Haste the Day is a legendary band, one of the breakout metal acts of the early 2000s. Now, as the band works towards revival, they started an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund the next album. Vocalist Stephen Keech and bassist/vocalist Mike Murphy took some time to talk with HM about how that process is going.
What were the first three songs you locked into your set list?
Stephen: “When I joined the band, HTD had a set list locked in, so I can’t speak to those first three songs in the beginning. But I do remember memorizing lyrics to three songs on the flight from Denver to Indy to practice with the band for the first time. Those songs were “Fallen,” “Perfect Night” and “Walk On.”
“We practiced one time in Mike’s parents’ basement, and I was really nervous. We played all the songs once. I don’t think any of them heard me because I was running through a Peavy TNT practice amp, and I intentionally turned the volume down on the microphone so no one could hear me screw up. After we played the songs through once, they insisted I would be fine (laughs). The next and second time I played with Haste the Day, it was in Germany in front of 500 people. I am pretty sure I got a lot of the words wrong. I’m not sure if anyone noticed… Hopefully.”
Mike: “In 2001, ‘Substance’ and two songs that never made it on a recording, ‘Striving’ and ‘At All Costs.’ I remember when we wrote Substance and Jimmy came over to our practice. He rolled in, listened to the song, bobbed his head, then said it needed a breakdown before the last chorus. The rest is history.”
What was the number one obstacle you had to overcome as a band when you started playing together again?
Stephen: “For me, the number one obstacle for this record was my frame of mind. The last few years I have had to move on from Haste the Day. I’ve worked in a few restaurants and started my own career, as most of the other guys did. When you are in a band it becomes part of your identity. During life after the band, you have to remove that part from your identity so that you can move on to other things, or else you will perpetually live in memory with no regard to the future. Although, Haste the Day was a huge part of my life, I needed to change my mindset so I could adjust to a somewhat normal life.
“When the original line up got back together to do a reunion show, I came out to sing a song or two. Playing with my friends again stirred something inside me, but I still wasn’t in the right mindset. It wasn’t until after we decided to do this record that I realized I still had a huge passion for the hardcore scene and heavy music in general. It was recording the first demo I made for the new album that made me realize this. It was a really rewarding thing.”
Mike: “I felt that we went out on a really high note, with Attack of the Wolf King, the amazing Farewell Tour and the Farewell Show in Indianapolis that still gives me chills when I think about it. The hardest part of bringing the band back together is risking tainting that memory, maybe not living up to expectations. I realized that was somewhat selfish, and our fans would be so happy to hear new music and continue this journey of heavy metal. This isn’t about me.”
What memory has been the most shared among the band members when you’re looking back at old times?
Stephen: There are too many memories that we talk about on a regular basis to just name one. But these days, I find myself talking about the last show a lot with the other guys. I will never forget that day: March 11, 2011. Every time I think about looking into that crowd I start to tear up. When we finished playing “When Everything Falls,” our fans started chanting “thank you.” I am truly blessed and humbled to have been able to experience such a thing. It was unbelievable that I even got to participate in Haste the Day at all, but to go out on such a high note was remarkable. Thank you to everyone who came to that show. I can’t thank you enough.”
Mike: “Driving across the country, over and over and over again. You form a special bond with people when you spend a decade drinking Red Bulls to stay awake on the night drive between Denver and Salt Lake in the winter, spitting sunflower seeds, listening to music, decorating a van for Christmas, burning “art” into the ceiling of your van with a lighter, peeing in water bottles, purposefully getting on each others nerves, being really excited when a show was great, being really bummed when a show sucked and farting on each other. These are my boys.”
Compare the newest songwriting to a Haste the Day album from the past. What direction do you see the band heading in terms of sound?
Stephen: “Attack of the Wolf King was the best record we ever made musically. We are going to continue on that path, but with influences of the older records. One thing I hope to add to this record in the production is a raw aggression. Somehow, over the past few years, metal and hardcore has gone from being aggressive and raw to being clean and polished pop music with overprocessed screaming. We hope to make a record that sounds real, energetic and melodic.”
Mike: “It’s really different because we are each writing at satellite locations, emailing pieces of songs to each other to build these songs. They are starting to come together great! I’m really excited to hear both Stephen and Jimmy sing some songs together. It will literally be the best of both worlds, the full spectrum of Haste the Day for fans. I do imagine this to be Haste the Day’s heaviest and catchiest record, which is always our goal. I hope we can breathe new life into this music scene.”
The IndieGogo tour has been funded. What’s the next step for Haste the Day’s return?
Stephen: “Our next step is to put some touches on what we have written so far. Then write a few more songs as options and then put them down on a record! Then we will play some shows and have some fun!”
Mike: “We still have a little time left for people to be part of this campaign. The support has really been amazing thus far, though! It makes me feel like we made the right decision about making a new record.”
“We actually were asked by IndieGogo to extend the campaign. They had launched a promotional campaign and it took longer than expected to get rolling, so they wanted to make sure we gave fans an opportunity to respond. Once the campaign is over, the next step will be to record in Nashville this January or February, then release it around April. Then celebrate the release with shows in Indianapolis, SoCal, Denver and NYC! We can’t wait to see all of you!