In the days since the records release, it been clear to Czech post-hardcore heavyweights Skywalker that their new album Late Eternity has had an impact. An uncharted blend of impassioned lyrics and heavy metalcore breakdowns, each track takes a deep dive into an endless pit of emotion. From the haunting yet crisp vocals of Jay Kucera each person gets an individual telling of the band at their most vulnerable, resonating with everyone on a completely different level. Standing out from the pack by a mile in terms of their own impressive discography there is a notable maturity in every word, the perfect follow up to the 2017 EP Sugar House.
Taking stock of years worth of influences and a history of skull crushing performances, Skywalker have successfully bottled up their live energy and documented the same catharsis on record. Highs, lows, fears & failures, the thirteen track LP takes a fearsome approach to its journey, culminating into the perfect finale with 'Every Grief'. Other highlights of the record include a surprise guest entry from Connor Hallisey of Our Hollow, Our Home and the stir in their fanbase when greeted with the four minute masterpiece that comes in the form of 'Ignis'.
One thing’s for certain, and that is that Skywalker and their global community of fans are proud of the album they’ve created. We sat down with vocalist Jay for an in depth chat about all things Late Eternity, touring with Beartooth, and a collective love for Blink 182.
Let's talk a little bit about the record - when did the concept first come into existence for Skywalker? Did you have songs already set aside, or did you decide ‘We’re going to sit down and write an album’?
Jay: "I think it was in early 2018, about half a year after the release of Sugar House, that we started talking about what’s next. We were pretty busy touring at the time so perhaps we weren’t too excited about getting back in the studio but we started writing. Around that same time, I finally built my own little home studio space around my Mac and, being a horrible guitarist, started experimenting with synthesisers and electronic sound. By the end of that year, we’d thrown away most of the material we’d set aside before and started writing songs more in the line of 'Ignis'. We knew we wanted to write an album and knew 'Ignis' would be the first step towards that goal.
Do you think the current climate has had any kind of influence on how the record has come out?
Jay: "Of course, but it’s not all bad! We were gonna self-release this much earlier, perhaps May 2020. We wanted to start promoting the record on tour, release it and tour some more. None of that happened but it also prompted us to go back to the drawing board and write more music. Further, it wasn’t till Autumn 2020 that we started talking to Pale Chord. Those guys also helped us reassess the whole situation. We gain a new perspective of having nothing to lose but everything to gain from planning the process of release properly. There was more attention paid to our online presence and image as well. It was a different experience, but incredibly enriching."
You guys have had a pretty wild ride to get to where you are now - can you pick out the top highlight of your career so far?
Jay: "Perhaps it’s the album release, who knows! But I always keep coming back to the first time we played Rock for People, a major rock festival in the Czech Republic. It was the opening day, we played in front of the main gate on the asphalt and gravel, yet hundreds of kids packed to that place and we had a chance to show all naysayers what we were about. Fast-forward to a few years later, kids in Tokyo, Japan screaming our lyrics at us, sharing the stage in sold out venues with Beartooth, headlining packed shows etc. But I don’t wanna look back too much, Late Eternity is a fresh start."
Who would you say has been your best touring companions to date in terms of other bands you’ve shared the road with?
Jay: "The UK metalcore band InVisions, no doubt about that. We’d never had so much fun with anyone on tour before, and haven’t since. Such great friends, kind, fun guys."
It's obvious that you guys all really care about your fans. The emphasis you put on this in all your live performances is pretty clear, even via cyberspace in your Live & Locked Down stream - is there a message you’d want to send to bands that might be less involved with their fanbase?
Jay: "I don’t know, we don’t really think about that too much. It’s just plain to see to me: without the supporters of this band, the band wouldn’t count for anything. Without us, they’d still have a different band to go to, so I think we shouldn’t overestimate our importance as the ‘artists’. I’m really not trying to be some cheesy, influencer-like, all smiles kind of guy, I just really, honestly appreciate the people who’ve been here for us, everyone who pays attention. To the other bands, I suppose I’d say: don’t think so highly of yourselves, you’re not above anyone. Just be you, have a good time with the people who love what you do."
"Blink is a one in a million. Blink is like Metallica, like Black Sabbath."
What would you say has been the most drastic industry change you’ve experienced throughout the duration of your career?
Jay: "The effect Spotify has had on underground music, but I’d say it’s mostly been positive. I see a lot of criticism on the part of underground bands often, but I can’t help but ask: do you really think you’d be able to make a living off of royalties if Spotify paid you more? Let’s be honest, Spotify is the best promotion tool there is, and the effect has been astounding, I think more people listen to music for the music again, gone are the days of the absolute dominance of YouTube, which I think is great for alternative music."
