Interview: Haste

(this interview originally appeared in issue #34 of Modern Fix Magazine in 2003).


interview by bushman

There are many bands doing the “little bit of this, little bit of that” genre hopping approach. The formula of late sounds like an out-dated Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial… “You’ve got hardcore in my emo… Well, you got your emo in my hardcore”.

And by formula, I mean, bands that can take two distinct genres and perform either at the flick of a switch. Often toggling between the two in the same song. Admirable enough, but it’s the bands that meld genres together to give themselves some personality that deserve the higher praise and your oh-so-valuable listening time. Haste is a proficient member of the latter category, folding hardcore, emo and indie-rock into seamless forays of aggression within melody.

Never mind their peculiar enough Birmingham, Alabama roots, even more strangely, the band releases its material on the worlds premier death/black/grind/power-metal label, Century Media. Haste are anything but metal. calls them “metalcore” and that’s still off the mark. Their latest release “The Mercury Lift” feels like indie-rock flexing often.

There are breakdowns and breakouts that give an affirmative nod to hardcore, but songs generally hold down a sense of progressive melody. Dual vocals are the flavor of the day, but Haste employs voices that can both sing and scream, so it’s not just one accommodating for the other. Rather, a definitive vocal presence commands a lot of the songs, connecting their aggresive structures into a more melodic sense of “song”.

When I spoke to singer Kelly Reaves (half of the vocal dynamic of Haste), I had to admit I didn’t know which parts were his and which were those of second vocalist Chris Mosley.
Our singing voices are really close. As far as the screaming, I’m the lower screaming guy.

The Mercury Lift (Century Media)

I was upfront about not having a lot of history with this band. They have a total of 3 full lengths on Century Media, but it was their latest “The Mercury Lift” that was my introduction. But a brilliant intro it was. One of the first facts I found of interest was the unlikely Birmingham, Alabama birthplace of Haste.
We love Birmingham and like the bands from here and everything. It’s kind of been a blessing actually. As far as with writing, nobody really knows what to expect. There’s no preconceptions of what a hardcore band from Birmingham, Alabama sounds like. The only thing that most people know about Birmingham is with the civil rights history kind of thing. There is a lot of stigma that goes along with that. But for the most part, we really don’t think about it that much. The people here are great and have supported us for a really long time. We have southern accents and everything, but most people around here tell us we don’t. But whenever we go up north to do interviews, that’s the first thing people pick up on. When I’ve been drinking a lot it really comes out. I get more relaxed and more slowed down.

Getting a “King of the Hill” flashback, I ask Kelly if he starts to sound like “Boomhauer”.
Yeah. Some words are really indicative of that. One thing we’ve noticed when we first started touring, there are rednecks everywhere. People would come out for Furnace Fest and they are like, “I didn’t know you guys had buildings.” Birmingham’s really not much different than most big cities. It’s smaller, but as far as the people, most everyplace we go to, people are a lot more alike than they think they are. As far as the pace of living, it’s definitely more relaxed. The whole thing about southern hospitality is definitely real. The way we were taught growing up, you open doors for ladies and let them go first. Be polite to people. For the most part that’s true, but some places we go, if you step back and open the door for somebody and let them go, they don’t know what to think.

Looking at the pedigree of bands Haste has toured with (Boy Sets Fire, Glassjaw, Hopesfall, Shai Hulud and Zao), one might get the impression that Haste was part of the edgier spectrum of hardcore. Yet I dubbed the band “Indie-rock-hardcore”. Kelly was unfazed by my attempt at labeling his band.
We never really pay attention to what we are as far as genre or label. We just kind of play. There are six of us, so there are a lot of different influences. Some of the things we listen to are the same, but some of our favorite records might be really different. But we all like our share of metal and hardcore. That’s what we were raised in. Punk rock and everything. But at the same time, I’m a huge Elvis fan. A huge Radiohead fan. Portishead, stuff like that. Anything that people listen to tends to play into what they play themselves. Because naturally, you want to play music that you would like to hear. And that’s the way we are. I definitely can tell when certain things kind of creep into what we write.


