CARAVANA SUN: SONGS TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER
‘A frenetic fusion of gypsy ska and surf rock’; possibly the most succinct and precise way of summing up what it is about Australian band Caravãna Sun that has effectively connected with so many different audiences at home and indeed around Europe. As integral as this melée of sounds is to the band’s encompassing appeal, there is a bigger, stronger factor that has helped endear them to every audience they’ve had the pleasure to entertain, and it is to be found in their energetic, heartfelt performances, the collective aim of which is all about making everybody feel better. Further to his previous visits to Malta years ago, the band’s frontman Luke Carra, who also happens to be half-Maltese, talks to Michael Bugeja about Caravãna Sun’s growing popularity internationally and why Malta will always be special to him.
What has the band been up to prior to getting ready for Malta?
Well, we only got back from a long run of shows in Western Australia a couple of weeks ago, which went really well by the way, and here we are getting ready to kick off our third tour in Europe with shows in Malta. Other than that I’ve been hanging out in my pad in Cronulla, which is a surf spot just outside Sydney.
What brought about the switch from solo artist to having a band with a fuller, bigger sound?
The progression was quite natural really. I was doing these solo tours and thought of having a percussionist, which is when I teamed up with Alex (Dumbrell), who is Caravãna Sun’s drummer now. We toured together for a month, and the band kind of grew from that. Bassist Ant (Beard), who also sings in the band, was a solo artist we were touring with at the time. One night I brought a bass along and asked him if he’d like to join us and play bass, and we haven’t looked back since, although at the time we were still performing as Carra. Later we brought in a trumpet player who was replaced with Eamon (Dillworth) two years ago. He brought a lot of life to the band and the bar has been raised since, with two tours around Europe under our belt and a third just days away, so everything’s been going really well.
You wrote the song Gaia in Malta years ago; what made you hang on to it and integrate it into the band’s set?
When I first met you I had just written that song – I was 21 then – and we still perform it now. I guess we’ve reworked it to a degree, but that song has been a natural evolution in itself, and it’s such a part of who I am. I think I’ll probably play that song for the rest of my life. It makes think a lot of Malta, of discovering my roots there, who I am and who I’ve become. There’s just something special about it…
A bit of gypsy ska, punk and rock…how has this eclectic mix helped your sound in finding its audience?
I guess our sound is a mix of the different backgrounds each of us comes from, and when we get together, all those elements just come out naturally in what we’re doing. Our sound has established our audience but I think the main thing for us is that we just love playing music together and there’s this sense of honesty when we’re onstage. We’re smiling, jumping around, having fun and people feel that and react to it. We do a lot of shows and they always seem to work pretty well and I think that it’s all down to us being honest about how we’re feeling.
With the albums Rising Falling and AYA in mind, how much you feel you’ve achieved as a band?
Well technically, Rising Falling wasn’t really our first album because when we made it, we hadn’t even decided to call ourselves Caravãna Sun; that’s how early on it was. It was more like ‘let’s record some of our songs’, some of which we recorded in my home studio and some in a house in Sydney. However, it was while making that album that we discovered what we like about playing music together. The result was evident in the way our live shows changed from then on, as did the new songs we wrote, so Rising Falling’s achievement was that it helped us discover ourselves. As for AYA, I feel we totally achieved what we set out to do for this album. Rising Falling gave us the space to experiment, but not all the tracks translated well live. We had by then realized that people came to see us because of our energy and honesty and we wanted AYA to capture that same energy, the happy and good vibe that our shows project, which I think it does. We love touring, performing is the best part of being an artist and I think I speak for the whole band in saying that when we get on stage it’s just like this is all that matters, about being in the moment as a band and sharing that experience with the audience.
What does it feel like, having done Europe twice already, to be finally coming to Malta with the band?
I’ve been wanting to come back ever since we started touring Europe as Caravãna Sun, but the whole arrangement and flights and all that didn’t tie in, so when we were approached to perform at Earth Garden we naturally seized the opportunity. In fact, this year we’ve started our tour of Europe earlier specifically so we could perform in Malta. We’re obviously looking forward to bringing AYA to Maltese audiences and also to catch up with some friends, see the sights and probably get some new press shots and video footage done too. Malta and the Mediterranean has been a big inspiration to me ever since I came over the first time, so I can’t wait to be back!
Caravãna Sun will be performing at Earth Garden on Friday, June 6 and Sunday, June 8.
An edited version of this article was first published on The Sunday Times of Malta (01 June 2014)