‘People can tell if you’re trying to force something or if you’re not being honest’: An interview with Cloud Control

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Australian band Cloud Control were the support act for Local Natives when they came to our very own Southampton University. Here they discuss recording on tape, long drives and the importance of listening to music.

So you released your new video ‘Promises’ on 28th October. What was the inspiration behind the song?

Alistair: We had a riding trip to this island off the west coast of France. Everyone else had gone home and I was kind of going crazy by myself. I was chatting to my girlfriend and I asked her ‘can you tell me a list of things that I like?’ and she was like ‘okay’. I looked at the list and kind of freestyled some lyrics based on that. 

Do you find you write most of your songs freestyle?

Alistair: Mostly it will be pretty quick bursts of making stuff up. It will be like a whole bunch of songs really quickly and then nothing. 

Did you have much influence over the story line of the video for the single?

Alistair: Yeah, the director came to us with an idea and we kind of fine tuned it. It was mostly his baby.

Do you like to have input in your videos?

Alistair: You have to have input to get what you want. The best is when someone just totally gets it. 

Have you had anyone come to you with an idea that is completely not what you want?

Jeremy: Oh every day of the week!

Alistair: We’ll get ten or fifteen different directors giving us their ideas.

Jeremy: So you’re reading their ideas and having a look at their back catalogue and it becomes really evident very quickly whose not on the same page.

What was it that made you decide to change from tape?

Jeremy: Our producers like to work like that I guess. Liam was all about the tape but Barney has a tape machine but was always like ‘there’s no point unless you have a really really good one’, which I don’t necessarily agree with. 

Alistair: I don’t agree with that.

Jeremy: I can understand what he’s saying. It can be difficult. It demands so much attention and you just have to get it right. They’re so old now, they’re always temperamental.

Alistair: The reason we did it the first time is cause we really liked the sound of it. Even a shit tape machine still sounds nostalgic and unique. This time we felt like we didn’t want to do it again. We already defined ourselves through that so with this album it was kind of ‘anything goes’.

As a band you have a quite nostalgic, ethereal sound. Was that a conscious decision? 

Jeremy: I think we spend a lot of time trying to be interesting. That’s hard. We could make a lot of boring stuff. It’s the stuff that’s like ‘yes! Awesome’ that sticks. You have to wade through a lot of mediocre stuff to find interesting stuff.

Alistair: I don’t think we necessarily try to be ethereal when we write; I think that’s just what we all like.

Do you like to experiment with your songs when you’re playing live?

Alistair: They generally evolve a bit over time. We started touring a couple of months ago and since then the songs have kind of evolved a bit and I don’t think there’s been changes but I think if some random person saw it they would think it’s better now. We just get better at playing them and we change parts.

Jeremy:  We’re never really experimented show to show but they evolve over time if they need to. The new album’s got quite new sounds on it. Some songs start super basic and some of the stuff totally works like that so there’s no need to do anything different. There’s a song called ‘Island Living’ which is a really studio heavy sound and we just do our own version of that. 

Alistair: The whole song is really different anyway.

When touring, do you find it difficult to maintain energy?

Alistair: It depends on the show. My favourite show for the tour was the one that just happened in Bristol. It gets to the point where we could keep playing these songs forever. It comes in waves; sometimes you have a bad show. 

Jeremy: It’s the lead up in the day, there’s so many factors. To be honest I find it’s the roar on stage – if it happens or not cause it doesn’t necessarily happen. If you walk on stage and there’s just silence and people don’t really care then it’s hard to give them something in that moment.

Alistair: You’ve got to stay adaptable to the show. Every crowd is different and every situation is different. You have to be pretty easy going about it.

Do you every write on tour?

Jeremy: We always talk about it.

Alistair: It’s so hard though. I’ve written down a few ideas on my laptop but never whole songs. But then those ideas are totally what turn in to songs. You’re just messing around but those ideas turned into our whole album.

Where do you guys take your inspiration from?

Jeremy: I think it’s just listening to stuff.

Alistair: Listening to cool music, life, anything; it could be a movie or a book or something or someone in your life telling you a story.

Jeremy: Round the campfire toasting marshmallows. 

What album inspired you in your life?

Jeremy: I think the first album I ever fell in love with was Wheezer’s Pinkerton and we toured with them this year. That for me was the start of falling in love with albums so that for me. 

Alistair: I really loved some of the music my parents listened to. The first album I bought was Presidents of the United States of America. Still listen to that now. That’s nicely recorded too; that’s on tape. I was driving for six hours and I only had a couple of albums and I listened to it four times straight, driving by myself in the middle of the night. Such a long drive. I was just singing alone to those songs in the car. 

Do you have any advice for student musicians?

Jeremy: We were student musicians. I guess just write lots and try to do something different. 

Alistair: Have a good time? Just try to enjoy it. There’s no advice because everyones career is so different. We’ve had such a random non-planned kind of thing, where we’ve all just ended up in this band. Jeremy had a full time job and the rest of us were at uni so it just took over slowly. I think the main thing would be enjoy what you’re doing. I think people can tell if you’re trying to force something or you’re not being honest. Even if you’re being melodramatic, there’s still some level of honesty in your performance that people will pick up on.

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Hi I'm Grace I risk sounding disgustingly cliched but I cannot remember a time when music wasn't part of my life. I love going to gigs and have been known to dabble in a bit of gigging and song writing myself.

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