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Cloud Control Interview

I recently had a chat with Heidi from Australian expat band Cloud Control, who has been announced as one of the ambassadors for the prestigious Australian Music Prize for 2011. We talked about the prize itself, setting fire to Arcade Fire’s stage, chatting with Win Butler, Cloud Control’s relocation to the UK, Tame Impala’s A-list celebrity fanbase, plans for a new Cloud Control album, and of course that legendary Splendour stampede.

Hi Heidi, how are you and where are you calling from?

Hi, I’m in a fire escape at a hotel in Cologne, so I hope it’s not too gloomy. I just don’t want to be that really annoying bandmember who gets up really early and wakes everyone else up with a teleconference.

Don’t worry, it sounds fine. How are you enjoying being based in the UK so far?

You know, it’s like starting a new life kind of. The UK is pretty similar to Australia culturally though I suppose, so it’s not quite that extreme. The riots though! We were right in the heart of that, but we got through it unscathed thankfully.

So you’re an ambassador for the Australian Music Prize this year, what do you think the prize means for the Australian music scene?

You’d actually be surprised at what it’s doing overseas. Everywhere we go, from Texas to Sweden, we’re asked about it, which means that it is on the radar of journalists all around the world, and journalists are getting the word out there. I think it’s on the way to becoming a highly regarded international prize. You know, not unlike the Mercury Prize. We have a while to go until it has a similar level of clout, but it’s definitely on its way. I think people will tune in with interest every year.

Do you have any personal favourite Australian releases from the year so far?

Yeah, I really enjoyed Ghoul, they released an album called ‘Dunks’ earlier this year, it’s like a min-album, seven tracks I think. I believe they’re from Sydney? I really thought it was a great album. There’s a lot of sparse, kind of Radiohead arrangements going on, I think it was quite powerful, I’ve listened to it a lot. I’m looking forward to listening to The Jezabels release, I haven’t got it yet, it came out last week I think. So I’m keen to hear how their sound translates to a full-length album.

So of course Cloud Control won the AMP last year, how did it effect you guys as a band both in terms of the monetary aspect and the recognition?

Okay well monetary aspect, that’s easy. It funded our relocation to London, because that was what we wanted to do, we thought it was the right step for the band career-wise. The prizemoney was really important to us becoming a full time band, which we had not been previous to that, you know living separately and doing bits and pieces of jobs trying to fund our music. So the cash injection was crucial in allowing us to live in the UK while we weren’t making any money because we were starting again. The recognition, I mean as I previously said journalists are very keen to talk about it, so it kind of gives people a context for approaching our music for the first time. It frames our album somewhat as something that people in Australia thought was good and worth listening to. But that doesn’t mean to say that we are ‘the AMP band’, people haven’t tagged us with that at all, so it’s good that people have a fresh approach to our music as well. 

There were some pretty incredible nominations last year as well like Tame Impala and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, did that make winning the award even more special?

It was a bit surreal. Awards… I mean like it is a pretty arbitrary thing to line up art and say ‘that one’s the best’, you know? It’s a bit of a nonsensical endeavor, really. So all it is is people saying that they are going to honour this particular piece of art over the others, which in some ways no-one really deserves. Or, rather, every band deserves that. It would be great if more people could sponsor the award so we could give out five AMPs every year, that would be fantastic, that would definitely be the way to go ahead. It would be great if the government stepped in as well, wouldn’t that be amazing? But obviously the Tame Impala album, we were all blown away by that, so we didn’t really entertain the possibility that we may be the chosen band. Even Gareth Liddiard, we played with him for the Laneway festivals and I watched him like four times because I think he is an amazing performer and an incredible lyricist. The Drones are one of the most important Australian bands of the last decade. So we were in a strong bunch to say the least.

So have you had a chance to catch up with any other Australian bands like Tame Impala who play overseas a lot?

