They have been a staple in most contemporary post-hardcore discussions thanks to a healthy musical blueprint and strong fan base. Having made their first trip to Australia earlier this month as part of the ‘Loveless’ tour, Killyourstereo.com caught up with Californian outfit A Skylit Drive when in Melbourne. Drummer Cory La Quay discusses the band’s new album and impressions of our country.
A very easy one to start off with Cory, how are you enjoying Australia?
So far it has been pretty good. It’s our first time in Australia so we didn’t really know what to expect. The kids that have come to the shows have been responsive. It has been really nice – Brisbane, the first night, turned out really well.
As you were saying there about it being your first time in Australia, I know you probably don’t know what to anticipate as you just alluded to, but did you have any basic expectations?
Honestly, we were just pleasantly surprised. The only thing I knew coming into Australia was that it is a little more expensive than America, but either way we’ve never been here in our entire lives and it’s a dream come true. Regardless, we are happy to be here and thankful to the kids for coming out to the shows.
How you made the remark there about things being more expensive, a lot of bands mention that, how difficult has it been from that perspective?
I kind of planned for it. It’s not a big deal; we’re definitely getting by. We are only here for two weeks anyway, so we’re not going to go through tonnes and tonnes of money. It is what it is – there are parts in America that are expensive too.
Shows aside, what has taken your fancy about Australia?
I really enjoyed Brisbane and I really enjoyed Sydney [too]. The first day in Brisbane, we did get to go to the koala sanctuary, which was absolutely amazing. I love animals. That was a great experience getting to hold a koala bear and see all the kangaroos. That really stands out to me.
They might be similar, however what have you observed in terms of differences between Australian audiences as opposed to those in US and Europe?
There’s not too much difference. Probably compared to Europe, audiences are a lot more responsive here. It’s pretty much the same everywhere you go depending on the [specific] place. Some Asian countries and also South American countries they are all really responsive. I’d say here it’s pretty similar to the States.
In the States it’s a lot of All Ages shows, but here’s there’s more separation with exclusive 18+ or underage shows.
Yeah, we’ve never done stuff like this. Usually it’s all ages shows [over in the States]. It’s new to us, but hey it’s cool, both types of shows have turned out great.
Australia is probably a good case study for the new album because it’s one of the first places you’ve toured since the album was released. A lot of bands make the remark that an album’s success is usually measured by how it is received live. How relevant is this to A Skylit Drive?
I hope we sound as good live as we do on record. I’m not too sure? I just play drums and sit back there (laughs). I sure hope so though. We are all stoked on this album and thankful to bring it to Australia.
For yourself personally, what are you hoping listeners will take away from ‘Rise’?
Mainly, just the fact that we spent so much time on this album – way more than our other albums. [We] really sat down for almost nine months and didn’t just write a song and go, “ok, that’s the song.” We wrote a bunch of songs and had a bunch of different ears on it, and a bunch of different perspectives on it. Hopefully people hear that and appreciate that, and think the same.
Drumming-wise, what was the biggest emphasis this time?
I always usually do my own thing. I don’t like to do over-the-top stuff. Any drummer can sit there and show off all day, but there’s a difference between showing off and doing crazy shit all the time, or doing tasteful things and making a good song. We tried to make good songs on this album. We didn’t want to make one person stand out, we tried to be on the same level and be as tight as possible.
Your day-to-day is either filled with touring, writing and/or recording. When you do have time off though, will you still sit down and practice the drums an hour each day?
Absolutely. I definitely do that. I know a lot of people that don’t do that, but definitely before any tour I go on, I like to practice. Personally, I do that.
On the topic of touring life, fans will see you play and grasp that side of it. However, it’s such a massive operation coming to a place like Australia that is so far away. Generally speaking, what’s the dynamic like sharing a bill with multiple bands? I imagine it can either be very smooth or very tedious.
To be honest, we are more than thankful for these bands we are on tour with. We didn’t know the Hellions guys or the No Bragging Rights guys before coming here. Now we are super good friends with them. Everyone on this tour has been nothing but nice – good guys. Everyone is helping each other out. We are all using the same drum set and we all have each other’s back. Dream On Dreamer we met before in Japan and they are such nice guys.
It can go bad though. There can be that one or two assholes on tour that fuck everything up, but not on this tour. Everyone has been great.
Without naming names or going into too much detail, have you had those negative experiences before?
Absolutely. Sometimes there’s that one dude that’s too cool for school. No one likes those people. If only they knew that. If everyone is nice and helping out each other it just makes everyone’s job smoother. But, they never will.
Is it a case of almost having to pick your battles in that sense?
Exactly. I just kind of block those people off, so it doesn’t affect me.
A Skylit Drive started in high school. What were the albums in your formative years that had an impact on you?
I was always into Underoath and A Static Lullaby. There was a band from our hometown that all of us in A Skylit Drive looked up to and they were called Five Minute Ride. That was Kurt Travis’, the ex-singer from Dance Gavin Dance, first band. That’s what got me into this whole style. I was probably about 13 or 14 years old at the time.
What have been the biggest changes you’ve noticed over the years – both musically and personally?
The more you do things the more you grow as people and as musicians. Outside of the music factor, just seeing the world [has been great]. When I was in high school I never went outside California and now I’m in Australia and have been to almost every continent. That in itself completely changed my perspective on life.
This is a slightly different topic, but what’s your take on social media in regards to being in a band? I was speaking to a local band called Tonight Alive and they have a big online presence and mentioned how it can be intense the expectation and responsibility of feeling like they have to reply to every fan.
I definitely understand that. Myself personally, I’m not a fan of social media and the Internet in general. I am more of a hippie (laughs). I think it’s a good thing to interact with fans, but sometimes it can get too crazy. Of course I want to talk to fans and tell them thank you, but I’d rather do it face-to-face and actually talk to them.
It’s better to have that personal engagement.
I believe so. I’d rather come talk to fans at shows and speak to them, looking at them in the eyes. It’s a lot more personal and intimate, and means a lot more.
You said you haven’t been to Africa before, what is still on the list of things to see and do?
Africa and Antarctica as of now are the only two continents I haven’t been to. Just travelling and seeing the world is the best thing in life.
You should get in Metallica’s ears. Get that support for their Antarctica show.
Yeah, that’s crazy. Hopefully one day.
What’s on your playlist at the moment?
To be honest, I’m more into music like Circa Survive. We just toured the States with a band called I, the Mighty. They’re one of my favourite bands. I am more into the chilled, spacey-type music.
Has that always been case? Some musicians will say because they play music that is heavy they don’t want to listen to it as well.
After playing heavy music and touring with heavy music over the years, I still like it and respect it, but I’ve seen so many bands that just sound exactly the same. It’s just open, open, open, open – samples – open, open…it’s like, “Jesus!” (laughs). I appreciate good music and good musicians, whether it is heavy or soft. If they’re good musicians, they’re good musicians.
Speaking of good musicians, from a live perspective, who have been some of the best bands you’ve seen?
There are so many. From here, a band called Closure In Moscow – I love that band.
We’ll wrap it up there, thanks for the interview Cory. Appreciate it.
Thank you man – that was a good interview.
‘Rise’ is out now via Shock.