Hey guys, leaving the laminate behind, (which is most likely) over your 'sheetrock' also doesn't make sense. If he wants to put a modern glass splashback or ceramic tiles, the laminate underlay is rubbish. Looking at the photos, he has already removed 1/2 the outer laminate, and needs to remove the rest.
The cupboards don't look that crash hot anyway, and particularily date the kitchen. So what's to keep? His post says he wants a modern look, well I can assure you, he ain't gonna achieve it if he leaves those cupboards in place.
He also says drywall over the lot is too thick. He doesn't want laminate by the sound of it, and I wouldn't recommend such crap, not in a modern kitchen. It's all about how much he wants to spend and what design outcome he wants. There is no easy way with splashbacks, you either do the job properly or not at all.