Between A Rock And A Prog Place: SOUTHERN EMPIRE – “Hopefully We Bring Something New To The Table That’s Still Prog, But Also Uniquely Australian”

September 1, 2023, a month ago

By Greg Prato

feature heavy metal hard rock southern empire

Between A Rock And A Prog Place: SOUTHERN EMPIRE – “Hopefully We Bring Something New To The Table That’s Still Prog, But Also Uniquely Australian”

What truly is progressive music? Each month BraveWords will aim to dissect that answer with a thorough overview of the current musical climate that is the prog world. Old and new, borrowed and blue. A musical community without borders. So watch for a steady and spaced-out array of features, current news and a buyer’s guide checklist to enhance the forward-thinking musical mind. So, welcome to BraveWords’ monthly column appropriately titled, Between A Rock In A Prog Place. 

In this month’s column, we speak to Southern Empire keyboardist Sean Timms about his band’s new album, Another World, its standout tracks, as well as the difficulty experienced being a prog band trying to establish yourself in the land down under. 

Why did it take 5 years to follow up Civilisation?

“Good question! The aim when we got back from our 2018 tour of Europe and the UK was to get stuck into writing and recording another album as soon as possible, so we could capitalize on the momentum we’d built up after the success of Civilisation. Then COVID hit. As freelance working musicians, that hit most of us pretty hard…so some of the band had to find alternate means of generating income. This meant that we weren’t able to find as much time to do the things we wanted to do, as we were too busy doing the things we had to do to survive. Also, my studio became very busy with other paying projects, so I wasn’t able to devote as much time to Southern Empire. At the end of 2021, I moved into my purpose built studio at home and found it much easier to devote more time to Southern Empire. Then Danny decided to leave to pursue other ventures…so scouting, auditioning, recording and mixing new vocalist Shaun Holton took a while as well. I hope that the wait will be worth it to our listeners!”

What sets Another World apart from previous efforts?

“There are a couple of obvious things…firstly, our new front man, Shaun Holton. Apart from having an amazing voice, he is also a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer. Secondly, there was more of a contribution to the arrangements and song writing from other members of the band than our previous two albums. Other than that… I’d say that my mixing has certainly gotten better. My new studio space is a dream to work in and I think the resulting mixes are definitely a few steps up from previous albums. Finally, sadly, our regular mastering engineer Neville Clark passed away during the early days of COVID, so after a great deal of thought, research and trepidation, I decided to tackle the mastering myself. I had been given a fair bit of confidence in my mastering by Damanek leader Guy Manning as he preferred my masters of the latest Damanek album over another engineers.”

What is the story behind the track “Reaching Out”?

“This song is inspired by the very prevalent multi-verse stories being told in a lot of films and TV series lately. It’s a kind of ‘What If’ scenario – what if I’d decided not to go to that party where I met my wife? What if she’d decided not to go? It’s all about understanding how the choices we make can have a profound effect on our lives – good, bad and indifferent. It’s been a while since I wrote it – around September 2019. I originally wanted to have it sound a bit like Steely Dan, but apparently it sounds more like Yes according to what our fans have been saying. I’m definitely happy with that!”

Which other tracks are standouts?

“That’s like asking who your favorite child is. They’re all very special and I’m proud of each of them – my songs…and my kids! If I had to pick one, it would be ‘Hold On To Me,’ one of Cam’s compositions. The first time I heard it, I knew it was a hit. Also ‘White Shadows’ – I really get to stretch my playing and production chops in that song and it has contributions from the whole band. Definitely a team effort.”

Is Southern Empire prog?

“I guess so. Danny used to label us ‘prog ‘n’ roll’! I’ve always been a massive fan of prog music, so I guess it comes out in my writing and production. I would never want to sacrifice the song – a good melody with lots of hooks, to satisfy a prog audience though. Hopefully we bring something new to the table that’s still prog, but also uniquely Australian.”

Is there a prog scene in Australia?  

“Not really. We have some very good prog/prog-metal bands over here – Caligula’s Horse, Karnivool, Voyager to name a few. But people don’t very often venture out to hear a band playing original 20 minute songs – they prefer to see a tribute band, which is sad. I play in a couple of tribute acts and the crowds are always healthy – sometimes 500-600 people – but we’d struggle to get 150 to a Southern Empire show here in Adelaide.”

Touring plans?

“We’d love to, but it’s logistically very difficult from Australia, we’d need a fair bit of money just to pay the air fares and accommodation. Also, all of the guys in the band have family commitments, so we’d need to make sure our normal wage would be covered as well. We might set up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page and see what the interest is like. It will depend a lot on how well the album is received and what the sales are like.”


Former Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin returns with this first solo release featuring vocals in 34 years on October 6, Rio – whose first single/video, “Big Mistakes,” can be heard/viewed below. Back in 1973, Wishbone Ash issued one of their most commercially successful albums, the concert set Live Dates. Now, 50 years later, the group has re-recorded the entire album at Daryl’s House Club in Pawling, New York as Live Dates Live, and can be ordered here.

Prog vets the Flower Kings return on September 8 with their 16th studio album overall, Look at You Know, which is indeed already available for ordering. On November 17, Kamelot will reissue editions of Ghost Opera, Poetry For The Poisoned and One Cold Winter's Night – which are also available for pre-order.

US prog metallists Nospūn recently issued their debut album, Opus, and have now shared a video for the track "Earwyrm". Winterstorm will be issuing their fifth studio effort, Everfrost, on September 29th, and have whetted our appetites with a lyric video for the track “Fate Of The Atlanteans.”

Big Big Train is currently hard at work on a new studio album (with a release date scheduled for some time in spring of 2024), and recently unveiled an album teaser video for your enjoyment. Lastly, NYC proggers Fall of the Albatross recently issued a new studio effort, Rite, as well as a music video for the tune “Glucose Guardian,” which can be viewed in all of its complex glory below.


September 1
Jethro Tull- The Broadsword and the Beast (expanded reissue)

September 4
Southern Empire- Another World

September 8
The Flower Kings- Look at You Now 
Ice Giant- Ghost of Humanity 

September 22
Winterstorm- Everfrost 

September 29
David Gilmour And The Orb- Metallic Spheres In Colour (expanded reissue)
The Hirsch Effekt- Urian 
Moonspell- The Antidote (reissue)
Wishbone Ash- Live Dates Live


Jethro Tull’s 1982 offering, The Broadsword And The Beast, receives the expanded reissue treatment in September (you can enjoy a video of Ian Anderson unboxing the box here). Considered one of the group’s more underrated/overlooked efforts (it may have gotten lost in the shuffle due to the sudden/swift emergence of MTV and Duran Duran-type bands), here is a clip from way back of the lads miming the LP’s title track…

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ART OF ANARCHY – “Vilified”

ART OF ANARCHY – “Vilified”

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