Riley Catherall, the Melbourne man compared to American icon Jason Isbell, has returned with his new single 'Pray That I Won't Be Long' and its accompanying video. It comes off the back of the Venture in Vain EP and 'Watered Down Man', described as "having one of the best lines I've heard in all of 2018," by Ear To The Ground Music. The single further cements Catherall's reputation as an exciting up and coming Americana artist or, as Chris Jagger from the Maverick Americana Festival (UK) called him, "a f*****g virtuoso".
Speaking about the single, Catherall says that the "writing and recording was so unnaturally quick and seamless that it felt like the product of some sort of trance, a kind of representation of the song's content: the superstitious approach to the 'last mile home.'"
Recorded at EOR Studios with Damian Cafarella, 'Pray That I Won't Be Long' is the perfect soundtrack for a road trip across the country or even to the local shops. With sunshine vibes and captivating lyrics, the track simultaneously puts one in a specific story yet speaks of long summers past, present and future. This is reflected in the single's video, in which Catherall drives the dirt roads of country NSW picking up mysterious hitchhikers along the way.
"I'd always stepped tentatively around the idea of doing a music video that included any driving," says Catherall, "but we felt it would be okay if we approached things with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. So we had a lot of fun hooning around the dirt roads near by parents' farm, made even better by scaring and confusing the passing locals with our costumes."
While the music video sees Catherall and his new friends counting down the last mile home, it's fair to say that fans will be counting down the days until his next tour following support slots with The Northern Folk and Hannah Aldridge. He's just returned from a huge UK tour with Lachlan Bryan, during which time he also made an appearance at the Maverick Americana Festival 2019. He'll be taking 'Pray That I Won't Be Long' on the road at the end of 2019 through the east coast and NSW countryside, including a summer headline at Melbourne's iconic Esplanade Hotel. Given the response that this song is sure to receive, let's pray that it won't take long for Catherall to release more music in the near future.
Wednesday 13th November – Folkswagon Café Lounge, Sydney – NSW
Thursday 14th November – The Shakespeare Hotel, Sydney – NSW
Friday 15th November – The Bottlerocket Bar, Nowra – NSW
Tuesday 26th November – Sofar Sounds, Canberra - ACT
Wednesday 27th November – Transit Bar, Canberra – ACT
Thursday 28th November – Yazz Bar, Yass - NSW
Friday 29th November – Batlow RSL, Batlow – NSW
Saturday 30th November – Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, Junee – NSW
Sunday 1st December - Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, Junee – NSW
Thursday 5th December – The Esplanade Hotel Basement, Melbourne – VIC
Saturday 7th December – The Lost Ones Gallery, Ballarat – VIC
Question: How would you describe your music?
Riley Catherall: Lyrically focused, brutally self reflective.
Question: Can you tell us about Pray That I Won't Be Long?
Riley Catherall: This track came from a place of wanting to write a song about the earlier touring days I did when I first got my license and being instilled with the responsibility of doing stupid amounts of kilometres alone, getting to shows. Driving, you have a lot of time to think and often I can find myself, as I'm sure many other do too, drifting off into thoughts and then wondering how you managed to keep the car on the road. I struggled with an anxiety of the last mile home, a concept that's been proven that most car accidents happen within the last 5km of your destination. I wanted to write a song which highlighted a superstition towards a higher power which decides whether or not you make it home or not.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Riley Catherall: Seeing other people play, or hearing others write songs I wish I had written. I used to write purely from a circumstantial position, drawing from real experiences. Though I find myself now growing boring and repetitive of that and try to fictionalise an event and bend the truth a bit. Sometimes I like to find an already existing song and write a "sister" song, if you will, taking the same concept but potentially twisting it, or inserting a different point of view.
Question: Can you tell us about filming the video for Pray That I Won't Be Long?
Riley Catherall: We filmed the music video on the back roads near my parents' farm, where I grew up. I felt it was appropriate given the inspiration of the song and being the exact roads I used to drive frequently in the small hours of the morning to get home for a show. We used my 58 Holden FC which I had bought when I was 17 and drove around picking up hitchhikers dressed up as different symbols of pagan and voodooistic characters.
Question: How does it feel to be compared to Jason Isbell?
Riley Catherall: That's tricky (laughs). He is definitely one of my biggest influences, I think his song writing is phenomenal. It's truly incredible that people would want to put my name in the same sentence as his. I do listen to A lot of him and try to find the nuances in his writing; whether it be song structure, or common phrasing ideas, or even lyrical content – so I guess there might be identifiable aspects of my writing that identify with those of Jason Isbell's, but hopefully not too much!
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming tour?
Riley Catherall: This will be the first time touring my music in a few years, I'm looking forward to getting out on the road for a small run of shows. For the out of town gigs I'll be playing with either a duo or a trio, trying to focus on intimacy and hopefully introducing some new audiences to my writing and what's to come.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Riley Catherall: I think that "Robin" might be my favourite. It's a song that means a lot to me, having gone through a breakup recently and singing that song really highlights a weakness in me and I hope that that is translated through into a live rendition. I get to sing it with Gabrielle Parker too which is always a pleasure.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Riley Catherall: Listening to a lot of Jason Isbell, obviously. Caroline Spence and Whiskeytown are always on in the car at the moment too.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Riley Catherall: I had very supportive parents who I guess harnessed a desire to be in front of people performing from a young age. I would take rehearsed Slim Dusty songs into show and tell in kindergarten so I think when it came to a decision to fully commit to the musician life, it wasn't really an option to do anything else.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Riley Catherall: I would love to write with James Taylor.
Question: Can you share your socials?
Riley Catherall: https://www.facebook.com/rileycatherallmusic/
Interview by Brooke Hunter