Over the last two years Reigning Days have established themselves as one of the most exciting upcoming rock outfits of 2018. Their previous singles ‘Friendly Fire’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Renegade’ have earned them radio support from the likes of Radio 1, Kerrang! Radio, Planet Rock and more. They have also played devastating sets at festivals around the world and had support slots with the likes of Feeder, Enter Shikari and Lower That Atlantis.
Originally formed as These Reigning Days, the Devonshire trio have been compared to some of the most exciting British rock bands in recent history, from local heroes Muse to chart-topping newcomers Royal Blood. And while those comparisons are perfectly just in terms of the breathtaking ambitiousness of their music, in truth Reigning Days are a band most reluctant to be pigeonholed.
“We’re just three lads from Devon trying to make waves in a sometimes dull, turbulent scene,” grins singer/guitarist Dan Steer. “We’re all over the shop with our influences, which works well for us because we get unique sounds. It’s not as if we’re stuck in one genre like some indie kids! It’s probably me bringing the electronic influences; I love a good synth pad. But we’ve moved away from that… the new material is more riff-oriented and about getting the biggest sound possible.”
The realisation dawned in a most peculiar setting indeed – least of all for three lads from the South Western seaside. The band were minutes into their set some 4,000 miles away in the Indian capital of New Delhi when, lo and behold, their synth tracks crashed and left them no choice but to continue on without them. Most peculiar of all, it was by their own admission the best thing that ever happened to them.
“We fell back in love with the freedom of just being three musicians in a room again,” offers drummer Joe Sansome. “Not playing to click or worrying about things not working… since then, we’ve taken a whole new approach to how we do things. We went back to basics. It has to feel natural, it has to feel real. If I have to think too much, it puts me off. That’s goes for life in general!”
Released in November 2015, lead single Friendly Fire served as the first taste of their self-titled EP, where the trio redistilled their music to its very core. Inspired by the sonic purity of bands like Nirvana and QOTSA, whose sense of sheer honesty made them stand tall among countless peers, follow-up single Renegade could be the heaviest song Reigning Days have ever written. And the rest of the EP, produced by Jamie Evans (Mexicolas) and mixed by Ade Bushby (Foo Fighters/Muse), lives up to the arena-conquering promise of the anthems released in its anticipation. Chemical is dark and introspective, with Dan baring his soul and making his guitar sound like a malfunctioning robot struggling to comprehend its place in an organic world, while bassist Jonny Finnis fills our ears with thick rhythms that never cease to hypnotize. Another standout track is Crazy Horse, which came from a concept inspired by negative influences in life which facilitate downward spirals without actually causing them…
“I was in a dark place,” admits Dan. “I was exploring the idea of being with someone who’s completely poisonous for you and gets in your head. Not makes you do things, but rather opens up a side of you that you don’t necessarily like. It’s probably like being hooked on crack… so welcome to the Crazy Horse saloon. We’ve all been in relationships like that, losing your shit over something so simple. So when I reference a ‘rock’ in the song, I’m talking about her as a drug-like influence. And Friendly Fire was inspired by the ‘fame’ industry, how you can go from being someone really loved one minute and then shat on the next. We’ve spent a lot of time in LA, walked past people who once had massive dreams become washed up wannabes with just a trolley to their name. It’s people in your own industry turning on you.”
It might sound like everything is lining up quite perfectly for Reigning Days, but you’d be amazed how much being a band from an area with no real music scene and refusing to fit into any specific genre entirely has forced them to work even harder to make themselves heard. The trio don’t really have favours they can call in from an extensive support network of like-minded creatives. They’re doing this on their own terms, which by proxy means they’re pretty much on their own…
“Coming from Devonshire has its logistical problems,” admits Jonny. “If you’re in London, you hear about other nights and you can get the tube and be anywhere in an hour. For us, it’s a five-hour drive in the van, £200 in fuel and then back again after the show. You’ve got to weigh it up… there’s more to think about. But even if there are just 50 people there, we’re happy. We don’t really fit into a bracket, it’s not like we’re a hardcore band that will definitely get invited to play ‘This Is Hardcore’ Festival, you know? That imposes as many problems as the benefits we get out of it…”
“People get confused too,” adds Dan. “If they can’t instantly go, ‘That band’s in that scene!’ sometimes they’re not sure whether they can like it or not… which can be interesting at festivals ha ha! We’re not pretending to be something else with great theatrical display, we’re just being ourselves and going out on a limb! I don’t really like the term genre. You get judged on preconceptions before you’ve been heard. That’s why we always look at each other when people ask! To this day, we still wouldn’t know. If you wanted to be pedantic, you could probably try and ‘subgenre’ every track on the EP. We know we’ve made life harder for ourselves, we don’t want to tag on the tails of someone else’s band, that’s just not what we’re about…”
Sometimes in life the difficult choices are also the right ones. Refusing to be categorised may very well be what has made the band’s 20,000 strong (and perpetually growing) army of fans fall in love with their musical odyssey. All signs point to this reign being tremendously long and fruitful indeed.