The Cat Empire on their most innovative album yet

Twenty years and seven studio albums in, innovation still sweeps the studio when The Cat Empire take to it, the return an absolute gem in their eighth offering, Stolen Diamonds

It’s an interesting concept the rock fusion outfit have put together – they trickled out eight tracks of the album one by one over the course of 2018, then released 360 videos for those songs and created a truly immersive experience for their fans; so how much more is there to reveal once the album drops this month? 

“An album gives you a whole atmosphere,” says band founder and co-frontman, Felix Riebl. “When you release singles you get bursts of a feeling, different in a way, but with an album, they all come together. 

“Maybe I’m old-school in that way, but I’m still very attached to the album. You can put it on on your roadtrip, when you’re cooking dinner, whatever. You can take an entire journey and for me, that’s what an album is.”

The Cat Empire are one of many bands who are retaining the traditional format of releasing an album, while embracing streaming culture and the fact that people are fast becoming their own radio stations

Stolen Diamonds being released as a complete body invokes the journey and experiences The Cat Empire have embarked on in its creation, and promise an experience for the listener to have in one eclectic and exciting hit. 

“So much of The Cat Empire experience has been attached to this album,” says Riebl. “I mean, going back to the early days, when I remember arriving in the city, or for instance, the first time we arrived in Montreal. The music hall was packed to the rafters with people and after the show, we wondered why they knew all the words. We were in disbelief.

“I think that feeling you get from an album brings a sense of occasion to it. Yeah we have streaming, it’s more for playlists and singles in one way, but you could say the band has created an atmosphere [with an album] and it does translate into streaming well.”

The Cat Empire have so many different influences that Riebl continues to say they need the album format to almost reconcile their sound. Speaking so warmly of his fans over the years and their reception to each of the albums they’ve inserted into their catalogue, The Cat Empire will be going to the doorsteps of a select number of fans on release day, to issue to them a personal copy of Stolen Diamonds – it’s just their little way of giving back, Riebl says. 

“I guess we’ve been through a big wave of the music industry and they’ve [the fans] seen a lot of it … It’s good to celebrate with the fans what we’ve achieved and it’s good to remember we have made a real career out of working really hard on albums and trying to develop an atmosphere around them.

“A lot of people assume what we do, but there are months of making music and you put a lot of energy and life’s blood into that and when you get onto a stage, you sweat with an audience. The atmosphere of performing live exhausts you enough that you’re wrecked enough to write more songs. They feed each other.

“That collection of songs we have on our albums are based on a time and place, and interaction with people. They both inform each other, the live and the studio – it’s always a journey.”

Mere days before the release of Stolen Diamonds, The Cat Empire will perform at the St Kilda Festival, performing some of these songs for the first time on the live stage, feeding once again into the reciprocal machine of band and fan. Riebl is by all accounts, very excited for their appearance. “We’re really going to celebrate this album.”

The Cat Empire play St Kilda Festival on Sunday February 10. Head to the festival website for information on the program.