The Cat Empire

The Details

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Where hip-hop meets reggae, where jazz is played with dirty hands, where a Cuban line meets an Aussie rule, where nothing seems in place but sounds like many places played in one earthy chord. This is the island where THE CAT EMPIRE was born.


This is a home-grown success story, which shows that a combination of hard work, great songs, a good vibe, a genuine vision, and a little bit of luck go a long way. The first Australian tours were undertaken in a convoy of cars handed down from parents, or borrowed from friends, sleeping on the floors of friends of friends, and putting up their own posters at each stop. Word quickly spread about this young band that could deliver a party like no other. Soon they were undertaking national tours, and financing their first album, all under their own steam. “We all borrowed some money from a parent or friend, to pay for the first album. We promised we would pay them back within 9 months – we paid it all back within 3!”. By the time they signed their first record deal (with EMI, who they are now into their 3rd deal with) they were packing out 1500 seat venues in each Australian major city, and had a solid fan base all over the country.

It wasnt long until the rest of the world heard about the Empire. The band members credit their Australian fans and international backpackers in Australia for marketing them overseas. “Everywhere we went overseas, people would come up to us and say a friend in Australia sent the album to them, or one of their mates who traevlled through Australia brought it back and we all burned it.” In fact, The Cat Empire suspect illegal piracy of their album in countries where it was not available overseas ended up being their greatest marketing machine. “We would arrive in cities like Berlin and Barcelona for the first time, and everyone in the audience would already know the words to every song. I guess the money we lost in cd sales through those territories, we have made up in ticket sales many times over, so although we dont endorse it, we certainly cant begrudge the file sharing.”

The band has now sold over three quarters of a million albums and dvds in all corners of the world. They have headlined global festivals, won ARIAs, and played on Letterman and Leno, contributed where they can to a range of causes such as the environment and more recently the Asylum Seekers plight in Australia. When asked what their biggest achievement is in 10 years as a band, there is a unanimous “staying together”. While other 20 somethings were going to uni, working odd jobs, hanging out with friends in share houses, Ryan, Will, Ollie, Harry, Jumps, Felix and the Empire Horns – Ross and Kieran, spent their twenties trawling across continents in tour buses, playing to audiences night after night, honing their stagecraft, quietly building their Empire, and making you-tube videos to pass the time. This experience has brought them together as a band, and defined them as individuals.

The band will also tour Europe and North America in 2012 which brings them to the Bridge Lounge in Courtenay. Joining them on their North American tour is Tinpan Orange.

Congratulations to THE CAT EMPIRE; celebrating 10 years, 800+ shows, over 100 songs, 5 albums and a massive international following as a result of hard work and great musicianship.