Christian metalcore band Haste the Day is back after breaking up nearly five years ago, and their brand new album Coward is out now and already making waves. BREATHEcast had the opportunity to interview one of the band's lead vocalists, Stephen Keech, about getting the boys back together, creating this unique album, and his uncertainty as to whether this is the end.
Coward is an incredible record because the band exists in two eras, one with Jimmy Ryan as the lead vocalist and the music being more hardcore, and the second era consisting of Keech with the sound shifting toward metalcore. Throughout the years roughly nine different members played in the band, and they are all represented on this album whether it be one song or several.
Keech said this was something that was challenging, as members are spread across the country and engulfed in their own families and other jobs.
"We wrote and recorded this album pretty much while we were all far away from each other. So it was a lot of emailing back and forth. Creating ideas and sending them, waiting for an email response and sending them," Keech said. "This record definitely forced us to be a little creative with how we wrote it. That contributed with the creativity behind it. All the other members coming together gave it a nice collaboration."
In fact they were never altogether in one room at the same time he revealed. "I think all the old members got together to write their song, and that was in Indy. We never actually all got together in one room, which is crazy, kind of a bummer, but it was an impracticality."
He did say most of them got together to practice recently as the first of their four album release shows takes place this Friday in New York City. Keech also noted that everyone will contribute to the release shows in some capacity, but they will not all be together at the same time. This means one solid group will play all the shows, with different people performing at different locations throughout the four dates.
As stated, Coward becomes a special Haste the Day record because it combines the efforts of both the band's lead singers. Ryan and Keech's vocal styles are different from one another, and even the style of song they would do is a bit different as well. Seeing the two of them put their heads together in writing the vocals of this album is truly a magical moment for many HTD fans. What makes this collaboration even better, is the fact they did not necessarily sit down and pen it with each other.
"A lot of it was independent, and the way we kind of chose the songs was the guys trusted me to coordinate the songs for most of the record as far as planning it all out. Me and Jimmy kind of worked it out as far as he picked some of his favorite songs such as 'Take', he revealed. "We kind of collaborated a little bit on the lyrics and worked those out together. He was really awesome to work with and collaborate with as well. One of my favorite songs to do was 'Shadow' when we got to go back and forth with each other's voices."
He said in a live setting the two vocalists will switch off from song to song, and take a little break or sometimes even double up on a song if it calls for it.
Topically, Keech and Ryan crafted the album around this idea of a "Coward," and while it is not a concept album or representative of anyone in particular, it is a theme that runs through the album.
"The record isn't about one particular person. It's more of a generalized idea where we all have the capability to be a coward, and we have to make a choice to over come that," Keech shared. "I think most of the songs are just about the choice, presenting different situations where a choice has to be made to overcome cowardice in whatever ways, mostly in communication where we are all afraid to say what's on our minds. We build things up and let it just build up inside of us until something terrible happens or we make some stupid decision and really hurt the ones that we love. If anything, that's the overall theme."
Sonically the band "wanted more of an organic sound this record," which is something they sought even more than their older records. Essentially they were going to stick to their guns of what they know rather than try to capture whatever sound is popular now. "More of a like raw approach. I honestly don't listen to new metal bands...it doesn't really interest me that much, I'm not saying it's bad, I just was never drawn to listen."
Most importantly, this record would have never been made if the fans did not go above and beyond, and raise 212% of their original goal. He said the band was truly overwhelmed by the support. With the extra money, the band was able to offer more incentives for the fans, and also able to cover the months of lost pay from their combined jobs as they made the album.
With that being said, it seems the fans love them some Haste the Day. Does that mean they can expect another album from the band down the line?
"All I can say is, I have no idea. We are all pretty satisfied right now...we all have lives, we all have married or getting married, a lot of the guys have kids, and we all have jobs and other obligations," he humbly said. "I think we are all a little tired because we have been doing those things as well as full time working on this album. I think for now we are going to go back to our normal lives and take it easy for a little bit. Maybe this is the last one, I can't say anymore. I was so confident our last record was the last one, and I was wrong."
Tune back in tomorrow for part two of our interview with Keech where he discusses music's evangelistic power and the influence of being a Christian band. [UPDATE: Read part 2 here.]
The album is available on iTunes here for just $8.99. The album can also be ordered on the Solid State website as part of a bundle.
The band has tickets on sale for the CD release tour as well:
May 22 at Irving Plaza NYC, NY
May 29 at Marquis Theater Denver, CO
May 30 at Glasshouse Pomona, CA
June 6 at The Old National Centre Indianapolis, IN
Get tickets here.