The bands press kit calls them a “true musical revolution”. I asked Kelly if this was true.
Y’know… that would be great if other people were to say that, then we really appreciate the compliment. But we were also raised to be very modest. So none of us are gonna stand there and say, “Hey, this album is gonna change your life.”

So you didn’t write your press kit in other words.
Oh, no no no. Oh, that’s why that sounds familiar. We didn’t write it, but that other people think that, it’s great and we definitely appreciate it. We just write music because it’s what we enjoy. I guess it depends on each person. For me, there were several bands that didn’t change the music industry, but they changed my life in someway. Jawbreaker, Quicksand… all these bands. When I first heard Metallica when I was 15. Those bands changed my life, so to me, that was a revelation of sorts.

Doing my homework on the band, I got the impression they started out with a much more aggressive sound. “The Mercury Lift” is their third album and I suspected a step more towards the indie rock melodies. Kelly comments:
It really depends on which song you are talking about. We were all raised on bands like Unbroken, Undertow, Minor Threat and stuff like that. Our first album, “Pursuit In The Face Of Consequence” there were maybe just like two songs where we sang at all on. On the last album “When Reason Sleeps” there was more singing. On this one, there is definitely a lot more singing on it, but it hasn’t been a conscious effort to do that. I think we got a little more comfortable with trying things. We never sit down and go, “Well, hey, we need to sing more or we need to scream more.” That’s strictly up to what we feel the music calls for. Whatever the song is about, if the point would be made better if one of us is screaming it… or singing… or whatever we feel is right. It’s just kind of how they turn out. But this one turned out to have more melodic stuff on it because that’s just how the songs ended up. But at the same time, one of two newest songs is one of the songs we do with Randy from Lamb of God (“God Reclaims His Throne”), and it’s really, really heavy. Probably one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever written. We never know going into a song how it’s going to be. It’s always just what ends up feeling right. We could end up writing a country album.

Lamb of God is another name that falls somewhere on the radar near Haste, but is a much more brutal attack of sound. And the track that Lamb of God singer Randy assaults is the most aggressive track on this album. Where do these hardcore coalitions come from?
We met those guys the first time we played CBGB’s in New York. Thanks to Rich Hall who is an incredible guy and he set up this show and asked us to play. It was with Lamb of God and The Haunted. And it was the first time we ever played CBGBs and we were just like, “Rich, thank you so much.” It was incredible to get on a bill like that. It was packed. It was so rad. It was surreal. I was standing on that stage thinking about all the bands, like the Bad Brains bootlegs I’d seen with H.R. standing on that stage. And everybody who has played there and all its history. It was crazy. It was like going to the White House of punk rock. That’s the first place we met Lamb of God and Randy, their singer, came up and he really liked us. So we just kept in touch with him. We talked about getting some people to come in and do some guest stuff on the album. So we called up Randy and called up Jeff (from Codeseven) and they were both really into it. Randy came down one week and Jeff came down another. We sent them just the music ahead of time to just let them listen to it and get familiar with it and which songs they want to do stuff on. Then we sat down with Randy, myself and Chris and Jeff when he came down and wrote the lyrics. It was really, really cool. They are both from the south to. Randy is from Richmond, VA. and Jeff from Codeseven, they are from Salem, NC. So we just hung out and had fun and spent time with those guys. We went mechanical bull riding with Randy. Randy and I both stayed on the whole time. But man, it killed your wrists. They are great guys and we had known Codeseven for a long time. Jeff sings on the song “The Rescued”.


