Caligula’s Horse have been a busy band in the last 12 months, signing to a new record label, releasing a new album, venturing off to Europe and now are set to embark on a national run as well as headline this weekend’s Gladstone ‘El Grande’ Festival. Vocalist, Jim Grey from the band took a few moments out to answer some questions about the band’s last 12 months and what to expect on the ‘Turntail’ tour.
Great to have the band touring around Australia once more, kicking off next weekend at El Grande Festival in Brisbane before a few weeks off and then straight into a national run! What a great location, Gladstone and an awesome line up. A great warm up for the ‘Turntail’ tour, are you guys looking forward to this show?
Can’t wait! It’ll be our first time playing in Gladstone, I know we have great fans there who’ve been waiting for some time to catch the live C-Horse show. Really looking forward to it, bringing some older songs back into the setlist too.
Of course, you hit Europe at the end of last year, playing a stack of shows. Any places that were ‘firsts’ for the band and how did you find the reception in some of these places?
It was an ocean of firsts. First time in Europe, first time playing a tour of anything longer than Aussie length. Also first time in close proximity with acts of violent extremism. The reception Europe-wide was fantastic, we met a heap of fans (both old and new), especially in Germany and Poland. But we absolutely left our hearts in Paris, the fearless people we met were a genuine inspiration.
Some band’s party, some bands become tourists, some find a lot of solitude and time to start writing songs again when touring away from home soil, what was your course?
I think people don’t quite realise just how busy touring life is – sure, we explored each city as much as we could in the morning hours, sacrificing sleep to see the incredible places we were visiting. But outside of that, it was all road hours, broken showers, load-in, sound-check, show, load-out, early night, do it all again. Probably the least creative I’ve felt in a very long time. Now that we’re home though, we’re getting the writing bug again and can’t wait to start smashing out some new tunes.
Just five years into Caligula’s Horse, from the outside, there is a clear upwards direction for your band. New album, ‘Bloom’ is simply a killer progressive album. Emotive, plenty of light and shade and then some powerful riffs when the need arises. You must be over the moon with the end result?
Thanks man! I think for us, Bloom achieved exactly what we were aiming for. We had a specific vision in mind for an album that was full of colour and positivity, and I think that’s what people have related to the most when they listen to Bloom.
Last year was a big year for Caligula’s Horse. New album, the Europe tour as you’ve discussed and of course that was on the back of supporting the UK’s Tesseract around the country? How was that experience with the two bands?
That was a great tour, one of the best Aussie tours we’ve been a part of. I think there’s a lot of stylistic crossover for the fans, so we played to a huge number of really open-minded people, everyone had a great time. Plus, the lads in Tesseract are some of the most genuine and down-to-earth guys you could ask for, absolute legends to tour with!
A fair proportion of your songs require some longevity. The build-up, it’s almost as if you’re telling a story with your instruments, a headlining set, longer set times, your fans cannot wait to hear some of your songs from Bloom, in particular live on stage. ‘Dragonfly’, ‘Daughter of the Mountain’ will surely make the cut?
We’ll just have to wait and see, haha – but I will say that we’ve got a much longer setlist this time around, so there’s room to throw in some longer songs, as well as some of the older tunes that haven’t seen the light of day for a while!
Speaking of ‘Bloom’…it’s such an uplifting, almost spiritual album. There is a definite light and shade there amongst the lyrics and music and not as much darkness/despair as opposed, to older songs such as ‘Old Cracks in New Earth’ for instance from your previous album, ‘The Tide, The Thief & River’s End’. Would it be correct in saying it’s a positive, uplifting album as opposed to ‘some’ earlier Caligula’s Horse tracks?
That’s exactly it – just like I mentioned before, we wanted that colour, that positive sound, and that was a deliberate decision to make Bloom distinctly different from the darkness of River’s End. It was a really natural direction to take for us, more of a reflection of who we are as people, and something we’d like to carry with us in our music into the future.
Joining you on this tour will be Perth’s Chaos Divine, a band, quite similar to yourselves, progressive, powerful on stage, I can only guess that you must of known these guys for a while now. It will be a prog rock lover’s dream having these two bands playing on the same stage.
We’ve been familiar with Chaos Divine for a very long time, but we hadn’t been able to share a stage with them on tour until the recent tour with Tesseract. Fantastic live band and a great bunch of guys – going to be an exciting tour for sure!
Of course, you signed to Inside Out Music last year, congrats! There is still nothing like signing to a record label for a band, I mean just look at Ne Obliviscaris having to turn again to fund raising activities and Patreon to earn a basic wage. I don’t expect Caligula’s Horse to be making massive coin at present but it still must help down the line to be able to record music and distribute it on a decent scale having been signed to a label?
Cheers! Being involved with Inside Out is a huge plus for us, they’re a label with a great reputation worldwide, so its a great platform for us to reach fans everywhere. Not to mention we have total artistic freedom, which is the most important thing for us.
Make no mistake, the industry is a mess, and it has become a practical impossibility for bands to sustain themselves, so everyone with their head screwed on right (including us) are looking for ways to adapt their own approach to develop some kind of sustainability. That doesn’t mean plans to get filthy rich and live the high life – it means being able to maintain our livelihoods while making sure our fans get the music they love, that they need.
Lastly, your ‘other’ band if which you spent near on a decade with, Arcane, called it a day or at least a long hiatus in December, a sad day. Was it time to move on and develop things further with Caligula’s Horse? It must have been a hard decision, either way.
It was a really tough decision and very hard time walking away from Arcane. But C-Horse is my main focus, as well as my family, my own life, and my mental health. Had to make a very hard decision, but sadly, it had to be done.
……and I can’t leave without asking you about COG. Their back! What’s the chances of a COG/Caligula’s Horse show down the line, now that would be special?!
COG’s return has just shown how much they’ve been missed. It’d be a great match-up!