Local band Still Reign is hoping to start the new year off with a new tour, new equipment and a new chance at gaining national notoriety. But it’s going to take more than talent to win that prize.

Still Reign has advanced to the final voting round to become the next Project Independent Featured Artist.

Over 500 bands from across the country entered the competition with 150 selected for the contest. Through the month of December, fans voted online to narrow the list to the top 20. Final voting runs through Dec. 31 with the winner being announced at midnight (PT) on Jan. 1.

Fans can vote up to five times each day at www.projectindependent.net. The top band will be part of a 60-day national tour and will receive $50,000 in new equipment, $5,000 cash and $1,000 in merchandise.

For a few members of Still Reign, the journey began in high school.

Drummer Tyler Scalise said he and guitarists Adam Crain and Matt Paul started playing together as teenagers, but with Crain and Paul attending school in Conway and Scalise in Vilonia, practicing proved difficult.

“After we graduated, we decided ‘let’s try to do this for real,’” Scalise said. 

Officially formed in 2009, Still Reign is a growing name in the Central Arkansas rock scene.

“In the last year, it’s really been accelerating,” Scalise said.

A call from an area promoter boosted the band from local venues to the nationwide contest.

Still Reign performed for an artist representative from Project Independent at The Village in Little Rock, and scored high enough to make the cut for the online contest.

From there, thanks to a strong fan base and links to the band’s songs, Still Reign vaulted into the top 20.

“I guess our fan base is bigger than we thought,” Scalise said. “We only need a thousand or so votes to win, and we could use the support.”

Still Reign describes their form of rock as “progressive metal.”

“We’re incorporating a lot of styles of music,” Scalise said. “In layman’s terms, it’s like Rush and Yes mixed with Metallica.”

Scalise said each member brings something different to the band, whether it’s a love of classical music or an appreciation of jazz.

No matter what happens in the contest, Still Reign has big aspirations for the future.

Scalise said the band will continue their live shows and possibly began recording their songs professionally. Several members are also interested in making the move to California and attending the Musicians Institute, a contemporary music college in Hollywood.

To kick off the new year, Still Reign will be performing at Hole in the Wall in Atkins on Jan. 8 and can be seen at SOS Fest at Soundstage in Conway Jan. 14-15.

Still Reign consists of Conway natives Crain, guitar, Paul, guitar, and Josh Ingram, keyboard, Jake Brown, vocals, and Andy Honor, bass, of Greenbrier and Scalise, drums, from Vilonia.

To learn more about Still Reign or hear their latest songs, visit their pages on MySpace, Facebook or ReverbNation.

For more information on Project Independent or to vote for Still Reign, visit www.projectindependent.com.

(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at stephanie.fischer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)