Late Eternity is enormous in it’s sound and you really convey every emotion felt through your lyrics - is there a particular song that stands out as the most personal to you and why?
Jay: "In a strange way, it’s perhaps the song 'For You // Through You'. It’s a song I wrote about someone very close to me, but not about me. It’s a song about one-sided, dysfunctional relationships, and I think a lot of people are trapped in them, and suffer. I felt a strong urge to express that pain, that frustration, that entrapment. Even through I’m very content and happy in my own relationship, this needed to be communicated in a soft, accessible yet personal way, and I believe we’ve managed to do just that."
Following on in a similar vein Its evident that a lot of time gets put into the vocal content in every one of your tracks - is there a particular lyric you’re especially proud of?
Jay: "Perhaps the second verse in 'Precious' truly stands out for me. It goes “Put on a face with a fake smile, snap my life, it is perfect. No mistakes, I’m glistening. Nothing’s real - we’re hurting”. My vitriolic disgust with the influences, fake, artificial life on social media and it’s destructive effect on the mental health of today’s youth, the absolute monetisation of every facet of human life, the epitome of predatory capitalism, I needed to put that into words, and I didn’t even try to go for anything figurative here. Yet, I feel like the words sound both resonant and beautiful, which is my idea of a lyric."
What’s the story behind ‘Charon's Song’?
Jay - Do you know these esoteric, wannabe-Eastern, cringingly enlightened types springing up all over the place, filling people’s heads with a modern-day version of Dark Ages religion? So these people often like to preach about how they’ve accepted death, how they’re fine with it etc. It makes me wanna throw up, when I think about the terrible pain and loss that death brings to the human psyche. I’ve always been terrified by it, had nightmares about it as a child, I can’t quite process the notion of it. And I just want to be open about it, after all, it symbolises for me the ultimate iteration of what the record is about. In death, there truly is complete loneliness, and I can’t pretend to feel anything that sheer terror about it.
So we’re going to hit you with a bit of a double barrelled question on this one - You’re all fairly open that ‘Late Eternity’ dives straight to the heart of feeling alienated, lonely, and how it feels to be tackling similar feelings as an individual. Would you say that your music is an outlet to exercise those feelings yourselves? And what advice would you offer anyone out there whose feeling the same way?
Jay: "I don’t know if music is an antidote or an outlet or something else. It’s still a mystery to me. But I know that I have to express what I feel and it needs to be through music so I suppose that makes it my outlet quite naturally. I would say, don’t be afraid to go deep into the feelings. I see a lot of attention on social media circling about these fake ideas of how much worth we all have as people, how important we are. I don’t think that’s true. I think the beauty of human life is that we’re not necessary or unique. We hurt, we suck, we feel, we live. Through the hardships, through the depression and loneliness, we’re still here. I would say: don’t only face your fears, go deep, delve into them. What you find will only make you stronger. Don’t lie to yourself. You’re alone but so am I and we all are."
"When touring resumes, oh boy, you’d better believe we’ll set your venue on fire."
You’ve said on countless occasions how influential Blink 182 have been on your own music, and just how much of a positive influence their music has had across such a varied demographic - do you think you could create a similar legacy with your own Band?
Jay: "Short answer: Are you insane - of course not, haha! Blink is a one in a million. Blink is like Metallica, like Black Sabbath. However, I do know that there is a growing number of people who have been inspired by Skywalker to start a band, reevaluate their lives, see their joys and pains from a different perspective. So no, I don’t think we’ll attain cult status but I think we’ve already left a mark, which is beyond my wildest dreams."
What’s the plan for after the album is in the hands of the world? Where do you see Skywalker going from here?
Jay: "So now is the time to truly squeeze every drop of the juice that’s been brewing in Late Eternity. But we’ve been working on the follow-up release for months now as well so we’ll carry on doing that. We’ve got something very special cooking up still related to the new album, you’ll keep hearing about it for some time yet! And when touring resumes, oh boy, you’d better believe we’ll set your venue on fire."
Just to finish up, if you could see yourselves playing on any stage or venue anywhere - where would it be and why?
Jay: "I may have said it before but right now, I find myself thinking most of Backstage in Munich, Germany. I saw Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus & Travis Barker’s Plus 44 there back in high school and since then have had the opportunity to play that very stage a couple of times, both of which I loved. So it may not be the biggest or most notorious venue in the world, but we’re coming for you baby!"