Carus Thompson: The Voice of the Australian Story

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Carus Thompson: The Voice of the Australian Story

Carus Thompson is no stranger to life lived on the road. For the past 20 years, he has spent his time bouncing between the stage and the studio, travelling from town to town and making his mark touring the United States and Europe. He even chose to record his last two albums in the U.S, and while they gave him the chance to experiment musically and help foster a growing fanbase abroad, he knew it was time to head home: “After Caravan [his 2011 album], I hit a certain point,” Carus says.

Since the return home, he has had two kids, giving him his first foray into fatherdom and helping him gain a fresh perspective on life and re-connect with his hometown of Fremantle. It was also the catalyst for inspiring him to get back in the studio to record his new album, Island. “I decided that I really wanted to make a record that said something about Australia. I was immersed in my suburb and my country, and I wrote about what I saw. I tried to find these simple stories that said something.”

His latest single ‘Beach Fires’ was released in December, and tells the story of a coastal town being consumed by a prevailing drug problem. “It’s a story that’s happening all around Australia at the moment; small towns getting ruined by methamphetamine,” he says. The tune itself is made up of acoustic guitar and a thick, driving beat, creating a sound that is overall uplifting. And although the subject matter may at times seem sombre, the music expresses more of hope than gloom; a trend that follows throughout the album. The ideas presented are not to depress, but rather to incite thought.

“Ive never been one to tell people what to think. But if you write a good enough story that people can relate to, you can make people think about a subject in a different way,” he explains. “Everyone can understand these small stories, they aren’t big grandiose statements, they’re just small stories about what it is to be a human.” When asked if he thinks music will once again become a prevalant force for social change, he responds, “That is one thing that music and songs can do, they can get past the ideological and political walls that people put up.”

For Island, Thompson enlisted the help of producer Joel Quartermain (Eskimo Joe) to help him achieve a more pop-friendly sound, and in doing so hopefully reach a larger audience. “Musically, this is the most commercial thing I’ve ever done. My voice has never sounded as good as it sounds on this. He really pushed me to get the most out of evey song.” And his influences? Thompson followed a strict diet of Mellancamp, Kelly and Springsteen (the motto in the studio was, “what would Bruce do?”), allowing him to study the masters and hone his ability to tell a well-crafted, informative and emotionally gripping narrative through song.

Carus begins touring the new album in February and carries on through March, including a intimate show at The Piping Hot Chicken Shop in Ocean Grove on Feb 25. “My thing has always been about the live show,” he says with excitement. “I’ll be playing the new record, and the new songs are really immediate. I think they’ll really resonate with people. I’m really proud of the record so I wanted to bring the full band and perform the songs at their best.”

When & Where: Piping Hot Chicken Shop, Ocean Grove – February 25 & The Workers Club, Melbourne – March 4

Written by Ed Acheson