It was just another one of Halocene's regular twice-a-week live streams, and the local band were playing live while speaking with their fans in the chatroom on Twitch.
The band have been cutting their teeth with rock music since 2008. They’ve been on the road in a beat-up van, released four albums, and opened for big names like Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy.
A follower with the screen name "epic nova" posted a clip of The Masked Singer Australia. The clip featured singer Kate Ceberano in a lion costume, singing a cover of Billie Eilish’s "Bad Guy." The Twitch user alleged that the cover is Halocene’s.
The band didn’t think much of the comment at first and continued with the live stream. Then the Twitch user sent a video clip from the performance.
“The very beginning of it starts out mostly the same as the original,” says band member Addie Nicole. “And then as soon as the drums come in, my jaw just dropped to the floor. I was stunned that anyone would copy it that directly.”
Bradley Amick and Nicole didn't want to pursue legal action, but their fans and community urged them to speak with lawyers about a lawsuit.
“This is new territory for us,” Amick says. “Our community and fans encouraged us to stand up and fight for ourselves.”
Nicole said they were intimidated in the beginning because Warner Bros. Australia, the company that produces The Masked Singer Australia, is so big. They're just an unsigned band.
“It’s really kind of terrifying,” she said. “But the response has been really overwhelming.”
The band made their cover of Billie Eilish’s "Bad Guy" back in April, several months before the episode aired. The cover has the band's rock style with Amick on guitar and Joe Polizzi on drums.
Nicole sang Eilish’s lyrics in a higher octave. The cover video has over 400,000 views at the time of publication.
"Our cover is kind of like a mash-up. We took a song that didn't make the cut of our album," says Amick. "We used Billie Eilish's vocals on our music, and so it's our original music for those parts that the show took. That's where there's kind of a gray area."
When Halocene record a cover, they put their own rock twist over the original lyrics. Amick said they don't take the exact instrumental melody from the original song to make it a straight adaptation.
"When we adapted it to become a cover, we did add in more elements from 'Bad Guy' that were not in the original song. So it is more of a hybrid," Nicole said.
On Tuesday, Nicole and Amick released a video on the band’s YouTube channel comparing their song against the one performed on The Masked Singer Australia.
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"It's virtually a carbon copy," Amick said in the YouTube video. "Someone is taking credit over there for work that we did."
After becoming aware that the show allegedly stole their cover, Amick and Nicole weren’t sure what they could do, so they created a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal fees to consider their options. Amick and Nicole have begun to get quotes from international lawyers about the course of action they should take.
“The lawyers we’ve talked to have said we should pursue (a case),” Nicole said. “We haven’t been able to actually sit down with a lawyer and pay them for information, but it’s looking good.”
Update: New Times has reached out to Warner Bros. Australia for comment. We will continue to update this story as it develops.