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The Cat Empire’s Harry Angus on the making of Rising with the Sun

Steal The Light was the first time we’ve been completely happy with how a record turned out so we just went straight back in and did another record in exactly the same way.

What musical style comes to mind when you hear the words ‘The Cat Empire‘? If you said reggae, jazz, ska, latin, gypsy, funk, hip-hop or any combination of the above, well, you’d be right.

For over a decade the unique fusion of The Cat Empire has captivated audiences around the world. The genre-defying combination of catchy hooks, head-bopping rhythms, quirky lyrics and high-energy shows has made the ARIA award-winning sextet an incomparable musical force.

The band has been touring steadily since the release of their 2013 album Steal The Light, dabbling in solo projects and recently celebrating their 1000th live show. With their sixth album Rising With The Sun released just yesterday, singer and trumpeter Harry Angus told Music Insight how the band’s writing and recording process has grown since their first record.

“What was really great this time is that I felt like the rhythm section were more involved,” Angus said.

“Rather than, say, me or Felix [Riebl] coming in with a bunch of chords and telling everyone to play this or that, the songs were built from the bottom up.

“Doing it that way really helped us get closer to our live energy which, for me, has always been a problem with our records.

“There’s this spontaneity and chaos in the live set and it was nice to recreate that in the studio.”

Unlike many artists who try to change their sound with each new album, The Cat Empire’s main goal for Rising With The Sun was to replicate the creative process of Steal The Light.

“Steal The Light was the first time we’ve been completely happy with how a record turned out so we just went straight back in and did another record in exactly the same way – the same producer, the same studio, the same kind of process,” Angus said.

“It’s a colourful, explosive, big, driven album.”

The band has already released two singles from the highly anticipated record, starting with the Caribbean-infused Wolves which made Triple J’s Hottest 100 at number 79.

“This makes it the eleventh year we’ve been in the Hottest 100,” Angus said.

“It’s pretty cool.”

The music video for their second single, the dream-inspired Bulls, was released last month (check it out below). Filmed at lead singer Felix Riebl’s family farm in central Victoria, the clip is a colourful canvas of festivities which could have taken a sinister turn if not for some skilful editing.

“With all the fires and costumes we had, it was starting to look a lot like a Ku Klux Klan kind of thing,” Angus said.

“We had to edit out massive amounts of footage of the dancers in hoods with flames behind them because it was too creepy.”

Although The Cat Empire has an extremely eclectic sound, Angus revealed he doesn’t listen to a lot of music.

“When a song comes on the radio and everyone starts singing along, I’ve never heard the song before in my entire life. People actually think I’m lying to get attention or to be that weird guy but I’ve honestly never heard the songs that everyone knows,” he said.

“I feel pretty out of the loop but maybe it’s also like my secret weapon that I never listen to any of that popular stuff ‘cause I can just do what I hear.”


With a huge chunk of this year devoted to the band’s Rising With The Sun tour throughout Australia and the UK, does the future hold anything monumental for the almighty Cat Empire?

“Hopefully a holiday,” Angus said.

“And then, really, doesn’t a band do the same thing over and over again? Album, tour, holiday?”

We hope so.

Hit up The Cat Empire’s website for Rising with the Sun tour dates tickets.

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