We sit down with globe trotting troubadour Carus Thompson

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

We sit down with globe trotting troubadour Carus Thompson

Globe trotting troubadour Carus Thompson is back and is making his annual return to the Piping Hot Chicken Shop to finish off 2018 with a vibe-filled folk-rocking bang!
Hey Carus, how are you and what have you been up to recently?
I’ve been touring ISLAND [2017 album] around Europe and Australia. It had a great critical reception – winning a West Australian Music Industry award for best Blues & Roots song, and also being a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition, but the best vibes have been from my fans – they’re really dug it and been on board with what I wanted to do with that record. It’s social commentary about Australia. But not in a preachy way, more in a Paul Kelly, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellancamp way – where you just tell good stories that make people feel and think.
Again, congrats on the album – we are definitely fans. How have you found ‘ISLAND’ has been doing in Australia and overseas?
Thanks so much!!! Yeah lots of people have really got behind ISLAND. Apart from the WAM Award and the International Songwriting Competition placing, it also had a heap of airplay – my single “Lies” was one of the most played songs on Double J last year. I’m someone who’s always been a bit on the outer with all that stuff so it was amazing to have a record out that broke down some doors and went and did its own work. I think ISLAND really has pulled my fan base back behind me in a sense, the success it’s had has really made the idea of my next album really exciting, and important.
Working with Joel Quartermain on ‘ISLAND’ would have been amazing; did you draw anything from him?
I learnt a heap. Joel is a real pop guy, as of course were Eskimo Joe. Pop and the Eskies are all about the songs and cutting out any excess fat. Good chorus’s that pull the listener in and have their own life. Joel doesn’t press record until the song is as good as it can be Melody, Arrangement and Lyric. I’ve always had a handle on lyrics I feel, but Joel really brought his pop melodic sense and tight arrangement approach to the album and it really worked. I think you can see the proof in the pudding by how well it went on radio.
What was it like going over to the UK? Did this change your music in your opinion?
I am actually planning to spend a heap of time in the UK next year. The UK for me is all about me meeting my good mate Seth Lakeman. Seth is a contemporary folk artist from Devon in the South West of England and he’s now massive. When we met he wasn’t, we were both just jamming together down a little pub in Plymouth. But as he got bigger he took me along. I’ve done 5 tours of the UK with him and it’s really set me up over there. Touring the UK definitely makes you sharper as a musician and performer. The scene sees so many good musicians that they don’t suffer fools. You need to be delivering at the top of your game every night. You need to impress to survive.

What did you do in the gap between ‘Caravan’ and ‘ISLAND’?
Well mainly it was taken up raising two kids – they’re now 7 and 4 so you can see the timeline of 5 years between records really lines up. But I think also I’d had such a long period of hardcore touring, probably 12 years straight of jetting between Europe and Australia, I think I needed a little bit of time just to take it all in. I think it was good to let the muse build back up again. I spent a fair bit of time thinking about what I wanted to say and think that’s why ISLAND has such a strong narrative that runs through it.
As you have been on the road since 1995 do you have any advice for upcoming musicians in Australia?
Just do the best gig you can every time you take the stage. The smaller the crowd the better the gig you need to do. Take no prisoners!
Another show at the chicken shop in Ocean Grove, what draws you to the area, and in particular this venue?
I love the Bellarine, The Surf Coast and I love the Chicken Shop! The area is certainly very special geographically of course but I also believe people are really into music and get out and support it. I’ve been playing the area since I first came to Victoria in the early 2000s and the people have given back to me big time. In terms of the Chicken Shop as a venue it’s just always an amazing night. I’ve played there under four different owners now I think, and every one of them have been such passionate supporters of music. You can feel it in the place. These are the kind of venues that’ll prosper when other venues close down. Because the owners love music and it filters down through the whole place. It’s also only fits 100 people and that is perfect for me. I love an intimate venue.
We still think you’re Australia’s answer to Bruce Springsteen” and like the boss, live is where you do your thing the best. Do you agree? Or do you prefer being at home with your music/in the studio?
I love playing live, and it’s something that has served me well. People always know I’ll deliver, there a no half measure. But I have grown to love the studio too. I love the art of a record. Writing the songs, and then the way you put them together. The way you have the ability to tell a story or say something.
Will we be hearing any new material in the near future?
Yes I’ll be recording in the UK next year with my friend Seth Lakeman and his brother Sean Lakeman. Sean produced Seth’s first couple of big records (one of which got nominated for a Mercury prize up against Coldplay no less!). It’s gonna be a return to the folky, acoustic thing and I reckon it’s gonna be pretty darn good! I’ll release end of 2019 or early 2010.
Thanks for chatting! Any last words?
Come on down to the Chicken Shop it’s gonna be a ripper!!! Last 3 gigs I’ve done here have all sold out on presales so grab them no from Geelong tickets and I’ll see ya there!
When & Where: The Piping Hot Chicken Shop, Ocean Grove – December 15. Tickets via geelongtickets.com.au