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Halcyon Way’s Jon Bodan “If you hustle, work and bootstrap yourself, you can make it happen if you stay committed to the process”

Posted by on July 30, 2018

This Friday (3rd), Atlanta progressive/hard rockers Halcyon Way’s new album Bloody But Unbowed will arrive via Agonia Records (pre-order here). We were lucky to catch up with lead guitarist Jon Bodan to discuss the new record, the Atlanta scene, the music industry, the group’s sacrifices and more. Read the discussion below:

How would you compare Bloody But Unbowed to your previous efforts?

I think that Bloody really reflects us fully embracing what we are as a band in every way – heavy,

energetic, melodic & catchy, diverse influences coming together in support of a great song, and

the like. We’ve kind of evolved over the years from being a “prog metal” band on the first release

to getting heavier and heavier over time. We pretty much go into every new album like “how do

we top the last one?” This time, our attitude was to make it as heavy as we could, but also to

make the hooks bigger and catchier.

 

Can you describe the lyrical theme of the album?

There’s not really a specific theme, per se – but I think that it reflects to a large extent a lot of what

is going on in the world – there’s a lot of political unrest or dissatisfaction, a lot of groups or

interest screaming for attention like “my cause is more important than yours” and so forth. So we

talked about things like that a lot. Some of it is about just trying to put your head down and make

it through adversity, which we have had our share of. But overall, our objective is to write so that

the listener can draw their own meaning out of the songs and interpret them in a way that feels

real to them. Some stuff is pretty straightforward – I mean, it’s kinda hard to miss what “Slaves

To Silicon” is about, haha – but overall I think you can pull your own meaning out of a lot of it.

 

There are definitely a lot of influences in the new LP, you can hear thrash, progressive, a hint of

death, and more. It’s never easy to incorporate so much in one but you guys definitely pulled it

off. Was this due to having a collaborative writing effort?

Thanks man, I really appreciate that. Our whole goal when we write is to just have a great song

with a big chorus and just make the whole thing catchy and memorable. So when we write we just

try to take the song from one place to the next effectively. Sometimes that requires a melodic

vocal, sometimes a death vocal or a breakdown, sometimes it’s electronic elements. Our

influences are definitely all over the place, but we’re pretty good about cutting out the fat and just

making the songs tell their own story, I think.

But we all are into different sorts of stuff – I’m into old school thrash, modern metal, some prog

metal, but also stoner rock & electronica. Steve comes from a hard rock background. Skyler

loves metalcore. Max loves prog rock and metal. Aaron is all about thrash metal. So we come by

the sound pretty honestly. The challenge is to just get it to all flow & gel right in the context of the

songs & album.

 

How do you balance your time between music and your “day job?”

It’s tough for sure. Personally, I’m self employed and actually in the finance industry. So my job

is pretty demanding in terms of time and such, but I have always carved out a time and place for

music. Part of the reason I started a company was so I could do what I needed to in terms of

touring and such. But since there is really no money in the music industry for a band at our level,

we all have to hustle in our day jobs to be able to do what we love. When we’re on tour, I have my

laptop and spend a certain amount of time daily running my business remotely, and everyone in

the band has similar kinds of balancing acts they have to maintain.

 

How has the music industry changed for you over the years?

Honestly, it hasn’t changed a ton because when records were actually selling, we were a brand

new band on an underground label and we sort of picked up steam after the bit-torrent and

streaming stuff started picking up. So we’ve never really had the luxury of selling a bunch of

units and then it dried up, haha. However, I can say that with our new label, Agonia, we are seeing

a level of energy and commitment to our band that is frankly unbelievable. I think it goes to show

that if you hustle, work, and bootstrap yourself, you can make it happen if you stay committed to

the process.

 

Now that the album is almost out, what plans does Halcyon Way have that you can reveal to us?

Right now, we have 2 album release shows booked – one in Nashville on August 4th, and one in

Atlanta on August 25th. Those are hometown shows for us and we hope to kick off the new album

cycle with a huge bang at both of them. We rarely play at home, so we try to make it an event. We

have a number of tour ideas floating around right now, but the right thing hasn’t quite come

together yet. But we fully expect to be out on the road again this fall, 100%. Our plan is to work

the album just as hard as we always do. We always feel like we have something to prove.

 

What is one of your biggest sacrifices you had to make for the sake of the band?

That’s a tough question – some of it is financial, because it costs a hell of a lot to make albums at

the level we do. It’s 100% pro 100% of the time, and we pay for things that labels used to when

they had money. Some of it is time away from home while on tour or recording. Some of it is just

personal things you give up to be in a band that is serious. Hard to say one thing in the last 15

plus years, really.

 

For fun, if you can categorize your overall experience thus far in music as a movie genre what

would it be?

Militant Vegan Crossfit Propaganda Films? Haha. I don’t know – maybe the Portlandia episode

where they’re in black metal makeup? Metal is boring behind the scenes, man. it would be a

movie about people looking at their cell phones in different places like that gnome from the ad!

 

What are some of your favorite bands right now in Atlanta?

Atlanta’s got a weird scene, to be honest. There’s a lot of urban sprawl so bands from say North

of town only draw there. and then bands from a different side of town play out there. it’s kinda

fragmented. Having said that, you have guys like Sevendust and Mastodon which are the big

guys to come out of Atlanta in recent memory. But we also have friends in Royal Thunder and

bands in other genres. There are some other locals here – Theocracy are from the area, Death Of

Kings are a great thrash band from here, Paladin are an up and coming power metal band.

 

Anything else you want to add/say to your fans?

First off, we really & genuinely appreciate you guys’ support over the years. It means a lot to us.

There are people out there with our logo or lyrics tattooed on them and that is surreal. Beyond

that, please continue to spread the word about Halcyon Way to your friends that are into rock &

metal, talk about us on your social media, and be sure to pre-order the new album before release

date. The week of release sales are super important to us because it has a ripple effect from our label’s ability to give us tour support, to how radio and streaming services pick us up, and it

overall really helps us get out on the road sooner and more often.

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