Internationally loved and Australian bred Carus Thompson

Taking time off from his busy schedule, Carus Thompson had time to chat to me about his latest album Caravan and he spoke genuinely about his life, passions and the new album and tour.


Carus Thompson hit our shores in 2000 with his first release in Darwin, Australia (originally from Perth, WA). His work ethics took him out and about four to five times a week playing around the circuit. It was here he made a name for himself and eventually he started touring with John Butler, The Waifs and Jack Johnson. This year has been a busy one, with a new album that reflects the way his life has been over the last year – on the road, life between Australia and Europe.


Carus's music tends to be folk-rock, and he explains to me his reason for using this style. "I'm a singer-songwriter and I want to have stories in my songs and yet when I play live I love the Aussie Pub Rock tradition of always trying to get the room rocking, even if I'm just solo. There's nothing like being on stage and looking around at a room full of people with smiles on their faces, beers in their hands, getting a groove on. When you break down that barrier and the crowd is just moving as one that's a great 'rock n roll' gig, or in my case a 'folk rock n roll' gig. I don't believe that shows have to be only one kind of energy. People can appreciate some heart on the sleeve honesty and narrative story-telling songs that require their brain to be working and then they can also rock out at the end of the gig. I've always tried to encompass both these parts of live performance in my music."


Life has definitely taken many shapes and forms since 1995 and Carus today speaks about his music and the direction it's moving in. I ask Carus who are his major influences in life and he replies "I am really influenced by the great Australian songwriters we've been lucky to have in this country. I look up to guys like Paul Kelly, Tim Rogers, Mick Thomas, Neil Murray, David McComb & Don Walker. They write songs that connect with and mean something to people. These are the songs I try to write and whilst it's not cool to be seen an Australian singer-songwriter and its maybe better to be try to sound like you come from Manchester, I don't care as this is where my head lies."


Carus also tells me that one band he'd love to have fronted would be Paul Kelly's band from the Words and Music album – Carus exclaims "they were fantastic!" When I inquire as to what musician he'd love to meet (dead or alive) he naturally says "Elvis, and wouldn't everyone!"


Carus's early influences started when he was living in the outback Aboriginal community of Peppimenarti as a child. He tells me, "For any child to be exposed to a culture that is not their own is fantastic. I was very lucky to have been exposed to a culture that is truly Australian - this is their country. Hence I don't think I've ever felt like this is my country here to own or something like that, I mean I feel Australian and I think we could make a great inclusive country here, though we are failing miserably at the moment, but I will always know that we have 'invaded.' I mean that's the past we move on and make something with what we have but I think we could be a bit more gracious with how we talk about our arrival here. The nationalistic celebration of Australia Day makes me pretty sick. I feel very privileged to have been included in that community and it has given me an understanding of where the spiritual heart of this landscape lies. It's a pity that we haven't been more like New Zealand in the way we could have incorporated Aboriginal identity into our own concept of identity and 'country-making.' Australia feels like a country that is searching for a real identity, and its sitting right here in front of us. We should be so proud that we are now sharing a country with one of the oldest civilisations in the world. Look at the way Australian Football has developed - such a great example of something that has been influenced, inspired and indeed created through the participation of Indigenous Australians. If only we could take that spirit into more things.'


Carus continues, " I watched the Aboriginal version of 'The Footy Show" the other night and I felt a real moment of hope for the future. There was real love and knowledge of the game. A real connection and respect between all the indigenous players. It wasn't exclusive either - or merely focused on the indigenous player… it was just truly inclusive and gave a different perspective on the game. The indigenous perspective on this country is just marginalized completely and this show about sport gave me hope that maybe it's going to change in the future. That was a long answer I know, in terms what I learnt from Peppimenarti - it gave me a love for Top End Country and Reggae music. It's a particular style where Aboriginal crew took Country and Reggae and made it their own. I love it! Bands like The Warumpi Band are great examples of it. This is where I have taken my "Aussie Reggae" sound from… not from Jamaica, but rather from Top End Reggae. I went back up there about five years ago and was great to see that music is getting stronger and stronger. I haven't been back for a while as I've been on the road in Europe so much".


Whilst he often tends to trash his acoustic guitars he tells me he's lucky to have a Maton endorsement as his guitars are often in the repair shop! His up and coming shows will be the first national tour of Australia with a band he has done in over three years. Carus says "I'm bringing a four piece band of the traditional country-rock set up of bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and drums and it is Rocking! I love the solo thing but with a full band you just have so much more dynamics". The tour will be a great representation of the album as it's the most rocky and rich production he's ever done before. Carus continues to tell me "We still go for variety within the set and I'll bring it right down to a completely acoustic song but when we want to rock it and lift the roof…. we have the firepower!"


Although Carus lives in Rosebud at present, he is moving to South-West France in June and he says "It's getting to expensive to live in Australia and there's a cop hiding behind every bush with a radar gun and an authoritative figure to make some new law about how and when you breathe. Australia and Victoria especially really has become a nanny state". A statement we all know is true. How sad that all our talent has to move overseas because our wonderful country is becoming the very stigma we strove not to be.


Carus tells me he loves playing London "We packed out The Half Moon in Putney on this last tour which is a really famous venue where the Stones and other bands played. Also in Hamburg, Germany we've managed to build up our fan base there enough so that we can play the Markthalle, another famous venue that fits two hundred - and we almost sold it out! All venues are good really; the only ones that suck are made shit by the kinds of people working in them. Sometime you'll have venue owners and managers who forget that the reason people come to their venue is for the music, and that it won't kill them to be friendly and give the musicians a touch of respect. We need them, they need us, a good night is a good nice for both of us a vice versa and most musician are always thankful to have somewhere to play". Being a musician can be hard as can making ends meet and Carus tells me that performing has always been second nature to him, it's something that gets better over time with the more you work at it. He says the streets are not paved with gold and if that is the direction you are taking then do it because you love it. Not because you want to be rich one day. Get out there and just go for it, any direction whether it be busking, open mic nights, whatever.


There are still some shows in Adelaide and Western Australia if you missed the east coast show. Carus passionately says "Come on down to one of my shows, you'll have a great time!"

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