Interview | Cloud Control

By Orlaith Grehan

(Win tickets to see Cloud Control here)
Australia has provided us with many great things over the years: Home and Away, Mel Gibson’s drunken ranting and, of course, the music of Rolf Harris. Fresh from winning the Australian Music Prize in March, Cloud Control will no doubt make the list when the dreamy, reverb-friendly harmonies of their debut album, Bliss Release, hit Irish shelves on 23 May. I caught up with a “jet-lagged and rambling” Alister Wright, lead vocalist with the band, ahead of their first headline Dublin show.

So, first off, congratulations on winning this year’s Australian Music Prize. It’s been a few weeks now; has it sunk in for you yet?

Yeah, I guess it has. It’s definitely an honour, especially with all the other amazing bands who were up for it with us. It does feel lovely, really. We’ve had so much good luck with this album though; it feels great.

Not to put the pressure on, but any plans for a second album?

(Laughs) Not too much at the moment. We talk about the different ways we might record it; that’s been it so far, really. I think it could be cool to do it live. On this one, we spent a lot of time crafting the songs and layering them and stuff. The next one might be a bit more energetic, but, then, we could just go back to how we did it this time. We did really enjoy working that way.

You recorded Bliss Release in your producer’s (Liam Judson) house. Do you think this helped give the album its more intimate feel?

Yeah, definitely. Doing it in Liam’s house meant that we’d a lot more time to put into the songs and to sort of relax about things. We had freedom to experiment and to be ourselves, in a way. You know, you’re not constricted like you would be in a recording studio where it gets expensive so quickly. Sometimes I’d go in by myself, or the band would go in, and we could just tinker about, mess around.

When you were putting it together, did you expect the success you’ve had?

Nah, we didn’t really. I mean, we thought the album was pretty good, but we didn’t expect to be coming over to you guys and traveling to Europe and all that. We just wanted to make the best album we could. I think that was more important to us.

Speaking of traveling, you’ve talked about how it inspires your songs, especially visiting India and the like. What else influences you when you’re writing?

Lyrically, I suppose I get influenced a lot by the books I read. I love reading and I read a lot, so I pick up stuff that way, you know. I’m pretty into science fiction novels at the moment. When I was writing, I was reading a lot of this Japanese author Murakami. I love his stuff: it’s kind of surreal, but really beautiful. Him, and Kafka, I really love.

What about musically?

I suppose it’s more about the style of recording for us. As a band, we kinda like to focus a lot on the recording. We tend to do things in a certain way, like using tapes more, which is a bit unusual really, or not using too many mics. Around the time we were recording, we were listening to a bit of dubstep, so some of our arrangements are a bit stripped back in that way. Yeah, and I suppose I love a lot of shoegaze-type bands and early-90s bands, so they probably made their way in somehow too.

Over here, you’re signed with Infectious Records, where you’re label-mates with The Temper Trap and Local Natives. It seems a really good fit for you: do you feel at home on the label?

Yeah, Infectious is such a great label for us. It’s really small – there’s only four artists – so we know them all really well, and that makes the difference. They’re amazing bands on the label. Local Natives are sounding great and seem to be going down really well, especially with you guys, so hopefully we can do the same when we come over.

I’m sure you’ll have no problems! You did actually move to the UK recently to try to conquer this part of the world…

Yeah, we did. Though saying that, at the moment, none of us actually have any homes there: we’re basically living out of our suitcases for the last few weeks, which isn’t always too pleasant. Our manager’s in New York, so hopefully when he gets back, he’ll have a look around for somewhere for us. I’m actually just staying in my parents house for a while: it’s in Kings Cross, which used to be Sydney’s red-light district, so it’s a pretty crazy place.

(Laughs) Wow, it must make for some good stories there. So, you’re coming over to Ireland pretty soon. What can we expect from your shows?

I don’t know – some people think it’ll be quiet and chilled, but we get really into it. We probably get louder when we’re on stage, maybe a bit more energetic than the album might suggest to some people. We’re not heaps crazy, but we like to enjoy ourselves and jump around and stuff, you know.

I’ve heard that you actually have pretty strong Irish connections yourself, so does it have a special significance for you to play here?

Yeah, absolutely. I have a lot of family in Ireland. Actually, I’m technically an Irish citizen myself – it’s pretty cool. I haven’t spent a lot of time there yet though, and it’s a bit embarrassing, but I don’t really know where my family is even from…

On your website, you’re inviting fans to recommend local pubs nearby your gigs and to go for a few drinks with you all. Do you know what you could be getting into here? I think it’s an established fact that there’s more pubs than people in this country.

(Laughs) Oh, I don’t know. I love Irish pubs. I mean, Guinness definitely tastes better over with you. I’m looking forward to the challenge, definitely.

Great! One last question: can you recommend any other up-and-coming Australian bands we should be looking out for?

Oh yeah, there’s heaps. There’s so many good bands at the moment. The Jezebels: they’re amazing. I’m pretty sure they’re going to kill it over in the UK and US. Fishing: that’s my brothers band. They kinda sound like they could be off Warp Records, if you know what I mean: they’re a little bit hip-hop, but really interesting. Seekae too, another brilliant band. I’m pretty sure they’re all heading over for festivals in the summer, so you guys should definitely try check them out.

Cloud Control play Academy 2 on April 7th. Tickets €13.50 from usual outlets.

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