The Cat Empire is disbanding... in its current form
The Australian rock band will become a duo fronted by Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill, working with "a global collective" of new musicians.
The Cat Empire has been a staple of the Australian music scene for around 20 years now. The band's current lineup has remained constant since its first release, a pretty remarkable effort considering how many bands go through major lineup changes every few years! However, it's been announced that The Cat Empire will look very different after 2021. The band has officially announced that it'll cease to exist in its current form and be re-formed as a duo consisting of Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill. This will include the already announced departure of bassist Ryan Munro, as well as the band's long-term manager Correne Wilkie. Riebl and McGill are planning to work with "a global collective" of new musicians on their future music, some of which is due to be released as early as next year!
"After 20 incredible years of touring and making music together, we have made the decision to disband, and to make way for a new incarnation of The Cat Empire to come to life fronted by Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill," read the band's official statement. "Will Hull-Brown (Drums), Ryan Monro (Bass-departed the band March 2021), Harry Angus (Vox/Trumpet), Jamshid (Dj Jumps) Khadiwala (Decks/Percussion), and our career-long Manager Correne Wilkie will all be celebrating final moments with The Cat Empire in December 2021. At this juncture, Felix (Front-man/Percussion) and Ollie (Keys) will take the band forward into its next global chapter as a re-imagined, vibrant, cross-cultural, and joyful collective of musicians and artists."
"The Cat Empire began as a musical jazz project in Melbourne, Australia in 2001, and took on a life of its own, so much bigger than any of us could have even dreamed or imagined. As we look back on the past two decades, we are so proud of what we achieved; from the (almost 1500) live shows and festivals we have played around the world, to the seven studio albums which resulted in global chart success, as well as our cherished independence, and more importantly the interpersonal experiences we amassed and grew from. We directed our own musical adventure and created our own opportunities along the way."
"We’ve played Letterman and Leno, Bonnaroo and SummerStage NYC, opened the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, performed at Bluesfest 15 times, Falls Festival 11, Woodford Folk 10, Winnipeg Folk Festival 8 times, and Blues Balls (Switzerland) and Adelaide Fringe 7 times each. More than half of our live audience lives in Europe. We hold the record for the most shows played in a row at Edinburgh Festival (16), and in 2019 we played Glastonbury twice!"
"We cherish our global audience who took us into their hearts, homes, venues and festivals, returning over and over to sing and dance with us. As we toured the world, our fanbase grew and so did we. The enthusiasm of our audience has sustained us through tough times and has kept us making and delivering music for all these years. We’ve met babies named after us, heard heart-warming and heart-wrenching stories about what our music has meant to people, and we’ve seen hundreds of tattoos of our logo on various body parts! We are forever indebted to every one of the lovely faces in the crowd at each of our shows, for the joy you showered back at us over two decades."
"On Thursday December 16 we will celebrate the past 20 years of The Cat Empire in a unique final VIC performance with the original band line-up at The Sidney Myer Music Bowl in our hometown of Melbourne. This all-ages event featuring songs and special guests from our entire career will be broadcast to the world as an epic virtual concert for fans everywhere to enjoy. Queenslanders will have the chance to see the original line-up one last time at Sandstone Point Hotel on Sunday December 5 (18+), and Western Australian audiences will be treated to the show on Saturday December 11 at Red Hill Auditorium."
"Tickets for the WA, QLD and VIC shows, as well as tickets to attend the final virtual concert will go on sale at 10am on Tuesday September 21. (If Covid restrictions prevent any of these shows going ahead, shows will be re-scheduled and/or refunds offered)."
As part of the transition into the new era, The Cat Empire will also be making a whole host of new recordings available as well as returning a fan favourite album to streaming services. "To mark this milestone moment of change in The Cat Empire’s career, The Adelphia Sessions – a hybrid of select tracks from The Sun (2002) and Live @ Adelphia (2001) will be released from the archives in October," the statement continued. "Due to huge demand for its return, the album Cities (2006) will be made available to stream through your favourite digital platform in November. We will also share two more brand new songs in October following on from the July release of Going To Live and Great Beauty and August release of The Scream and Coming To Meet You."
"In the meantime, deepest thanks for sharing this journey with us, for your devotion, for playing our music, sharing it with your friends and family, carrying it around the world in your backpacks, allowing it to be the soundtrack to your big life moments, for attending our shows, and for making it all so worthwhile and enriching."
"We have so much to celebrate. We leave each other and our extended network of incredible music industry professionals with full hearts, healthy relationships, and a deep respect for each other and the musical journey we have shared together, and with the world. We firmly believe The Cat Empire has an enduring mission to continue to bring great music, exemplary musicianship, and joyful moments to the world. The spirit of the band will flow through to the next chapter as Felix and Ollie and many guest musicians grow The Cat Empire into a global collective with new and exciting music set for release in 2022."
Vocalist and trumpeter Harry Angus has issued his own statement on leaving the band. "It’s been a wonderful 20 years of making music with masterful musicians – connecting with audiences around the world – travelling to far-flung places – and being a part of the wild, chaotic energy that can arise, from time to time, at a concert of The Cat Empire. I’m not sure exactly where this chaotic energy came from – it always felt like more than the sum of its parts – but it came from the musicians, and the audience, and a whole lot of work behind the scenes, and from a spirit of improvisation and exploration."
"I’m sad to leave the band, but I’ve always wished that I could experience what it’s like to be in the audience at one of our shows. Now I can finally fulfil that wish, and I’m excited to see what Felix and Ollie do next. To all the musicians, management staff, crew, and to all the people we have worked with – thank you so much for all the work you put in so that I could live the life I’ve lived for the past 20 years."
"Felix, Ollie, Jumps, Will, Ryan, Ross and Kieran – it’s been a pleasure making music with you. Correne – it just couldn’t have happened without you. To all the audiences I have played to – thank you for making me feel so welcome, and for coming along on the improvised journeys – I know sometimes it got weird – sometimes it probably went way too long – sometimes it got wild – it was a special thing to stand up in front of all of you and have no idea what was going to happen next."
"Lots of love to the world. I feel like I just wrote a note to be read at my funeral – but don’t worry – I’m not dead yet – and life is calling for new adventures."