The Cat Empire: Back In The Groove

The Cat Empire
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Life for The Cat Empire hasn’t always been easy; but with an upcoming national tour, the house-party band from Melbourne are ready to return to the spotlight.

Core member Harry Angus reflects about the group’s back catalogue. “Our last few albums, we quite liked them but they didn’t go down to well with all of our fans, and we kind of got used to this thing where you'd play a new single [live] or whatever and the vibe would kind of bottom out in the room and you'd have to play one of the old songs to get everyone jumping again.

“This last record ['Steal The Light'] has been almost the opposite where we play a song off it and the vibe goes up, so I don’t know why but this record has been a real success in terms of how it works in our live shows and how people respond to it.”

When they started way back in 1999, The Cat Empire were known as the ultimate house band, the kind of group that brought the party every time they played live. It’s an aspect of the band that Harry still wants to foster. “We do make records and have singles and all that stuff, but I think that unless you see us live you don't have the full picture of what we actually do.

“The spontaneity and the improvised side of things to me is what’s special about our band and when people say that we’ve got a good live show, that's what they're talking about. They're not saying we played all the hits and we sang them really in tune, the drummer didn't skip a beat — it's not like that.

"The reason we've got a good live show is because when we start a song often we have as little idea as anyone of how it's going to end. It's that mentality of the group having different energy that can go different places is very much a part of what we do."

Keeping a band moving forward and fresh for more than 15 years is no walk in the park. “Look sometimes it falls apart. I mean that's the other thing about trying to be spontaneous, going out on a limb and pushing the plan, I guess is that sometimes it falls in a heap, but you know I actually think that's fine. People appreciate that as much as they appreciate an amazing transcendental moment of music.

“People aren't dumb, they're like ‘ah, they went for it, they fucked it up but it was really interesting watching them fuck it up’. I think people appreciate us trying. It's hard work. It's really easy saying ‘here's the plan. Here's the order of the song, this is exactly how it's going to go.’

"You can be up on the stage and rocking out and in the back of your mind you can be thinking about what you're going to cook for breakfast the next morning. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you do find yourself in autopilot, especially when you're halfway through a song you've played a dozen times.

“It's so much better to work that little bit harder and enjoy yourself. What I love is letting music unfold in a live performance. That means you have to be relaxed enough that it's got space to go wherever it needs to go.”

Click here for the full run of live dates The Cat Empire have that commences on the 26th September.

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