Interview: Kevin Skaff from A Day To Remember
Genre-blending aficionados A Day To Remember are known worldwide for their ability to perfectly combine hardcore with pop punk. Their forthcoming album ‘Bad Vibrations’ is set to be one of the biggest albums of the year, with hard hitting tracks Paranoia and Bad Vibrations giving us a taste of what’s to come. They recently a massive headline Australian tour with Of Mice & Men and the freshly announced Tonight Alive as supports. We had a chat to one of ADTR’s guitarists Kevin Skaff about the new album, koalas, Hamster balls, and his thoughts on some of their heavy-music comrades!
Hi Kevin! First off, the new album’s singles Paranoia, Bad Vibrations, Bullfight, and most recently Naivety show a lot of diversity. What can fans expect from the rest of ‘Bad Vibrations’?
Even more diversity! There’s a slow song on the album and there’s an insanely heavy song. Well there’s a couple of heavier songs, and a kind of anthemic rock song, then a really pop punk song. There’s still so much more diversity on the record, that even those four songs can’t capture!
How do you think it compares to older albums like ‘For Those Who Have Heart’, ‘Homesick’, and ‘Common Courtesy’?
It’s definitely its own thing. It’s written more like ‘For Those Who Have Heart’, but I’m not gonna compare it to ‘For Those Who Have Heart’. It’s probably the heaviest record we’ve done, it’s definitely our most diverse. It’s the first time we’ve gone out of our comfort zone to make a record. So I think artistically there’s kinda some leaps that we took on it. I just think it’s a fun record, there’s so much to it. It sounds great!
You spoke about the writing process, so how was the experience like being up in the mountains and how did it affect ‘Bad Vibrations’?
It was just to get away from our easy home life. It was a lot of fun being up in the mountains, you’d wake up and it’s like a beautiful view every day. So it was really beautiful to look at, but we didn’t actually get to spend much time just chilling ’cause most days we’d wake up, eat breakfast, drive 30 minutes to the studio, be in the studio for 10 hours, drive 30 minutes back, and then go to sleep an hour later. So it was like “yeah there’s this beautiful mountain view, but guess what, you’re gonna be in a dark, hot room for 10 hours a day, every day”. On our days off we got to hike up mountains and stuff like that.
But yeah, it was just to make sure that we were focused on just the record, so there’s no home life things that could take our attention away from the record. Plus Bill Stevenson is a f*cking legend, the drummer and songwriter in The Descendants, it was cool to have different person working on songs with us.
You guys are gonna be out here at the end of the year, your second time in two years, so what are you looking forward to this time round?
Y’know, just the same stuff that Australia always has. It’s beautiful, always fun to go to, everyone’s f*cking awesome, and the shows are f*cking rad. So those are the things I’m looking forward to!
What about the koalas?
You know what? The koalas they’re ok, but to me they’re a little over hyped. They just hide on your shoulder and like their claws just dig into your back and they’re not as fluffy as I thought they were gonna be, like kinda coarse feeling. So I was like “you know what koala, you’re kind of a let-down, but I’m gonna let it slide ’cause you’re still f*cking cute!”. (laughs)
You’re bringing out Of Mice & Men too, and you’ve toured with them before, so that’ll be a really good time!
Yeah, and then we have another band that I can’t say yet, but it’s f&cking awesome…and I think everyone’s gonna be stoked on them too! (We now know it’s the homegrown pop punkers Tonight Alive!)
Since around 2011 you guys started putting Jeremy (McKinnon) in a big inflatable hamster ball into the crowd, so where did you get the idea for that?
That was brought to our attention by The Flaming Lips. [They] did that, and then people were saying “oh yeah, The Who did that back in the 60’s”. So we’re like alright we’re gonna f*cken do that ‘cos that’s cool! So Jeremy did it for years, like three years, and after a while people knew the ball was coming so they would get their phones out to video the ball.
Then the ball would roll over them but they’d have their hands on their phones so they wouldn’t hold Jeremy up, and he started falling at every show, so he was like “f*ck this, I’m gonna stop doing it!”. So yeah, he stopped doing it for a while and I dunno if we’re gonna bring it back, but I will say that he did do it last night and it was awesome, like old times! (laughs)
I think it’s really cool that you guys do your own festival with Self-Help Fest, so how has it been to start up and run that?
It’s kinda tough. There’s a lot of like permit stuff you gotta do, a lot of little things to think about that normally you wouldn’t. But other than that it’s f*cking awesome man! I love having that festival, we just wanted to put something together that was more like a European festival. American festivals, most of them, about 95 per cent of them, are f*cking terrible!
Like there’s not enough accommodation for people, the food’s awful, they treat bands like sh*t and pay ‘em like sh*t. We just wanted something that took care of the artists, took care of the fans, and you could see all your favourite bands in the one day. We’re still working on it ’cause there’s always things that could be better.
So you guys are this massive band now, you tour relentlessly. You’ve toured with bands like Parkway Drive, Bring Me The Horizon and you’re currently on tour with blink-182. So how has it been to tour with all these bands and how have they shaped your own?
With a lot of them it’s like friendly competition. Like who’s up to what, and you always kinda want to do one better (laughs). Like “oh I heard they’re doing this, let’s do something even crazier!”. To me all those guys, they’re just friends, they’re friends first and then we hang out and stuff. Then you see people writing on their Instagram “oh my god, I f*cking love you, you helped me through so much stuff in my life” and you’re like “that’s cool, that’s my friend”.
You kinda forget that a lot of people look up to you ’cause you just think you’re a bunch of degenerate kids who struck it lucky, and you get to do what you love for a living. The Parkway Drive guys, the Bring Me The Horizon guys, they’re friends man, and the more times I can see them the better! (laughs) But it’s weird because blink are like our idols, so it’s crazy being out here with them!
What’s your thoughts on the recent passing of Tom Searle?
Yeah, I was good friends with him man, that was terrible. We were in New York and our photographer Hartley, from Australia, he had just done this photoshoot with us and we came back in. Hartley closed the door and he was like “guys, there’s no easy way to say this but, Tom from Architects passed”, and the room got so quiet. The last we heard he was doing good and he was getting his treatments and then all of a sudden there was that. It was just a very strange feeling knowing he’s not with us anymore. We dedicated the show to him that night.
It sucks not having him around because he was such a big influence on music today. Everyone has taken from Architects, they’re such an influential band whether people know it or not. He was such a huge part of that, and it’s a terrible tragedy about Tom man, I wish he was still here.
My last question for you, you guys are this huge band now and you’re going so strong. So, what can we expect from A Day To Remember in the next five years or so?
More touring, more records! Hopefully we’re still f*cking good (laughs). We’re just gonna do what we always do man, tour our asses off, and try to play to as many people as we can!
A Day To Remember’s sixth studio album ‘Bad Vibrations’ is set to be released on Friday, 2nd of September. Check out one of their new tracks and Aussie tour dates below!