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Lilac Bushes & Fried Bologna: The Rock-n-Roll Tale of the Buffalo Punk Band Skyway

(EDITOR’S NOTE — There are few guarantees in life. But besides death, taxes, and Buffalo sports teams finding a way to lose, there's a fourth guarantee: It’s never dull around the Buffalo punk band Skyway. The prolific, high-energy band will soon be releasing an artfully designed and hilarious 12-page zine on the origins of the band. Recently, they spoke with 1120 Press about it all. We hope you enjoy… Skyway is: John Mikulski, guitar and vox; Andrew Burgess, bass and vox, and Brandon Kapral, drums and vox. — Photo by Matt Smith/1120 Press)

1120 PRESS: Congratulations on the new zine, which will be released at your show on Sunday Aug. 20 at the Rec Room (as part of a bill that also includes The Abruptors, Working Class Stiffs and Catch 22 from New Jersey). Can you tell us what inspired the zine? It’s not only well done, it’s very funny.

Andrew: Hey Matt, thanks for having us! Sunday, August 20 is going to be an excellent night, and we’re really excited to be a part of it. We’re not a ska band, but all of us have been in ska bands over the years, and it’s close to our hearts. I used to be the guitarist/lead singer in The Shower Beers. Brandon drummed for a group called Slightly Askew. John played saxophone in Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters.

John: I was one of the Shrimp Shack Shooters.

Brandon: Not to dig too deep into semantics, but I wouldn’t classify CGatSSS as a ska band. Great job on the sax, though, John.

Andrew: The zine is just me proving to my parents that I’m using my creative writing degree for something. Take that, pops! But for real, I’ve got a buddy named Bailey Simone who is a big part of the Buffalo Hardcore community. I was there in the early days of him starting Yuga Dharma Press last year, and it was really inspiring to see him work. He started off with a zine about how to start a hardcore band in Buffalo, and then he started publishing Buffalo Hardcore Periodical as a kind of central publication for the scene — a lot like what you’re doing with 1120 Press. And he’d come back from the copy shop with big stacks of fresh pages and fold them himself. He’d have them on the table for free or cheap at shows, and I just thought that was very cool. So, I wanted to make something tangible that folks could take home from our shows for free while also documenting the real, true, behind-the-scenes story of our band.

1120: We talk to a lot of bands who say they are motivated to create something physical now — whether it’s a zine, or cassettes, or vinyl — and their reason is often that in this digital era, music is almost too easily disposable; that there’s a tangibility that’s missing. Is that a feeling you share and did this play any part in wanting to put the zine out?

Andrew: Yes, definitely. I’m always careful when I talk about this stuff, because I feel like it sets up a tough dichotomy. If you stream music, that’s cool. I definitely won’t say you’re wrong. Our music is on all the big streaming platforms, and if it wasn’t, almost no one would’ve ever heard us. And that’s the case for the vast majority of bands and musicians working today. So, no complaints there. I also think that social media (looking at you, Instagram) has kind of taken nostalgia and fandom to a weird place. Just today, I saw an ad for some company that makes blankets, and it was a photo of two adults in Goosebumps pajamas, reading Goosebumps books, wrapped up in a Goosebumps blanket. I guess my point is that when you say I like physical media, there’s a risk of sounding like I want to be reading zines in zine pajamas while wrapped up in a zine blanket. I love physical media and I’m doing my part to keep it alive, but I don’t draw a hard line on it. Haha, now to actually answer your question!

Brandon: When Andrew mentioned that he was going to put the zine together I was instantly on board. Back in the ska band days zines were everywhere. Does anyone else remember the mega-zine BYOFL? It got our 7-piece ska band across the country and back in a time before Google Maps and social media. Not only does it pull on the nostalgia heartstrings, but Andrew has a way with words that needs to be heard by more than just us two dummies.

Andrew: Haha, thanks, Brandon! I collect records, CDs, VHS tapes, comic books, zines, old magazines, and paperback books. I do think that there’s something great about having stuff in your house that constantly reminds you of how weird you are, and that being weird in your own way is a good thing. I like that someone can come over to my house and immediately see what I’m into. I like City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold. I’m currently reading Ambergris by Jeff VanderMeer (and have been for months because that book is huge). And, I’m currently listening to a lot of Roy Orbison records. No hiding it. Let’s talk about it! Nothing against streaming, but I do think that aspect is missing. What is your record collection when we’ve all got the exact same music library in our pockets?

That said, it’s very expensive to make vinyl records, and it takes a long time to have them pressed. Zines are free. I won’t say how, but we made these for free. (Let the record show that I’m winking as I say this.) We also made CDs of our EP, Buffalo’s Worst Dancers. They make great Christmas presents if you work an office job that does a white elephant exchange.

So, anyway, yes, in a world of streaming, we wanted people to have something tangible to take with them from a show. Something to keep on their coffee table or in the bathroom. Something to keep us close to their hearts after the music’s over for the night.

