HALCYON WAY - Where Next To Conquer?
August 20, 2014, a year ago
Atlanta progressive metal band, Halcyon Way, doesn’t take anything for granted. Since their humble beginnings in 2001, the band has scratched and clawed for everything it has achieved so far while building up a load of momentum over the past few years. A major setback for the band came in 2010 when mohawked-guitarist Jon Bodan was diagnosed with cancer. The thirty-something guitarist was faced with adversity in a major way and as a result, the tour for their then just-released album, Building The Towers, was cancelled in order for him to begin aggressive chemotherapy treatments. He ultimately kicked the disease’s ass. Since then, the band has jumped on some break through tours and have just released its third full-length album, Conquer (released this week through Nightmare Records).
BraveWords: Your 2010 Building The Towers album was definitely a step in the right direction. But on Conquer, you’ve nailed it. The band sounds so focused.
Jon Bodan: “Really what we focused on was, we tried to drill down what we think makes us good and what we think are our strongest things. We really just wanted to focus on those. We felt like our best moments so far have been defined by big choruses, hooky stuff and riffs that are challenging and technical but also something the average listener could get and not something that only musicians or shredders could understand. And it was natural. It wasn’t like we sat down and contrived it. It’s just the way it naturally came out. We wrote these songs that were shorter but were still technical and difficult to play and we tried to make authentic and well-written songs. That’s really what we went after.”
BraveWords: I can’t really think of another band that combines prog metal —old school and new — and Bay Area thrash metal together so well. How did your influences come together so seamlessly?
Jon Bodan: “It’s really natural. I write the bulk of the riffs and I have so many influences from across the gamut. The ’90s prog; early Dream Theater and mid-era Fates Warning, old Queensrÿche. I came up on Testament, Forbidden and Overkill. That’s what I cut my teeth on. But then I’m also into death metal and things like that. We’re all real diverse on what we’ll listen to and the kinds of things we’ll jam on in the car or whatever when we’re not doing what we do. It all sort of comes together. It’s very natural. People tell us all the time that they don’t really know what to call us. It’s just metal.”
BraveWords: Since forming in 2001, you’ve steadily built up a blue collar work ethic. You seem to pride yourself on this attitude.
Jon Bodan: “That blue collar work ethic is very special to us because we’ve had to scratch and claw for everything that we’ve ever been able to do. Obviously, that’s kind of the theme of the album. If we’re presented with an opportunity we never take it for granted. Anything that comes along we know enough to take advantage of it because you’re not guaranteed the next opportunity.”
BraveWords: Is Conquer where bigger things start happening for Halcyon Way and what exactly does that mean to you?
Jon Bodan: “I wrote a lot of this material when I was pretty much confined to my house when I was going through my cancer treatments. So a lot of this material has a very personal meaning to me. Really in the end, everybody was going through their own stuff. We’ve had to go through a lot to come out on this side of things, that’s really what inspired this album. As far as taking us somewhere, we feel strongly that it’s our best album. Everybody says that. It’s a cliche, but we really feel like that. We’re going to do everything within our power to push it and just work it hard. We were able to get a lot of momentum last year from our three tours in the States and Canada, so we’re trying to build on that. We’ve always wanted to be a band that was a live act as opposed to being a studio project. We’ve always wanted to get out there and grind it out and now we’re getting that opportunity more often, which is cool.”
BraveWords: Since overcoming your sickness there has been more tours in different countries and you’ve proven yourself so far. What’s your goal after Conquer is released?
Jon Bodan: “When I was going through my treatment, literally for five months the only place I could go in public was the doctor. Other wise, I was just sitting in my house. When i got past the milestone to where I could go back out in public; when I got my “all clear,” literally within 24 hours I called Kluas our manager to get us a tour. So we went to Europe with Delain. We got right back on the horse and that was gratifying. From here, we always feel like we have something to prove. We try to seize the day so to speak.”
BraveWords: What do you want to achieve in the music business these days when the model has changed so drastically?
Jon Bodan: “The reality is, all the streaming services where you get paid like .0001 cents per stream … that pretty much killed off the traditional record label model and everybody’s having to revamp. You go on the internet and everybody says, ‘Oh, you make your money on touring.’ Well, not so much. When you’re a bigger band, sure. Touring for us is very money motivating at this point. The next step for us would be to build up enough of a name to where we’re not losing money when we go out on the road. So our next goal would be to break even when we go out! I don’t think the average fans knows what it costs to put on a tour. It’s a different world.”
BraveWords: After getting Steve (Braun, vocals) and some more recent new members, it seems to be a solid lineup now. Are you as a band, at a place where you want to be right now?
Jon Bodan: “We think so. We went through a time after Building The Towers came out where we had gone from a local/regional band. When we did our first album, to when we got our first opportunity in 2010 when Building The Towers was in mix-down, to going to the UK with Fozzy. That was actually the first time we were able to get out on the road. At that point Zane (guitars) realized that he wanted to be with his family and touring wasn’t really for him at that point. He stepped away not too long after that. And that was around the time I started getting sick. We were kind of on ice for a while. We put out Indoctrination while I was out. After that we got back out live and we did the Delain tour and we had a fill-in bass player. We also had a guitarist for five minutes and then he went crazy. So that didn’t work out. We just kind of kept going through that. We couldn’t find the right fit and then we did. I think things are solid now; everybody has the same attitude. It’s a lot of hard work, but I think everybody gets that.”