Halcyon Way – The Resolve to Conquer

Tuesday, 19th August 2014

Sometimes the best releases are the ones that you don’t see it coming. Despite their presence in the metal scene since 2004, their newest album, Conquer, is this writer’s first real glimpse of the band. It’s been three years since the band released their last effort, 2011’s Indoctrination EP, and the road has been a long and weary one for Halcyon Way (see below). But the band has come through intact and Conquer is an album that is set to push the band (hopefully) further in to the spotlight. The way that the band blends and blurs genre lines (power, death, thrash, etc) is worthy of note, making Conquer one of 2014’s most pleasant surprises.

Based on all this, given the opportunity to talk to the band to discuss the new album seemed like a no-brainer. We were able to chat with vocalist Steve Braun, who was able to share a wealth of information with DR. Read on to find out about the new album (of course) as well as how we keeps his voice in shape and the time he made Barbara Walters cry.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s been a few years since you guys released any new material. There were a number of struggles the band went through during that time. What was happening within the band?

Steve Braun: Since last time [Indoctrination], we’ve lost our bass player, we lost our rhythm guitar player, Jon [Bodan] was diagnosed with John Hodgkins lymphoma. Plus I had some family issues that came up. It all really fueled the fire for a good album.

Dead Rhetoric: With all of the turmoil the band went through, did that impact the heaviness of the new album?

Braun: I joined the band about a week before they started cutting the tracks for Building the Towers and Indoctrination. During that time, we were just starting to move away from the progressive-ness. I didn’t really want to be in a progressive band, I’d rather be a straight ahead metal band. So we decided to tear down and make it nice and raw this time. We decided in advance that we would get a little heavy and try some different things while still staying true to what we do.

But the band turmoil and what we dealt with certainly fueled the fire. It helped to bring the songs to be sung more aggressively and with more power in my voice. When you can really relate to what you are singing about, the passion can come through it.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve got a great set of pipes. When did you start singing and what do you do to maintain your voice?

Braun: Thanks! I was classically trained for about 20 years. I’ve taken lessons and I was a vocal performance major in college, but recently what I do is I play in a cover band. A couple times a month, I sing for about 3 hours straight. I do that to keep my chops up.

Dead Rhetoric: What kind of songs to you sing in the cover band?

Braun: You may laugh, but a little bit of everything. Some Maroon 5, Cee-Lo, Michael Jackson, Nickelback, Poison.

Dead Rhetoric: There are some references to the fact that the band shares the name with a drug, which you weren’t aware of when the name was decided upon. But are you aware of the color halcyon green?

Braun: No, and I’m an avid home-brewer and there actually is a hop called halcyon. There is a halcyon beer out there and the label on it is green, so that makes total sense. A professor told me also that halcyon is actually a bird of prey. We just picked the name because of a street in an affluent neighborhood that Jon lived around while he was growing up and we thought it was a cool name.

Dead Rhetoric: You did an IndieGogo last year to help with funding. There’s two sides to it where people are really for it and against it. What do you think it is about crowdfunding that gives it such a bad rap?

Braun: No matter where you turn, people are asking for money. It gets seen as, ‘it’s just another person asking for money.’ People don’t realize that when you do something the right way, it’s not cheap. Even though we are signed to Massacre in Europe and Nightmare in the US, and we get to do some awesome things, a lot of it is on our dime.

Dead Rhetoric: I think one thing that helps, like what you guys did, is you put it all out there and say “this is how much we are spending” and “this is how much we are asking for;” it puts some more perspective on it.

Braun: If they realize what we put in for touring and promotion, it’s just astronomical. It’s one of those things though, you are hoping to invest on the future. It’s like your version of the stock market. Things forever get put into the next level, and start hopefully making money, that’s the goal. Actually, I don’t even care if we make money, I would just like to get to the point where our recordings and our tours are taken care of. I would be totally content with that. Of course, I’d love to make a huge living but I’m willing to just break even.

Dead Rhetoric: Halcyon Way has a lot of songs out on Rock Band. Was that lucrative at all or was it another way to get your name out there?

Braun: It was another way of getting our name out. But as of a year ago, we had over 10,000 downloads. For a relatively unknown band, that’s so cool. It’s amazing.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you have to pay to get the music on the game?

Braun: You pay a company to author it. You are paying for these guys to program it to be put into the game.

Dead Rhetoric: Have you ever tried to play any of the songs?

Braun: I haven’t, but I know the guys did when it first came out. They had a little get together, because they all live in Atlanta and I live in Nashville so it’s about a 4 hour drive. But they all got together when it first came out and played a bunch of them, and they all failed miserably.

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