The mythical ‘halcyon days’– derived from the ancient tale of Alcyone and the seven days in winter when storms never occur – have a long and illustrious place in pop culture. Countless books, songs, albums and orchestral movements have embraced the concept and the latest to take ownership of the title are local indie rock four-piece Glass Towers.
Frontman Ben Hannam wrote most of the songs for Halcyon Days, his band’s debut album, while still in high school. The album captures his adolescence and in doing so captures a moment in time that we’re all so familiar with – the reckless abandon of youth that couples so earnestly with a wide-eyed enthusiasm for the future.
“I came across the writer Jack Kerouac when I was a teenager and started writing like he does – from experience – so most of the songs are really about my life during high school,” Hannam says. “I grew up in Alstonville and although it’s near Byron Bay, there wasn’t a very large arts faculty or anything at my school; it was all about sports and water polo, stuff like that. That’s probably why I found music, because I needed to find something that I could prove myself at and be comfortable in that wasn’t sport or academic.”
While the tunes are primarily written by Hannam, Glass Towers is certainly not just his project, and he genuinely gushes over the skills of his bandmates. “We were all in the same music class in high school and I’ve been friends with them since primary school, so it just made sense for us to do this together. They’re all such amazing players and basically, yeah, the first album was me writing the songs in my bedroom but moving forward it’s going to be a lot more collaborative. We’re definitely a band in this together.”
With the help of producer Jean-Paul Fung (Silverchair, Last Dinosaurs, Snakadaktal) Glass Towers slowly crafted Halcyon Days in between an impressive touring schedule.
“It all took about a year actually,” Hannam says. “We started recording in January last year and we were doing it on and off because we were touring so much. The single ‘Halcyon’ was probably the only song that was really changed in production. It started off as a seven-minute song that eventually got refined down to three minutes. Other than that, things stayed fairly similar to the initial ideas.”
Despite the fact these songs have been hanging around for the best part of five years, and considering the band have already begun work on their second album, Hannam says he’s still just as excited (perhaps even more so) at the prospect of playing these songs live on the forthcoming tour. “I think last year we had been touring so much that we were fatigued, and fatigued by the songs we were playing,” he says. “Now we’re just so excited by the album coming out that the songs somehow have become fresh again.”
For such a young band, things seem to be moving quickly, and Glass Towers are tackling local and international audiences at the same time. “We played The Great Escape festival and got signed by a Japanese label so we’ll be releasing it there as well,” he says. “We’re hoping to head back to the UK this year; Japan and America as well. We toured with The Kooks here last year so it was great to play with them again in the UK. We don’t have anything locked in with any bands overseas just yet; we’ll just kinda latch onto some support slots when they come up.”
BY KRISSI WEISS Halcyon Days is out now through HUB The Label/Inertia