Dream Cave – Cloud Control’s second album – is the result of periods of seclusion, persecution and exposure to the musically sublime & ridiculous. Like their 2010 debut Bliss Release, the album is filled with classic songwriting and melody. Unlike their debut, Dream Cave sees the band cut loose from their roots and embrace a spirit of experimentation best exemplified by Check Your Head-era Beastie Boys or a Led Zeppelin record.
Alister (Wright; vocals, guitar): “I remember Jeremy saying about ‘Dojo Rising’ ‘let’s make it more like the Beastie Boys’. That struck a chord with me in the way that they mix everything up. A bunch of my favourite bands – people like the Flaming Lips, Beastie Boys, Yo La Tengo – what they have in common is the way they make albums that move through different styles and recording techniques with each song but they still manage to have their own character. I hope this album is like that. ”
Although styles and approaches vary throughout the record – not just the try anything approach of Beasties but the kind of dramatic, razored studio edits that the Beach Boys perfected on Good Vibrations, the Fleetwood Mac-meets-rave synthesiser of ‘The Smoke, The Feeling’ or the intensity of live-recorded ‘Promises’ – the strangest inspiration comes on the title track where one of the world’s greatest crooners was imagined trapped underground in a cave.
Alister: “Our rehearsal studio is a mouldy, dark place … I was just getting into Roy Orbison at the time and from spending so long in the studio, I ended up imagining what song he would sing if he were stuck in a cave for twenty years. That’s the song ‘Dream Cave’.”
Heidi (Lenffer; vocals, keyboards): “We ended up visiting four different cave systems and did recordings in each different place. We were trying to find the perfect reverb. On the title track the actual backing vocals were recorded in a cave…”
Alister: “I ended up recording the vocal to ‘Dream Cave’ in a cave…”
In between away days experimenting with vocal takes in caves, Cloud Control spent two months in a residential studio in Kent with Barny Barnicott (Kasabian/Arctic Monkeys/U.N.K.L.E/Placebo). Although the band was working nearly 17,000 kilometres away from home, the experience was strangely familiar to the recording process for debut album Bliss Release (recorded at home, mostly live to tape).
Alister: “It was weird how recording this time wasn’t really so different to our set up at home. It came together in England but really it could have happened anywhere. We were based out in the country but we were working so much we didn’t get to go outside. At the end of the day, you’re just trying to record some stuff through some microphones.”
Jeremy (Kelshaw; bass, vocals): “Although it was a proper studio, it definitely felt like the Kentish equivalent of our last set up. Even down to us living upstairs.”
Heidi: “It had a similar feel complete with a funny dad making us cups of tea. So we didn’t really need to venture out. I remember at one point realising I hadn’t put on shoes for four days. When I did, it just felt weird…”
Prior to the studio time, Cloud Control spent countless hours in the backs of vans and tour buses. Since the release of Bliss Release, they had notched up over four hundred gigs across the globe including support slots with Vampire Weekend, Weezer and Arcade Fire. One unexpected side effect was the assimilation of a set of influences from the cd-r collections of the band’s road crew.
Alister: “I think that our record has been directly inspired by the music that our road crew play in the tour bus. George Michael, Pentagram, Warren G, Sexy Dave’s random Rave mixes…”
Ulrich (Lenffer, percussion): “They aren’t afraid of cheesy stuff – neither are we. They’ll play records like Crazy by Seal. It goes on and one of them is almost crying, “Just listen to this production!”
Alister: “It was the only music we listen to as a group, usually we all have different taste.”
Although pieced together in the band’s London rehearsal space while under the influence of that crew inspired playlist, tracks for the record were written and demoed wherever ideas formed.
Alister: “All the songs came out in different ways. ‘Dojo Rising’ started out as a computer demo that Jeremy and I made in the Blue Mountains, then it was refined with the band and finally I wrote a bunch of beats for it in the studio. ‘Happy Birthday’ was Heidi writing an acoustic song then bringing it to the band and jamming it out. Jeremy and I wrote ‘Island Living’ while we were staying on Île de Ré – the French party island. Almost every song started in a different place and was written with a different combination of people in the band.
Writing on Île de Ré presented its own problems.
Heidi: “After we set up, we were playing music really loud. The locals got so pissed off that they ended up throwing rocks at the house.”
Alister: “And a couple of days later someone smeared shit over the intercom.”
Jeremy: “It was such a beautiful place. You can sit outside and listen to the church bells and bird song. Naively, we’d taken our entire kit over. We set up and it’s rocks, dog poo, people hating on us, cops getting called…”
Dream Cave is the result of a hard British winter, a dank Hackney rehearsal space, of a siege mentality on a French party island, of the Big O spending two decades alone underground and the greatest tour bus soundtrack of all time. It’s testament to the magic that happens when Cloud Control play together, their music is more than its’ influences – both musical and non – to create something unique. Enter Dream Cave.