By Jordan Sibberas
Jordan: The new album In Contact has dropped, it’s a fantastic record, it sounds really cohesive, was there anything different about the recording process this time around?
Jim: Because we’ve refined our writing and recording process, I feel that it comes out much easier. We worked with an initial idea which rolled on and on, and it forms the direction that you want to go, and one idea will roll in that direction and you’ll get that chapter down, and develop that character a bit better. There were a few lightbulb moments during the writing where I came to understand the characters (of In Contact) better, and it would be easier then to take the next steps. It’s not quite black magic where you click and it all comes together but the process is much more natural now.
Jordan: Have you had a play around to see how the songs sound live?
Jim: We are well and truly into rehearsals for the upcoming Australian tour. It’s happening in the last week of September to the first week of October and there’ll definitely be new material played at these shows. So far it sounds huge and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to it for ages now.
Jordan: Me too! Especially Let the Colours Run, which will sound mind-blowing live
Jim: If Triple J played that song it’d be described as a banger.
Jordan: To diverge for a second, we are both students of The University of Queensland, and it seems like past interviews have asked about your study workload in a negative way, so instead I want to ask, does studying at UQ or in general help your creativity?
Jim: Definitely. It’s so inspiring to be on that campus at St. Lucia, it’s almost like Hogwarts. *laugs* I feel really good just being there. I’ve had to take time off to tour, study and be a father but I hope to return in the next few years. The learning process in general helps me because your mind is on fire and you’re ready to go and create, and being in a beautiful environment is just icing on the cake.
Jordan: The cover art for In Contact is also stunning, could you tell us a bit about how that came about?
Jim: There’s an artist called Conor Maguire based out of Northern Ireland who… *pauses* if you’re googling Conor definitely add the word artist to your search, there’s also an Irish pornstar with the same name! Conor is an incredible artist, I was struck by his style, and we sat down and put a brief about some of the concepts and lyrics, and the stuff he came up with was really exciting.
Jordan: without giving too much away about the story, are there particular elements in the art to pay attention to?
Jim: Most of the art is quite broad conceptually, and runs tangentially to the lyrics. Some of the ideas I as the author wouldn’t have thought up even. Once you’ve listened to the album, you could sit with the lyrics booklet and draw your own conclusions, but as for the plot I would encourage everyone to give the album a few spins and figure it out themselves.
Jordan: one track that really blew me away was Inertia and the Weapon of the Wall. Was the spoken piece planned or improvised?
Jim: We’d talked about it for a while. On an Australian tour a year or so ago I was performing a spken piece about the atrocities committed against refugees by the Australian government, but I’m really enjoying (performing spoken word pieces), and I was crafting a spoken piece that became Inertia, but I took a more fleshed out approach to learn about the character. Then, Sam (Valen, lead guitarist) and I took the poem as one big take, and underneath that Sam created these soundscapes to create imagery matching the text of the poem. I think it became something special.
Jordan: am I right in saying that the tracks in the latter half of the album are blurring the lines between personal passions and the less personal world of politics?
Jim: well, there are a lot of views that reflect in our music, there’s no dishonesty in our vision. I was actually doing an interview with a guy a week or two ago, and he put this into words I really enjoyed, saying that what people describe as political, isn’t necessarily political because politics is only one small part of society. A lot of what we’re discussing are actually social issues. For instance, with the current same sex marriage debate, a lot of people are asking why politics is being brought into it, but it’s only political because the person talking is making it about politics. It’s a social issue. What we’re writing about isn’t necessarily political, but about broader societal issues, and in my opinion the role of art is to put a mirror up to society and get people to look at themselves and question what we’re doing.
Jordan: agreed, and am I right in taking from In Contact some ideas here are deliberately placed in a contrast?
Jim: You know where the shadows are because you know where your light source is. For instance, if you have an album that is all screaming, you remove the power and validity of what a scream is, because it’s an incredibly powerful response, a call of fear or for help, and it becomes zero if that’s all that there. That applies to thematics as well. For instance, Firelight from Bloom is a happy sounding song, but it’s celebrating the fragility of life. With us, there’s never one without the other, we like to have that contrast to make both the light and the dark more powerful.
