Caligula’s Horse / Josh Griffin on North American tour and making ‘Rise Radiant’

Australian Progressive Metal band Caligula’s Horse released their fifth album ‘Rise Radiant’ in May, with MetalTalk’s Robert Adams adding it straight to his Top Five albums of 2020. The band were working through this album release plan and had a North America tour booked, before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

MetalTalk’s Robert Adams caught up with Caligula’s Horse drummer Josh Griffin and they chatted about the tour, how the excellent new album has fared and more.

MetalTalk: First of all, may I congratulate and thank you all for releasing such a fantastic album – ‘Rise Radiant’? You must all be devastated that the summer North American tour had to be cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. How have you all been dealing with lockdown?

Josh Griffin: “Thank you very much! It’s been an overwhelming response to the album and we couldn’t be happier. We were crushed over having to postpone that tour and we honestly can’t wait to get back out there!

“Lockdown has been interesting. It’s been strange not rehearsing frequently and we of course released the album right in the middle of lockdown. However, it seemed to drop at the right time for everyone, I think.”

Can you give us some information regarding the end of the touring cycle for ‘In Contact’ and the writing and recording of ‘Rise Radiant’?

“The writing process actually started just before our 2018 European Tour. I have this memory of the drum solo for ‘Oceanrise’ on the tour bus with Sam (laughs).

“One of the biggest differences for writing this album was that myself, Adrian and Dale contributed to the writing throughout the process. It was exciting to have our voices in the music and also to get a real insight to how both Sam and Jim work and how they shape their ideas.

“Of course, the biggest difference was what Dale brought on Bass. I remember hearing ‘Slow Violence’ after he tracked and it blew my face off. That tone and attitude *chef’s kiss*”

Tackling two eponymous songs like ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Message To My Girl’ as bonus tracks for ‘Rise Radiant’, did you feel any extra pressure to do them justice? On a personal note, I think both tracks are incredible, especially the pairing of Jim’s voice with Lynsey Ward’s on ‘Don’t Give Up’.

“I think when you’re interpreting anyone else’s music there’s pressure, but the challenge comes with not being a slave to the original, while adding your own voice and flavour to the piece.

“In saying that you don’t want to drastically change what makes those songs great in the first place.”

How did you come across Lynsey and also how did you approach her to record her vocal? I’m also guessing that the recording of ‘Rise Radiant’ was completed before this Covid situation broke out? ‘Don’t Give Up’ seems the perfect song for this moment in our planet’s history

“Lynsey was actually suggested by Jim, pretty much right as we chose the song. He was already a fan of her band Exploring Birdsong and once we all heard her voice it was obvious she was the perfect choice.

“Yes! It all seems well planned (laughs). At the time we chose the song, we were experiencing a national bushfire disaster, so it seemed a poignant choice to say the least.”

How would you say Caligula’s Horse has changed from ‘Moments From Ephemeral City’ through to ‘Rise Radiant’?

“There’s of course been a natural evolution to our sound. It’s always our intention to evolve from album to album and it’s always organic. I’d say the biggest change, of course, is the line-up. While that had its challenges, of course, it’s only made us stronger as a band.”

It’s been a while since you guys visited the UK (November 2018) and we were supposed to be seeing you this Autumn. Hopefully once this lockdown has been fully lifted we’ll see you guys back over here?

“Honestly, we cannot wait to get back on the road and share these songs with everyone. As soon as it’s safe or course!”

What is your proudest moment(s) in Caligula’s Horse? 

“While I can’t speak for everyone, my proudest moment so far playing at the sadly now defunct ‘Be Prog, My Friend’ festival in Barcelona back in 2017.

“There was a moment during ‘Firelight’ where it was just guitar and vocals and suddenly there were thousands of people singing the chorus. Such a sublime moment for me.

“There were tears and everything (laughs). Then of course after the song was finished, I turned around to see Mike Portnoy watching from side stage. So, there was that!”

What artists have been instrumental in shaping Caligula’s Horse’s sound?

“I know there’s some of the obvious ones of course, Dream Theater, Opeth etc, but when I joined one of the most surprising to me was Steely Dan.

“But everything that Sam writes is always so very groovy, so it really isn’t all that surprising.”

If you weren’t a musician, what job would you have?

“OOF! Twitch streamer. A bad one at that. That’s a job, right? I honestly couldn’t say. It’s pretty much been the whole game plan so if it all fails it could be awkward.”

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for Metaltalk, do you have any messages for our readers?

“Sure do! Hope you’re all enjoying the album and thanks for all of your support.

“Stay safe out there and we’ll see you as soon as we can.”

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