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Just a head of The Cat Empire’s new album release Rising With The Sun, we manage to catch up with Felix to chat about the album and upcoming UK tour.

You guys have been together since 2001, and have continued growing your international audience pretty independently,  with a sound which is impossible to pigeonhole- explain the bands dynamic and how after all these years you guys have continued to grow and stay so strong?

It's helped that we've had an audience that's grown, and continued to get younger over all these years.  When things have been tough within the band, we've been fortunate enough to walk out on stage to rooms full of beaming faces, often filled with people who'd travelled far to be there, that really changes the internal perspective.  We've also been able to go through periods of rediscovering form and coming up with new sounds, as has happened with 'Steal the Light' and now 'Rising with The Sun.'  Generally, when the music's exciting, we sure up and go another round, famous last words...  The fact we have a unique sound, not overly categorisable, has meant that the band's identity has been able to stay a bit illusive, known only by those people who enter into that live and travelling atmosphere that keeps it alive in an interesting way. 

Last year you made your first appearance playing at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall- tell us about that experience?

The Royal Albert Hall was an amazing experience, one of the most memorable of the 1100+ shows we've done around the world.  For starters it's in the round, so you're always looking up, out, behind, in front, it seems to keep the momentum of the show going.  Also, the history of the place, and the artists who've been there before is hard to ignore, t's just so exciting to walk out on that stage.  The place was completely packed and there was a special energy that night.  When Max Riebl, my younger brother - who's also responsible for the band's name - came out and sang 'Miserere,' the place stood still and then brought the house down.

‘Rising With Sun’ was recorded back in Melbourne- tell us a bit about the album and your sound inspirations for this album- plus where did the title name come from?

The album, as is our habit, is named after a song.  The song's slow and dubby, but really strong, and has a haunted, wild, end-of-summer feeling to it, indicative of the rest of the album.  We took a lot from cumbia and tropical disco records that Jumps played us, but there's also a real directness to the song writing that's going to make it stand tall at festivals I hope.  It was recorded at the same studio and with the same producer as 'Steal The Light,' (Jan Skubiszewski / Way of The Eagle) because we felt we stumbled back into form with that album, and in many ways this is almost a brother sister recording to that.

Is there a personal favourite song on the album and why that song?

Honestly, it depends what day you asked me.  If I'm emotional, it's 'Bataclan', if I'm calm it's 'Rising with The Sun,' if I feel like losing my head it's 'Bulls,' if I feel like walking at night with headphones on its 'Midnight'.  I think it's probably our most consistent album yet, in terms of its strength across the board.

If you were to describe a live show to someone who hasn’t been to one before- how would you describe it? 

At their best I think the live shows are euphoric, gritty, sweaty affairs.  They're filled with people who are so different it's totally surprising.  A lot of people have fallen in love at our concerts, they write to us and tell us all the time.  The other shows are probably a bit more confused than all that, but some people have returned so many times, it must be, at least for some, an exciting, somewhat addictive experience.  

Has your musical styles or influences changed quite a lot over the years would you say?

Yes and no.  I think we used to quote style a lot more within our songs, as if we were searching for a more integrated sound.  Then over many many shows and albums, that sound found us, and the grains of wood in the old instrument just aligned.  From a song writing perspective, I don't try to explain myself too much anymore, I stay clear of being too literal, and I’m more interested in the mystery and atmosphere of the lyrics.

You are very much a touring live band, who has travelled far and wide around the world, I believe you did your first shows in India this year, how did that experience go?

India was amazing.  We were only there for a very short time, so we only had a snap impression of Mumbai and Nashik, but even that left me with so many lingering images.  It's the sort of place where you can look somewhere and it's filled with a multitude of strange and contrasting information, it's as if time goes slower because there’s so much more to take in.  It's a truly colourful, chaotic, unexplainable place.  I can't wait to go back.  The audience were lively and keen enough to justify another adventure I hope.  

Is there a country you have yet to play, that you would love to?

I don't believe we've played in Iceland, I'd love to go there.

Aside from your own music, what other tips can you give our readers on new music they should be checking out?

Off the top of my head, Toumani and Sidiki Diabate, Major Lazer, Ngaiire, and Leonard Cohen, have all put out music I've enjoyed in the last while.  Some of them aren't so new though...

As you spend a lot of time travelling on the road, can you give us your top 3 “cannot live without” items you take with you?

Look, it's a pretty dull list if I take it literally, which for some reason I can't help doing.  Passport, Clothes, Instruments...  A stupid phone.  What else? Valium’s.

Lastly what does 2016 hold for The Cat Empire?

An Album release.  A mighty tour.  A lot of sweat and bright faces.  Another magical year of repetition and surprise.   

 


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The Cat Empire’s new album release
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