Yeah, we played with Tame Impala last year, they headlined this place called Heaven, which was this massive hall. Tame Impala are funny, because you speak with them, and they’re just a humble bunch of dorks really. Self-confessed I mean, we are too so that’s fine. But they’ve attracted this uber-cool A-list following, like on their guestlist was Noel Fielding, Alexa Chung, and Noel Gallagher. You’re just like what? These are Perth guys and they’re just rolling with the celebs, it was really funny. But they’re the most down-to-earth guys you could ever meet, they’re so funny and quirky, I love those guys. And we did a tour with Temper Trap, all those boys are living in London as well. So we literally run into Lorenzo all the time, just walking around London Fields, there he is, hello! So we’ve become good friends with them, and Johnny their bass player is about to have a baby and our bass player Jeremy just had a baby. I guess we’re all living the dream together a little.

I saw Cloud Control at Splendour In The Grass this year where you pretty much started a landslide at the Amphitheater, what was it like watching that from the stage?

I remember looking up during Nothing In The Water and just going what the? I thought there was an avalanche, I thought the hill was going to collapse. You know I haven’t really managed to talk to many of the stampeders, I don’t really know what their motivations were, I think everyone was just having a really good time. I heard some stories of acts of altruism on this hill, like someone was running down and he lost his thong, and some other complete stranger stopped the stampede to save the thong and hand it back to him, it was amazing. All the goodwill and humanity at festivals, hey?

For sure. Did you get a chance to hang around at Splendour for a bit?

Yeah we did. We saw the amazing Pulp, and I got to see Coldplay for the first time, who are just a seasoned festival band, aren’t they? I’ve heard people swoon over Chris Martin, and I can kind of understand why now. He’s just so endearing on stage, even without his music. I realised what a big band they are though, because I knew so many of their hits, despite not really owning an album other than ‘Parachutes’. I was really impressed. And Pulp were incredible, that was the first time I had seen Pulp live, but I’ve managed to catch them four or five times since during the European festival season, and I did get to meet them backstage once which was great.

You guys are coming back for a few summer festivals soon, has maintaining your Australian audience despite your relocation been a strong focus of the band?

Yeah, oh of course. I mean we’re nothing without our fans, and our Australian fans have just been on that whole journey with us, for like six years. They really gave birth to our career, so we think they’re very important. I mean we’ve been here since April, we came back in July, we’re coming back in two week’s time for a little run of dates and then we’ll be back in December. So on average it’s looking like we’ll be back every two months, finance permitting.

Do you find there are many differences between an Australian gig and an overseas gig?

Everywhere I go I try to learn a sentence in the language of the audience, and Al and I take turns at trying to spit that out in the right order. So that language barrier hasn’t really proved difficult, it’s more been an amusing part of touring. Other than that I think the similarities are stronger than the differences. We’re all just humans, right? If you want to dance then it will be fine.

You played with Arcade Fire a while back, that must have been pretty incredible?

The funny thing about that is the stage actually caught fire during our soundcheck before we were about to go on. A light blew up because it was Milan, and Milan in summer is ridiculously hot. So it blew up, we were evacuated off the stage, there was all this talk backstage that the support band might have to be cancelled, and we were just thinking that we had come all this way, we were so excited to play this show, and we might not get there in the end. But Arcade Fire were really generous and they pushed back their stage time and White Lies, who were the second support act, pushed their time back as well so we could play. And it was definitely a highlight of the whole festival season. Especially because I was talking to Win backstage and I told him how much Crown Of Love had impacted me and I asked him if he was going to play it and he said no, we never play that song really. But then on stage he said that Cloud Control asked us to play this song and they whipped it out in the middle of their set, even though it wasn’t on their setlist. He actually forgot the lyrics and had to start the song again. It was such a generous gesture, I was touched.

And finally, any news on a new album?

Yes definitely. We’ve started writing it already. We’ve got three or four songs on the boil, and we’re hoping to release one early next year.

Awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate it. Good luck with everything.

Great, thank you!

The Australian Music Prize is currently accepting entries, more information can be found on the official website. Cloud Control are returning to Australia soon to play a string of summer festivals and hopefully some headline dates. More details available on their website.

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2 Responses to “Cloud Control Interview”

  1. Yeah…I kinda have a huge crush on her

  2. Awesome interview.

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