress made on your new EP currently in the works, and how the songs inspired the grim reaper cover art?

The new EP is halfway done, and we can’t be more proud of how it’s going. Picked Last was intentionally short and diverse to show everyone what the future would hold in terms of genre. Now we are writing a variety of songs. We’ve been playing a new song called “Safe in the Dark” that combines the pop punk of “Love Songs,” heavy breakdowns of “Picked Last,” and quiet soft side of “Sedative”-all in one song.

We want the ability to create music we love, and we plan to tell everyone it’s pop punk until they correct us.

The grim reaper is a skeleton from inside your closet holding the light… Hopefully that doesn’t give too much away!

Is there a specific concept in mind for the new EP?

The new EP is inspired by inner demons. We want to write songs that are still deeply personal and cathartic. One nice thing about songwriting is the ability to say things in a song that you would never say in person to someone or a group of people. We get the opportunity to confront huge issues in song, and hopefully people will relate to them as they struggle with or see others struggling with the same things.

Speaking of grim reapers, for Halloween, your band performed a cover show as FALL OUT BOY. Did Justin summon the spirit of Pete Wentz?

We played a show as FALL OUT BOY, playing a set full out of their songs and our own. We tried to keep it to the older FALL OUT BOY songs we all fell in love with from Under the Cork Tree and Take This To Your Grave. Of course, we also played songs from our EP and a new song, “Safe in the Dark.”

As far as summoning the spirit of Pete Wentz, he put on eyeliner and spun around a lot.

You guys released a music video for “Picked Last,” which is the title track on your debut, three-song EP. What is the significance of this song to your band?

Picked Last was the first song that we all wrote together as a group so it made sense to have it as the title track of that EP. The song is a much better representation of everyone’s personal influences than anything else we had released prior. The lyrics are about how much music means to us, and it’s one of the more challenging and fun songs to play live.

Your next show is scheduled for November 27 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va., which will kick off a weekend tour to New York and New Jersey. What are you looking forward to most about these performances?

I’m really looking forward to our Black Friday show because it will be a hometown show for most of us, which is always fun.

As for the New York and New Jersey shows…pizza.

On October 26, 2015, your band shot a new music video with TD Wehle. Can you disclose some hints about the video shoot, what song it will be for, or any other details?

The shoot was for “Safe in the Dark,” which is going to be on the upcoming EP. We’ll just say it involved a skate park and all of the band hurting themselves for the sake of the film. The result should be pretty funny.

For more updates on UNDERDOG CHAMPS, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out Picked Last on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.