Latest release: Rise Radiant (Wild Thing)Website: www.caligulashorse.com
Caligula’s Horse should be in the US now. Less than a week since the release of their fifth album Rise Radiant and they where meant to be kicking off their first headlining tour of America with labelmates Ebonivory. Instead, the shows have been pushed back to early 2021, and the band just waits it out.
“It’s going to be a little while,” reasons guitarist Adrian Goleby, “and while we’re not necessarily pessimistic, we also know that we can’t speed up the process and cancelling something that would have been a big milestone in our career is devastating.”
Goleby neither sounds nor looks devastated. Video chatting over Skype, with the album’s artwork chroma-keyed onto his living room curtains behind him, he is upbeat and animated. Perhaps it’s the sense of achievement in the creation of yet another career-defining moment that carries him. Maybe the triumphant tone of Rise Radiant has rubbed off on him.
“In a lot of ways it’s a release from the darkness,” he says of the album. “Especially from [vocalist] Jim (Grey)’s perspective. A lot of what he’s spoken about — and that’s why those track by track videos that are coming out are really useful for people who want to have a dig in really deep about the process or the creative process — he’s made this very much about things like perseverance, growth and maturity.”
Ten years since Grey and guitarist Sam Vallen teamed up to work on what was ostensibly the latter’s solo project Moments From Ephemeral City, Caligula’s Horse has become a major landmark on Australian’s burgeoning progressive music landscape. The band has grown as a unit, seen some players come and go, developed musically. As individuals, they have also matured, spent time away from home and family as their popularity snowballs. Since the release of In Contact in 2017, the band’s founding members have seen children come into the world. Goleby suggests that has had a major impact on the themes and concepts Caligula’s Horse explores on Rise Radiant.
“Especially for Josh (Griffin), Sam and Jim, who all have kids, there’s a lot about legacy, and fatherhood and ultimately the album art itself is meant to represent that – you’ve made the journey so far, but what you’re really going for is beyond that peak. The more I listen to it, the more I think I realise that theme of us growing and maturing.”
“Instead of talking about tour life,” Goleby continues, “which is such a strange topic, we talk about what it does to you and Jim’s been on tours before while his wife was pregnant, he’s been on tours with a newborn and that side of him has come to fruition in something like Autumn, in particular. And Sam writing and recording all of this stuff while having his kid on his lap the whole time is pretty amazing, actually!”
The conversation moves from the album to related topics like musical appreciation and the suspension of live playing, and from there to a discussion about what it is that causes some people to become inspired to be musicians and artists. Unlike his bandmates’ children, Goleby says he grew up with no musical influence from anyone in his family. His parents’ taste provided him with no inspiration.
“There isn’t a single album at my parents’ house that I recognise as an influence on me,” he says. “My parents had absolutely no fingers in the audio or video production pie. I’ve probably listened to way too much Slim Dusty, as well!”
It’s an interesting insight given his role not only as a musician with Caligula’s Horse, but as a sought-after video producer within the wider Australian prog scene. His portfolio is impressive.
“I’ve done some work for Chaos Divine, I’ve done videos for Voyager and Dyssidia, and I’ve done animation work for Ebonivory. I did a live video for The Butterfly Effect recently and I’ve worked with Twelve Foot Ninja.”
In the last decade, Australia’s prog scene has exploded and is now a vibrant and flourishing community, a supportive network where so many come together to help each other create.
“We exist as a peer group, and I think our ability to act as grassroots musicians where we go to shows and we make contacts can work differently to some of the other cultures that, I guess, can be more competitive. We tend to be more supportive, and that support is what breeds talent and I think the community exists because of the space between us,” Goleby explains.
That level of support has certainly worked for Caligula’s Horse.
“We’re kind of lucky that people have really gravitated towards us.”