Interview: catching up with post-hardcore breakouts SKYWALKER on new single JUSTIFY ME feat. Kassim Auale of Alazka, headlining tour and more.
Today we are catching up with Jay, Tom, David and Damian of SKYWALKER post-hardcore outfit from Prague/Liverpool. The quartet has been knocking around since 2011. They have an extensive live experience across Europe and UK and also embarked tours as far as Canada, China, Japan gathering a considerable following and sharing the stage of names like For The Fallen Dreams, Madball, Sick of it All, Asking Alexandria, NOFX, Pennywise just to name a few.
Starting from 2011 Skywalker released A Better Place (acoustic single), Arkham EP (2011), Babylon EP (2012), Liberty Island (2014), Ellis EP (2015) followed by Sugar House EP in 2017 and now, in 2019 the quartet is coming out of the block in sparkling fashion with single IGNIS released in April and most recent single JUSTIFY ME out in October via an official music video featuring Kassim Auale of Alazka.
Skywalker have just drawn to a close their headlining European summer tour 2019 and are currently performing across United Kingdom and Europe on a new run of October shows.
Our editor-in-chief Alex took the occasion to know more details about the band’s journey and influences, the writing and creative process, brand new singles IGNITE and JUSTIFY ME as well as featuring Kassim Auale of Alazka. We discussed Skywalker’s extensive live experience and the wrap up of their summer tour, challenging situations and future opportunities.
- Hello SKYWALKER, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Let’s warm up by talking about your journey and background. How have you come up with name “Skywalker” and how was the band brought together?
Hi there, the pleasure is ours! So the name isn’t really all that deep. We’ve always been huge fans of a certain film series and we were looking for a good-sounding, catchy word, so we came up with this. It may be a bit childish in hindsight, but it has stuck!
- What kind of influences, bands and genres have you explored before sticking to post-hardcore?
We all started out as punk rock kids, predominantly die-hard Blink 182 fans. That hasn’t really changed all that much but we also started exploring different faces of the punk genre. I’d say blink, NOFX, Mest, Bad Religion, Sum 41, or Pennywise would be amongst the most important along with Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park or Korn to name awesome nu-metal bands (hugely influential for us as well).
- SKYWALKER have been sharing the stage of bands like For The Fallen Dreams, Madball, Sick of it All, Asking Alexandria, NOFX, Pennywise just to name a few. Let’s share one of your best memories on stage.
Perhaps stepping in front of thousands of people at this year’s edition of Rock for People festival. We played the main stage for the first time (Bring Me the Horizon played the night before) and that was quite literally mind-blowing. Interestingly enough, some of the best times on stage are also when there’s no stage and we climb on top of each other.
- You have drawn to a close an extensive European summer tour 2019 as headliners and getting ready to melt more faces in October with a new UK/EU run of shows. What’s your feedback about the tour, what kind of welcome have you received across Europe and how have those shows matched or mismatched your expectations?
The summer was probably the most successful and fun touring period we’ve done to date. Some places, especially in Eastern Europe, definitely exceeded our expectations! I can’t recall a single show that I’d complain about. The feedback was awesome! We also pre-premiered our latest single “Justify Me” and the response was amazing, especially for a song no one had heard before!
- You have been embarking a few tours not only across EU, but also Canada, China and Japan. So what were the most amazing cities and venues you have played?
Canada was this crazy thing that happened to us right at the beginning of our career, so playing a traditional sports bar with baseball on in the background was simply astounding (we’re huge fans!). China & Japan were exciting places as well because Asian audiences seem to have even more appreciation for touring bands than the Western ones. I remember the final show of the Japan tour, on the 5th floor of a multi-story building where you entered the room right from the elevator, people were climbing the walls and jumping off random ledges all around, they also knew the lyrics, which is crazy!
- IGNIS and JUSTIFY ME are your most recent singles following up SUGAR HOUSE EP dating back to 2017, ELLIS EP (2015), LIBERTY ISLAND (2014), BABYLON EP (2012) and ARKHAM EP (2011) and A BETTER PLACE (acoustic single). So how have your writing process and sound changed since your earliest materials as compared to those new singles?
We’ve definitely started putting a whole lot more effort and conscious thought into the writing process. We’ve been listening to enormous amounts of music within and outside our own sub-genre to see what’s happening. We go over a song multiple times, let it simmer and re-open it again to never, ever get stuck. We’ve also started cooperating with an external producer (Jonathan Dolese) along with our manager (Oliver Kamyszew) who each brings a fresh, unbiased perspective to the creative process. It’s far more an expression of how we feel via how that emotion is best transferred rather than the old school breakdown-clean chorus-two-step formula.
Watch Skywalker – Justify Me (Official Video):
- Let’s talk about the lyrical inspiration and themes discussed in IGNIS and JUSTIFY ME.
There’s an underlying theme to the songs we’ve been writing lately: alienation, loneliness but also strong individuality springing up from that. As for Ignis, I write about my demons that haunt me and take me away from my everyday life, which really isn’t all that bad. But it is within their tight grip that I often lose perspective and despair. I’m not sure if it’s borderline depression or just the human condition (or if these are two at all) but that’s how I feel about them, incomprehensible, uncanny, and false. As for Justify Me, I touch upon the equality of all sexual orientation and expression of love. Again, I dig deep into the imagined loneliness of growing up different from the majority. Being cisgender and heterosexual myself, I do respect the boundaries of my actual understanding, so I make the song more about how much I support the struggle for equality. Also, in broader terms, it is an archetypal song about finding one’s own identity and unwilling to compromise to the forces of bigotry, ignorance, and prejudice.
- I would love to discuss with you the experience you had by featuring Kassim Auale of Alazka for single JUSTIFY ME and how this collaboration was set up in the first place.
We first met the Alazka boys last year after playing a few festivals together and we hit it off right away. We’d already been writing new material so we asked Kassim to feature on a track which he readily agreed to. Things took quite a while and Alazka changed a lot in the meantime, so the period around the release of the song was a bit difficult but Kassim delivered an outstanding piece of art, and we’re very happy about the outcome!
- Any challenging situation experienced as musicians so far? This can be anything from recording, songwriting, touring.
We all have day jobs and navigating these waters of life, music, and money simply isn’t easy. Very often, we find ourselves in seemingly unsolvable situations but we always seem to find a way out. Everything else appears easy peasy, actually. Of course, once we can’t quite get a song done, it can be very frustrating, as well as working with unreliable people on tour but we can take a lot.
- If you had the opportunity to tour with 3 mainstream metalcore bands who would you tour with?
Parkway Drive, The Ghost Inside, and Gideon.
- If you had the opportunity to feature 3 metalcore musicians for new materials who would you pick?
Brendan Murphy, Andrew Tkaczyk, and Winston McCall.
- What’s in store for SKYWALKER for the rest of the year? Shows, sneak peeks on a forthcoming record or anything else you wish to add.
As I’m writing this, I’m packing for tour, we’re doing a string of shows in the UK as well as a show in Boulogne Sur Mer (France) and Crowdsalat Festival (Essen, Germany). We’re constantly working on new music, so there’s a whole lot we’ll be putting out in the near future. There’s virtually no weekend that we don’t get together to work on music.
Thank you for your time SKYWALKER and all the best for your future endeavors. We’ll keep on supporting you into Europe and US!
Thanks so much for having us and for the in-depth questions, we appreciate you having so much interest in our band!!
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