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DISSECTION: Skyway Makes its Mark with New EP, 'Never Disappear'

My memories were taken in the flood

Souvenirs from early days

Souvenirs when we were young

I think about the things that washed away

Some are best left lost at sea

Reminders of the way we used to be

Breakwall (from ‘Never Disappear’)

 

Buffalo punk band Skyway has become widely known for its high-energy live performances, catchy songs and irreverent, self-effacing sense of humor.

 

Today, with the noon-time release of its new EP, ‘Never Disappear,’ it’s time that Skyway is recognized for something else as well — its top-notch musicianship and songwriting.

 

Skyway is a very good band.

 

In recording its new 5-song EP, the band worked for the first time with Jay Zubricky at GCR Audio, the heavily sought-out Buffalo engineer/producer. Zubricky’s influence is unmistakable here, and the result is a work by a band that has completely hit its stride.


Skyway’s brilliance lies in its ability to fill seemingly simple punk songs with considerable depth, weaving heavy subject matter with strong melodies and fast, punchy riffs.


The tracks on ‘Never Disappear’ examine the navigation of life’s challenges, its relationships, and the cruelty of aging. Yet, each song also boasts a sense of resilience — a true testament to the melodic and lyrical prowess of John Mikulski (guitar and vocals) and Andrew Burgess (bass and vox).  (Even as pessimistic as this writer is, ‘Never Disappear,’ left us optimistic, if even for a moment. And that’s a good thing.)


Standing out in particular throughout ‘Never Disappear’ is Brandon Kapral’s stellar drumming, which is simultaneous furious yet controlled, perfectly setting the band’s pace.

 

The last track on the EP, ‘Don’t Want to Party,’ is a song that is seemingly about being too tired to leave the house. But in actuality, it’s really about coming to terms with where you are in life after a certain point — as lame as it may be — and being perfectly OK with it.


Still, despite the subject matter, Skyway takes a song about not wanting to leave the couch and makes it a catchy, fast-paced, anthemic sing-along.


When you find a band that has the skill to take a song about fatigue and turn it into a punk anthem, you’ve found a band that’s worthy of your time.


***


We recently caught up with the members of Skyway to talk about the new EP. We thank them for their time. Check out our interview below.


1120 PRESS: As you wrote and worked on this new EP, was there any specific musical direction or objective for which you guys were aiming? In other words, in what way did you want to build upon the music the band already has out there? 

 

Andrew: It was interesting because you have to book studio time months in advance. I think we booked these dates about six months out from actually going into the studio. And with the way we write songs, it was fun because when we booked the time, we didn’t know what songs we’d be recording, or if the ones that made the cut had even been written yet. We hadn’t finalized our song choices until right before our first day of recording. But we knew we had a lot of good choices. We spent those six months writing and obsessively demoing the songs ourselves, so that by the time we got into the studio, we knew exactly what parts we needed to record. I should mention here that Brandon is an exceptional engineer in his own right. The demos sounded amazing, and I hope that at some point we get to release them all. 

 

John had the idea to send our pre-production demos to our friends and families and have people vote on which songs they liked best. That was really fun because I think that, in a few cases, we were surprised by how many votes a song got. In other cases, the votes were pretty evenly split, but these five clear frontrunners emerged. I like that we took this DIY approach to it and made it a communal thing. It’s a Skyway album, and we’re Skyway, but we’re not the bosses around here! We got to ask people: what songs do you want to hear the most? 

 

Brandon: Skyway works so quickly that we write songs without a major end-goal. It isn’t

a real consideration that we are “writing for the next record.”  We write them because John or Andrew are fairly prolific songwriters, and we get a kick out of the process. Luckily, the songs mesh as an album fairly well. I will say that as we evolve as a group, the songwriting has gotten tighter and more interesting, as in Misplaced and Rediscovered (a song on the new EP), without losing the energy of some of our earlier tunes like Sad Songs. 

 

1120: You guys recorded this EP with Jay Zubricky. What led you to take your music to him, and what do you think he did for the band’s sound on this EP?

 

Andrew: Jay rules. Full stop. He’s the best there is, and I think that he’s done a lot to craft what I think of as “the Buffalo Sound.” I recently went to visit family in Florida and I played some music for my brother on a two-hour car ride from Tallahassee to Gainesville. He asked me, “So… do you only listen to Buffalo music now?” I realized he was right that I had only been playing Buffalo bands, but what I didn’t realize until later was that everything I played for him had been engineered and recorded by Jay Zubricky. Autoignition, Spaced, Exhibition, Pilot Field — the list goes on and on. And it all sounds amazing. 


