Champion came into Seattle's hardcore scene in 1999, boasting a blistering but traditional straightedge sound. Back then, the hardcore community was struggling to revive itself after slowly being strangled under the Teen Dance Ordinance. Many have credited Champion's fearless and anthemic songs as being the catalyst for the scene's revitalization. Now, after seven years, two albums, numerous world tours with bands like Terror, Comeback Kid, and Sick of It All, Champion have decided it's time to move on. Their last show happens at El Corazón Saturday, May 27. The all-ages event sold out months ago; it's sure to be one of the most insane, sweaty, and bittersweet nights local hardcore fans have experienced in years. But before that final song is sung, singer Jim Hesketh, talks about the last show, the local hardcore scene, and the future.
So, why is Champion breaking up?
I think that we had accomplished every goal we had hoped to reach with the band. We were starting to get a lot of attention from larger labels and I think we all kind of got scared that the band was going to go in a direction we didn't want to go. We were never fooling ourselves. We played fast, traditional hardcore. We never wanted to be rich and famous and we all knew it had to come to an end sometime. "Today is a good day to die."
With the last show getting closer, what's the energy like as the band prepares? Are you gonna miss it?
Yeah I'm going to miss it. It's been my everything for the past seven years. I'm going to miss the music, the tours, the people... everything. I'm really excited for this weekend, though. We have a lot of friends coming from all over the world to see the show.
You've meant a lot to a lot of kids here. In the beginning, were you surprised with how stoked kids got on what Champion were doing?
Seattle has always been good to Champion. The local scene was important to us. Hardcore was never something that had much of a scene in Seattle when I was younger; it had died out after the Undertow era. Seeing Trial come and go made us want to keep the local hardcore scene going by playing locally as much as possible and urging bands to make the grueling trek to Seattle.
You've seen a lot of changes in the local hardcore and all-ages scene. What are some of the major differences between now and when you were starting out?
I think that there is division in the hardcore scene for the first time in many years. There is also more violence than there ever used to be. I think that stems from newer kids having different views on where Seattle hardcore should go from here. There aren't the same values and ideals that the hardcore scene used to have. Kids don't care about politics, animal rights, straightedge, or anything other than fashion and fame.
Do any of the band members have any plans yet for post Champion?
Aram (Arslanian, guitar) and Todd (Preboski, drums) now play in a band called Betrayed, who are about to release an LP on Equal Vision. Chris (Williams, guitar) and Aram are also playing in a new band called the Vows.