The Cat Empire
Combining a number of styles, including funk, jazz, and ska, Melbourne, Australia's Cat Empire formed in 1999 as a trio. Due in part to high-energy performances and constant touring, the band regularly reached the Top Five of their native country's ARIA chart. Keyboardist Oliver McGill, double bassist Ryan Monro, and percussionist Felix Riebl, the founding members, were eventually joined by trumpet player Harry James Angus, drummer Will Hull-Brown, and DJ Jamshid Khadiwala. A single and a live EP preceded the band's first album, The Cat Empire (2003), which eventually went triple platinum in Australia. At that point, they had already played the Melbourne Festival, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and WOMAD. Two Shoes (2005), their second album, was recorded in Havana, Cuba, and topped the ARIA chart. Cities followed a year later and made another impressive commercial showing, but it was So Many Nights (2007) that crystallized their frenetic, fun-loving sound.
Meanwhile, the band became a major festival and club attraction. Live on Earth (2009) anthologized some of their on-stage highlights. They continued to develop new material; Cinema (2010) was as widely acclaimed as So Many Nights and featured increased levels of restraint and maturity. In 2011, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their first gig, the band returned to the small Australian venues that hosted their earliest gigs. By the end of the year, they had also completed an extensive tour of Europe and North America. Steal the Light (2013) ended their longest between-albums gap to that point, yet it instantly became their fourth Top Five album. It was trumped by Rising with the Sun (2016), which became the band's second Australian number one album upon release and incorporated photos of over 3,500 global fans in its artwork. Throughout the course of their career, the band's members were involved in numerous outside recording and performing projects, including Jackson Jackson (hip-hop) and The Conglomerate (a jazz quartet). ~ Andy Kellman & James Wilkinson