Interview with Haste The Day guitarist Brennan Chaulk

- Apr 29, 2006 at 03:57PM
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There is nothing at all hasty with Haste The Day’s brand of metal/hardcore/screamo influenced tunage. In fact, these guys have such a solid and clean sound that one would think they have been doing this music thing forever. Although not technically a new band (they already have three albums under their belt), HTD is certainly testing out new waters as they have just recently replaced their former lead singer Jimmy Ryan with newfound vocalster Stephen Keech. Thankfully, although a busy night, HTD swung by good ol’ T.O. (Toronto, Canada to you non-locals) with tour buddies Between The Buried And Me, Every Time I Die, and Bleeding Through and put on one heck of a smouldering performance. The show was great and so was the dang interview. I managed to catch up with guitarist Brennan Chaulk and while sitting in the passenger seat of the band’s bleach-white tour van, we jived on matters of the band, the new vocal master, and the near future.

Just a little over a week ago, you guys posted a huge announcement on your official site that Steven Keach would permanently replace Jimmy Ryan as Haste the Day’s lead singer. How did you find Steven, and what made you choose him as your next frontman?
Brennan: We had done a few shows in Denver over the years and we had played with this band called New Day Awakening, and I remember listening to his vocals and really enjoying the show, the way he acted with the crowd and how he really seemed to make it more of an intimate setting with the crowd. Really fun with everybody, y’know? His vocals were incredible. I remember thinking in to myself... Jimmy kinda always didn’t know how long he was going to be with us, so it was just like, “well, when Jimmy leaves, this’d be a really good candidate for taking over.” So after Jimmy told us that he was planning on leaving, we played with this band just a few days later, maybe a week or two later... and we played with Steven again and he just had such an amazing aura about him. We really liked him and right away started talking to him about coming to Europe with us. He’s been incredible. We’re so happy with our decision, and we’re the happiest I think the band’s ever been right now, with everything just kinda moving forward with not the same old thing all the time, so it’s really exciting.

Awesome. How has Steven’s addition to the band been received by your fans, and has this change had a big impact on the group’s chemistry?
Brennan: As far as our fans go, I really thought it was going to be a little less smooth. It’s been really good, everybody’s really been into him and really liked him a lot. Our good friends have come out to shows and been really worried about it cause Jimmy really had a great way with people, like with fans... so people were really worried about how Steven was going to be, being so young, and anybody different than Jimmy was just going to be so scary, y’know? Everybody’s just gone away with a really positive comment about him, really liking him a lot and really happy with it. As far as the chemistry goes – he’s 19 and Jimmy was 27, so you can probably figure it out right there. He’s just a lot more excited to be on the road, and it makes it really fun for us. We really enjoy hanging out with him, and he brings his own humour and his own personality into the band. We really like it.

Very good. Do you foresee this change as having a big influence on the sound or style of future Haste the Day recordings?
Brennan: I think it’s going to allow us to go with the direction we really always wanted to go with - a little bit more melodic sound, a little darker sound. He can really sing really well, and he also has a lot more diversity with his scream, so I definitely think it’ll go in a little bit of a different direction. Musically, it’ll sound the same, but we’ve matured as musicians over the past year, too, so I think it’s just going to be an improvement all the way around.

When Everything Falls is the name of your latest sophomore album, and it was released in late June 2005. How do you personally feel about this record when compared to your previous work?
Brennan: Oh gosh. It doesn’t even compare to our previous stuff. Burning Bridges was very much a... gosh... it was hurried. It was very hurried. We had like eight days to write eight songs, so we were writing a song a day. Then we went into the studio with hardly any lyrics written, everything was so quick. So we had four songs written previously to the week before we went into the studios. There was a lot of pressure, I can’t believe we got it out. We were happy with what we got because it was such short notice, but... then with When Everything Falls, we got to spend a lot of time, a lot of great hours spent writing and concentrating on the melodies and all that. Every part of it we got to spend a lot of time on, so we’re very, very proud of When Everything Falls. That’s why we wanted to get the release out quickly after Burning Bridges, cause we weren’t so proud of Burning Bridges, but now we’re in a great place. We’re really happy with what we’re doing now.

Excellent. How has the media been responding to the album, but more importantly, what are your fans saying?
Brennan: The media actually, well, with Burning Bridges fans liked it for some reason, they did like it, and the media definitely wasn’t a huge fan and so we didn’t get great reviews or anything. But with When Everything Falls it’s very... I’ve never seen a bad review. I’ve seen some good, and some “Oh, they’re pretty good,” so as far as media goes, that’s great. Fans.... We’ve definitely gained a lot more fans and I think we’ve kept the majority of fans we had before. There’s no denying the level of professionalism in this record, so I think the fans stuck with us and then we gained a lot more, too.

Cool. Where did you get the idea for the name of the CD, and are there any ideas or lessons which the album is trying to convey to its listeners?
Brennan: Absolutely. The name of the CD is the title track of the CD, “When Everything Falls”. That song is really just about standing up for what you believe in, whatever that is. For us, it’s our faith. We’re all Christians, and really for us personally, that’s what it stands for, y’know? Standing strong for that. But for everybody else we want it to be like, when times are really tough with their family or relationships, like girlfriend or boyfriend, that no matter what, just sticking in there and getting through it all, and because of it you’ll become a stronger person. The whole album has a lot of that going on, a lot of the different songs have the same type of message through it. We just really wanted to encourage people to never give up on different things, whether they believe in whatever, we wanted them to be able to apply it to their own lives. So we didn’t want it to be just about Christianity or whatnot, and that’s I think why we have a good fan base in both the Christian market and in the mainstream.

