Riley Catherall has already appeared on this site because of his outstanding singles, ‘Watered Down Man’ and ‘Robin’. He’s an emerging artist who is already a very well-developed musician and songwriter – when we spoke recently I asked about his long musical history and about his introduction to country music. Riley is appearing at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival – dates after the interview.
You started playing guitar at the age of four – did your parents encourage you to start, or was it your own decision?
Dad taught himself guitar. Some of my earliest memories involve him playing guitar for me. Mum was a piano teacher. So I think there was a combination of influences there. Much like a lot of kids get thrown into guitar lessons – and myself being a teacher as well – you see kids who get guitar lessons where their parents have sort of forced them into it, and once they get a little bit of independence they stop doing it. But I was hooked on it enough to continue it. There was definitely good encouragement there with my family, which was fantastic.
Was there a reason why you weren’t put on a piano?
Not really. Because I was the first child I think Dad was super stoked to have a son – ‘This one’s mine, we’re gonna do guitar’ [laughs]. My younger sister plays piano. Maybe Mum got her turn [laughs].
Did you enjoy playing guitar as a child or were there times when you thought, I don’t want to do this – I want to go outside!
From a young age I’d go into show and tell at school and sing a song. I was that kid [laughs]. I always had this entertaining mindset. I went through the stage of learning classical guitar – that’s how I started. Then you discover rock ’n’ roll – you want to be a rock star – and Mum’s getting really worried because I’m playing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in my bedroom at eleven years of age. I’m always inspired by new things, with the change of the seasons, so it’s good that [guitar] is such a vast thing that you can be introduced to new things. Nothing really gets stale; nothing really gets repeated. There’s just so many different versions of it.
Can you remember which songs you used to play for show and tell?
I used to play a lot of bush ballads. ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, ‘Redback on the Toilet Seat’. There was a couple of Australian Classics CDs that we’d have in the car on repeat that I’d then go into school and sing. My nana loved Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ so I used to go in and sing all thirty verses of that [laughs].