Halcyon Way Is Triumphant With New Release
After powering through album after album of self-defining moments and mature metal pieces, Halcyon Way releases Bloody But Unbowed on Agronia Records (our review of the album) The Atlanta band has built up a reputation of being a powerhouse in the scene.
Steve Braun is a founding member and vocalist for the band. His experience is impressive, beginning a professional career at the age of 5 and classically trained for 20 years.
A Conversation with Steve Braun
How did Halcyon Way come about and what was your involvement in its inception?
Halcyon Way is the baby of our guitarist Jon Bodan, he started the band back in 2001, I believe. I joined the band in 2010, a week before they entered the studio to record Building the Towers and Indoctrination albums.
How has your experience as being a classically trained vocalist play into the development of Halcyon Way’s style?
In Halcyon Way as time has gone on I feel like I’ve finally found my voice. When I first joined the band, I was still playing in Italian progressive metal band Ashent. In that band, I sang very clean but as we wrote Conquer and now Bloody but Unbowed I’ve gone back to that gritty hard rock vibe that I grew up listening too. People have classified my singing as power metal but I’m really more along the hard rock/hair metal vibe of Michael Sweet (Stryper) or Sebastian Bach (Skid Row days). My classical training has really allowed me to have the technique to keep my voice strong and healthy especially for long hours in the studio or night in and night out on tour no matter how I’m feeling.
Did you have a metal upbringing? What was your influences as a vocalist that continue today?
I grew up with older siblings, so I was exposed to a wide range of music (Billy Joel, Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates, Steely Dan) from a very young age. I’ve always loved music but discovered metal around 12 or so. I feel in love with the whole hair metal scene and instantly became a fan of bands like TNT, Stryper, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc. Tony Harnell (TNT) and Michael Sweet (Stryper) continue to be an influence on my singing style to this day. However, I am a huge fan of Jesse Leach (Killswitch Engage) and Phil Labonte (All That Remains). I can’t do the screams like these guys can, so I’m enthralled that they can sing and scream so well. I’ve started taking lessons with Mary Zimmer to help me wrap my head around learning how to scream. I just want to have that it my back pocket for dramatic effect in a song.
Tell me more about Bloody but Unbowed? How did the ideas of this album come about?
We’re pretty pumped about this new album. To me it’s a continuation of what we started on Conquer with the more straight ahead stripped-down approach. We continue to strive for those big hooks and catchy songs while being as heavy as possible. Jon came up with the idea of Bloody but Unbowed…it shows how you can get knocked down and beat up by life but come out the other side stronger than ever.
What makes this album different than other Halcyon Way albums?
Well first of this is our first one without Lasse Lamert as producer (who we love). We enlisted Mark Lewis (Whitechapel, Trivium, The Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains…) to produce, mix and master this one. We concentrated on making some that would get the crowd moving while keeping with our big catchy hooks.
Two things I see within the album is internal defiance and a decay of human nature from technology. Can you elaborate more on these themes and why they are important on this album?
We really took a long hard look at what’s going on in the world and call them out. Like Slaves to Silicon…how many times have you been out to dinner and a couple has their eyes glued on their phones instead of each other. It’s a song about how we live in this social media fantasy world instead of living in the moment, we’re all guilty of this. Church of Me is about how society is so wrapped up in themselves that they think of themselves as a god. Cast Another Stone is about how no one owns up to their own mistakes, they point the finger of judgement at everyone else when it should be pointing at themselves and the list goes on and on.
I don’t see Atlanta as a hotbed for metal music. Was it difficult to break through in that city or was it easy? How did you come into the scene and overcome its obstacles?
Atlanta has a good underground metal scene now but its taken years for it to get there. We only play in town a couple times a year and now it’s even harder cause a few of the best clubs have closed. We still have The Masquerade which draw tons of national acts as well as a place for local bands, so the scene is still quite a sub-culture even though Mastodon, Fozzy and Sevendust have come from there.
Tell me more about the Angra tour. How did the band fit into that monster of a roster?
It was awesome…all the guys in Angra treated us amazing. We got the opportunity to play in front of big audiences and even hit some new markets for us like Spain and Portugal. We really were one big family on that tour…we got super close to Geoff Tate and Operation Mindcrime and we shared our bus with three different opening bands from Italy, Avelion, Starbynary and Ravenscry. On the last night in Essen, Germany Raphel got up and played guitar with us on our song Hatred is my Cause, a highlight for sure!
What was it like making the video for “Blame?” And why that song from the album?
This was the second time we’ve worked with video producer Chance White, so we knew it was going to turn out awesome. We filmed the interior shots in an abandoned motel where they do stuff for the television show Walking Dead. The crew even went out in the woods and in 100-degree weather and dug graves…it was so crazy. We had great crew and actor Tommy Groth as the “Tinder Killer” along with 2 beautiful ladies, Babe Animal aka S.Turner and Voxy Shaw.
What’s in store for the rest of the year?
We have our CD Release show in Atlanta 8/25. We’ve gotten a bunch of tour offers to go back to Russia and Europe, but nothing is set in stone yet. We really want to do a US run too but not sure if we’ll get that in by the end of 2018 or not.