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The Hands Shape Stone tour is a follow up to Caligula's Horse's hugely successful Turntail Australian Tour in April, of which several shows sold out.
Caligula's Horse are currently deep in writing mode, and they plan to escape from the studio to exclusively unleash some new material live on this tour.
Australia is currently leading the way worldwide in progressive music, with a multitude of talented bands on the rise, and Caligula's Horse are bringing exciting new acts on the tour including Osaka Punch, Dyssidia; and Kodiak.
We spoke to vocalist Jim Grey about the new album, the upcoming tour and what inspiration he uses to write his lyrics.
Marc Stapelberg: Are you excited for progfest?
Jim Grey: Progfest has been around for a good 10 years and it has had a hiatus over the last couple years and it has always been a great time for many reason, one it is a day of celebration of music that is a little left of centre and you might not hear on the radio, and two because it is now all in the one venue at the Corner and it will be even better.
MS: What will the setlist look like?
JG: We have put together a mix of old and new and especially very new because we have been working on the new material and it is sounding immense so we can't wait to unleash it at progfest. Since we are not releasing anything new just yet we thought we would put a set together that sort of represents the entire journey that the band has taken so you will hear stuff off every album that was released. We are sort of in that nebulous phase right now and I can't really tell you more than that but what I can say is that we are writing quiet prolifically and it is going really well and we are happy with what we got so far. But there is a lot of work to go, it is still in a kind of embryonic stage right now.
MS: So there are tracks that are ready?
JG: The album in its whole is in the early stages , but we do have several complete tracks right now that are exceptional in nature and a little bit of a challenge for us as well and a little bit different to what we have done previously. It is going to be a hoot.
MS: And the meaning of the tour name?
JG: It is part of the concept of one of the tunes we are bringing with us and it is a lyric taken from the song.
MS: You have talked about the pressures of being in a band before, how are things after having a child?
JG: It has been pretty interesting. Each of us has risen to the occasion in our own way I suppose. I think the biggest test for us was when we were about to go out on tour to Europe with the Shining, and not knowing whether we would be able to handle the workload with 24 shows in 26 days. And we hadn't really done a tour of that length before and we all managed to get through one. The biggest change has been quiet recently where we have reached a point of having to give so much to the band and having to tour so much that we have actually lost a member in our drummer has left. And now we have welcomed Josh Griffin to the group and he is killing it now so we are ready to get on the road again.
MS: You have an interest in mythology - what is your favourite story?
JG: Not really, for me especially in recent years - everyone who grows up with an interesting history has a soft spot for mythology and for me it was Greek and Roman mythology but for the last few years actually, having studied the history itself, my love has shifted to the real. But if I had to choose one that excites me it is the story of Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus and the punishments they suffered. One of which was being given Pandora who was the first woman to Epimetheus. And that is the story behind the song A Gift to Afterthought from our second album.
MS: What do you mean by the real?
JG: To the reality, actual history, things that happened. Absolutely, I love it. And obviously I am having to take time off unfortunately from those studies to tour the amount that we are touring in the next couple of years.
WRITING, LYRICS AND POETRY:
MS: DO you have an interest in literature or particular kinds of stories?
JG: I probably wouldn't put it that way. I like stories. I like to talk them through, and more than that I like to feel the stories really directly in order to kind of communicate them emotionally as effectively as possible. For me it is dangerous to write the sadder stuff because I end up knee deep in it and stuck in it. I like to put myself in the position of the members of the story I am trying to tell, engulf my sadness there and then sort of try and pass that onto the audience as deeply as I can.
I'm a sucker for melancholy. Sad stuff is probably the easiest and most natural thing to write because I am like a walking vessel for human sadness. Bloom was a real challenge for us, we wanted to write something that was a little more positive and uplifting and driven. And it was a real challenge. For me stories that emotionally communicate with you, especially when it comes to music. I feel like emotional communication is sort of the core of the purpose of music. Trying to make people feel something but also share a feeling with everyone else that is there. Yeah and have unity in that.
MS: It seems like the second album was a study of the human condition?
JG: Yeah that is a fairly astute observation actually. One of the things in that album was people reliving their mistakes or generations of people repeating history. Where one tragedy occurs for this reason in one city and all of the people have fled and went and started a new city and just started to do the same thing all over again. So it is kind of a bit of a dark look human nature in that way.
MS: What do you think of humanity at the moment?
JG: I think at the moment there are a lot reasons to be upset or be outraged but I am trying to avoid that. If you were outraged every time you saw it then you would be outraged all the time. I am trying to avoid like living lie that - an echo chamber of outrage. Just trying to carry more positivity with me where I can for the people I know and love and try to be better.
MS: Do you have a diary that you use to jot notes or imagery down in?
JG: Not necessarily. I don't think visually at all. I don't experience that nature of thought. For me Ill absorb and emotion or Ill absorb a feeling or I'll be in a moment and I'll need to jot down whatever rhyming couplet or whatever shows up in my head in an attempt to spark a new direction. I've been working on a little bit of spoken word poetry as well as the stuff in the new album so there is a lot of just jotting down ideas.
I've fallen into it a little bit actually. I wrote a poem for a friend of mine who was really sick and managed to have her hear it before she passed away. That sort of sparked in me an interest in me in learning more and expressing honest emotions through a different medium that I hadn't experienced before. Recently on the last tour that we were on I also delivered a poem that was addressing the current state of affairs with the refugee crisis in Australia and how poorly we are handling that. It surprised me getting up on stage and delivering that. I actually experience stage nerves - my old school butterfly first time. So it was a bit of challenge and all good.
Watch the clip here:
OPETH Tour Dates: February 2017
Thursday 2nd - Auckland, Powerstation
Saturday 4th - Brisbane, Tivoli Theatre
Monday 6th - Sydney, Opera House - Sold Out
Tuesday 7th - Melbourne, 170 Russell
Wednesday 8th - Melbourne, 170 Russell (2ND and final Melbourne show)
Friday 10th - Adelaide, Thebarton Theatre
Saturday 11th - Perth, Metro City
Hands Shape Stone' Tour: November - December 2016
Friday, November 4: The Triffid, Brisbane
Friday, November 11: Amplifier, Perth
Saturday, November 12: Fowler's Live, Adelaide
Friday, November 18: The Basement, Canberra
Saturday, November 19: The Small Ballroom, Newcastle
Sunday, November 20: Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Saturday, December 3: Progfest, Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Tickets on sale NOW via wildthingpresents.com, Oztix and the venues.
Bloom Is Available Now From:
JB Hi Fi - iTunes - Amazon - InsideOut Music
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