Our love affair with Reliqa dates way back to 2018 and the progression this band has had since then in unmistakingly EPIC with everything layed out in front of them. Now, they’re back and ready to kick start the next era of their alt/prog-metal machine!
As depicted in our Rise of Reliqa featurette, the foursome from NSW’s Central Coast have been paving their way fresh out of high school and in the process have scored some incredible oppotunities because of their drive – they played BIGSOUND in 2019 and supported the likes of Dead Letter Circus and Sevendust. They have released two EPs and signed with Open Door Management/Destroy All Lines + delivered one of the most critically acclaimed prog releases of 2020 with ‘Mr. Magic‘. Over the past year they’ve scored lineup slots on Full Tilt Festival (Bris & Sydney) + the recently announced Monolith Festival – sharing the stage with heroes Karnivool, Ocean Grove, Plini and more in early 2022 – and even recorded the intro for our latest podcast series Educate Ebony! Told ya they were going places.
The band are back with new single ‘The Bearer of Bad News‘ which once again hones in on that prog-infused style that’s made them a household name, combining ear pricking guitar riffs, alluring clean vocals mashed with nu-metal rapping/spoken word and a mysterious midden eastern sound/flavour that’s popped up out of nowhere. Intrigued, I sat down with frontwoman Monique Pym to discuss the band’s past year and what the future holds…
Welcome back to Wall of Sound – what a year it’s been since you last graced us with your presence following the release of ‘Mr Magic’! What’s news with you all?
We’ve missed you so much! It has indeed been a bit of a ride, and I know we’re not alone when I reflect on the hardships we’ve faced in the last two-odd years. ‘Magic’ was a unique release considering that we didn’t get the chance to play it live until almost a YEAR after its release (!!!), but it was still so special and we look back on it fondly, especially considering how much it helped us build our incredible team. Apart from the Bearer drop and all the fun things we’ve got surrounding it, I would say the other significant update in the Reliqa camp since we last spoke would be the introduction of our new drummer, Ben.
Love a new face, tell us about Ben and how he’s slid into the role?
We’ve been really impressed with how Ben has stepped up to the plate so far. Coming from only a little bit of live music experience, I can imagine it has been a pretty intimidating process coming into a band with pre-established history, goals and levels of understanding, but we’ve been making sure to communicate and keep things in the open so that his transition is as smooth as possible, which has been working well for us at this stage. He’s an insanely talented drummer and we’re lucky to have him.
He’ll be making his live debut with us at Full Tilt and we’re all super excited for that!
Counting down the days! You’ve been busy as hell getting your name seen and heard by thousands with additions on both the Full Tilt Festival, and on Monday, the prog-oriented Monolith Festival alongside Karnivool – this is fucking madness!!! How’s everyone at Reliqa camp feeling at the moment with all of this attention?
It’s such a special thing to start seeing everything we’ve been sitting on for the past few months, and even longer, unfold in the public eye. It’s like everything becomes tangible and no longer just this wild idea. We’ve had such a great response to all of the news which reveals how tight-knit our support network really is and how many people are genuinely rooting for us. THAT is the part that kicks my ass every time, it’s just so, so cool. I guess the next step to that tangible thing becoming even more real will be actually playing the shows. There are definitely some nerves behind it all, but those nerves have been turning into this really healthy, productive energy that definitely helps make us a band worth seeking out. Being the little guy on lineups like these is a feeling we’re really taking the time to soak up and live in – there’s this element of surprise and achievement to it that I hope never fades.
Lap it up, you lot deserve it. As for new music, you’re back with ‘The Bearer of Bad News’ – a prog fans’ wet dream. What’s this one all about?
Bearer has a deeper, darker, more ominous and mystical feel than anything in our current catalogue. It ventures into themes of manipulation and coercion, and critiques the pursuit of power and its potentially harmful implications. I personally consider this song to mark one of my last times writing lyrics from an outside perspective, like writing a fictional story, because for newer material I’ve been making a conscious effort to dig into content that hits closer to home. In saying that though, the theme of power is one that comes up a lot in our music and everything we write about always comes from an intimate place.
Love that for you. There’s middle eastern instrumentals throughout – where did this influence come from?
That’s right! I think at the end of the day there are just SO many sounds out there and it would be crazy for us not to explore as many as we can throughout our compositional career. The song has a very grand, mystical feel to it which is complemented really well by the instrument samples we’ve chosen to make up the ensemble. I do know that Miles and Ben draw some inspiration from their own Thai heritage when it comes to the inclusion of some cultural soundscapes in our music, so we make sure to take guidance from that whenever it comes up in composition. We’re explorers at heart, so it’s been awesome to experiment with some unfamiliar sounds this time around.
It fits snug amongst previously released tracks like ‘Mr. Magic’, ‘The Halfway Point’ and ‘Doomed’ – was that intentional or did that sound come naturally?
I would say it’s been a very natural progression when it comes to our songwriting. We do often find ourselves at the late stage of a song’s development drawing comparisons back to previous work, like “Oh this bridge reminds me of that one part in ___” for example. To me that’s just an identifier of consistency. I would say this song is consistent with our earlier songs, but we make sure never to confine ourselves in that sense. It’s definitely a cut above, at least!
We first uncovered you with your 2018 Afterlight EP, which you followed up with the Eventide EP later in the year – how do you feel Reliqa has progressed as a band from that first release to now?
Man we go way back don’t we! I think one of the most profound things about the development of Reliqa is that we’re progressively challenging ourselves to explore some of the most random, out-there sounds ever (and there’s more of that coming, I swear). In our time since Afterlight, which were some of our first ever takes on songwriting, I feel like we’ve really come into our own and established a bit of a sonic identity for ourselves. It’s interesting how with each release, we’ve found it harder and harder to point to other artists that we sound like. Whether or not that’s a good thing, I think it’s very indicative of the journey we’re on as songwriters.
Looking ahead, what’s the biggest band goal you have NOW so we can take a look back next year and see if you managed to achieve it?
Right now our most important goal is just to release our new music. We feel like we’ve come so far behind the scenes and those on the outside have barely seen a fraction of it at this point, so we want people to hear who we are and celebrate that. Touring-wise, since we just announced our first national tour (goal = ticked!) it’d be rude not to start thinking internationally, right? Haha! For real though, starting our overseas touring career, in Europe especially, will be a total dream.
You know it’s coming and it’s going to be magical hahaha Before we go, we want you to be the bearer of good news – has Reliqa got any more material on the way soon?
You bet we do! In the depths of studio work with our amazing producer Chris Blancato as we speak. When this article goes live we will have just finished the first vocal tracking day. We’ll keep you all posted – 2022 is gonna be a good year.
The continous rise of Reliqa always impresses. Onya Mon, thanks for stopping in!
Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Stream ‘The Bearer of Bad News‘ here