Cisco Caesar
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Cisco Caesar

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Blues Americana




"Cisco Caesar"

If Mavis Staples had a lovechild with The Black Keys, it’d sound pretty damn close to the tunes of Cisco Caesar. With fuzzed-out electric guitars and some cracking beats, the band is flying the flag for Australian ballsy rock ’n’ roll. In the lead up to the release of their debut album Burnt and Broken, I got the opportunity to sit down with James Cisco to chat about life on the road. In the thick of it leading up to the album launch, Cisco can’t wait to tour around the country playing shows. “It’s pretty exciting to finally have the album out. It’s taken two whole years but I can’t wait to get out and play these tracks in the live setting.”

With a studio in Ferntree Gully, the process of recording the album, although quite lengthy, allowed for the band to get the right feel and sound to the record. Capturing the best sound for bass, drums and electric guitar, Cisco feels that Burnt and Broken still retains that fresh element despite so much studio time.

“Although it has taken two years to put together it was recorded in small blocks and I think that created a healthy working environment for us. Every time we walked away from it, we came back with fresh ears again and that opened up a world of possibilities to the songs, from adding harmonies and little bits and pieces. When you are trying to capture your live sound in the studio, sometimes you forget things.”

Originally from Illinois just south of Chicago, Cisco spent most of his musical life playing along Route 66, before moving to Australia with his wife. With a family heritage of playing music, Cisco was always destined to be a rock star. “My dad was a self-taught musician and collected and repaired vintage instruments. I was obsessed with instruments as a kid and my father eventually set up his own music store. I owe it all to my father. He’s obsessed with music. My brother is also a multi-instrumentalist, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.”

In addition to the album coming out on CD, one of the most exciting aspects about the release is the vinyl record, which has made quite the resurgence over the last five years or so.

“It’s actually really great. I’ve always collected vinyl for a long time and I am a huge fan. I got my first record player when I was five. I got Jackson 5 Greatest Hits and Creedence Clearwater Revival Greatest Hits. I still have the record player and those records, and it’s fantastic and a big thrill to have our album on vinyl.

“I have scouted through hundreds of thrift shops and garage sales to find all my favourites, so to drop the needle on my own record is pretty damn exciting.”

Taking in shows all around the country including Hepburn Springs and Bendigo, the idea of hitting regional areas of Australia was a no-brainer. “That was something that we wanted to do. We played a blues-fest in Goulburn two years ago and everyone was so nice to us. We went to get breakfast and they knew who we were and we didn’t have to pay for breakfast.

“Hitting regional towns isn’t just about free breakfasts, though: there is a great atmosphere and vibe to those shows man. We can’t wait to take the record to the people. See you in a front row!”

When&Where: Old Hepburn Hotel, Hepburn Springs – September 14 & The Newmarket, Bendigo – November 15

By Tex Miller - Forte Mag

"Cisco Caesar + Support @ Piries Bar, 14th August 2013"

So, top bloke and previous Stan's Showcase performer Ed Reed invited me down to a gig at Piries Bar that he'd organised for some muso friends visiting from Australia. Little did I realise what a one off, never to be repeated (in Horsham) night it would be!

Ed did a cracking job of kicking the night off with some acoustic versions of his catchy, melodic pop tunes, ably assisted by his brother Paul on Hammond / Rhodes style keys and backing vocals.

Next up was keyboard and guitarist Jethro Pickett doing a solo turn of his melancholic acoustic vibes, ably assisted on piano and backing vox by Ursula Woods.

Then it was on to the main event. No offence to anyone I know, but few of the many great bands I've seen in and around Horsham have instantly made my jaw drop open and caused me to wonder whether what I'm hearing isn't in fact a perfectly produced CD turned up loud!

Cisco Caesar are pure quality. They sound like they've been beamed in from the mid seventies, a time when you had to be absolutely amazing to get noticed as a serious live band. Tight isn't the word. Effortless - that's the word.

Centre stage was firmly occupied by the amazing, epically soulful dual vocals from founding members James Cisco (rhythm & lead guitar) and Caesar Slattery (bass). There are no words - stunning, frankly. Both talents were more than complemented and matched by drummer Jason Torrens and the excellent Jethro Pickett guesting on Rhodes / Hammond keys and lead guitar.

