With the summer 2014 news that Haste The Day was back in full and planning a new studio album for release in 2015, original HTD vocalist Jimmy Ryan and his later replacement Stephen Keech caught up with Jesusfreakhideout.com's Wayne Reimer to talk about the upcoming project, crowd-funding the new album, Stephen VS Jimmy and more...
This interview took place on: 8/28/14.
Hey Stephen, just for clarity's sake, why don't you go ahead and answer everything first and I'll answer after you. Does that sound alright?
Stephen Keech: Sure. Stephen Keech. And I'm going to be singing, screaming, and producing the new record.
And I am Jimmy Ryan, and I am going to be doing whatever else Stephen wants me to do on the record.
Stephen: I think it was kind of all of us had the thought. I was first approached by Mike Murphy, the bass player, and Mark LaFay, our manager. I think they were the ones who finally put a voice to the idea. And we really started thinking of it as a reality.
Stephen: I think so. I think everybody was pretty stoked.
Jimmy: Yeah I think that everybody, in the back of their minds, kind of wanted to do this. I don't know if it's possible--and Stephen you can correct me if I'm wrong--but I don't know if it's possible for anybody that's been in Haste the Day to be able to give up the idea of Haste the Day. It's kind of a brotherhood. And that doesn't mean that we'll be playing shows when we're 92 years old, but I do know that it's been an important piece of our hearts and it still is.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah, I agree with that fully.
Jimmy: Yeah I think you're right. Obviously, we all toured in the band at different times, but it was quite a different time for us. We were all quite a bit younger; none of us were married. Nobody had kids or was going to have kids at that point. So I think at this point, it's a little different for us than it used to be.
Stephen: Yeah, I agree with that.
Stephen: I don't think Solid State ever put a burden on us to sound a certain way or be a certain way. They actually let us do whatever we wanted to do creatively. The latest record will be a little different. It's just that we'll be able to pick the time and not have the pressure of a touring schedule. Like this isn't our main job right now. We all have jobs, we all have careers. We all have families. So this record is different because it's the first record--all the way since the first record--it's the first record in a long time where it's literally just fun. We're doing it for fun. We're playing the music for fun, and I really think everything's going to come through on the record.
Stephen: Yeah, totally stress free. There's this thing inside of you when you're in a band, and you want to sell this record, and if it's not selling well, it's like your career is starting to go down the drain. With this, none of us need this. We are just choosing and wanting to. Therefore, the stress is off a little bit and we just get to have fun, and put out a record, and enjoy it for what it is.
Jimmy: The nice thing is, a few of us are in the mid-west. Stephen, Mike, Brennan, and I are all within five hours of each other. And Stephen and I believe that as far as the writing, you guys have already started communicating through email and whatnot. Is that correct?
Stephen: Yeah. The mighty power of the internet. *laughter*
Jimmy: *laughs* Probably.
Stephen: They aren't sleeping at my house.
Jimmy: Yeah, I was just going to say: by the time that we are recording, Stephen is going to be a newlywed. I'm not sure that any of us would want to stay at his house.
Stephen: Yeah, that's just not gonna happen. That's all we'll say about that. *laughter*
Jimmy: You know, I think the only effects this albums would have, as far as writing and recording outside of our normal lives, would be positive. When Haste the Day was getting together to 'okay' the reunion show with the original lineup a few months ago, it was one of the best times I've had in years, just because we were able to get together and be creative and laugh again. And I can't see any of this being a huge burden on any of us. I mean, obviously if we're away from our wives for any extended period of time, that would suck because we're all in love, but we have all thankfully married women that are extremely supportive. And I think all of our wives are thrilled that were doing this again because they see that it makes us so happy, so as far as affecting anything, I think the only effects would be really positive for us.
Stephen: As far as, like, our budget being where it is, and stuff?
