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Feline Good

Feline Good

Who: The Cat Empire
Where: The Cambridge Hotel
When: Friday January 16, 2004

THE word `eclectic' is one that shouldn't be used lightly when discussing the CAT EMPIRE.

Although the six-piece outfit was founded in Melbourne, it has developed a melting pot of music that makes it almost impossible to categorise.

The band released its self- titled debut album in October 2003 and proved rules were meant to be broken by creating a hybrid of Latin- i luenced beats with ska, reggae and jazz.

Cat Empire frontman FELIX RIEBL said the band's approach to music had always been the same.

Founded by Riebl and long-time friend OLLIE McGILL, the Cat Empire started as a trio playing around Melbourne and soaking up the city's musical offerings.

``I guess we just grew up in the Melbourne culture of music,'' Riebl said.

``Ollie and I were friends for a long time and the trio started with us two and a double-bass player.

We were all learning how to play by sitting in with other bands.

'' The trio eventually became a six-piece and the band hasn't looked back.

``A lot of the fundamentals for our approach to music were there in the early days.

``What we do now is based on this freedom that we found in those early days which was that there is a real attitude to playing music in Melbourne.

``Amongst us as people there is a real earthiness and cheekiness that says it's the way that you play it rather than what you play that defines you.

``It gives you so much opportunity to take and to borrow and get your hands dirty on so many other d ferent styles and sounds.

'' Riebl believes the band's fascination with adopting various music styles has heightened since it began touring overseas.

The band has completed two tours of the UK, the first in 2002 when it played gigs in London and eventually landed slots at the READING and EDINBURGH FESTIVALS.

In Edinburgh the band performed 17 consecutive shows during a 3am slot, performing to an audience of 50 on opening night.

The next evening, the Cat Empire had people lining up at the door waiting to see the band.

``When we got to Edinburgh we played with Gypsys and Spaniards and met all sorts of other people over there and those sounds really become part of the overall character of the band.

``It's so good to be able to go somewhere like the Edinburgh festival where there are so many d ferent cultures represented and say that our music comes from Melbourne.

'' Although the Cat Empire's sound borrows from as far and wide as Cuba and Jamaica, Riebl said the band had never been mistaken for anything but an Australian act.

``It's funny because wherever we go, people comment how much d ferent stuff is in our music but they always say that we sound like Australians.

'' Festivals have proved to be an ideal setting for the band, which has performed at Australian events such as HOMEBAKE and THE FALLS.

``One of the really important things for us is that we've never limited ourselves to saying we want to go for this crowd or that crowd.

``We're not just limited to any one sort of person and that's why we enjoy festivals so much because it attracts quite a diverse range of people.

'' The Cat Empire will perform its debut in Newcastle at the CAMBRIDGE HOTEL on Friday night.

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