“HALCYON WAY has built a reputation – brick by brick & stone by stone – as being a blue-collar, hard-working band that will seize any opportunity given them, and wring it for all it’s worth.” So go the words of the HALCYON WAY Facebook page. And quite frankly, truer words were never said. Through the adversity of line-up changes, and guitarist Jon Bodan battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the band has emerged on the other side stronger than ever with new album Conquer, one that will surely propel them into the stratosphere. I got the chance to speak with singer Steve Braun just as the record was getting ready to come out. We talked about the writing, the years of hard work and some other cool things. Check it:
Amps: First of all, congratulations on hooking up with Massacre Records for your European distribution, man.
Steve: I think it’s gonna be good and help take us to the next level. We could have gone with Massacre worldwide but we stayed with Nightmare Records here in the States for the simple fact that to get our CDs from Massacre would cost just as much as we would sell them for. There was no profit margin. We do our own printing with Nightmare and SONY so we can get everything at our cost.
Amps: They really seem to take care of their artists at Massacre, too.
Steve: Yeah, we’re excited and we’re definitely a little different than some of the more commercial metal artists, so it’ll be good.
Amps: Tell me about new album Conquer. What’s different this time around?
Steve: Songwriting-wise we stepped away from the progressive metal aspect and we went with a more straightforward approach. Just real aggressive hard rock verses and these big AOR choruses over top of something you might hear on a CHIMAIRA record or something like that.
Amps: Yeah, some of your stuff is heavy as fuck.
Steve: This record is by far the heaviest yet most commercial thing we’ve done, if that makes sense.
Amps: How excited are you for the album to come out?
Steve: So excited because it’s been such a difficult time from Building the Towers and IndoctriNation which came out in 2010 and 2011, we’ve gone through so much. Conquer really stands for all the struggles that we’ve gone through as a band. We were supposed to play 35 dates with STUCK MOJO in Europe and right before we were gonna leave, Jon got diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So you know we all stuck by his side and put the band on the shelf for a year so he could get better. Then we had some struggles with members coming and going and having the right people; are we gonna be a five-piece or a four-piece? For most of this album we were a three-piece, Jon, Ernie (Topran, drums) and me. It really ended up working out well because there were less people and we were able to hone things better. And now having Max (Eve , Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals) and Skyler (Moore, Bass Guitar, Death Vocals) is so awesome. I’m so excited for people to hear it because it’s by far A) better than anything we’ve ever done and B) we really went that extra mile just to make this a special record.
Amps: You mentioned CHIMAIRA earlier which prompts me to ask, who are you listening to right now that’s making you say, “Holy Shit!”?
Steve: I’m a huge KILLSWITCH ENGAGE fan, and ALL THAT REMAINS. Those are my two favorites. However growing up I’ve always been a huge STRYPER fan, and you can hear that in my harmonies. Their new album is just as good as their old stuff. They’re one of those bands that is just as good if not better now than they were. Michael Sweet and Tony Harnell of TNT are my favorite singers.
Amps: You’ve got a rather unique voice. What do you do to take care of it, both in studio and on the road?
Steve: Nothing in particular. I’ve been a classically-trained singer for twenty-something years, I took voice in college. When I’m off the road I play in a cover band to keep my voice strong. I’m doing three and a half hours a night of straight singing a few nights a month. And I still do some vocal exercises, I don’t smoke, and I don’t really drink too much. On the road it’s just hot tea, that’s my saving grace.
Amps: Speaking of the road is anything mapped out for a tour yet?
Steve: I don’t know yet. We’ve had a couple of possibilities for tours but things haven’t panned out or they just wound up not happening so right now we have our CD release parties in Nashville and Atlanta. Then we’re up for a possible big tour in Europe for October and November that we just got contacted about. But who knows, we could wind up doing a U.S. run in November/December if the Europe thing doesn’t happen.
Amps: I’m just dying to see the show. Because Brian Matus raved up and down about the band to me and then when I listened I totally saw what he was on about!
Steve: Well thank you very much. Brian’s a great guy and he started out as someone who didn’t really know us and now three tours later he’s a friend, man. He’s not just a guy taking pictures; he’s our buddy, our friend.
Amps: So what do you do away from the band?
Steve: Basically I just spend time with family and friends. I have a great wife and two puppy dogs. Our house is usually where everyone comes over and has beers and food, and just has a good time.
Amps: With everything the band has gone through has that changed you as a writer and performer?
Steve: Some of the stuff that we wrote about is kind of cynical. It just shows the frustration we dealt with and we were able to bring out some things. It was very cathartic to write this stuff. We get out there and we just feel blessed that we’re able to do what we can do even on the level that we’re on, you know? We perform each show like it’s our last.
Amps: What’s next for HALCYON WAY?
Steve: Who knows? Let’s see how the album does. We’ve got a lyric video coming, and we’d like to do another concept video before the end of the year. But other than that there’s nothing set in stone. Hopefully just playing and touring, you know?
Amps: It’s been a long hard road so what do you want to say to all the fans out there who love you?
Steve: Every day when people say, “We love what you do” it’s so cool that people get what we’re doing. It’s humbling, because I’m nobody. We’re just guys who like to play music and to see our fan base start to grow and grow with people who like what we’re doing musically is cool; we’re so hard to classify and put into a specific genre. We just like it when people like our songs. And when they see us we put on a show. We come from the old mindset of the 80’s bands who did. We’re not just standing there, we run all around the stage, we’re headbanging and windmilling (laughs)! Please continue to spread the word about HALCYON WAY.
Conquer has been out in the U.S. for a month. If you’re reading this and you STILL don’t have a copy shame on you. My advice to you is rectify that ASAP. HALCYON WAY is poised to do some serious things and you owe it to yourselves to hear what all the buzz is about.
LIVE PHOTOS: BRIAN MATUS PHOTOGRAPHY