Stephen: Well, I think we really wanted it to be on calibre with the records that we made in the past, and we're not trying to rush through this; we don't want it to be cheap. We want it to be as good as all the other records we've made. And hiring the right people is gonna be a part of it. Hiring the studios and... it takes time, and it takes money, all that stuff to go into making a good record. We could just do it cheaply, and it'll sound whatever, and it'll blend in with the rest of the stuff, and sound worse than our other records. We're just not interested in doing that. Also, our incentives--we wanted to be real and offer good incentives; we have some actual amplifiers on there that we used on tour, and stuff like that. Like an actual, tangible thing that you can buy. We don't want to give people a crappy product, like we don't want to charge like $400 for one of Jimmy's toenails. As much as I would want one of those, we want real things.
Jimmy: If I could interrupt real quick, Wayne, I will say that we've been completely blown away by the reaction that we've gotten from the crowd funding, and along with that comes a very, very serious accountability. Because fans have given to us, and donated money that they have, it holds us accountable to want to make a great record for our fans. Does that make sense?
Stephen: Wow, that's a really good stretch goal idea. I wonder how that didn't come up in our email thread. Wayne, you might be the star model in this new video.
Jimmy: Yeah that's a great idea.
Stephen: I would think that a Haste the Day music video would be a really funny thing to see. *laughter* I agree. We would be so goofy, and that`s why I think we should do it. We`ve been having a lot of band meetings over interviews like this, so, Jimmy, do you think that this is a good time to have an official band meeting about it?
Jimmy: I think it's great. I think you came in at the right time to facilitate this meeting. So thanks, Wayne.
Stephen: I believe that we are, collectively as a band, trying to grow off of what we did with Attack of the Wolf King, and in that vein, and now I don't know exactly what that's going to mean for what the songs are going to end up sounding like in the end. So in every Haste the Day record, we've kind of catapulted off of what we made before. We take the things that we liked about that writing style and almost all the time, every record turns out different than how we're trying to make it sound, just because that's what happens when you have five dudes in a band that all have different influences, and that's what makes it, you know, that's what makes it a band. That's what makes it the sound of the band. And I'm really interested to see what we're all going to come up with.
Stephen: Well, Jimmy will be on several songs, and we brought Brennan back in. But as far as the full original line-up, yes. It will be just that one full song all together. But we'll still have the elements of that [full lineup].
Stephen: I have no idea yet. *laughs*
Jimmy: I will say that that is one of the most exciting things for me, as far as the record goes -- being able to be creative with Stephen. Stephen is, for sure, somebody that I've always really respected, as far as his musical ability and talent. And his lyric writing far exceeds anything that I've ever written.
Stephen: Oh, I don't know. *laughs*
Jimmy: No, honestly, Wayne, that's honestly one of the biggest things that I'm excited for in all of this. To be able to hang out and be creative with Stephen. I'm honoured that I get to do it. And when the idea was brought to me, that Haste the Day was going to be writing a new record, it kind of slipped out because I was so excited.
Stephen: That's awesome. I'm really stoked too. I've never actually worked with Jimmy. I've never gotten to do any writing with him in the band. I mean, everybody else I have. So it's really cool to be meeting with him in the studio.
Jimmy: No, that's all marketing.
Stephen: I think our fans created that whole picture. More than we ever did. Just as a representation. It was always all of the discussion on our facebook and myspace page. Stephen versus Jimmy, and Jimmy versus Stephen, but fact is we're just buds. *laughs*
Jimmy: Yeah it's true. It's very true, and I would agree that none of that was brought on by either of us ever. When I left, it was just time and it was just a different time of life for me. And I actually worked for Solid State Records when I left, and was able to watch Stephen grow with the band. Maybe not in person, but to be able to talk to their A&R at the label and see how the band was progressing and writing other songs and getting bigger, and it made me so proud of Stephen to see him carry things the way that he did. There has honestly never been anything between Stephen and I that has been negative. The times that we got to see each other when he was on tour with HTD was always really fun. I think it's funny because I think that I'm almost ten years older than you, aren't I Stephen?
Stephen: I think you're eight.