And the songs - they weren’t just good. They were great. All self-penned originals, they clearly exhibit Sly & The Family Stone funk tendencies with a healthy dose of bluesy, rock vibes and also, for me, more than a smidgen of Crosby, Stills & Nash finesse thrown in for good measure.

Instant vibe - impossible not to get in to, basically. The crowd were putty in their hands. A one-off, top drawer gig that I will remember for a long time. More of this! Check 'em out on line, go see them if you can! - Horsham Rocks

"Cisco Caesar"

Alternative blues band Cisco Caesar will soon be rolling through Canberra captivating crowds with their sultry syncopated summer sounds.

The four-piece will launch their debut LP Burnt and Broken at the Front Gallery and Cafe on September 27.

Frontman James Cisco grew up in Illinois on Americana blues and roots and said the album had a strong sense of the searing hot summer sounds he remembered.

"A lot of it is the style and the instrumentation we are into but this band has something sultry about its sound," he said.

"We love those old sexy bass lines and the dark foreboding guitar solos."

The long-awaited Burnt and Broken was recorded at drummer Jason Torrens' Ferntree Gully studio,Debasement, over two years.

Cisco said band members had their hearts set on a full length album for many years, but hit a few stumbling blocks.

“When we did the EP we wanted to do a full length album but we somehow lost momentum,” he said.

“After losing a few members and finding new ones, we just wanted to get out and play together and sort of settle in.” Many of this vintage rock foursome's tracks are gig favourites the band had been yearning to put down in the studio.

There are a few fresher tracks, Rooster and Lyrebird, Unlucky Fool and Heartbreak Heart Attack inspired by drummer Jason Torrens' heart attack. Their varied influences of old soul, funk and country are all strong ingredients in an album Cisco described as "the most true reflection of the band yet". - The Chronicle (Canberra)

"Album Focus: Cisco Caesar"

Album title? Burnt And Broken

Where did the title of your new album come from? It's the last song on the album. It was an easy choice because we love playing it live, it's been with us since the band started, and we've been pretty burnt and broken at times.

How many releases do you have now? We released an EP in 2011 so this is our debut LP. Some would call that slow, we say deliberate.

How long did it take to write/record? The title song took over ten years. A couple were written in minutes. If that next chord change or lyric isn't coming easy, back on the shelf it goes. It's a bit OCD actually.

Was anything in particular inspiring you during the making? JT had a heart attack, and James discovered he has a dangerously slow heart rate (they are both fine now). Heartbreak Heart Attack was a nod to those issues, and it makes you air-thrust.

What's your favourite song on it? Unlucky Fool, one of two new tracks that we threw on, we just hit record so it's pretty raw-sounding.

Will you do anything differently next time? We'll probably do different songs on the next album. Unless of course the people demand more of the same, which is cool but we'd have to change instruments for kicks.

When and where is your launch/next gig? It's at The Luwow in Fitzroy on Saturday 30 Aug. It's a toga party! We'll launch our new record into Melbourne with go-go dancers and a big frigging bang. -

"Hail Cisco Caesar"

Much has been written about open mic nights (including in this humble little mag) and just what can eventuate from them. One such success story is Cisco Caesar. The four-piece is the brainchild of Caesar Slattery and James Cisco, a couple of fellas who met at a Melbourne open mic night hosted by Jed Pickett. James grew up in Normal, Illinois, two hours south of Chicago. A chunk of his musical life was spent along Route 66 before he headed for Australia around a decade ago. Caesar is an Adelaide man and was the frontman for Pornland.

A coming together of musical kindred spirits occurred that open mic night. With a mutual love of old soul music and vintage rock ’n’ roll, the two envisioned a soul rock outfit with a whole lotta swagger. Two brains are good, four is better, and so the lads rounded up and branded Jason Torrens and Jacob Cole. Jason is also the stickman for Bugdust, while Jacob has played with Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel. It’s an impressive sounding bio but it’s nothing compared to their sound. Catch them on their album launch tour at Old Hepburn Hotel, Hepburn Springs on September 14 and The Newmarket, Bendigo on November 15. - Forte Mag

"Cisco Caesar brings forth new album as fans everywhere rejoice!"

After seven years and one awesome EP, Cisco Caesar is finally releasing a full length album. Expect a variety of new hits as their showcases their musical taste which range from funk to country. Cisco Caesar will be releasing the album and playing it live at their launch party on August 30th at The LuWow in Fitzroy, followed by a national tour. - The AU Review

"Live Review from the Union Hotel"

Cisco Caesar: It's like seeing a super band in a small venue.