It seems Haste is a master at making unseemly alliances. Century Media has been the bands only home for all three of their releases. How does an indie-hardcore band from Birmingham end up on renown-metal label Century Media? The answer is surprising and gives hope to all the unsigned bands out there blindly sending out their material to labels. Their demo actually got a listen.
Actually, that is all owed to this guy named Tom Bejgrowicz. But he was the AnR guy there for a while. We sent him a tape with a few songs and my email address. And he emailed back and asked to hear some more stuff. And that’s just kind of how that happened. That’s the cool thing about Tom. He’s done all the artwork for all our albums. He worked at Caroline for a while. It meant a lot to us that he took an interest in us and thought the stuff was good because he worked on like, Smashing Pumpkins “Gish” album. He worked with Bad Brains. He worked a lot with the Misfits. That was all in like ’98. He took an interest in it and he came out to meet us and everything and we hung out and talked. He’s the reason we are with Century Media.

While the topic of “Who are your influences” is a tired question, the names of bands responsible for an artist’s path usually come up in conversation. In this case, one of the primary influences (and a personal shared appreciation) came from the band Quicksand.
The song, “Evidence of Wasted Ink”… that song, coming up with vocal stuff for that, was total Walter (Schreifels, singer from Quicksand). I was just sitting there going, “Now what would I do if I were Walter. And this was a Quicksand album.” Because once I heard it… I had just gotten [the Quicksand album] “Slip” back out and everything. It was when the Rival Schools album came out [Walter’s new band]. Right when we started doing vocals for that song, Rival Schools came down to Birmingham and played and I actually got to meet Walter. He was the most down to earth, super nice guy. I didn’t want to be like, (in nerdy voice), “Hey, y’know, I’m a huge fan.” and all that. I tried to just be a normal person about it. But I was like, “Your band has a lot to do with reason I’m even in music.” So when we started playing “Evidence of Wasted Ink” in practice, and Brandon came up with that bass line, for some reason, it just kind of took me back to high school. And I was sitting there thinking about “Slip” and thinking about what I had done that summer. It made me very nostalgic for that kind of stuff. So I went and broke out some Quicksand bootlegs and I got to meet him just a few weeks later so it was really cool. I kinda got the feeling that night [when I met Walter] that he really didn’t realize what an impact that band had on so many people. He was just so casual and just a normal guy. It was a small club. Nobody said anything about Quicksand or whatever, but somebody yelled something about Gorilla Biscuits. And he was like, (real nonchalant), “Hey, I was in that band.” Just really down to earth.”

It’s easy to see the appreciation for a “down to earth” attitude within Kelly’s own soft-spoken demeanor. But the world is full of nice guys in good bands. With twice as many assholes in shitty bands. The ultimate question arises: Why should someone come see a Haste show?
So we can pay our bills. (laughs). We are a live band. And while we may not always sound as good live as we do on a recording, we are definitely a live band. We wouldn’t feel comfortable if we were playing and just stood there. We move around a lot. There is a lot of energy. By the time we get through playing, we are all really sweaty or bleeding, it just depends. We’ve got plenty of scars from shows from nailing each other with mics or guitars or what have you. The stage is too short and one of us is falling off. We’ve always been a live band. And from our first to second album, that was our main concern. Getting the energy of the live show and making it transfer to the recording. And that’s one thing we tried to do with this album also.

If one goes to see Haste live, purchase their music from the band in person. $10 is the standard fee and most of the money ends up in the bands pocket as opposed to the almost $16.00 is charging. You always get your best merch for the best price when you see a band live. Well, almost always. Kelly explains:
Tshirts are $10 too. We just strictly base it on what it cost us to make them. But then of course you have the shows where you play a “fest” with some big name act, they control the prices of your merch. If there is a certain real big name act, they will have a clause that says all the other acts have to price match their merch. So you could have a shirt you normally sell for $5.00, but you would have to charge $25.00 because you can’t undercut the headliner. When that kind of things happens we usually keep our stuff out in our trailer and we are like (real quick as we leave the stage), “We have tshirts and they are out in our trailer. See ya.”