Do you guys consider yourselves a Christian rock group, and either way, are you straight-edge?
Brennan: No, we’re not straight-edge. We’re all Christians, we don’t really call ourselves a Christian band just because a lot of the Christian bands kind of get a bad rep. A lot of them, I don’t really agree with some of the ways people stand for Christianity. They’ll go out and party and all that stuff, but we’re not a partying band. We like to just kinda do it personally, and individually we are Christians, and hopefully that shows through our actions. I think it’s safer that way for us, and it shows in our music that we’re Christians. Some people might call us a Christian band, and I wouldn’t be offended, but we don’t call ourselves that.

When Everything Falls is no doubt the tightest sounding and most intricate album you have yet to produce. What are some of the things you guys did differently when writing and recording the record which would’ve encouraged these progressive changes?
Brennan: Well, we really, really wanted to go with more of a rock sound for the record – with a lot of metal still in it, but a lot more rock through our choruses and all the singing and stuff like that being pretty catchy. When we went in the studio, we really didn’t know what we were going into. The last record was very loose, how we recorded it. This time, every string was tuned after every strum practically. It was very, very tedious. It’s pretty much flawless I think through the music of it, and it took a really long time to record it. I guess it was just the tedious producers. They were really, really strict on tuning and everything about that. It was crazy.

But it shows.
Brennan: Yeah, it does.

What are some of the things you guys try to do in order to maintain a unique sound, and also set yourself apart from other bands?
Brennan: We try to utilize – well there’s four of us now, including Steven, but beforehand there’s three of us who could really sing – so we try to use that as much as we can with harmonies, and really writing as catchy stuff as we could, and poppy stuff... with making it fit with kind of a metal feel to it. Bands like As I Lay Dying and even Bleeding Through are now having melodies and stuff, but ours I think are a lot more poppy, almost like pop-rock influences. Like for me, it would be like Jimmy Eat World, that’s my favourite band of all time so I think that with our melodies that Mike and I wrote, we tried to keep it really high-energy. Kind of like a positive feel. So I think that’s probably where we stand out a little bit vocally. Musically, we just take from a lot of great bands that are out there and just get the sound that we really like.

Cool. Touring can no doubt be a gruelling endeavour to say the least, right? What motivates you to keep playing shows on such a demanding schedule, and what do you guys do to wind down at the end of a day or after a show?
Brennan: We’ve always been a really hard-working band as far as touring goes. We toured something like 265 days last year or something – that was how many shows, so days were probably 300. It’s unbelievable still to think about. We don’t really have any time off, and when we do, we all.... Gosh, I don’t even know. But as far as on tour, we get two hotel rooms every night just so everyone gets a bed, and when we get into bed just turn on the TV. That’s pretty much what we do just to relax and feel like I’m in my own bed.... Just relax. It’s very nice, definitely.

Good. Just a few more here. Speaking of touring, how did Haste the Day come to be added to this tour – to the Truth Tour?
Brennan: Well, we did a tour last year or the end of last year with Every Time I Die and became really good friends with them. As far as I know, I’m pretty sure they’re the only reason we got on the tour - they got to choose a band, and so they chose us. We’re really good friends with those guys now, I love them so much, and without them we wouldn’t’ve been on this tour. This tour’s definitely the best tour we’ve been on, as far as even bands being on it. There’s three amazing bands that’re on after us, so every night I like watching the show and every night I like hanging out with everyone in the bands.

Cool. That’s sort of my next question… how has this tour been fairing for you so far, and have you been having a good time with the other bands?
Brennan: Well there you go. [laughing] For me, I guess psychologically I started going kind of insane after we were in Europe. We were in Europe in January and we just hadn’t had a break since October 3rd, and so when we got on this tour, we’d only had a break in between, like a week break, and so it was really hard for us to really get back out and be excited about it. I don’t really know what it was, I think a lot of us just kinda realized what we’re doing this for, y’know? It’s not just to make money, it’s not just to sell CDs. That’s part of it, but a big part of it is to really just take advantage of where we are in our lives. We’re really happy with what we’re doing, and we’ve got it made. This is our job, so I think just us realizing it has been a great part. I mean, personally I’m feeling great right now. I love it. We’ll be done with this and we’ll be getting a break, so I keep looking at that and being like, “I get a break after this,” so it’s okay.

So you just do it.
Brennan: Yeah.

Alright, last one just to wrap up. This tour ends on or around April 2nd. Other than a break, what’ve you guys got lined up for the future?
Brennan: After a month and a half break we go out on tour with It Dies Today for the month of June, and we’re really excited for that. We’re good friends with them – they were also on that Every Time I Die tour we did last year.

Are they out with Trustkill?
Brennan: Um... yeah, yeah they are. After that we’re just gonna keep writing. We’re going to write our next record with Steven, and then we’re hoping to do a headlining run for two months.... It’s just kind of what we have tentatively planned. That’s it.
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