Words by Tye Blinkhorn
Brisbane’s Caligula’s Horse have been a powerhouse in the industry for over a decade now and they continue to forge ahead with unwavering momentum. There’s no need to wait any longer for new C-Horse tunes with the highly anticipated 6th album, ‘Charcoal Grace’ OUT NOW. Having recently completed a rigorous six-week European tour and sharing the stage with the likes of Devin Townsend in Australia last November, Caligula’s Horse is now gearing up for their headlining tour, poised to grace stages once again with their incredible music.
I caught up with Jim, Dale, and Josh to talk about their new album, their next tour, and putting your body on the line in a prog rock band.
GCL: You guys have been around for over a decade now, how does that feel?
Jim: Gross to see it in that way, actually. But you know it’s funny because it’s one of those things, much like everything else with ageing, where it feels simultaneously like Sam and I formed the band yesterday… And also like my knees no longer function. So, it’s like, you know, it’s amazing to know that we have now six albums under our belt and that we’ve been around for long enough for me to forget how our songs go, it’s a fascinating experience.
Dale: 10 years ago, I was five years old. So yeah, I feel great.
Jim: Yeah, Dale’s only 15 human years old.
GCL: I’m not too far away from that either myself! So, your sixth album ‘Charcoal Grace’ is here. You must be very proud of this new album. At least you actually get to promote it, not like the last album, which was overshadowed by COVID and all that sort of stuff.
Jim: We don’t talk about that, no!
GCL: I’ll try not to bring it up. That’s the last time you’ll ever hear about it.
Jim: What’s exciting about this album, in particular, is that for some of the songs on this one, the entire band have been a part of the writing process. Josh and Dale here have had a big part in this, putting their sort of musical stamp on this album in a way that we haven’t had before as a band. There are two songs that have all four of us.
Josh: Breathe With Me is I think, the first song in in our career that all members have had a hand in, which was really exciting when we sort of realised that too.
GCL: And you can tell because it’s a really good song.
Josh: Thank you. That’s all Dale, that’s all Dale.
Jim: Is that right? That’s putting a lot of faith in these guys that is, actually.
Josh: I think we’ve realised that Dale is actually the secret weapon. He is the reason that everything’s good now.
Jim: That’s it. And I, I have to say big shout to Dale for his work on the third single, The Stormchaser, because his stuff really brought that shit to life. So yeah, it’s, it’s been awesome like, having been here again for more than a decade and now to have a lineup that is so involved and dedicated to the songwriting process is just awesome. It’s super tight now.
Dale: I think unity is what we’re really feeling right now in the band. More than ever, which is So important coming out of what we’ve just gone through.
Jim: Yeah, totally.
GCL: So, you must be looking forward to touring ‘Charcoal Grace’!?
Josh: Yes! Yes! Tour!
Jim: Very resounding “yes” from someone as though he couldn’t do six weeks across Europe and Latin America this year. It was a period of less than two months – I think we’re on like 23 flights total or something across that time. No, I mean what the best part about this is that like we’re going to be back in, in the type of touring that that we love and you know we’ve like to be completely honest with you like we’ve been in a financial position that hasn’t been great coming out of COVID like you know we lost a lot of momentum, we’ve, we’ve lost a lot of money from. All the things that we planned couldn’t follow through with. Because of COVID. And now being back and being able to go like cool, we’re gonna go to the United States, and we’re gonna do it on a like, a sleeper bus. We’re gonna. We’re gonna. We’re not gonna absolutely kill ourselves with driving this time. It’s gonna be a really good thing. So yeah, we’re all looking forward to it because it almost feels like a return to where we should have. Been in 2020, so yeah.
GCL: You gotta look after those knees, hey.
Jim: No, utter disrespect for my joints.
Josh: Break your body for your art, Jim.
Jim: Like every single person at every high school and university party I went to; utter disrespect for my joints.
Dale: I feel sorry for Joshua’s fingers every time he plays. Every show he breaks like a whole layer.
Josh: Yeah, generally it barely recovers. There’s nothing like having layers of skin just coming off mid-show. You’re like, that’s fine. This is what we gotta do. It’s not beautiful.
