Haste The Day: Looking back at the ear-ringing legacy of the Indianapolis metalcore act

Friday 9th September 2011

Luke Scrivens chronicles the rise to heavy music ascendancy of HASTE THE DAY

Haste The Day
Haste The Day

In the 10 years of their existence, Indiana's finest metalcore act rose from being one of hundreds of obscure hard music bands battling to find gigs in clubland to become one of the most respected Christian hardcore bands in the world. At the time of the band's final concert in Indiana's Egyptian Room on 11th March 2011, they had gained tens of thousands of enthusiastic followers across the USA.

Haste The Day got their name from a phrase in the well known hymn 'It Is Well With My Soul'. They formed 10 years ago in Indiana after the three members met at high-school. Originally consisting of Brennan Chaulk (guitar), Devin Chaulk (drums) and Mike Murphy (bass) they added long time friend Jason Barnes to the group as a second guitarist and Jimmy Ryan as lead vocalist. The band's first recording effort, the EP 'That They May Know You', was named after the Bible passage "Now this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). It was released in 2002 and alongside their bombastic stage act led to the band being signed with Seattle's Tooth & Nail Records subsidiary Solid State in 2003.

The early days were far from easy. In an interview with drivenfaroff.com, guitarist Jason Barnes said, "When we first started touring we were all completely broke and sleeping in the van and on people's dirty floors." When asked what the worst experience of their first tours were, he replied, "Just not being able to make ends meet and playing for like 10 kids a night. Just the whole getting started is pretty rough."

Haste The Day's first full length album, 'Burning Bridges', was released in 2004. It was referred to on the band's website by lead vocalist Jimmy Ryan as "rock and roll with break downs" because of the melodic aspects of the album. The band's website further stated, "The crowd appealing break downs are intact but more than that, the band has a handle on melody and its gentle yet prominent control of the band's sound."

'Burning Bridges' had a strong theme and was described by the band as "a story of a new beginning, saying goodbye to faulty yet comfortable ways of expression". Said Devin Chaulk, "We realised in the studio that there was a theme in the lyrics, a theme of breaking away from the past, whether that's habits, character issues or people, permeates the album. We just wanted to burn the bridges to avoid past mistakes."

In 2005 Haste The Day released 'When Everything Falls'. The album was much more thought out than their previous records, with the band having more time to write the songs. In an interview with puregrainaudio.com, guitarist/vocalist Brennan Chaulk said, "'Burning Bridges' 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." Chaulk also spoke of how 'When Everything Falls' was largely shaped by producers Ben Kaplan and GGGarth. "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 the tedious producers. They were really, really strict on tuning and everything about that. It was crazy."

When the album was released, the band toured heavily to support it, and showed their dedication to their fans by playing surprise shows on their days off from tour. When asked about this Chaulk said, "We've always been a really hard working band as far as touring goes. We toured something like 265 days last year."

Haste The Day: Looking back at the ear-ringing legacy of the Indianapolis metalcore act

By the end of 2005, Haste The Day's lead vocalist of four years, Jimmy Ryan, left the band. Ryan was soon replaced by 19 year-old Stephen Keech, previously with Denver-based band New Day Awakening. Brennan said, "We had done a few shows in Denver over the years with New Day Awakening, and I remember listening to Stephen's vocals and really enjoying the show, the way he acted with the crowd. Really fun with everybody, his vocals were incredible." Ryan has since taken a position working at Tooth & Nail.

With Keech as the new vocalist, 2007 saw the band recording their third album 'Pressure The Hinges' which, with the influence of Keech, highlighted Haste The Day's strengths. Chaulk explained, "It's really heavy, it's really melodic, it brings out all of our strong points, musically and vocally. We tried to perfect what we're best at. And I think we accomplished that with the producers that we worked with, who are really smart and had the same vision as we did. It's not as much just screaming every verse, singing every chorus, but we mixed it up a lot more. Our lead vocalist was involved pretty much all the time."

The inclusion of Stephen Keech and the band's ultra heavy touring schedule paid off for Haste The Day when 'Pressure The Hinges' entered Billboard's Top Christian Charts at number three and number 89 on the US mainstream album charts.

After the success of 'Pressure The Hinges' the band went on to record their fourth album, 'Dreamer'. It was a difficult time for the group. Drummer Devin Chaulk left the band as he felt that he was being called into full-time ministry. In an interview with theaquarian.com, Brennan Chaulk spoke about another departure from Haste The Day, that of guitarist Jason Barnes. "We had to ask him to leave, which was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. He was studying other literature that had a big influence on him and opened his eyes to something else. It was a gradual thing, and eventually he let us know that he no longer had faith in Jesus Christ. For us, as much as we would have loved to make it work and just continue on anyways, as a band, [the Christian faith] is our focus. That's what we set out to do, to spread the Gospel, and having somebody who doesn't believe it at all just didn't sit right with us." The band called on their friend Dave Krysl to take on full-time touring guitar duties and also brought in drummer Giuseppe Capolupo.

The absence of Barnes had a noticeable impact on Haste The Day's style with the band taking on a darker, more sinister sound on 'Dreamer'. Chaulk said at the time, "It's a darker sound musically. Jason was more of a rock 'n' roll-type guitar player, so a lot of the music was more rock 'n' roll. This time we went with a darker feel to the music. We really wanted to have heavy sounding guitars, choruses that really popped at you - we were pretty dead set on that." Without Barnes in the band, the four remaining members decided to experiment with their sound and take risks that they had never taken before. "We wanted to write a record that we would want to listen to - I guess you always want to do that, but this time we took more chances," explained Chaulk. "We were like, 'If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, but let's just make a record we can be really happy about.' So we made the record that we wanted to make." 'Dreamer' debuted at number 68 in the US Billboard chart.

2009 saw founding member of Haste The Day, Brennan Chaulk, leave the band. He was getting married and decided to focus his time on writing worship music. This meant that bass player Mike Murphy was Haste The Day's only remaining original member.

The band's fifth and final album 'Attack Of The Wolf King' was recorded in 2010. Murphy spoke to HM Magazine about the album, "I wanted it so badly to be the best. I wanted it to turn out amazing. I didn't want to just kind of fall off after losing all those other members. It was a weird time in my life and I wanted so badly for the record to turn out well and to glorify God with it." With the absence of many of the band's prominent songwriters, Murphy stepped up to write a song. He commented, "I never wrote lyrics before, but I wrote lyrics on one of those songs - 'Merit For Sadness'. That record is my favourite."

After 'Attack Of The Wolf King', Haste The Day decided that its release was the best place for band to finally split. Said Murphy, "We put out what a lot of people think was our best record and I felt like that was a good place to end it. It felt like the right time." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Luke Scrivens
Luke Scrivens is a teenager living in Stoke-on-Trent currently doing some volunteer work for Cross Rhythms.


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