Jordan: with Opeth, who you toured with in February, you shared that contrast, and it gelled really well! Are you interested in changing things this time around now you’re headlining?
Jim: it’s all tied together for us. We’ve never wanted to have that stoic look-at-me-play-guitar attitude, we want to make it a conversation, so every show is different. If we have a very physical audience then I’m probably going to end up in that audience! We play to the room that we’re in and always try to have fun even though we take our art seriously.
Jordan: I’m sure you will get that response considering you’re headlining!
Jim: I’m sure we will! It’s always great being back home (in Brisbane), especially after a big trip to Europe
Jordan: How was Europe?
Jim: Immense! Plenty of coattails to hold onto! *laughs* Our favourite show was probably Be Prog My Friend! in Barcelona, it was an immense lineup and a beautiful venue.
Jordan: Is touring overseas vastly different to shows here?
Jim: It is a little. In Europe, people are much fonder of meeting the bands afterwards and getting photos, whereas here there’s far less of a culture. We also get fed really well in the Europe, which is really nice. For me though, there’s a great vibe to Australian shows, and maybe its parochialism but I really enjoy it.
Jordan: One last question; it’s easy to sit back and say you’ve made the big time, but considering the huge number of bands you’ve worked with over the last few years, do you think your band has grown?
Jim: yes. The scope of the band has increased, but there’s also huge room for growth, and we’re looking to tackle Europe again next year and see how that goes for us. For me, the most important thing for me is that we should be writing this music even if no one knew who we were. For us, honesty in our music is the most important thing. The next Opeth, or Devin Townsend, will be made by playing the long game, rather than trying to follow trends and compromising your own integrity and alienate the fans you’ve already made.
Jordan: Thanks for your time!
Caligula’s Horse, a band at the forefront of Australia’s progressive rock scene, begin their national tour THIS Thursday! Their latest album In Contact, was released on September 15 through Inside Out Music and debuted in the National ARIA Charts this week at #50!
This is the band’s first ever official ARIA chart entry and they achieved some amazing positions across other charts also,
#50 ARIA Album Chart Overall
#9 ARIA Australian Artists
#2 iTunes AUS Metal
#12 iTunes AUS Rock
#48 iTunes AUS Overall
#17 JB Hi-Fi Charts
In Contact has received some incredible reviews both locally and globally. Here are but a few:
‘WOW…Just, WOW! If there was some kind of perfect, beautiful and all-encompassing entity that would neatly and coherently depict Australian heavy music without being confronting than Caligula’s Horse is that entity’ Heavy Mag
‘In Contact is a finely tuned, inventive effort that bristles with crystal-sharp clarity.‘ Metal Hammer UK
‘a further example of the group’s growing creative power, deep, multi-layered and idiosyncratically cerebral.‘ Rolling Stone Australia
‘Those who may have despaired that progressive metal had succumbed to regression will find solace in this, the band’s finest album to date.’ Prog Mag UK
‘In short, In Contact is a masterpiece. This album sets new standards, both for themselves and for progressive heavy music in general. In Contact is a work of unimaginable beauty.‘ The Music
‘Caligula’s Horse are definitely making fresh music and carrying the torch for progressive music into the future.’ Metal Wani
‘an astounding effort, making it one of the year’s best progressive metal records thus far.’ Metal Injection
The In Contact tour begins on Thursday in Perth. Melbourne progressive instrumental project, I Built The Sky will join Caligula’s Horse as special guests on all shows
plus there is a hand picked, stellar line up of local openers for each city!
Thursday, September 28: Jack Rabbit Slim’s, Perth
Friday, September 29: Fowler’s Live, Adelaide
Saturday, September 30: Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Wednesday, October 4: The Basement, Canberra
Thursday, October 5: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday, October 6: The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Saturday, October 7: The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets on sale NOW via wildthingpresents.com, Oztix & the venues.
Following their recent Australian tours with Opeth and sleepmakeswaves, these will be Caligula’s Horse’s only Australian headline shows for 2017.
Move fast and secure your tickets now or you’ll be sure to miss one of the most potent progressive music shows of the year!
Watch the video for Will’s Song (Let The Colours Run) here
Watch the video for Songs for No One here
Watch The Tour Video
In Contact is out now on CD, 2LP + CD