During Cloud Control‘s tour of the UK, the band’s bassist, Jeremy Kelshaw and percussionist, Ulrich Lenffer took some time out, at their Southampton stop, to chat to The EDGE’s Alex Copland before the release of their upcoming album.
First of all, how are you both?
Ulrich Lenffer: Good!
Jeremy Kelshaw: Pretty good! We’ve got two more dates of the tour, so kind of coming to an end. It’s been good, we’ve played a lot of places we’ve never been before or never played before.
UL: Certainly hasn’t been that stressful.
JK: We’ve got good crew on the road.
Is this one of your first big tours?
JK: Yeah, it’s our first UK tour. It’s the fifth flight to the UK we’re on the back of at the moment. It’s a lot of times to come here before you do a headline tour, I guess, but that’s just the way it worked out.
You’re from Australia, the Blue Mountains, so, what’s really different touring over here compared to touring in Australia?
UL: There’s just a lot of towns. A lot of towns with a lot of people in them, as opposed to five major towns that are, like, days of travel apart which is what it is in Australia. You can travel for two hours [in the UK]and you’re in a little town that has a bigger population than Adelaide, which is like one of the biggest cities.
JK: I find also that we’re playing small venues, compared to what we play at home, not that we’re playing massive venues at home, but I find the venues respect us a bit more, I don’t know, there’s just riders and food and stuff like that here, which is good. You can get in early and sound check for a couple of hours or whatever. Whereas at home, small venues are like; call, “gigs are today”, “yeah”, “come set up seven-thirty”, “great”. And it’s harder to do that. I think you guys do small venues a lot better than what we do.
Are there any differences in the crowds and the audiences or they all expecting the same thing?
JK: It’s kinda hard to know. Nobody really knows our stuff over here. Actually I’ve been surprised that people have known a little bit more of our stuff than I was expecting, but it’s kind of hard to know ‘cos the album has been out for a year [in Australia], so everyone knows the lyrics.
UL: Yeah, we’ve had some really good shows where the response has been way better than I had ever expected, at this level. And then some shows where it’s no-one knows our stuff. Trying to coax them in… [does drumming gestures]
UL:…to enjoying it.
You say “break-in”, how would you describe your music to someone who you met on the street to get them to come along to one of your gigs?
JK: I just tell them we’re a rock n roll band and that they should come to find out for themselves [laughs]. I mean, it’s like, broad genres, we’re not classical, we’ve got pop sensibilities and rock sensibilities and after that everyone makes up genres.
UL: Don’t like to drop names either because it’s way too confining.
JK: We read reviews and it’s very often we get quite different comparisons to bands. I like that. But it makes it difficult to describe it to people. Also I don’t think it’s our job to…
JK: It’s kind of your job to…[laughs], I guess.
You say we make up the genre, but do you have many different influences that shape your music, or do you all come from the same background in terms of music?
UL: I like that people say, they [bands]are obvious influences, and then list a whole bunch of bands, and the majority of bands are not influences for us. It’s interesting, because it means that somehow we have managed to capture something about those bands that is popular and makes them the band without consciously doing it, looking at them and stealing what they’re about, their vibe. But I reckon, yeah, I mean our actual influences probably do help. The music we like to listen to has harmonies and melodies at the most basic level and that’s what our music kind of comes out as.
Can you put your finger on any particular bands or is it just a mixture?
UL: Heidi [Lenffer], for example, who is an amazing harmonist, the majority of the stuff she listens to is from the 60s and 70s, so that’s like The Hollies and The Kinks, there’s old school bands that really rely on harmonies and beautiful melodies, so I guess that’s where that kind of side comes from.
Have you had any significant moments as a band? You’re relatively new over here in the UK, you’ve been around Australia, as you said, for a few years now. But has there been one memory that you’ve got so far that really stands out?
JK: I’ve got mine…
JK: Played this festival in July last year. It’s a one weekend festival, doesn’t travel around, heaps of international bands come and it’s three days, and it’s probably Australia’s best solo festival. Everybody respects it, everybody loves going, everybody flies in, yeah, it’s got such a great buzz. And we played a really awful slot at, like, 1 o clock in the afternoon and we were a bit frustrated at how that came about so we were just like, y’know just give it a good go, ra-ra-ra. And we walked out and it was this big top tent, it was packed eight to nine thousand people, spilling out the sides, all got up early to see us.
UL: And the weirdest thing was when we got there, it was just kind of like fifteen rows deep at the front. We were like, alright that’s pretty good, that’s more than we expected, and then by the time we had gone back in warmed up and stuff and came out it was full, within ten minutes!
JK: I think that woke us up that people had actually listened to the album and had latched onto it and it blew our minds. We all came away from that festival like, “whoa, what just happened?” And then a lot of stuff from the last six months of last year kind of kicked on from that and a lot of stuff happened and we did another album tour and that led up to summer festivals. So it was the real big boost we needed.
I hear you supported Foo Fighters!
JK: Yeah! [laughs]That was a weird day [laughs]. We played in this botanical gardens in Brisbane. It was a charity show, it was a flood relief show from all the crazy floods that had happened there in Queensland. We thought it was like a festival vibes, hopes and dreams and really it was just a Foo Fighters gig [laughs].
UL: All there for one band.