1120: The cover of the zine notes that this is ‘Vol. 1: Auspicious Beginnings.’ So, we should expect a Vol. 2 at some point? And if so, where might the story take us?

Andrew: Volume 2 will be called either “Son of Skyway,” “Electric Boogaloo,” or “This Time It’s Personal.” We’re still debating that one. Maybe “The Legend of Curly’s Gold.”

Brandon: Maybe “2Fast2Skyway” or “Secret of the Ooze”? I’m not sure that we should tell this story, but I think we can hint that it may have something to do with some radioactive slime. Or maybe our sweet street racers.

Andrew: Brandon wins with “2Fast2Skyway.” That settles it! I imagine this being an ongoing series with new issues coming out a few times a year. It’s just really fun for me to sit down and create the zine because it exercises different muscles than writing songs and playing music. And pop-punk as a genre just takes itself way too seriously. Look at bands like Blink 182, Green Day, Simple Plan, the list goes on. No sense of humor at all! We just wanted to do something different to lighten things up a bit and prove that pop-punk can be fun. I should also mention that we couldn’t do it without photos from folks like you! People see the photos long before they read the words, so thanks for being a part of it.

1120: In reading the advance copy you so kindly presented to us to prepare for this interview, we couldn’t help but be inspired by the humble origins of the band. The road to success was not exactly an easy one. What was it like for you to relive those days as you wrote the zine?

Andrew: The zine reads like an episode of Behind the Music on VH1. Jealousy, big egos, soaring highs and crushing lows, intrigue. It’s all there in black and white. It was humbling, and more than a bit emotional reliving these moments. When a band has been together for as long as we have (almost a year), if you don’t take time to document the stories along the way, you risk losing them. I had totally forgotten about the shadowy government agency that tailed us for a while, and it was just as harrowing writing about it as it was living it. Same goes for our brief career making major motion pictures.

1120: Knowing you guys are an honest bunch who never lie, we’re wondering too: just how much of this zine is a lie?

John: 90 percent of what’s in the zine is 70 percent factual.

Andrew: John really did injure himself in a lilac bush pruning accident.

John: One of my favorite parts of being in this band is our spontaneity. When we’re on stage and there’s a microphone in front of each of us, I have no idea what anyone is going to say – myself included. Sometimes it’s charming; sometimes self-deprecating; sometimes absurd; but it’s almost always funny. Andrew is the master at telling a story that seems benign at first but then suddenly turns into one big punchline that is just hysterical. This zine is essentially a collection of some of these stories, so in a way, it’s our attempt to catalog some of our favorite moments from our live shows.

Brandon: It has become a running gag that my friends and family talk about. It’s a good bonus for coming to our show – you’ll always get a laugh.

1120: Is there anything else that you guys would like to add that we haven’t covered? What else is happening on the Skyway front these days?

Andrew: We’re very excited to offer our fans an opportunity to work from home and be their own boss! All you have to do is buy CDs, t-shirts, stickers, and koozies from our online store, and then recruit five friends to buy them from you and sell them to their friends. Everyone makes money and everyone wins. You can’t lose. Brandon spent the whole summer traveling with the extra money he made working four to five hours a week! Doctors hate this guy because of one weird trick!

John: I have never played in a band that moves this fast or writes music this prolifically. Every week is a whirlwind of ideas and forward movement as a band and it’s just so much fun. This zine is an example. One night a few weeks ago Andrew texted us and said he thought it would be fun to write a zine. A week later and it’s done. So to answer your question about what’s on the horizon for Skyway (oh, the imagery), I have no idea but I’m pretty certain it’s going to be a ton of fun.

Andrew: We’re currently writing and demoing our next EP. We just booked some time to record it with Jay Zubricky at GCR this winter. I really think the songwriting just keeps getting better as we keep working together and collaborating as a band, so I’m really excited to see what happens when Jay gets his mitts on us.

Brandon: I am truly excited to hang out with Jay at GCR. Not only has he been a part of some really great music in Buffalo (and around the world!), but he is easily the nicest engineer out there. I know he’ll bring the best out in us. We’re also working on a couple of small mini-tours next year with our friends in Something Bitter (NYC), which will be our first foray into playing outside of Buffalo!

Andrew: Oh, and we’ll be playing the Music Is Art festival on September 9th! Grab a coffee and your skateboard and come see us at 11:45 a.m. on the skatepark stage. Just be sure to stretch first. We don’t want anyone to pull a hammy. You can keep up with our shows on our website or on Instagram. I think John also posts stuff on Facebook, but that place is a ghost town.

John: Facebook is a great way to connect with our fans aged 60+. My aunt especially appreciates the Facebook posts (and this helps our follower count because she creates a new account every time she gets hacked – which is regularly).

Andrew: We also just want to thank you, Matt, for what you’re doing for the Buffalo music and art scene with 1120 Press. It’s really cool to feel like we’re part of a community for a change after our hardscrabble upbringing as loners, weirdos, and outcasts. Keep up the good work!


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