Aussie music champion Nathan Cavaleri stops by THEAUSSIEWORD.COM for a special interview with Brian Peel.
Nathan Cavaleri returns to the stage for 2021 after releasing his first solo album, Demons, since being signed to Michael Jackson’s label at age twelve. “Demons” was accompanied by the airing of his feature on ABC’s Australian Story which details his extraordinary life. National tour dates were announced with the first BluesFest 2021 line-up.
Picking up a guitar at just three years old, Nathan learned enough basic skills from his Dad to play along with his favourite blues albums. By five, Cavaleri was playing electric guitar and played his first gig by six – a 90-minute busking set in front of his Mother’s coffee shop that saw him take home $270. Soon after, Nathan was diagnosed and treated for leukaemia, and the Starlight Foundation set up a meeting with his hero Mark Knopfler, attracting the attention of the media and a host of Aussie music icons. By age ten, Nathan was making regular appearances on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and had toured the country extensively playing sold out arenas with Jimmy Barnes and Diesel. At twelve he toured the world and played with BB King, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, and made guest appearances on all the big American TV talk shows, including performing for the Clintons during their time in office.
He was pursued by Prince and Madonna, and a bidding war ensued, with Nathan eventually signing to Michael Jackson’s MJJ Records. Seven years after his diagnosis, Nathan was given a clean bill of health at age thirteen. He recorded a bunch of records, starred in Camp Nowhere – a Disney film alongside Jessica Alba – and even starred in an episode of Baywatch alongside The Hoff, and after one final tour with BB King, Nathan decided to take a break. He came back to Australia and started a blues rock band with Col Hatcham from The Screaming Jets, dropping releases and touring extensively before suffering adrenal fatigue and severe anxiety which spiraled into depression and saw Nathan step away from the stage. He’s since taken a number of years to work on his health, has dealt with and learned to manage his personal demons and has a newfound appreciation for his unique story. Nathan is back and ready to unleash his unique and commanding new music on the world.
Single Before You Check Out is a discreetly powerful song with gloriously sanguine finger picking, emotive slide guitar and Nathan’s effortless, velvety voice holding a warmth and tenderness that sits perfectly atop simple and effective instrumentation. Written for a cousin who lost his battle with mental illness a few years ago, Nathan explains, “I strongly identified with what he went through and wished I had reached out to him. Having battled my own demons, I wondered whether my experience would have helped. I contemplated what I’d share if time could show mercy. I would share how our thoughts and beliefs colourise our experience and skew our perception of the world, giving us a false sense of reality – a notion that helped me to expose the root of many of my physical and mental health issues that were mistakenly believed to be out of my control.”
Complemented by a film clip that highlights the sentiment of the song – that our views of the world can be tainted by projections of our past – the video further reveals the intense authenticity of the artist, with Nathan taking centre stage, vulnerabilities laid bare.
The Demons album boasts a diverse mix of songs from the impressive guitarist and vocalist who manages to bend genres, cleverly intertwining blues with indie rock pop and soul to create a vintage modern sound of his own, that ‘Nathan Cavaleri’ sound. And his talents don’t stop there, with most of the album produced, engineered and mixed by Nathan himself, excluding five tracks that were co-produced and mixed by Tony Buchen (Montaigne, The Preatures), and mastered by Viking Lounge.
“What matters to me most is that I have a body of work that expresses messages that I’m deeply passionate about on a bed of music that is built on a lifetime of writing, recording and touring,” insights Nathan. “The bulk of Demons was created during a time when I didn’t believe that I’d be mentally and physically stable enough to return to the stage. All songs were written from a place of catharsis. Lyrical themes range from antidotes for the depressed to my fascination for the more taboo side of desire. All falling one way or another under the theme of how humans crumble, melt, face, overpower, surrender, run or dance with our Demons.”
Nathan reflects fondly on his experience playing as a kid, “I remember crowd’s to be incredibly responsive and as a whole to have good warm vibes – Something we all need right now!” He elaborates on what fans can expect from his performance by saying, “In contrast to my younger years as a performer, the Demons tour will see me connecting to audiences in an intimate story-telling type of way. As a kid I had something to play, now I have something to say. My set will be strung together with epic and incredulous stories of growing up on the road, to how my connection to music deepened when I was battling Leukaemia as a kid, to the lessons I had to learn in more recent years dealing with mental health demons. Light and shade of the set mirrors the extreme dynamics of life experiences which I try to express in a raw and relatable way.”
The Demons national tour is on sale now, for tickets or more information, head to www.nathancavaleri.com
DEMONS NATIONAL TOUR
Nathan and his team are working with all venues in line with government regulations in each state and territory and will proceed only in accordance with safe social distancing and COVID-19 safety procedures on a show-by-show basis.
FRI 5 FEB | RATHMINES THEATRE, RATHMINES, NSW
SAT 13 FEB | ULLADULLA CIVIC CENTRE, ULLADULLA, NSW
FRI 12 MAR | THE SPEIGELTENT, ADELAIDE, SA
SAT 13 MAR | MOUNT GAMBIER FRINGE FESTIVAL 2021, SA
SUN 21 MARCH | HERITAGE HOTEL, BULLI, NSW
THU 1 APR-MON 5 APR | BLUESFEST BYRON BAY 2021, TYAGARAH, NSW
THURS 15 APRIL | SYMPHONY 36, WARBURTON, VIC
FRI 16 APRIL | THE CATFISH, FITZROY, VIC
SAT 17 APRIL | LIVE AT THE BUNDY, BUNDALAGUAH MYRTLEBANK HALL| BUNDALAGUAH, VIC
SUN 18 APRIL | SOOKI LOUNGE, BELGRAVE, VIC
FRI 23 ARP | ROYAL OAK HOTEL, LAUNCESTON, TAS | TAASHA COATES (THE AUDREY’S)
SAT 24 APR | FORTH PUB, FORTH, TAS | TAASHA COATES (THE AUDREY’S)
SUN 25 APR | LONGLEY INTERNATIONAL HOTEL, HOBART, TAS | TAASHA COATES (THE AUDREY’S)
FRI 30 APR | THE BAROQUE ROOM, CARRINGTON HOTEL, KATOOMBA, NSW
FRI 14 MAY | IMPERIAL HOTEL, EUMUNDI, QLD
SAT 15 MAY | WEST ROOM, BRISBANE, QLD
SUN 16 MAY | MO’S DESERT CLUBHOUSE | BURLEIGH HEADS, QLD FRI 28 – SAT 29 MAY | MORUYA BLUES 7 ROOTS FESTIVAL | MORUYA, NSW