We recently sat in on a talk Jay gave at a meeting of the Buffalo Music Alliance. Jay talked a lot about helping bands to sound like the best version of themselves, and I think that’s what he did for us here. It’s still Skyway and in a lot of ways it sounds like a continuation of what we did with Doug White on Buffalo’s Worst Dancers. But it’s the best version of Skyway. Jay knows amps and mics, and he knows how to get big sounds out of the recording spaces. He’s also good at speaking up when something doesn’t sound great. On one of our songs, “Don’t Want to Party,” I had a fast, kind of walking-around bass part leading into the outro. Jay nudged me in the right direction and told me to try just playing the root notes during that part, and it was absolutely the right call. Thanks, Jay! 

 

Brandon: The way that Jay has created ‘The Buffalo Sound’ in his recordings is really remarkable. I don’t think that he uses any kind of cookie-cutter approach with the artists that he works with, but there is some je ne sais quoi involved. I wouldn’t ever propose that Never Disappear sounds like an ETID album, but it does sound like a Jay album. His unwavering enthusiasm for our scene and local artists will be a cornerstone of Buffalo music for the first half of the 2000’s! Also, I knew he had a massive stash of Dum Dums and we successfully depleted it while recording the EP. 

 

1120: Could you talk about the subject matter you’re exploring on this album and the inspiration behind it.

 

Andrew: I wanted to do a concept album about a post-apocalyptic world where rock ‘n’ roll music was outlawed, and we found a guitar stuck in a rock in a cave, and John played the magic power chord that turned us into intergalactic robot fighters called Skyway, and then we saved the world with the power of our music. But John and Brandon vetoed that idea pretty hard. 

 

For real, though, this is an album that’s all about aging and dying. But in a fun way! Thinking about your own existence, wondering about friends you’ve made and lost along the way, not feeling like going out at night because you’ve finally got a home you love and people you care about, community and togetherness and resilience. 

 

Well I’ve got news for you

The only thing I wanna do 

Is sit on my couch 

Drink sleepy time tea

And fall asleep watching documentaries

—Don’t Want to Party (from ‘Never Disappear)

 

John: Every song has a backstory on this EP. There’s no filler. For example, about a year ago, I was in line to pick up a pizza order and I overheard two other customers making small talk about how long they had been waiting. One remarked to the other that life is just one long line that we all wait in until we get to the end. It was a flippant remark aimed at the pizzeria’s customer service, but it immediately triggered for me this metaphor about life being a path we walk. This would ultimately become the song The Longest Line. I typed his comment in my notes app, and actually wrote most of the first verse while waiting for my food. 

 

Let’s count the hours of the day

Walking all the time in the longest line

Not knowing what lies far beyond 

The twist around the bend, 

so we’ll twist our heads 

behind our backs 

The wind’s at our back

 

I don’t care when or how I die

I care more who I leave behind

I’ll join the stars just to spy

how they carry on and how they keep on walking down the longest line

—The Longest Line (from ‘Never Disappear’)

 

Brandon: I still don’t even really know all of the words to our songs, so speaking on the subject matter is above my pay grade. I just hit stuff. 

 

1120: Is there anything else you want to say we haven’t touched on?

 

Andrew: The album title, ‘Never Disappear,’ comes from a lyric in “Misplaced and Rediscovered.” I think it’s a good reminder that if you’re living right, you never disappear. We’re all dads (John and I are Brandon’s twin sons) and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of impression I’m leaving on my kids. What moments will they remember? Which things do I say and do that get forgotten and which ones get embedded into their personalities as core memories and beliefs? It makes you want to do your best. I hope that it’s mostly the good ones. But it goes beyond that too. What kind of impression are we leaving on the world? And then it’s also a good reminder that the people you meet along the way never really disappear either. We carry all of our experiences and connections with us and they make us who we are. In general, Skyway is a band of classic under-thinkers, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot. 

 

John: We decided on the title, ‘Never Disappear,’ fairly early in the process, but the album artwork actually happened by accident shortly before we announced the release. A few weeks ago, I was taking a walk at Forest Lawn Cemetery with my family and my wife spotted a pair of weathered sunglasses propped on one of the monuments. It was silly but also a little unsettling and that duplicity appealed to me, so I snapped a picture before carrying on with our walk. The next day I looked at it again and started to draw connections to the album name. I showed the guys, and they agreed that the layered meaning worked with the messaging across our songs. Andrew worked his graphic design magic to transform it into proper album artwork. 

 

Andrew: Also, I’m planning on putting together volume two of the A Lot of People Don’t Know This About Skyway zine! Be on the lookout for that at our shows in the fall.  

 

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(Please consider supporting 1120 Press HERE so that we may continue to fulfill our mission of ensuring Buffalo’s musicians, artists and DIY creators are seen. Thank you.)

 

 

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