Their first single made the top six in 2014’s triple J Unearthed High, but Daybreak vocalist Shaun Cox light-heartedly skips through that and the next three years rather quickly, insisting they’ve matured as musicians. “We released that first single (Retribution) in 2014 – that barely counts. We released an EP called ‘Empty Earth’ that we deleted from the internet,” he laughs. “That was 2015, so that doesn’t count. Other than that, we’ve got our ‘Death Dreams’ EP, which is a bit more mature – that was 2017. The Acid Green single in 2018 and here we are with the ‘Godfather’ three-track.” Fair play for cringing a little and wanting to look forward and not back – the young Perth metal band is developing their dark, unpredictable sound quickly and smartly, touring with Parkway Drive, Polaris, and now Alpha Wolf (for a second time) this May/June.
They already knew what they wanted to do one year before Unearthed; they just had to find their sound. In 2013, high school friends Cox and Brodie Wilson attended a gig in Perth that would change the trajectory of their lives. That gig was the Brothers In Arms tour featuring The Amity Affliction, Chelsea Grin, Stick To Your Guns and In Heart’s Wake. “That was my second show ever; I was young as,” Cox says. “We watched In Heart’s Wake and they were really young at the time and stoked to be playing such a big crowd in Perth – it was radiating off them. And I was like, ‘that’s f*ckin’ sick, I wanna do that’. So pretty much I bullied Brodie into picking up an instrument,” he laughs. Cox started learning screaming techniques on YouTube and Wilson picked up a bass. They then put an ad on Gumtree and found their guitarist, Blake Pearce. Pearce, who attended a different school, had a mate, Sam Warren, who would hop behind the drum kit. When the four-piece soon started jamming at Pearce’s house, his sister’s boyfriend, Liam Webster, wanted in on the action and joined on bass, allowing Wilson to switch to rhythm. And so the five-piece was born. “We’re not just band members, this has turned into a bit of a family. It’s all glued together through the love and the passion for playing heavy music. We’ve all grown up together going to HQ shows (all ages YMCA venue). It’s what we know. It’s what we live and breathe.”
Sadly, a month before supporting Alpha Wolf’s ‘Fault’ tour with Mirrors (and playing select headline shows), Wilson has departed the band, albeit on good terms. Cox says the guys have already found a solid musician, but won’t be drawn on revealing names yet. “We’ve been working with a fifth member… We’re still performing live as a five-piece. He’s pretty much in the band; we’re going to see how he goes on this tour. He’s f*cking awesome. He’s producing a lot of up and coming bands in Perth now. He’s surrounded by music in his life; it’s what he wants to do, it’s not just a hobby. He’s around the same age as well, so it’s just perfect. We’re going to wait (on the name reveal) and do a cool little video for him.”
Cox, 20, already knows the difficulties of keeping a band together, only getting to do a “half-tour” with Alpha Wolf in 2018 due to personnel changes. “We only got to do three days, so we did Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne, then obviously all that stuff happened with their former vocalist and they had to pull out of the tour. We played Brisbane and Sydney with Honest Crooks.” Since then they’ve “bonded a lot more”. “We actually tracked this EP (guitars and bass) with Scotty from Alpha Wolf. We flew Blake over there. I’m always talking shit to Scotty on Facebook, so it’s fun to terrorise him a bit on tour.”
There’s definitely a lot of fun and exuberance radiating from the band, but they’re not at the stage where they can splash cash and tour nonstop. They’ve got jobs, they study and they’re unsigned, funnelling all their money and time into the band. Cox is an apprentice, Pearce, 21, works part time, Warren, 21, is at university fulltime, Webster, 19, works part time, and who knows with mystery man? “We definitely need our jobs to fund this,” Cox says. “I’m currently a third-year electrical apprentice, so it’s not something you can just bail out of, so I’m getting that out of the way and hopefully by then we’re ready to tour an album globally. It’s daunting but that’s the goal. At work I’ve always got my earphones in listening to demos and stuff like that, coming up with ideas. It’s probably the time I come up with most of my ideas, so even though I spend a lot of my time working, my body’s working but my mind’s still on the band.”
Contrasting the piss-taking and tour shenanigans are the lyrical themes. They’re dark and they’re painful. “…Godfather’s definitely a bit of a rabbit hole. Basically, a family friend of ours, a close family friend, committed suicide… my dad’s lifetime best mate’s daughter… my dad was actually her godfather. There was a lot building up to that… a lot of devastation in the family. It’s definitely the deepest I’ve delved into personally matters… It’s sort of weird to talk about still. I haven’t really spoken to my dad too much about it. He’s read the lyrics…”
While the lyrics on the three-track EP are consistent in their pain, the instrumentals and song structures are anything but. “They’re all completely different. Godfather is definitely not a good indicator of what to expect for the other two tracks and I think from hereon any track we release won’t give anyone a good indication of what’s to come. I look up to bands like Enter Shikari, where each song is completely different but also really good. We really rate Northlane’s last album, ‘Mesmer’ – that’s a f*cking brilliant record. I know Blake really rates that type of music. He’s always been a big Northlane sweater… The first track (of new album ‘Alien’) instrumentally is nuts; definitely not what I was expecting from them, and that’s a thing I really thrive to be like – the music we make is not being predictable.”
Three EPs in five years might have fans wondering when is the LP coming? Cox is mature in his approach. “It was a decision we had to make coming after this next release: what do we want to do? We were originally planning on releasing an album but at one of our headliners, I had a chat to Shaun from Deadlights. He was asking what’s next for Daybreak and I said, ‘yeah, an album definitely’ and he’s like, ‘why?’ and I couldn’t really give him an answer. He’s like, ‘there’s nothing wrong with developing your sound a little bit more’. That resonated a bit. I was thinking ‘yeah, we’re still growing up, we’re still developing our sound, we’re wrapping our heads around what we actually want, so why not release a three-track, build a more solid foundation of a fan base before actually releasing an album?’”
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