Jim: Don’t let these guys turn you off from it. It’s a beautiful thing today.
Josh: It’s not a beautiful thing.
GCL: It’s the sacrifice You’ve gotta make hey, Josh. To play beautiful music.
Josh: Blood, sweat, tears. Whatever I’ve got. Any bodily fluid I got, goes into it.
Jim: Any? OK, that’s… I think we’re best friends now, Tye.
GCL: Yeah, we’re getting real deep here now… So back to the tour – When are you guys headed to the US?
Jim: US is actually right on the release of the album, so ‘Charcoal Grace’ is out on January 26 and like 3 days later we’ve got a show in Washington which is frightening cause that’s so soon. But yeah, so we’re going to do that nice long chunky dog barking tour and after that in April we’re gonna be doing the Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane shows.
GCL: Any other locations after that?
Jim: We have nothing that we’ve announced just yet, but we have a lot of plans in the works right now.
GCL: We’ll keep it a ‘secret’ then.
Jim: Thank you Tye, I knew I could trust you, buddy.
GCL: I’ve been lucky enough to listen to all of the songs. What I noticed is that you guys went for length in a lot of your songs, was that part of the plan or did it just happen accidentally?
Jim: Yeah… What’s kind of funny is that a lot of the time when we’re writing, and the other guys can attest to this now as well, is that the ideas will flow and the song will start to sort of give you an impression of where it’s gonna go. And so, you just follow the thread and find out… What does this song want to say? How is the story developing musically and lyrically, etc. I would say the only time where that’s not the case is with the title track, Charcoal Grace, where part of, the brief for the album when we first set out and said “what do we want to do?” One of the things that we talked about was that we’ve never written a full side length song. You know, you’re full like, one side of an LP 24 minutes long. We’d never really adventured in that. And as we were kind of developing the idea, it became clear that it would be better to segment it into these four different chapters. These four parts of the suite in order to have each one of those parts have their own musical voice, lyrical voice, and part of the story. In that way, it ends up in this really sort of nicely paced kind of journey through that, rather than meandering or going somewhere, you know, with no direction. So yeah, it’s really challenging to do, but honestly, we usually just let the songs kind of say what they have to say.
Dale: Yeah I think with the length as well, we really set out from the beginning to do something quite different from ‘Rise Radiant’ as well, which was a reasonably accessible album, I think.
Jim: Oh yeah.
Dale: Compared to our normal prog standards, but from the outset, when we were writing The World Breathes With Me, there was a huge impetus there for us to revert to some of those standards with writing, you know, structurally and and musically speaking. But really in those moments, we sort of had to train ourselves again to go, let’s just chill out for a second and let these ideas sit.
Jim: Yeah, let it breathe, you know.
Dale: Yeah, exactly.
Jim: And I remember in the same way as us sitting down and going, “Hey, let’s, experiment with the idea of a side-length track”, we had a similar conversation before ‘Rise Radiant’, where the mission statement for the band was, “We want to do something that’s concise. That’s punchy. That’s really energetic and really positive.” And for the most part, we hit that. And then for the rest, we accidentally wrote a big two-part thing.
Jim: I want you to know that I have the Australian tour dates on a poster on an open tab next to me right now because up until this moment I didn’t know what they were sooo…
Dale: 25, 26, 27 of April
Jim: Ohh look at that, home run from Dale – 25, 26 and 27th of April. Can’t wait! And we’re bringing ‘Wheel’ from Finland as well.
Josh: That’s going to be a lot of fun, keen to check them out live, going to be a hell of a time!
GCL: Tell us more about the support!?
Jim: Wheel are a band from Finland and lovely guys. It’s funny, Dale and I did a stupid thing on Instagram a couple of years ago during the COVID years where we were doing a hot sauce challenge and we ended up sort of involving the band Wheel in like an Instagram live thing. And yeah, their music’s freaking awesome and they seem like lovely dudes. And now we’ve got the opportunity to bring them out to Australia and do a couple of shows and people are pretty fucking amped about it!
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With thanks to Sony Music Australia