Formed in Melbourne, Australia and adored the world over, The Cat Empire is a musical success story that continues to be written. After the release of their most recent album Stolen Diamonds (Feb 2019), the stratospheric trajectory the sextet has ridden since their formation continues unabated, sustaining a career that by its very nature defines the definition of independence. Beginning as a self-funded cottage industry, the band has built their empire on a foundation of hard work, savvy business acumen and innate talent that makes everyday people love, laugh and dance.
One of Australia’s most successful musical exports, The Cat Empire garner frenzied devotion in all corners of the globe while regularly generating more international business than any of their local peers. The six, bound together by a love of music since their teens have gone quite deliberately about their business. That business is crafting infectious, genre-embracing anthems, releasing them on chart-topping, multi-platinum selling, and playing hundreds of world-class, awe-inspiring shows a year, while sustaining and growing an army of ardent fans at home, and in even larger numbers, overseas.
It seems The Cat Empire brand of feel-good, high-energy, smile-inducing, euphoric roots pop has a global address when it comes to the winning of hearts. It’s not unusual to find the band mobbed by fans and media at airports in Spain, selling out the world’s most famous arenas, appearing live on iconic TV shows hosted by the likes of Letterman, Leno, and Ferguson. While riding high at the business end of international album charts they dominate global airwaves and main stage bills at all of the iconic international music festivals you wished you could go to, Glastonbury and Bonnaroo included.
When asked about the overseas reception offered the band, The Cat Empire co-lead vocalist and songwriter Felix Riebl explains, “at some level I think that The Cat Empire appealed to our Australian audience because the sound was influenced by so many different places. But when we went abroad our international audiences heard something distinctly Australian about us. It meant our music could travel in a really interesting way. What’s amazing for us, is for all of the love we get from our home crowds, and there’s been plenty, support for the band overseas has continued to grow. It’s exciting.”
From the very get-go, and off the back of a hugely successful, double-platinum debut album, The Cat Empire’s sights were set on international climes. An early invitation to play in the U.S. coming out of one of their very first Australian shows whetted the appetite for the sextet and put in motion a plan to devote as much energy to international touring as they did at home on the road. The results elevated The Cat Empire’s status, and demand as an international commodity as reflected in the achievements that the band was rapidly stacking up. Culminating in the opportunity to record their second album Two Shoes in Havana, Cuba.
As Rob Zifarelli from Paradigm Talent Agency, the band’s agent for North America observes, “The Cat Empire is one of the best live experiences ever and because of that their fan base only grows, never diminishes. From New York to Montreal to San Francisco to Vancouver and beyond. It is pure JOY on stage, and the audience feels a part of that. These guys seem to showcase what it means to be Australian. They are vibrant, talented, self-deprecating, original, and world-class.”
Early forays into the European market fruitful with the high rotation airplay secured on the prestigious BBC Radio 1 for the single ‘Two Shoes’. Further exploration by the band into the US, and then into Canada saw the band completely sell out their 2005 tour, in the process setting themselves up for key festival dates the following year. The band featured on Bonnaroo (USA), Toronto & Montreal Jazz Festivals (Canada) Nuke, Quart, Edinburgh Festivals (Europe) and Summersonic (Japan), plus their own headline shows across the world. The following year while at the same time being profiled in Rolling Stone in Australia, the band appeared on the front cover of U.S. music trade publication Pollstar, further cementing their recognition stateside as major international players.
Festival appearances followed including Summer Stage New York Central Park, Quebec City Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park and Wireless festival which lead to an incredible string of late-night TV performances including Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, and a coveted Letterman performance. Sold out performances continued to punctuate the band’s touring schedule and included a house full sign affixed to the front doors of The Brixton Academy in London.
The band’s album releases continued to have significant chart impact across the globe, with their 5th, Steal The Light, the first to be released on the band’s own independent global label Two Shoes Records after a decade on a major label, achieving top 20 chart debut in 5 countries including Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and of course in Australia. The album triggered more touring including the band’s first shows in Rio, Sao Paulo, and South Africa. Festival credits stacked up in North America with headline spots at Montreal Jazz, Calgary Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Ottawa Blues Festival, and Vancouver Jazz Festival.
After even more international travel, and other prestigious full houses at every stop, including this time at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the band released their 2016 album Rising With The Sun. The album debuted number 1 on the Australian ARIA charts, Top 10 in 6 countries including; Romania, Hungary, Sweden, Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Top 20 debuts in 16 countries including; Malaysia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, United Kingdom, Portugal, and Spain. The debuted at #9 on the Worldwide I-tunes charts.
Released via a new single a month across 2018 and 2109, the band’s most recent album Stolen Diamonds has proven to be a masterstroke in strategy, galvanizing the band’s incredibly loyal fan base, generating close to 6.5million plays and hundreds of thousands of YouTube views before its official release. With radio additions in Europe, Spain, U.S.A, and Canada, the record at home was awarded Album of The Week on Double J. Debuting at #1 on the Australian Independent Record Labels Association charts, at #4 on the ARIA album charts (their 6th top 10 album) and number #3 on the global album iTunes charts, Stolen Diamonds received rave reviews from fans and critics alike with the UK’s Daily Express calling out its “an energetic and thrilling sound.”
As ever, touring continues to be the band’s raison d’être and the many miles traveled over the lead-up and after the release of Stolen Diamonds with multiple tours to North America, Europe, and laps around Australia are a testament to their impressive live work ethic. Through their own experience and years of travel, The Cat Empire understand the importance of international travel and its ability to sustain a career. It was with that thought in mind that the band collaborated with the Australia Council for the Arts to support a potentially career-changing grant allowing an Australian musician or group performing original contemporary music to tour internationally. The simple act of giving back (in this case to recipient Jesse Llloyd) highlighting the holistic approach the band continues to pursue as being one of the keys to their longevity and success.