Jimmy: Eight years older. Obviously, if I was a 35-year-old, grumpy, jaded guy about Stephen, that'd be kind of weird. *laughter*
Stephen: Jimmy, when you left the band, you were what? 27? So you were my age right now when you left. I was 19 years old [when I joined].
Jimmy: *laughs* So bizarre. Yeah, Wayne, there's never been any animosity or anything between either of us. And like Stephen said, all of that was just brought on by people's opinion of who they liked, or whatever. It was kind of ridiculous. And I think that both of us have always done a good job of defending each other.
Stephen: Yeah. Absolutely.
Stephen: Yes and no. Sometimes, it was the easier thing that we could do; the most natural response. Other times, it was very difficult because, you know, it's hard to keep focused on the road. It's hard to have that Christian community on the road, even though we're all so close. And keeping each other accountable was difficult. But, yeah, it was something that we always strived for, and it's also hard to be on the road and keep the moral code. And the fact is that if one person in the band does anything outside of the moral code of the band as a whole, then it represents everyone else in that band. And I'm not saying that morals are spirituality, but that discipline is a step toward keeping ourselves in check and keeping ourselves in line. There were moments when we had a hard time figuring that out. And there was conflict, and stuff like that, but that was how we grew spiritually, and that's how we grew as a band. I think it is kind of a struggle, but it's a worthy struggle. It's the only thing that really kept us together, I feel like, throughout all of it.
Stephen: I think the writing process will have to finish up around then. Because it's going to take a little longer to write this record because we're not all sitting in one room, sharing ideas. We're going to be bouncing stuff back and forth through email, and that's going to take some time. Right now, we just need to finish writing the album by Christmas so we can record it in January.
Stephen: That's a good question. In the past, we've never had a title and artwork before we started recording the record. So if I'm going off what we've done in the past, it might not be for a while.
Stephen: Kind of. It'll be me, Scotty, Brennan, Giuseppe, Mike and Jimmy as well. So that'll be the majority of it. And I'm sure Indianapolis will have some guest appearances. That's as far as we've gotten.
Jimmy: Oh gosh. *laughs* I don't know. I haven't even thought out that far, to be honest with you. I think the bands that I'd like to tour with would probably be totally irrelevant to what we're trying to accomplish.
Stephen: Well the good thing is we're not trying to get big again. So, we could literally just tour with anybody.
Jimmy: I think that for me personally, I've been so far out of what's been happening in heavy music that it's hard for me to say who I'd want to tour with. I still love heavy music. It's just not my go-to at the moment. Wayne, you'll like this. I actually listen to a lot of Canadian hip-hop, like Buck 65 and K-os.
Jimmy: Yeah Buck 65 is my favourite hip-hop artist of all time.
Stephen: So is the name of it Buck 65 or is it Loonie 65?
Jimmy: *laughs* Yeah, so the time that we got to spend in Canada, I learned about a lot of things like poutine and Trailer Park Boys and Buck 65. (I've never watched a full episode of Trailer Park Boys. I just learned who they were when I was in Canada.)
Stephen: I think if I were to tour with anyone right now it would be with Comeback Kid and their new record. It's insane.
Jimmy: I would agree with that. I would agree with that, Stephen.
Stephen: Yeah, it's like the only hardcore record that I've heard in a while that I thought, "Wow, this actually has something about it." Maybe that was harsh to say.
Stephen: If they want to listen to a couple old dudes screaming, then that would be a good reason to listen to the new album.
Jimmy: Gosh, that's a hard question.
Stephen: Truth be told, I have no idea.
Jimmy: Yeah that's a hard one. Honestly I think that we're just trying to deliver the best product that we can. We hope that a bunch of old dudes and a bunch of young people like it.
Stephen: I think we're mostly concerned about getting music to fans, really. Again, we're not really trying to make this our main gig again. We're just trying to supply a quality record to the people who have loved and listened to HTD, who are really looking forward to this right now. The fans who stuck with us since the beginning, and really poured themselves into us, so we can help give them back something good.
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