JK: Yeah, everyone was there for one band. It was great, it was a good day, I’m glad we did it, but at the same time the gig was kind of a hard day at the office. Just because there were a lot of people who didn’t know who we were, and wouldn’t be regular festival people. Foo Fighters comes to town for one charity, the type of people that come is anybody, everybody wants to come to that.
UL: It’s just funny that we came off the back of that from our best show ever. Headline show in Melbourne ; it was sold out, people going bonkers. Then we go to Foo Fighters…
JK: Next day, just chilling, like “yeah, alright”, just keep things in perspective…
UL: Then we go to London and we’re playing to like, you know…tiny amount of people. Just putting things in perspective. Keeping it real.
JK: I guess that’s what happens when you release an album. When our album came out in Australia when we wrote it, it was something we had to do creatively and then it was picked up by radio and kept going and it exceeded all of our expectations and our label’s expectations and now we’re over here now, living. When you start a band it’s your great hope you could go overseas with the band. Here we are five times over, not making any money out of it yet, but it’s still worthwhile.
What were you doing before being signed?
UL: Just uni. Most of us was at uni. Jezz had finished, he was working full time. Just working side jobs, just normal average people.
JK: It’s been five, almost six years now, you break into people’s spheres and then you’re the new thing. But then there’s so much history in the band, then it’s like we’re not actually that new, we’ve been slogging like this for ages [laughs]. It’s our first album, we took our time with it and I think it’s probably paid off. It’s just kind of funny when people are like, “ah great it’s so good you know this new, fresh, young band”. I mean sure we’re only one LP in so our back catalog isn’t very long [laughs]but at the same time, for us, it’s been a long time coming.
Cliché question now…what’s next for you guys?
JK: Living in London now… [Points at Ulrich] You’re homeless in three days!?
UL: Nah, I’m at my place ’til February [thumbs up and cheeky grin]Bomber!
JK: Are you? Sweet! [Smiles and clicks fingers] When did that get picked up? Today?
UL: Just sometime today…
UL: For the next couple of weeks we’re all looking for houses and moving in and then after that, festivals and shows and just over the next two or three months just festival season.
Taking each day as it comes?
UL: Pretty much, yeah, it is like that [laughs]. It’s like, “yeah, you guys have got to do all this”, “yeah alright cool. When’s that?” “Next week!” “Alright.”
JK: It’s kinda funny. You open up your email inbox and there’s, like, ten, fifteen emails of just stuff; “do you want to do this?” “Do you want to do this?” It’s like “errr” [laughs][typing actions]“yes, yes, yes, (I’m going to die)”. But it’s good like that. So we’ll do another tour later in the year, and then do some more Europe stuff and then, depending what happens in the US, after that it will be album two time. Which is cool. You’re writing for a purpose. First album has done something and then second album you have to follow it up. I want it to be inspiring, writing something we know people will listen to and we know we will take on the road and we know we will want to play live. Just hope that it inspires us rather than scares the shit out of us [laughs].
Have you written anything whilst been on the road, or just concentrating on the tour?
JK: Bits and bobs, but nothing cemented. No final songs. It’s kind of so hard.
UL: So hard [laugh]
JK: Like a massive headspacing, you have to be really bloody motivated. Your day is like, you get up, you leave at 10, 11, 12 depending on the drive, you have lunch, you get to the place, set-up and sound check, do business on your computer for ages, and then do media, and then have dinner, play show, talk to people, pack up, go to bed. Where do you write an album in that? I don’t know! It’s kinda hard.
UL: In your sleep.
JK: In your sleep, write an album.
What recent albums are you currently listening to?
JK: I’m really liking the Deerhunter album. It’s not that recent though, is it?
JK: How old is it?
UL: Eh, you know, last year.
JK: Yeah, that’s recent in my world. We just did the Laneway tour, big festival tour, five stops, back in Austrialia, with those guys, bunch of other bands. Yeah, they’re really crazy live. Like they’re, really, really, really, really, really, really, intense. Really. [Clicks fingers and points at Ulrich] You?
UL: Really loving Twin Shadow. Band called Twin Shadow, album called ‘Forget’, pretty amazing. Um, who else? Been getting into Wild Nothing. They’re very good. That’s about it.
Is it difficult to get to hear new music when you’re in the bus for so much of the time?
UL: No, you have plenty of time to listen to music.
JK: You’ve just got to be motivated. We’ve been talking lots about how we listen to music and how it’s changed with the internet. It’s an old argument, but I know we’ve just talked about it lately. Downloading stuff off the net, beside the idea of money, the big thing for me is, you don’t have to be intentional with it. You can just, “here, here’s my hard drive”, “thanks for your hard drive”, download a gig[abyte]of music. How do you go about listening to a gig of music. If you’re going to steal music, steal an album at a time that someone has recommended to you [laughs]so you take it home and listen to it, and realise, remember people have been intentional in writing this stuff, rather than switch it on, switch it off, whatever. It’s not how should be engaging with art.
UL: Definitely not, Jeremy.
JK: Gotta just listen.
UL: Gotta respect it.
JK: I like the idea of paying money on your internet bill and getting three albums a month, and you have to spend them wisely. Then you’re like, which albums are the best three albums this month? Then it’s bitesized, it’s enough.
Thank-you and good luck with the rest of your tour and with the album.
The album Bliss Release was just released (blissfully) in the UK on 23rd May 2011. Check out a review of the album right here. See Cloud Control live at a UK festival near you, this summer.