Interview with Kevin Skaff of A Day To Remember: Not So Toursick

Since their start in 2003, A Day To Remember have made a name for themselves with electrifying live performances. The band is also known for their unique blend of influences. They are often referred to as “pop-mosh” because of their mix of hardcore and pop-punk elements. The Florida-based band consists of singer Jeremy McKinnon, Neil Westfall on guitar, bassist Joshua Woodard, Alex Shelnutt on drums and lead guitarist Kevin Skaff. After signing with Victory Records in 2007 they released the album For Those Who Have A Heart. It wasn’t long before they began touring with big name bands and playing to the largest crowds of their career.

The band’s success continued through their next studio album, Homesick. After the release of the album, they headlined their own tour dubbed Toursick with August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, and Silverstein. They’re set to headline another tour with the release of their latest album What Separates Me From You starting in early November. I had a chance to talk with Kevin Skaff, the newest member of A Day To Remember, about the upcoming release. We discussed what it was like to change bands, his favorite parts of A Day To Remember and, of course, the new album.

You’re kind of new to the band. You’ve been in A Day To Remember for a little over a year. How’s the transition been between bands?

It was actually pretty smooth. Everything just worked out, you know? As soon as I left my old band­—I think ten days later—these guys picked me up. It was really easy and actually surprising that I didn’t get much hate when I took over for Tom because he was pretty much a character and everybody recognized him as being part of A Day To Remember. It went a lot smoother than I thought it’d be.

Also because you’re fairly new, did you get to experience the writing process for Homesick? How was the writing like for the new album?

It was pretty much whoever would come up with an idea on the bus, whether it was me or Jeremy, on acoustic guitars we would just start writing, and then after that was structured a little bit, we’d bring it into the whole band. And then that’s where it gets that A Day To Remember sound. It goes through a ton of different processes after that. After the full band, it goes into pre-production where Chad and Tom and Andrew were. Then it goes into recording where Andrew is. It actually changes about six or seven times before it gets on record.

The new album title is What Separates Me From You. What was the inspiration for the title?

That’s kind of up to Jeremy because his lyrics are super personal to him, but he tells us about the songs and what they mean. The album’s about what choices you make and the things that come with them, whether it be losing out on a relationship or losing a family member. It’s just about lifestyle choices and all the good and bad things that come with it. That’s the short version.

I haven’t had a chance to listen to the new album yet, but which song is your favorite besides your new single?

I like the first track called “Sticks And Bricks” and it’s a pretty mean song.

Speaking of mean, most people define your style as a mix between pop, punk and hardcore. How do you like to define your style?

We don’t even know, man, because we always sound like four different bands all in one. That’s what’s fun about being in a band because you get to write whatever you like. There are a lot of people that don’t just like hardcore or just like pop music, and we’re five of those people so it’s kind of fun that we get to do them all. As for a label, I don’t even know what to call us. A lot of people call us “pop-mosh” or whatever. I don’t even know what that means, but that’s what people call us. I guess we’d call ourselves alternative for now.

Did you try anything new in terms of sound or style on the new album?

Kind of. We kind of went to both extremes. Our songs, well I don’t want to say they’re heavier, because when people say that they’re always lying, but they’re a little less metalcore and a little more hardcore I would say. A little less chuggy and more mean and pissed off. And then on the pop side, we kind of kept what was all good about Homesick, and then made all the heavy stuff more mean sounding, and the pop stuff a little catchier and easier on the ears.

When you first entered the band you were touring, and now you’ve experienced writing with the band. Which is your preference, touring or recording?

I like being in the studio and everything, but touring is where I have the most fun always. Just because you’re always out, hanging out, and you get to play live shows. That’s easily where I have the most fun, not being cooped up in a studio for twelve hours a day for a month. Although the creative side is fun, touring is where it’s at.

Speaking of touring, you finished your Toursick tour at the end of the summer. How was playing with Enter Shikari, Silverstein and August Burns Red?

Oh it was fun, man! We knew a lot of those guys from before. We did a few days in Japan with Enter Shikari, and Canadian tours with Silverstein, so we went into it knowing that all these people were good people. It was pretty much just like bringing friends out on tour, and we knew it was going to be a good time, and it was exactly that. It was the best tour I’ve ever been a part of.

After your release you have a tour with Underoath, Word Alive and Close Your Eyes. Did you have any say on who’s going on the tour with you?

Pretty much for all our headlining tours we have complete say, but it all just really comes down to who’s available. We get a kind of list of the bands available and we choose from that. We were all stoked about Underoath because we all really like them. I’m sure they were a huge influence on everybody, pretty much. It’s really cool that they’re out and their new record sounds awesome. The Word Alive was a band who actually just recorded with Andrew who did our new record. It was their first one and we really liked it so we thought we’d bring them out and try something new. The first two bands are kind of new stuff that we’re trying out to see what’s up.

Which new songs from the album are you guys going to be playing live?

We don’t really know yet. We’ll probably play the two that are out, the single and the one that has a preview up now called “Second Sucks.” As for the other ones off the record, we don’t know yet. I’m sure the first couple months will be experimenting with what songs work better live. So actually this first tour with Underoath will be a guinea pig tour to see what people are going to like live.

What are your plans for after this upcoming tour?

In December we’re playing a bunch of radio shows, and we go to Australia for a week with Megadeth and Parkway Drive. Then we have the holidays off, and then we’re going to the UK and Europe in January and February.

For future tours are there any specific bands you want to play with?

Right now I’d really like to tour with My Chemical Romance. I think they’d make a great tour.

Be on the lookout for A Day To Remember’s newest studio album titled What Separates Me From You out through Victory Records on Nov. 16. Also be ready for when A Day To Remember comes to Asbury Park Convention Center on Nov. 5.