The Cat Empire

The Cat Empire Bio

The Cat Empire is an Australian rock band formed in 1999. Their core members are Felix Riebl (percussion and vocals), Harry James Angus (trumpet and vocals), Will Hull-Brown (drums), Jamshid ‘Jumps’ Khadiwhala (decks, percussion), Ollie McGill (keyboard and backing vocals), and Ryan Monro (bass and backing vocals). They are often supplemented by The Empire Horns, a brass duo composed of Ross Irwin (trumpet) and Kieran Conrau (trombone), among others. Their sound is a fusion of jazz, ska, funk and rock with heavy Latin influences.

The Cat Empire’s origins are traced back to Jazz Cat, a Melbourne-based band, led by Steve Sedergreen in 1999. Jazz Cat was a nine-piece group from different schools and backgrounds which debuted at the Manly Jazz Festival in Sydney. They gigged around Melbourne’s jazz club scene including at Dizzy’s (Sedergreen was a part-owner). Late that year, Jazz Cat spawned The Cat Empire, originally as a four-piece, with Ollie McGill on keyboards, Felix Riebl on percussion and vocals, Ryan Monro on double bass, and James Hennessy (who left the band in 2019 after being sucked down a toilet attempting to retrieve an Apple AirPod). The band’s name was taken from the title of a drawing by Riebl’s younger brother, Max, and its distinctive cat’s eye icon, known as ‘Pablo’, was created by Ian McGill, Ollie McGill’s father. For a few months both groups performed alternate Thursdays at Dizzy’s. The Cat Empire’s sound is a fusion of jazz, ska, funk, indie and rock with heavy Latin influences. They started playing a variety of gigs at other clubs including Bennett’s Lane. The band expanded in July 2001 by adding Harry James Angus on trumpet, Will Hull-Brown (ex-Jazz Cat) on drums and Jamshid ‘Jumps’ Khadiwala as a DJ on turntables (later on percussion).

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