“We don’t wanna make a clear distinction between band and private, but this is our primary focus and endeavour”
Being removed from the Western world can have its disadvantages, especially when you’re a band with a message that rides along the line of “everything isn’t what it seems”. With their origins lying in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, Skywalker have always had a hunger to escape the confines of Eastern Europe. “We started this band with a bunch of friends who shared the passion for music,” says vocalist Jay Kutcher as he travels somewhere in the mainland as part of their latest European run.
From speaking to Kutcher, you get the impression that the journey they’ve been on since forming in 2011 has been rough. Having previously spent time in a pop-punk band, Kutcher, along with Damian Kucera (drums), David Machalicky (guitar/vocals), and Tom Rotschild (bass), wanted to experiment with heavier elements. Cue the formation of Skywalker. “We never really felt like proper hardcore kids, so we’ve been playing heavy punk rock tunes and driving all around the place ever since,” Jay explains. And he isn’t exaggerating as they’ve put in plenty of miles, touring throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, and even China.
While they have developed a following in their homeland and beyond, Jay knew the band had to look further afield to get to the next level. Luckily, Kutcher would relocate to Liverpool to study, splitting his time between there and Prague. “I quickly found out the UK is like home to me. So even though I’ve been travelling there and back ceaselessly for the past year. It hasn’t been exactly easy at times but we’ve managed,” Jay tells us.
For Skywalker, the main goal for the past 12 months has been writing, recording and releasing their third EP – ‘Sugar House’. Consisting of five songs in 17 rapid minutes, it efficiently combines angst-fuelled hardcore with addictive pop-punk hooks. Sure it’s nothing revolutionary but for Jay, he considers it a natural progression from the hardcore leanings of older material. “We never aspired to be a hardcore band, so we’ve always enjoyed the two sides of the coin: pop-punk and metalcore. We may not feel like screaming most of the time now, so we gave way to clean vocals more.”
One of the main catalyst for soaring choruses on ‘Sugar House’ is producer Seb Barlow. With a proven track record of producing some of the UK’s best pop-punk acts; Neck Deep, WSTR, As It Is, Homebound, and Catch Fire, Kutcher describes Barlow as “a pop-punk mastermind”. Through working with him, Barlow pushed Kutcher’s songs to thrive off gigantic hooks. “The choruses wouldn’t be nearly as catchy as they are now,” states Jay. In addition, Barlow achieved another aim Skywalker had when writing ‘Sugar House’; to become more “Western-sounding”.
Beyond the breakdowns and bold choruses, ‘Sugar House’’s lyrical core of how something may look nice on the outside, but rotten inside. “Sugar house is a hugely euphemistic term for a nice looking house where American soldiers would be imprisoned by the British during the war for independence,” Jay says as he defines the meaning behind the EP’s title. “I thought the irony of the term fitting.”
Likewise, the use of single-word nominal names of substances compliments the aforementioned core. Kutcher considers ‘Sugar’, ‘Drug’, ‘Blood’, ‘Caffeine’ and ‘Venom’ as substances that have mixed reactions in the short and long term. He explains, “they are all substances that make us feel good, change the current state of the mind and body but also affect us negatively, especially in high doses. All of us being major coffee addicts, we chose these as metaphors for love, hatred, selfishness and all the other stuff discussed in the lyrics.” Throughout the EP, Kutcher examines past relationships, both romantic and platonic, and how they seemed functional but overall wasn’t.
All being well, ‘Sugar House’ should achieve its aim in growing Skywalker’s reputation. Early indications show they’re heading in the right direction. “The reaction has been great,” Jay responds when asked about the current European run. He continues by saying “we’re playing in front of new people as well, that’s even better because we [naturally] believe the new stuff is much better than the old stuff. It’s a great opportunity to get people interested.”
With a UK tour along Coast To Coast taking place next week, Skywalker are definitely at ease removing themselves from their homeland, even though it has led to some criticism. “I know a lot of people [in the Czech Republic] consider us sell-outs etc, but we wanna represent ourselves and our music primarily,” Jay discloses. “We’re not obsessed with representing a certain scene. That’s what has liberated us in a way and enabled us to solely focus on recording and touring.”
While it’s yet to be seen if Skywalker are opening the door for their compatriots; Kutcher suggests it’s unlikely we’ll see bands from Czech Republic touring the UK. As selfish as it may seem, Skywalker’s main priority is themselves as Jay closes by saying:
“We know where our minds are music-wise. We don’t wanna make a clear distinction between band and private, but this is our primary focus and endeavour. Touring this much and seeing people shout our lyrics back at us in such remote places reminds us of just that.”
‘Sugar House’ EP by Skywalker is out now.
Skywalker will be touring the UK on the following dates.
September (support from Coast To Coast)
11 Underground, Plymouth
12 Bar Forty Two, Worthing
13 The Black Heart, London
14 The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
15 The Pit, Swansea
17 Broadcast, Glasgow
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)