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Q&A: Katanak Talks New Single, Tour & Baz Luhrmann

Updated: May 11, 2022

Photos by Gabi Rankine

The Red Baron flies once more, this time with his latest single 'Weigh Down.' Brisbane's heartthrob maestro has crafted a slice of uplift pie, featuring his crooning trademarked voice chords, So Fresh the-hottest-hits-of-summer guitar & a beat which will strut you down the street at maximum velocity. Katanak is well known for his catchy-but-pensive approach to songwriting, with this latest sizzle in the pan about being crushed under expectations and losing your way before finding your path in life. He is hot off the press from playing Jerry Scheff in the upcoming ELVIS movie from Baz Luhrmann, a role he kept quiet about over the last two years of filming. Now with the filming wrapped and his latest tour begun, we got Katanak on the old LiveWire hamburger phone in between his busy schedule:

Your latest track ‘Weigh Down’ has just dropped. What can you tell us about it? Where did the inspiration come from, what were you trying to do differently this time? What themes were you hoping to convey?

"Weigh Down was inspired by my time on the set of the new Elvis biopic by Baz Luhrmann. I had been going through a really tough time during covid and couldn't really find the passion or the inspiration for music. As luck would have it I worked hard to get the role of Elvis’s bass player Jerry Scheff from the TCB band and that just really shot life back into my soul. Being around such amazing musicians and playing music for 2 weeks straight gave me exactly what I needed to put how I felt into words which lead to the creation of Weigh Down. Weigh Down’s message is how I didn’t feel like I was the person I was supposed to be or the person I wanted to be. I was just another person roaming the world and I hated that, so being able to put it into a song really helped me overcome that and get myself back on track. This song is incredibly relatable because we all struggle within ourselves to find what we truly desire and this song was part of my journey to finding that."

You scored an acting role in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic. I hear you’re playing the role of Jerry Scheff, bassist in Elvis’s band. This must have been so cool & exciting! What can you tell us about your role? What was it like to work with Baz? Tell us about the behind the scenes of the movie!

"Working on this movie was an incredible experience not only because I got to work with some amazing people and crew but because I got to challenge myself beyond what I thought was possible for me as a player. The parts that Jerry scheff played live on the bass were not only incredible but were improvised on the night (for the most part) so learning these was probably the biggest challenge I've faced as a musician. As you can imagine there is not sheet music or tabs for a part that was improvised 50 odd years ago so I had to sit down for like 6 hours at a time listening to the live versions of each number we played at quarter speed sometimes even like 1 note per second to try and make sure I was hitting his parts note for note. Baz really pushed every single one of us to make sure not only our on-stage performance and movements were true to life accurate but every single note we hit and when was exactly how they did it on the night in Vegas 50 years ago. Honestly it’s going to be a highlight of my musical career because it pushed me more than I ever could have imagined and it really kicked my brain back into gear to get me and my passion for music back on track."

You are embarking on your first tour shortly. Where are you heading, and what do you hope to accomplish with this major step forward? Let us hype up your gigs!

"Regional Queensland doesn’t get much of a mention when bands are touring so we wanted to take the opportunity to head somewhere different. We’re doing Cairns, Townsville (6th May), Mackay (7th May), Maroochydore (14th May) and Toowoomba (27th May) with the homecoming gig at Tomcat on 28th May (playing with Tragic Me and Lost Goat Found)."
"We’ve just done our first weekend in Cairns and man was it good! There’s this funky little bar called Elixir Music Bar that we played on Friday (acoustic set) and Saturday night (full band). The people in Cairns are just so responsive to music and we had people up dancing from the first song! And they didn’t even really know us! There’s this scene up in North Queensland that people dismiss but man those bands we were playing with were awesome!"
"We are playing with so many awesome bands for this tour that I’m feeling pretty spoilt for choice. Live music is back so can’t wait to see you and play a couple of new ones for you."

You received a grant from Arts Queensland in order to get funding and make your tour possible. So many upcoming musicians don’t know they have this great resource at their disposal! What steps did you go through to receive funding? What advice would you give to an aspiring musician who is looking to apply for a grant?

"I think a lot of musicians know about grants but we don’t know how to apply for them. We try a few times and then give up because it all seems too hard. It seems pretty simple to us - I’m doing this, I need a grant and this is me so give me the money. There’s definitely ‘grant speak’ which us mere mortals are not conversant in and to have someone give you tips makes all the difference."
"I am not the best person to give advice on grants as I’ve tried numerous times before and not been successful. What I did do differently this time was connect with the Creative Business Champions via Arts Queensland who are this incredible group of people who want to help you get the grant. They are either in arts, marketing, music, etc and they can talk you through things you should be including in your application. This is a free service by the way! Answering the question is actually the hardest. Seems simple but most of us aren’t telling the grant body what they are asking for. You are still not guaranteed of getting the grant but at least you are one step closer to it."

Your music video for ‘Sunday’ featuring KOOLZ has been put on rotation on MTV. That’s so cool! What is it like to get your stuff out there on such a major platform?

"So good does not sum up how good it really feels to get that email letting you know you’ve been chosen. We’re all trying to get ourselves out there so actually being chosen to be a part of something like MTV is an incredible feeling."

And there you have it! Big thanks again to Katanak for fitting us into his busy tour schedule. The Cairns gigs have already happened, but you can still get tickets for the Townsville one this Friday! He's playing with Hidden Pillars, and I've actually reviewed them before, they're sick! So go and see some homegrown hip-gyrating QLD music! I'm especially keen for the Toowoomba date, because that's where I come from and I know he'll rock the house down. Can't wait to see the movie. And remember kids: Be as concise and clear as possible when writing grants.

'Weigh Down' Regional Queensland Tour

Tickets HERE

Fri, April 29 | Elixir Music Bar, Cairns (Acoustic Sesh)

Sat, April 30 | Elixir Music Bar, Cairns w/- Bobby Maguire & Enemy of Anemone

Fri, May 6 | Molly Malone's, Townsville w/ Telemona, Solder, Hidden Pillars, Brewsky Rooster

Sat, May 7 | Hotel Mackay, Mackay w/ Systamatic Machine & Red Veridian

Sat, May 14th | Eleven Dive Bar, Maroochydore w/ Zebra Finch & Palm Valley

Fri, May 27 | The Met, Toowoomba w/ Mercury Sun

Sat, May 28 | Tomcat, Brisbane w/ Tragic Me & Lost Goat Found

Cover Art for 'Weigh Down'

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