“Music is the language of us all,” The Cat Empire declares on their single How To Explain, which pretty much lays out everything you need to know.
Inclusion will be the name of the game for the eclectic world-beat rockers as they leave behind a sunny summer in their native Melbourne, Australia, home for Canada’s colder and more dismal climes, the first time they’ve done so in two years. Lucky us: The Cat Empire gained a heavy rep over a decade of playing more than 750 shows for throwing everything short of the kitchen sink at loyal audiences, having as many as 30 people — a collection that has included trumpet players screaming on the high C, bagpipers and even sword-swallowers — joining the six-piece outfit onstage for a show that fuses rock, Latin jazz, ska, folk and funk among other styles (Check their CD and DVD Live On Earth, the precursor to a new release coming in early 2010, to find out what you’re in for).
“We came out of a heatwave in Melbourne,” says vocalist and percussionist (and anything-he-can-get-his-hands-on-ist, for that matter) Felix Riebl. “So I suppose the reason is because we love Canadians. They’re like Australians, the crowds are great. We’ve got this live album we’re trying to tour and we all thought it was high time to come back.”
With all the ensuing chaos, fun though it may be, one wonders how the hell a show like this doesn’t devolve into a total quagmire. But you never get bored exploring new musical styles, says Riebl, who, like his bandmates, doesn’t believe that too many cooks will spoil the improvisational broth.
“The nature of this band is to rob the best parts of music around the world and use them,” he laughs. “I’m not sure how we do it, really. It all tends to sort itself out once we’re up there. A friend of mine from Sydney who was singing with us, she said playing in our band was like being on a pending train wreck that always seems like it’s going to head off the cliff but never quite does. You just hang on. It’s like that one scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, you know?”