Jim Grey, of the incredible Caligula’s Horse, answers my phone call and informs me about his night so far, sharing that he’s been relaxing at home and enjoying some good wine. We begin discussing the Brisbane Prog band’s upcoming fourth album ‘In Contact’ and he goes into more depth about the process leading up to the anticipated release.

We’ve been starting to get some really exciting reviews happening now which is kinda cool. It was such a rush going from the writing process to the recording process, we didn’t really get a chance to have a breather at all. Right now, it’s ramping up to tour time. So, it’s all pretty exciting. We ended up writing ‘Songs For No One’ which was the last song that we wrote, we actually finished writing that within the same week we starter drum tracks for other material.

He continues on to discuss what listeners of the latest record can expect to hear when it releases worldwide on the 15th of September, including whether it retains their signature sound.

It’s definitely got our sound. The musical relationship between me and Sam Vallen has really developed into this thing where we’ve got our signature sound. It’s our colourful brand of heavy progressive music. It’s definitely heavier than anything we’ve done. It’s definitely got a lot more in terms of metal riffage, intensity and darkness. Particularly distinct from Bloom, it was a very deliberate difference that we wanted to put into the album.

Moving onto the very interesting topic of the album’s intriguing concept, Jim shares what kind of story he and the band had crafted this time around, as well as the best way it should be experienced.

“The concept itself, the underlying theme of the entire album, is based on the idea that art is an attempt by human beings to remember something that we’ve forgotten. Something that was sort of like a shared knowledge or a shared dream, before we kind of separated off into individualism and into ourselves as people. So maybe everyone has a slight memory of this thing but they can’t put their finger on it. Artists are trying to express that unknowingly… But that’s all very big and sci-fi and silly! So, we sort of turned that into some more personal and relatable stories. We challenged ourselves to take a concept that big and very prog in that way, and turned into something people could relate to. So, each of these chapters, the album is separated into four of them, follows the story of a different artist. There is a sculptor, a painter, a poet and a musician. Each of them all have their own little story arc and they’re all trying to improve their lives and find something better within themselves. At the same time as well, without their knowing, they’re also reaching for this dream concept through their art too. There’s not a lot that connects them in terms of their actual story arc, but they are joined thematically.
Personally, I’m a big fan of people sitting with the lyric book and trying to dissect the meaning and take their own meaning as well. But at the same time there’s a lot on that album that is accessible enough that on first listen you can get excited by it, you can really enjoy it. The way I look at the album as whole though is it’s definitely one you wanna spend a bit of time with and get to know.”

On The topic of the newest additions to the band, Josh Griffins on drums and Adrian Goleby on guitar, Jim goes into detail about how they are settling in and what the group dynamic is nowadays.

“Well Josh doesn’t feel new to the band I’ll tell you that much. Pretty much the minute he slotted in, it was like he had been there the whole time, it was crazy! His first show with us was actually a home town show, and I remember walking on stage and I remember turning to him and going, ‘man I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer on stage.’ Adrian is very new but the fact is we’ve all known Adrian for a number of years now. He’s directed a number of our music videos now. We’ve been mates for a very long time and when he jumped into the band, personally it’s been easy as. It’s very high spirits on the tour bus and on stage. It’s really cool.

Moving onto the topic of the upcoming Australian tour, he enlightens us as to what we can expect from the setlist as well as if there are any international shows in the works as well.

“Playing the whole album live might be something for the future. The first time I was asked if we would, it hadn’t occurred to me at all. But now I’m really excited about the idea. I think it’s more likely that in the future if we revisit this idea, that we’ll play a whole chapter at a time. But for this time around we’re injecting a lot of new material into the sets for the tour. As well as new material in terms of the older albums. Songs that maybe never played live or rarely played. So, some of those are returning to the setlist and some of those are coming to the setlist for the first time. It’s pretty daunting for us with the sheer amount of new material. But really exciting anyway coz some of these are personal favourites of mine that have never really seen the light of day. At this stage, we have nothing locked in for the United States at all. We definitely have our sights set on Europe again in 2018. It’s just a matter of when and how that’s going to come about.”

Before we start wrapping up our conversation Jim shares with us the warm-up rituals he absolutely must complete before going on stage to perform.

“I have my regular, technical vocal warm ups. I keep my voice warm throughout the day, and of course throughout the entire tour. Lots of deconstriction exercise. Lots of preparation. But I think it’s most important that we have the room to ourselves. At least for the half hour or forty-five minutes before the show where it can just be us, and we kind of get in touch with each other as a unit. We’re all prepared as individuals. We have a little huddle, as cheesy as that sounds, and It’s all very jokey and silly before we get on stage. I’ve had moments where I’ve been on stage and the first click has started and we’re about to kick off the first song and I’ve realized ‘oh shit I’m on stage’ I actually have to perform and in the next three seconds I have to get ready, because I haven’t mentally clicked. Without those processes, you don’t really have the mental transition into readiness. So, if I need to be on stage I need to be ready basically.”

As is standard in all my interviews, I request that Jim gives some advice to aspiring musicians. This time specifically in the Australian prog scene,

“Avoid tropes if you can. You don’t have to fit in to certain sounds just because it’s what’s happening in progressive metal right now. I think what I mean by that is try and develop a way to speak with your own voice musically. To not throw away ideas because they don’t sound like Animals as Leader or Periphery. If you have an idea that genuinely reflects you, then that’s the music you put out. Fuck the haters.”