WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON

Sea themes and Moby Dick, the two key elements that make up Aussie prog rock band Halcyon Reign, at least, that’s what guitarist and singer Arvo tells us. “After reading that absolute beast of a novel (Moby Dick), I really feel it’s almost impossible to run out of material,” he enthused. “…the imagery of the ocean and vastness of the sea have so many stories in it.” And they certainly seem to at least have six, since this Sydney three piece recently dropped their six track album ‘The Voyage’ which Arvo assured us was a “semi-concept album that is centrally based on the sea. We’ve tried to make it reflect stories through oceanic metaphors and imagery and made it not subtle with our album artwork at all.” The response so far has been “absolutely awesome” with them selling out of the physical CDs they’ve made at every show.

It’s fair to say then, with all these sea themes going on, that Halcyon Reign are something of a product of their environment, hailing from the sunny shores and surf of Sydney. Arvo agreed they were “definitely heavily influenced by my surroundings” although his lyrical content is also personally inspired from “books and experiences. For example, ‘Beyond the Cape’ (Track 4) is about the idea of losing your sanity and not being able to navigate back after something takes you beyond the cape – an idea put forward in the novel Moby Dick.” For now though, they’re happy to stay near the ‘cape’ where despite having a small music scene for their specific genre, it’s very supportive and friendly. “Seeing as the ‘prog scene’ is basically made up of other prog bands… there’s very little reason to not support each other and we wouldn’t have got ourselves to even this point without them,” bassist Luke Delbridge told us. Although of course, the band naturally have ambitions to play shows and tour outside of Sydney too. “We’re amidst plans to saunter on up to Brisbane and down Melbourne way early next year,” he said, before adding, “Is it cheesy to dream of an EU tour?…I reckon we’d have a gouda time.”

Cheese jokes aside, it was clear just from chatting to these three close friends that they have a good sense of humour and an easy banter between them, not taking themselves too seriously especially in their online presence and social media accounts. “It’s an effortless way for us to bring the entertaining aspect of our live shows to the online space,” said Luke, although, “anyone who works with us or sees us behind the scenes knows that we work damn hard and are passionate about our goals.”

“anyone who works with us or sees us behind the scenes knows that we work damn hard and are passionate about our goals”

Speaking of live shows though, Halcyon Reign aren’t your usual stand with your head down and play and don’t interact with the crowd kind of prog band, and are even actively fighting against that at their gigs, something that has occasionally lost them “a bit of love from the prog snobs whom might see it as a bit artless (camp, even).” Halcyon have embraced that, even dubbing themselves as being “shamefully camp” on their Facebook page with Luke keen to point out “the shame couldn’t be more sarcastic! We are for sure being a little ‘camp’ when it comes to being excessive and tactlessly theatrical for amusement’s sake. That’s definitely part of the vision for ourselves though!” As such, they love to throw in plenty of unexpected moments into their music – “polyrhythms, odd time signatures, and severe mood swings” to name a few. “We know how much fun it is to be in that mosh pit and what it feels like to easily lock into the riff and just go nuts…this is something exciting we want to bring to the normally stationary crowds at prog gigs.”

The band played their album launch gig a few months ago and are still “blown away” by how well it went, especially since they “found free parking right next to the loading zone for the gig”, but looking forward to 2020 it’s shaping up to be a “killer year” for the guys, with Arvo telling us they have “some very exciting new material we’re working through…our live set has had a few adjustments too. We’ve been working on making the set less of a show to be seen, and more of an experience.”

“It’s like being strangled by a large Australasian octopus over an 8 minute period.”

That certainly sounds pretty interesting and while the band are keen for future world domination, they still have their feet on the ground too. Although, “a few modest statues of us wouldn’t go astray either,” reflected drummer Simon Bowles. “Like, maybe just one in the centre of a major city in each continent?” For real though, he added, “I’ve no doubt that a career in music could realistically be as stressful/demanding as most 9-5 jobs, if not more. That said, I would expect that dropping our regular jobs would allow a lot more time to really hone our craft a bit better. I don’t think any of us are unhappy with how things are now but I do envy anyone making a living out music for that, if nothing else. Hopefully the opportunity presents itself.”

And what’s the music of Halcyon Reign actually like? Just in case you’ve not had chance to check it out yet, we’ll let Arvo have the last word here. “It’s like being strangled by a large Australasian octopus over an 8 minute period. There are long build-ups, heavy chugging riffs, intense drums, aggressive vocals, heavy drops, musical breaths….. Then you’ve made it to the second verse.”

https://halcyonreign1.bandcamp.com/

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