What’s new, pussy cat?

The Cat Empire recharges its batteries

Genre-spanning band returns with a new album after some time off

A quintessential live band, Australia's the Cat Empire built a career on being the band that could keep the audience dancing well into the night, and being able to do that night after night, seemingly indefinitely. But after almost a decade of relentless touring around the world, the genre-straddling band found itself worn out, unable to continue with the pace it had set for itself, desperate for a break.

"We toured so much in the past and there was just a point in time when some of us in the band had just had enough, I guess, of touring, because it was just sort of ruling their lives a bit too much," explains Jamshid "Jumps" Khadiwhala, the Cat Empire's turntablist. "Sometimes you lose direction in your personal life and in your own space."

A well-deserved rest without any plan of what to do afterwards proved to the band's members that they were still excited about the band, still interested in seeing what new directions it could go in. To that end, the Cat Empire came together in the studio to record its newest album, Cinema, without any preconceived notions of what it would be. What the band ended up with was an album written quite a bit differently than previous efforts: instead of the songs being brought to the band by vocalists Harry Angus or Felix Riebl, the group worked collaboratively. The band also had an album with a significantly darker tone, one that reflected a new maturity and a deeper emotional heft.

"I'm not sure if it's the willingness to open up—maybe you just are a bit more emotional or a bit more in touch with your emotions as you get older," Khadiwhala explains of the new subject matter. "I'm 29 and Felix and I are the oldest in the band, but we've been together for just over nine years so it's a much more mature step for us. We just wanted to write really good songs and enjoy playing them rather than being some amazing party band that picks and chooses its genres from all over the world and plays them in a certain way. I think we're quite over that kind of vibe that we had in the old days."
And while the band may not be embracing the exact same vibe it once did, the Cat Empire is back on the road, keeping the party going until the wee hours again—something that wouldn't have been possible without taking some time off.

"That brought a different spirit and a new energy to the band," Khadiwhala concludes about the band's break. "That's when we thought we should make a new record because we were in a new headspace, confident we could still do something well." V

Thu, Jul 22 (8 pm)
The Cat Empire
Starlite Room, $30.75

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