Haste the Day’s Stephen Keech Talks Reunion, ‘Coward’ Album + More
Welcome back Haste the Day! The metalcore act split in 2011, but got the urge to make more music after reuniting for a concert celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their Burning Bridges album. The group had several lineup changes along the way, and their new Coward disc features members from throughout their tenure. Loudwire had a chance to chat with one of the group's vocalists, Stephen Keech, about the album and reunion. Check out the discussion below:
Haste the Day turned around five albums in a six-year span before making the decision to split. But four years later, the band returned for a reunion show. Did you always have the sense there was still some unfinished business and what drew you back to the band?
When HTD broke up in 2011, it felt like we had to bring that chapter of our lives to an end. I didn’t think we would ever get back together. When people would ask me when we would make another album, I would always say that we closed the book. But nothing ever truly comes to an end. And of course, the flame was reignited in all of us. All it took was a little inspiration and knowing that we still had fans out there that still care about what we created, and, astonishing enough, what we could continue to create. I never would have guessed that we would do another record, but here we are with one of the most satisfying records we could have created. After all these years, we all realized that we still have a passion for making heavy music together.
Can you discuss the idea of putting this "super Haste the Day" lineup together and how long before you saw it just might work?
I think the first time this idea came into play was when we decided to do “HASTE THE DAY VS HASTE THE DAY.” This band has become more than just a five member band. Every record is different. Almost every album was a different line up. Haste the Day became more of an organization than a band. Now, there have been nine different members. And all nine of us are passionate about the name Haste the Day. Since this record isn’t actually us getting back together in a traditional sense, we are able to take the creative process past the roll of five members and come together as a larger group of writers and musicians. Because of that fact, I think we were able to make a more interesting record.
Talk about what the fan response has meant in terms of fueling this reunion album. Did you learn anything about your fans that maybe you didn't realize before?
I think I can speak for everyone that we never expected our Indiegogo campaign to be so successful. Our fans have always given us the inspiration to push forward and this was absolutely no different. The thing we were most excited about before we ever started our crowdfunding campaign was just playing together again. But I think we were all reminded of how great our fans are, and how a lot of them have become friends.
After deciding to make an album, what was the biggest challenge you faced?
The biggest challenge we encountered while making this album was scheduling. Since I was producing the album I was in charge of getting everyone in the studio when they needed to be there. All of us live in different states at this point except for a handful of guys who still live in Indiana. At this point all of us have had to move on and get day jobs, which leaves only weekends for recording. Not to mention the fact that half of the original lineup had babies due during the recording process! Talk about a crazy time!
Returning to the studio after this extended break, did it feel like you fell right back into it with ease or was there a feeling out process before the band figured out what direction to take and who would do what?
It definitely took a little grease in the gears to get moving again. We wrote some songs in the beginning that definitely got dropped later on. The thing that took the longest to get used to again was screaming. There is a lot of talk about “the right way to scream.” But finding that again is a painful path. After the first few tries, I felt like my throat got run over by a truck and left out in the sun to burn and dry out. But once I found my voice again, it was smooth sailing.
Getting into the album a little bit, why the name 'Coward'? How does that play into what we'll hear on the disc?
Everyone has the ability to be a coward. Most of us start out as cowards, afraid to tell the truth because we are afraid of the consequence. The title doesn’t single anyone out but references the “coward” in all of us. Over the last several years I have seen marriages around me fail. Relationships fall apart all because someone is afraid to speak up and say how they feel. We might all have the ability to be a coward but we all have the ability to make brave choices in our communication. To be brave enough to say I’m sorry. To be brave enough to say I need help or to say I love you. Or even, I don’t love you. This is a theme throughout the lyrics of the album.
"World" certainly has fans salivating for more music. Can you tell us about where the track comes from lyrically and where it was in terms of figuring out the rest of the album? Did it come early or late in the process?
Musically this song was last in the writing process. Lyrically I think it came pretty early on. The lyrics in this song refer to our selfish nature, especially as Christians. We can be so obsessed with ourselves sometimes that we forget to look around and see the people suffering around us. It is mostly a challenge to myself to spend more time focused on how I can love the people around me.
The original lineup gets a song on this new album. Can you tell us about it and how it was to get the original core together?
Recording the original song was really fun. We definitely went for the 03/04 HTD sound. I think they had a lot of fun writing and recording that song.
Off of the new album, can you share a couple of other favorite tracks and why they stand out to you?
My favorite song on the album is called "Reconcile." The lyrics of this song are about my Granddad on my fathers side. When I was seven, he died off the coast of North Carolina while he was fishing. He made a lot of poor decisions in his life and because of those decisions he spent a lot of his life suffering. The song is about the last few minutes of his life. How he finally found peace and was reconciled with his creator.
Toward the end of May, there are a handful of Album Release shows. What new songs are standing out to you for the live set and what older track is feeling really fresh for you as well?
Man, we have been trying to create a setlist for months now. With six albums under our belt, you could imagine how hard that is to create a set list that isn’t four hours long. But our fans can expect a good mix of all the albums old and new. It was especially hard to pick new songs to play. We wanted to play all of them! But I think we settled on about four or five. We will definitely play "World," "Coward" and "Take." But that's all I can tell you. You’ll have to come to the shows to find out the rest!
This has been a step-by-step process with the reunion / anniversary show sparking the decision to do a new album. Given the overwhelming fan response, is there thought of taking this beyond the Coward album?
I’ve learned that I should never say never. When we broke up in 2011 I thought we would never get back together for anything but here we are promoting a new album. But what I can say is that we have all moved on for the most part and it would be pretty unrealistic to make this a full time gig again. So we are pretty limited to doing something here and there. Although, I’m not sure when or were that would be. Maybe we will be old and grey by then.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about what's coming up for the band?
Our album Coward drops May 19th. If you are coming to any of the shows, please get the album and learn some lyrics so we can sing these songs together! Nothing is more fun than a sing along!
Many thanks to Haste the Day's Stephen Keech for the interview. As stated, the Coward album is due May 19 and you can pre-order it via Amazon and iTunes. Catch them touring at these locations and listen to the new single "World" below.
Haste the Day, "World"