Opening for Delain, on their last european tour, Halcyon Way isn’t yet known in Europe. Combining multiple influences such as thrash metal and progressiv metal, this American band will find many fans in the near future. So it’s with a great pleasure that we asked some questions to Jon Bodan, lead guitarist few days after the Alhambra show.
Hi Jon! How are you? So your tour in support of Delain ended up a few days ago, did you enjoy that trip across Europe?
Jon Bodan (guitar) : Definitely, it was a great time. It went by too quickly though, we were ready to do another month when it ended! But we got to see a lot of cool cities and play to a lot of great crowds.
As many persons at Paris’ gig, we never heard about your band before, can you introduce us Halcyon Way?
J : Sure – Halcyon Way has been around for about 10 years now. We’re from Atlanta, Georgia in the USA. We’ve got 3 albums out on Nightmare Records/Sony RED – “A Manifesto For Domination”, which came out in 2008, “Building The Towers” which came out in 2010, and “IndoctriNation” which came out in 2011. We’re a new face in Europe, however – we got to do a short tour in the UK in 2010, and had 3 other European tour opportunities before the Delain run, but we had to turn them down due to me dealing with a serious illness. So this tour represented us ‘planting the flag’ again as a touring band, so to speak.
Which bands or artists do you consider as inspirational sources?
J : What makes the Halcyon Way sound unique is that we have a lot of different influences that really run the gamut of types of rock & metal. First and foremost, we write for the songs – if it’s not a catchy chorus it won’t make it. We want our stuff to be challenging musically, but for the average listener we want it to be songs they can bob their head to and sing along to. So the thing we have to strive for is balance as we write – we don’t want to write 3 chord songs that are boring to play, but we don’t want things to be so technical that the fans need a music degree to understand what’s going on. Having said that, I’m heavily influenced as a guitar player by bay area thrash – Testament, Exodus, old Metallica, and so on. But I’m also influenced a lot by Queensryche, Fates Warning, old Dream Theater, and stuff like that. Then the newer wave of metalcore/death metal bands like Chimaira, Daath, Devildriver, Arsis, and things like that. I also listen to a lot of meat and potatoes hard rock like Monster Magnet or King’s X. So personally I mix it all up in my writing style. Steve (Braun, vocals) is heavily influenced by Michael Sweet, Tony Harnell, and a lot of hard rock singers like that. However, he also loves death metal and growls so we can achieve an interesting interplay there with me doing the death growls and then switching right over to a big harmony vocal part. We love to do vocal harmonies like Stryper or King’s X, and that’s a key component of our sound. Ernie (Topran, drums) is heavily into progressive metal and black metal – he always adds a lot of interesting drum parts and layers to the material. We have an interesting dynamic when we write, because I’ll be like “play the caveman beat BOOM-PAH-BOOM-PAH” and he’s like “no, how about this” and it’ll be some crazy shreddy drum part that somehow works. So we end up in the middle most of the time and it makes the material better. So we have a lot of things that we all listen to and are influenced by, but when we write together we’re able to turn it into cohesive and memorable songs.
What’s your point of view regarding heavy metal pioneer Black Sabbath? (reunion & stuff)
J : Sabbath are pretty much the godfathers of metal, and I think it’s very cool that they are carrying on. I got to see them 7-8 years ago when they did the first reunion tour. I think the business with Bill Ward being excluded from the tour is pretty lame, but that’s the music business I guess. Tony Iommi is dealing with Lymphoma, which is what I had, and I hope he’s able to get through the tour ok. Chemotherapy is no joke and he will have his hands full doing it. But I have a ton of respect for him in persevering; he is the “Iron Man”…
As you describe it on your Facebook page, you have various influences such as thrash metal, heavy metal and progressive metal. How did you work out which type of music you’ll be playing on stage?
J : It’s really been pretty natural to be honest. We all bring our influences to the table and what comes out, comes out. People have a hard time describing our style, which we like – is it power metal? No, they have death growls. Is it thrash? No, they have a clean singer and vocal harmonies. Is it progressive? Sort of, I guess. So that’s always fun, because we get compared to bands like Fates Warning sometimes, and Arch Enemy other times. But we play what we feel, as long as it’s in the context of a great song. If a song doesn’t have a great chorus and strong melodies, it won’t make it. Period!
How did you find out that Halcyon Way will open for Delain? Were you surprised? Because they’re a symphonic metal band, and comparing to Halcyon Way, well it’s not really the same kind.
