Caravana Sun: gypsy rockers return to Gong

“A gig shouldn’t be about taking a photo to put on Facebook. It should be about taking it back to the real roots of music, about creating something raw and emotive and honest on stage. You don’t have to know the music to enjoy it.”

That’s the musical philosophy for Ant Beard and his band Caravana Sun, and it seems to be working well for the Cronulla-based four-piece. Coming together three years ago through shared friends and classes at the University of Wollongong – frontman Luke is originally from the South Coast, while bassist Ant, Luke and drummer Alex all studied at UOW – the band has taken their brand of bluesy, rootsy ska around Australia and the world.

Caravana Sun call their sound “gypsy-ska rock,” and armed with a lust for travel and new experiences, the foursome have undertaken two extensive tours of Europe, and are currently on something of a farewell tour before they jet back over to Europe for an eight week tour.

“Our musical lives are travelling around to communities that have an interest in us. That whole style of grassroots music appealed to us so much. We might not get the mainstream radio play, but there are people all over who want to share experiences with us,” Ant says.

He speaks at a million miles an hour, talking with fervour and passion about the band and the music that has consumed his life. 

Their new album AYA has just been released, and Ant says he and his bandmates have all sacrificed things along the way – relationships, steady jobs, steady incomes – but having the opportunity to travel to Portugal and play to packed out crowds is reward enough in itself.

“The one word for it is ‘enriching,’ where we get to travel to places where music has been in their culture for longer than Australia has even existed,” Ant says.

“We love Australia, but travelling and meeting musicians in places where music is part of their blood, getting to feel that energy, is so enriching. It creates inspiration for us.”

After two long European tours already, Ant says Caravana Sun have a decent following in France and Portugal, and things “are starting to kick off” in Switzerland. While fans don’t even speak the same language the songs are written in, Ant says it comes back to his first comments – “you don’t have to know the music to enjoy it.”

“When it comes to music and travelling, we pride ourselves on being in the moment on stage with the people there,” he said.

“During and after gigs, when we look in people’s eyes and know that they’re with us as we are in bliss performing on stage, I’d never trade that feeling. That love of music and connection with people is what it’s all about.”

Caravana Sun will headline Splashes Beach Bar on Friday night, with a solid local lineup in support including Round The Corner, Steel City Mother Funkers and Broden Tadros. With the band sharing such a strong connection to Wollongong, and still having many friends in the area, Ant says he is looking forward to a packed house.

“I honestly cant wait. The other bands on the bill are awesome, and all our friends are coming too,” he said.

“We travel all around Australia, but we feel like Wollongong is almost our home, so we’re looking forward to a big night.”