(See a slideshow of photos from the final Haste the Day concert)
It's a typically cold January afternoon in Indianapolis and Mike Murphy, bassist for local Christian metalcore band Haste the Day, is on his way to his group's last rehearsal.
After 10 years and five albums, Haste the Day has decided to call it quits. They're embarking on one last tour with Mychildren Mybride, The Chariot and A Plea for Purging as support. It ends Friday at the Egyptian Room, a venue Murphy has always wanted to top a bill at.
"I grew up going to shows there," he said by phone. "One of my favorites was P.O.D. Since that show I've wanted to headline there."
Expect an hour-plus set from the band that pulls from their entire discography, including their self-produced debut EP, That They May Know You. The final performance will also feature a one-off reunion show by Still Remains, a Grand Rapids band that was on Roadrunner Records and performed during the '00s.
"We kind of grew up with those guys, got signed around the same time," Murphy said. "They're a great band. That'll be cool."
Perhaps most important of all, the original Haste the Day lineup will reconvene for a song or more. That includes singer Jimmy Ryan, guitarist Brennan Chaulk and his drummer brother Devin, and guitarist Jason Barnes. Murphy is the only original member still in the band. He's remained close to all the former Hasters. There's always a pre-tour party in his Westfield home when everyone gets back together.
"It's a pretty tight family old and new," Murphy said.
Just saying "last band rehearsal" was, for Murphy, "a weird thing to get my mind around." He's experienced a range of emotions going into this final jaunt, from excitement to sadness.
"This is all I've really done since high school," said Murphy, who formed Haste the Day with the Chaulk brothers at Carmel High School in 2001 before adding Barnes and recruiting Ryan. "It's the only thing I'm used to doing, so it's sad to only do it one last time. But at the same time it's really exciting, so it's definitely bittersweet. It's going to be emotional, but I'm also excited about the next chapter in my life, whatever that may be. It's exciting and scary at the same time."
Murphy doesn't yet have a plan beyond this tour. He's considered returning to school, but doesn't want to jump into anything too fast.
"Music and performance, this scene is what I've been passionate about for a long time – for as long as I can remember," Murphy said. "I haven't really concentrated on any of my other passions or really given them much consideration. I'm just going to kind of float for a little bit until I get some inspiration as to what I want to do next."
There are multiple reasons why the members in the current lineup – Murphy, singer Stephen Keech, guitarists Dave Krysl and Scotty Whelan and drummer Giuseppe Capolupo – have decided to disband.
"We've been doing it for so long, No. 1, and we've gone through so many member changes along the way," Murphy said. "But through all that we made our best record (2010's Attack of the Wolf King). A few of us are wanting to move on to other things in our lives. The music scene we're a part of has changed so much over the course of (our) career that it's a different place now than it was even a couple years ago."
That has mainly to do with musical style. Haste the Day has always fit comfortably into the metalcore genre, an aggregate of metal and punk with a generous dose of melody and a penchant for ferocious half-measures.
"It used to be really aggressive and I think more honest than it is now," Murphy said of their musical scene. "It's certainly getting bigger and has broad appeal to people. The kids seem to be getting younger, but maybe I'm just getting older. When we tour we still do well, but not as well as we used to. I feel like our time has come and went. We want to do a last tour while we can still go out on a high note, with some respect and dignity instead of just driving this thing into the ground."
Besides, Murphy has already accomplished everything he wanted to with Haste the Day.
"I got signed to my favorite record label (Solid State), got to play and tour with my heroes, meet a lot of amazing people and make connections with people at shows," he said. "I got to play the music I love with the people I love. I got to see the world and fulfill all my little rock-star fantasies, like shooting videos. I'm very fortunate and feel blessed to be able to do it."
Murphy has always said he wants Haste the Day to be a positive force in metal music. Over the years he's heard from countless young fans how their songs helped them through family issues and suicidal feelings. Military veterans have told him they listened to Haste the Day to help them cope with the pressures of combat. Murphy sounded especially thoughtful as he recounted that aspect of his band's history.
"We've really strived to be that light in the dark scene we're a part of," he said. "We wanted to be something positive and encourage people to pursue their passions and find out who God wants them to be, just awaken people to the fact that they're amazing and beautiful. I think we've been able to do that. I hope we've been able to do that."