Cloud Control
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Cloud Control

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Speaking from the side of a road somewhere in Western Australia, singer, keyboardist (and handy percussionist) Heidi Lenffer seems surprisingly chipper considering the band have just embarked on a 34 show tour that would take place in the space of a month. Two shows in, though, and Lenffer is clearly loving it. “We’re free! We’re free spirits! We’re travelling in a tiny little people mover right now and we look like we’re going on holidays. All we need is a couple of surfboards and a bike on a rack. Other than that we look like we’re about to do the road trip of our lives. I’m actually loving this tour.”

It’s taking them surprising places too, with Corona as a sponsor and considerably less gear to lug around than usual (and of course with the help of the trusty people mover), they’re getting out of the main cities to play shows. Places like Coogee, San Remo, Coolangatta and Kangaroo Point are on the hit list next to your usual Melbourne and Sydney venues.

“We can get further, really get in amongst country towns (on this tour),” enthuses Lenffer. “We played Margaret River last night and in a place called Yallanock on the furthest south-western tip. Places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to, right into the bowels of the country. So it really facilitated a more comprehensive tour or Australia.”

The unplugged format is not necessarily something foreign to them either. Despite their sophomore album being more production heavy than their debut LP or earlier EPs, the core of their songs and the manner in which they’re conceived and created essentially occurs ‘unplugged’. “When we write, we arrange a lot of the songs acoustically in a lounge room eating pizzas, then we bring it to a band room. When everyone’s turned up really loud you’re really distracted by peripheral sound and can forget to work on the core of the song.”

Just two shows in and already interesting by-products of playing unplugged are noticeable to Leffner, including but not limited to: stage invasion and crowdsurfing, a ten-year-old child cracking the shits with them for not playing The Rolling Stone, and Leffner’s increasing obsession with percussion.

“If the boys let me get behind the drum kit I would have a ball.” Unfortunately, though, she’s limited to the tambourine, an egg shaker, and whatever else she can get her hands on. The unplugged version of Dojo Rising for example includes an interesting approach to added percussion.

“It can be a wedding ring hitting a wine glass; last night it was a canister for ear plugs hitting a glass. Different things produce better results, a sharpie on a mug is often the best, sometimes glass is too pingy, and it cuts through in a bad way. A mug is muted, combined with a sharpie, plastic rather than metal, it produces a warmer tone and that’s what I try and go for!”

It seems pretty clear chatting to Leffner that Cloud Control are a band who are still very much enjoying what they are doing and not content to get bored with it or take it for granted. On tour they look like a bunch of mates who could be backpacking rather than touring heavily (but with better hygiene says Leffner).

“We’re all really good friends,” she says as way of explanation as to how they work. “We came from the same place, our stories are similar so it’s a grounding force between the four of us, a history of friendship and a history of place. You can kind of take that anywhere and be ok.”

BY GARRY WESTMORE