J : What happened here was that when I found out I was in remission from lymphoma in October of 2011, I immediately emailed our management and said “ok, find us a tour!”. It took a couple of months because that was the off-season for tour booking, but they contacted Delain’s management and we were offered the tour around Christmas. We knew of Delain, because they did their first USA show in Atlanta 2 years ago at the ProgPower festival (this is the scene we came out of and got our record & management deals as a result of). We knew that Halvyon Way was going to be a bit of an oddball on the tour, because we are so much heavier than Delain, but we immediately took the offer. After being out of commission tour-wise for a year, we needed to get back out there. We feel comfortable with pretty much any rock or metal band on stage, and we just viewed it as a deal where we might have to work harder than if we were on a tour with a band like Sabaton or Iced Earth or something, but we knew we could rise to the occasion and make it work. So that’s what we did – we made sure we put on as explosive of a show as we could, and we made sure we were in the audience interacting with the fans after our set. We’ve never had anything handed to us in this band, so this was nothing new for us. We embrace the challenges!
We noticed that the second guitarist was missing on the tour, what happened to him? As we said in our report, the absence of a second guitar was prejudicial to the intensity of your performance.
J : Long story short, we had a guy that joined the band a couple months before the tour, but he left a few days before we left for Europe. So I reworked my guitar parts a little bit, and we did a few rehearsals as a 4-piece, and went to war. We actually felt very good about the way it went over as a 4-piece and although we’re looking for a new guitarist, we are content to move forward as-is for a while if we need to. I do write material for 2 guitars though, so I’d prefer to have someone else in the fold if possible. We’ll just have to see how it goes!
Although Steve Braun’s performance blew our mind out! He’s a killer! He reminds us some of those prog/heavy ones how combine strength & delicacy. How did you meet him and how did he turn in Halcyon Way? (While he used to sing in other bands)
J : The way we met Steve is a great story. Our original singer, Sean, left the band about 6-8 months after “A Manifesto For Domination” came out. “Manifesto” took a long time to release, so by the time it came out we had most of “Building The Towers” written. So we had already recorded most of the drums, and we had Pamela Moore (Sister Mary from Queensryche’s Operation:Mindcrime) booked to fly to Atlanta and do a guest appearance on the album. We also had an elaborate photo shoot planned and booked while she was there. So Sean left the band pretty abruptly and we had all these things hanging over our heads from a schedule standpoint. I called up the guys at Nightmare Records and asked for a couple of guys’ names to call about the opening. They said “here they are, but this guy Steve is the one you really want”. Steve had been singing for the Italian band Ashent, but it was a part-time project because he was in the States and they were in Italy. He was looking for something more full-time. So basically a couple of us drove to Nashville, where Steve lives (it’s about a 4 hour drive from Atlanta), and heard him sing with his cover band and did some audition stuff in the studio. 9 days after Sean left the band, Steve was in. It is just unheard of to find a singer that good, that quickly, but there it was. The first time he met half of the band was at the photo shoot 3 weeks later with Pamela, if you can believe that! Steve’s got a great sense of melody and harmony, and so he fit right in. The material on “Building The Towers” and “IndoctriNation” was mostly written when he came along, but he was able to make it his own and rework a lot of the vocal lines for the better. We’re looking forward to getting going on our 4th album so he can be involved in the writing from the start.
So the tour is over, but you shot a DVD in England right? Any detail about it?
J : Yes, we did a 6-camera HD shoot of the London show at the 02 Islington Academy. The way that worked out is that a UK filmmaker, Mark Allard, is doing a documentary film on alternative artists. So he’s got a couple of tattoo artists, some musicians, and us in the film. The way it worked out is that in exchange for us participating in the film, he agreed to bring out a crew and shoot the London show for us. The footage came out great, and we’re looking forward to getting it out there in some form or another.
What are your next projects? More touring I suppose?
J : We’re definitely looking for the next tour opportunity and have a few irons in the fire on that front. We really would like to get something booked for Fall of this year if possible, but we have to wait and see what management comes up with. In the meantime, we’re going to begin writing for our next album and keep things moving. If a tour comes up in the middle of that process, we’ll put the writing on hold and do the tour, then come back to it. I’ve got a lot of songs demoed out in my studio, so we’re going to put our heads together on that material, write some more, and make it happen. I’m very excited about what I have to draw from and I think the new CD will be very, very strong.
Any chance to see you back in Europe nearly?
J : Definitely – for some reason, touring in Europe has been much easier for us than in the States. Like I say, we had 3 other opportunities to come to Paris and Europe while I was ill, and couldn’t do them. But we’re actively looking for tours and we fully plan to be back in Europe sooner rather than later!
Is there anything to add ?
J : Thanks very much for the review of our Paris show, and the opportunity to do an interview! The Paris show was absolutely one of the best of the tour and we appreciate the great response we got from the fans there. Make sure to find Halcyon Way on Facebook and follow us for news & updates, and we also have a special running on www.halcyonway.com where you can purchase signed copies of Building The Towers AND IndoctriNation for only $20 US and this includes shipping to you in France. Also, if you play the Xbox game “Rock Band”, you can download all of the songs from “Building The Towers” as DLC, and “IndoctriNation” is in process so you can play them in the game. So if you didn’t get a chance to pick the albums up at the show or missed the show, grab them from our website and please don’t illegally download them, as that’s what’s killing the music industry. Thank you so much!
Website : halcyonway.com