By Erin Cross
In advance of his appearance on ABC's Australian Story on 3 August, Nathan Cavaleri chats to Rock City Jester about his latest release, and successfully taking on his demons...
There was a time when Nathan Cavaleri walked off stage that he believed he would never return. After taking a break from the music scene for a few years, he has been dipping his toes back into the water and is excited to announce an upcoming national tour to celebrate the release of solo album Demons.
"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,” Cavaleri says.
His new single, the smouldering Before You Check Out, shows a master at work and offers the perfect glimpse of the album as it shares an important message about mental health.
Cavaleri is a complex artist with an amazing story to share, and Demons explores his inner thoughts and feelings through a mix of diverse genres.
Describing the experience of releasing his first solo album since 1994 as “surreal”, Before You Check Out is a powerful and emotive song with simple instrumentation that honours his loves for simplicity and truth. Written for his cousin who lost his battle with mental health, the single is a conversation starter with an important message.
“Whether it's my blog entries or my status on social media, I'm an advocate for mental health, positive awareness and sharing my own battles,” says Cavaleri.
“I was frustrated when I was in my dark place and I found it difficult to come across stories that would inspire me. A lot of people didn't talk about it at the time. It was something I was really, really craving because I knew they were out there. I said to myself when I do get to the other side of this I'm going to make a point of sharing what I’ve learnt.”
“Before You Check Out is a song that carries a message and it's a simple one, a very transformative one that I had to learn.”
Cavaleri explains that Demons was written at a time when he “didn't intend to return to music”.
“I was so shit scared of the stage and everything about music. I wasn't able to do lots of things at that time, I couldn't drive to work or go to my parents place. My world got really really small but one constant was I was still writing...It was purely self expression and catharsis,” he says.
It’s no surprise that Cavaleri has some incredible stories to tell.
Picking up a guitar and learning from his dad, he was playing along to his favourite blues albums at three years old, boasting enough talent that by the age of six he had played his first gig. Not long after he was diagnosed and treated for leukaemia. His life changed again when the Starlight Foundation set up a meeting with his hero, Mark Knopfler. By age ten, Cavaleri was making regular appearances on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and by the age of twelve he had toured the world, playing with artists like Jimmy Barnes, Diesel, BB King, Etta James and Bonnie Raitt.
Cavaleri made several guest appearances on American TV talk shows and eventually was signed to Michael Jackson’s MJJ Records. At the age of thirteen he received a clean bill of health and travelled the world acting, recording and playing music.
After touring extensively for several years, Cavaleri had to step away from the stage after suffering adrenal fatigue and severe anxiety which spiraled into depression. It's his experience in the industry and his own mental health issues that inspired the guitar virtuoso to share his story, to help others battling their own demons.
“We’re in an industry hinged to perception...The dark side to that is there's lots of musicians out there who think they're alone,” he says. “My motivation for talking comes from that because I don't want anyone to think they're alone.”
Cavaleri has been looking for a way to tell his story in detail to help others and he will be openly speaking about his life for an episode of ABC’s Australian Story, airing on 3 August.
"When I was growing up playing music I had something that I really wanted to play and then through battling these adversities and coming out stronger for it, I feel like I have something I want to say,” he says.
“The feedback we had, which was very positive, encouraged us to seek out a platform or media to dive into the depths of my story and allow me to share all of those ups and downs in a credible way. Most kinds of mainstream media, you can't have those conversations in five minutes.” says Cavaleri.
“For me it's one of the biggest amplifier's of my message and story since I was a kid.”
On top of writing, Cavaleri also plans to tour at the end of this year and has been announced on the 2021 Bluesfest lineup. As part of his national tour, Cavaleri will be playing Canberra’s iconic Smiths Alternative on the 31st of October.
“I played Smiths when I was dipping my toes in the water. I had a warm welcome there, you can really tell they’re music lovers,” he says.
While live music feels like a distant dream, Cavaleri is remaining positive.
“It's been hard for me to look forward to touring, I'm not getting my hopes up but we have a good solid chance for these shows to go ahead,” he explains.
“I'm just looking forward to people. I'm also looking forward to being on stage and looking at the eyes of people, not through a screen or on Zoom.”
One thing that fans can expect from Demons is that unique “Nathan Cavaleri” sound and intimacy that can only be created by raw emotion.
"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,” he says.
“Now I've come out the otherside, I feel like I'm reconnecting with music. I just want to grow."
TUES 04 AUG | ‘DEMONS’ ALBUM LAUNCH LIVE STREAM | TWITCH 5PM AEST
Demons will be released on August 6.
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.
If you or anyone you know needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14