Aussie reared, London based Cloud Control soon returns to the international forefront with their sophomore offering, Dream Cave, scheduled for an August release in Australia and September releases in the U.S. and the U.K. Formed on a whim, four musicians created an award-winning quartet including Alister Wright, Jeremy Kelshaw and brother and sister pair Ulrich and Heidi Lenffer. Opening for bands like Weezer, Arcade Fire and Foo Fighters, this indie alt-rock band is poised to make their firm mark across the pond.
mxdwn chatted with Heidi, vocalist and keyboard player for the band, right before she departed London on an extensive summer tour, hitting her native Australia and stateside. We discussed a lot and she offered some great, candid answers below about the unusual recording process for their latest album and a few amusing behind-the-scenes tour stories.
How did it feel when you found out you won the Australian Music Prize?
It was so amazing. The band was split up and we had to do some promo in Paris. Alister and I were in the back of a taxi and we got a call from Ulrich and Jeremy who were in Belgium. The connection was really bad but we got across the news, “WE WON!” It felt amazing but prizes are a bit silly in a way. Albums against albums. What is that? How do you judge something so subjective? [Though,] It’s a great incentive for artists and the money prize really helped us with the moving expenses of making our London dream more of a reality.
How did you like opening for Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and The Temper Trap?
With Arcade Fire, it was blazingly hot in the middle of summer in Milan….It was so hot that before we got onstage for soundcheck, one of the stage lights exploded onstage and caught on fire. It got quite dramatic because I was on the stage, just hanging round the back and I had to alert everyone in the back that there was now a fire onstage. That was my moment. I was like “FIRE! FIRE!” yelling out, [I] got evacuated from the stage and jumped into the arms of a security guard to get offstage. It was all very memorable. The show itself was incredible. I talked to Win before the show and asked him if they were going to play “Crown of Love” cause that was a really poignant song for one of my breakups back in the day and he said “Oh I’m really sorry, we don’t actually play that one anymore.” Then halfway through the set, they dedicated that song to the band but he got it wrong cause he forgot the lyrics. They had to start the song twice. You don’t get that very often, do you?
Vampire Weekend was probably our favorite tour because we got to play four or five shows with them around Australia in massive venues. They were a really great, fun band to tour with. We’ve been pretty fortunate.
The Temper Trap, yeah they’re really great guys. Dougy and two of the other guys live really close to us in London so we run into them all the time and have become friends…They’re one of the first bands we toured with overseas. Them being Australian, it really helped us ease us into this scene…We crashed this party in Dublin, one of the first shows we played with them. Dougy was like, “We’re going to this party, wanna come?” We turned up (before they got there) and everyone thought we were Temper Trap. It was Cloud Control posing as Temper Trap so we got a bunch of folks taking photos with us. It just shows that some press photos don’t go so far in some countries… They (Temper Trap) loved it. It was hilarious.
What are your must-haves when you are on the road?
Books. I take too many books. I don’t believe in Kindles. We’ve really become an introverted culture with laptops and headphones, I’ve realized. It’s never more evident when you turn up at a venues and there are 3 bands and no one’s really talking cause everyone’s got their Macs out. I’ve found a book in a less isolating way to do what I want to be doing, which is reading ideas, but it’s more accessible. People feel like they can interrupt you more. I’d like to bring back the book reading culture in public.
What’s your favorite song you wished you’d written but didn’t?
“Like a Prayer” by Madonna. I was doing the research into that song and realized she has 12 songwriters credited on that song. That’s how you write a hit! You just need democratic action. (laughing) Lyrically, she has some great philosophical ideas… she breaks out with the choir and the clapping. It’s such a great dance song. I wish I wrote it.
What’s the concept behind Dream Cave, which will released very soon?
It’s a collection of songs that we wrote when we were living in London over the last year. We do like natural spaces and we were looking for an interesting place to record. We thought it would be a great challenge to find a natural environment that would produce natural reverb. We tested 3 different cave systems and settled on one called Deerstone Quarry– it’s a Roman quarry used 2,000 years ago. It’s a dark cave with bats. We were there for two days and took turns doing vocal takes in the cave so there are about three or four tracks that have the cave recorded vocals on them…You can hear the drops of water falling from the roof of the cave on some tracks and you definitely can notice the quality of the reverb on the album.
Who would you not want to trade lives with?
Ed Snowden… The life he’s voluntarily chosen for himself, I do admire the stance he’s taking but, practically, how that’s going to play out for him? I wouldn’t see that for myself. He’s on lockdown for the foreseeable future. It’s a big personal hit to take. All credit to him and I hope it works out for the better of society like he claimed it will.<
What would someone be surprised to know about you?
I’m claustrophic. (laughing) The reason why is because I’ve been locked in 3 separate toilets in different countries of the world. I’ve been traumatized in my adult life, not even as a child. This toilet in particular in Paris in particular, I got stuck in this toilet backstage. The door jammed. I was screaming and I thought I’d die there!… Now if I go into a small, confined space, my heart starts to race so I’ve been scarred.
What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
Tomorrow, we fly out to Australia to play a festival called Splendor The Grass and then we’re coming to [America] to play two and a half weeks of shows, which I can’t wait for! We’ve only played one show in NY and one in LA so this is our first proper tour coming to 8 different states and we couldn’t be more pleased.
Follow Cloud Control on Facebook for more tour and album release info!