Cisco Caesar's music is sensual and smooth; their presence on stage is understated and joyous. With each band member being very musically accomplished, you can see the work they've put in to create a cohesive unit. They have the sound of four guys who have each others musical backs.

Cisco Caesar are a band that seem bigger than their venue, and I now have a new favourite musician. The bass player/singer is a white, mustachioed James Brown. He's the happiest person I think I've ever seen. Looking at this man made me smile in a way that warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart. It was infectious. He also has a mental-bananas high range and vocal control.

We had the pleasure of hearing two sets. Never slipping on quality, each song has it's own charm and distinct place in a live setting. Even 'I Like Beer' can't pass as filler - a song that it almost designed to fit that category. It's deliciously clichéd, with enough wit and a quaffing vibe to showcase their country influences.

The band makes excellent use of both guitarists. They take it in turns to solo, giving you a view of their different musical personalities. There was a lot going on: humour, groove, talent, whimsy, sarcasm, spontaneous applause, soul and sex faces. Cisco Caesar impress the audience at every musical turn.

Awesome: The bass player makes my heart happy.

Ordinary: Sound guy could pull back just a tad. Sound got quite penetrating.

Tasty: I'm putting in a quiet word for the on-tap cider. - Heartbeat Music Collective


Burnt And Broken
Debut LP 2014

It has taken over two years, a near-death experience, and a ridiculous amount of talent to produce what may become known as the album of the decade. However, with Cisco Caesar, what decade is the question? Constantly having their live shows compared to those of the great bands of the seventies, these boys have finally decided, after seven years (and only one EP) to release a full length album. Influences range from funk to country, including a song inspired by their drummer (and former childhood star) having a heart attack. You're not prepared for this you really aren't.

The Holy Grail in this cut and paste era is an album that you don't need to edit into your play list but one that you would actually sit and listen to - from beginning to end. This is not a mirage, it is the refreshing lagoon in the midst of an evaporating industry full of desperate songwriters trying to 'fit in' or 'ride the wave'. This album won't just knock your socks off, it's grown the cotton, built the loom, knitted the socks, put them on you, and then it knocks them off...along with your pants.

If you want it, they've got it, and you're definitely going to need a doctor to get it out of your head.

Cisco Caesar
Self titled EP 2011

After much nagging from rabid fans, the boys of Cisco Caesar ducked into the studio for four days to put down these 6 tracks - it's a winner.

Tracks can be streamed from and can also be heard on some independent Australian radio stations as well as online streaming services



James Cisco was born in Central Illinois. As a baby his mother and father, both musicians, would lay him in a guitar case overnight rather than a crib as it was all they could afford. He spent his childhood attending bluegrass festivals and ragtime banjo conventions. As he grew older he took gigs across the USA playing in resorts, on paddle steamers, and in every seedy bar he could find. When he fell in love with an Australian he left the shores of his homeland and headed into the unknown taking the first shaky steps toward finding his musical soul mates.

As most musicians do, Cisco started frequenting pubs and clubs that hosted open stages in hopes of getting regular work with his mixed bag of Americana. It was one of these evenings when lightning struck with such ferocity that it left everyone's ears ringing for months.

Paul 'Caesar' Slattery, the legendary frontman of Australia's notorious disco soul band Pornland, jammed with Cisco at the open mic and they instantly realised that their powerful voices and shared love of all things soul were uncannily matched - they formed what would be the beginning of Cisco Caesar shortly thereafter. Can lightning strike twice you ask? It sure can.

Jason Torrens was an Australian T.V. Star as a teenager playing the lead role in Pugwall and Pugwall's Summer. Putting his acting past behind him he dedicated his life to being an incredible drummer in many bands, most notably The Reefers and Bugdust. James Cisco met him at of all things a family Christmas party. It seems Cisco and Torrens had similar taste in women and had in fact married into the same family.

Finally add one Jacob Cole, the gifted guitar player from The Portraits and Sal Kimber and the Rolling Wheel and you have one very unlikely group of musicians. The sound is unmistakeable: a voice-driven, songwriting band with powerful hooks in magic hands. Their debut album, Burnt and Broken, is the culmination of chance, talent, and years of hard work.

These guys aren't the only new band that you're going to start listening to this year, but they might as well be.

Band Members