Star Scene Trish Young – The Clouds

Having formed in Sydney in 1989, The Clouds emerged along side an indie-pop resurgence of the time emanating largely from Sydney in conjunction with Triple J radio beginning its national broadcasting. Local content was high on the rotation and bands such as The Clouds, The Falling Joys (from Canberra) and The Hummingbirds featured prominently. TV programs such as Rage and Recovery were in full flight as Countdown Revolution and The Factory were winding down. It was a new chapter for Australian art/indie rock pop in which melody and female musicians and vocalists were influencing and giving voice to many young women who at the time in Australia, had been largely left to toil in the shadows. Now it’s Double J, the national broadcaster’s sister digital station, dotting their playlists with a healthy dose of artists from Generation X’s most fondly remembered ’90s mix tapes. We the listeners have been reminded why their 1991 album Penny Century was such a popular release. I recently spoke to bass player/vocalist/songwriter Trish Young about life on the road, recording and the upcoming tour with The Falling Joys.

What’s your scene at the moment?

“Oh crikey! I’ve got a fish tank and I’ve got fish that have live births so everyday I’m just gazing into my fish tank trying to see the baby, baby fish. Yesterday I saw one, like it was just tiny, really, really tiny! I was looking and going ‘Oh my goodness a baby, a baby!’ and within maybe 2 seconds one of the adults came and ate it right in front of me! Just came and ate it – just like that! I barely had time to get really excited and it was gone. It was over in a flash!”, laughs Young down the line with incredulous fervour.

Having released the Zaffre EP earlier this year and now following it up with a new single Beautiful Nothingness, The Clouds are back in full swing and are sounding better than ever. So what was the motivation for releasing the Zaffre EP after such a long absence?

 

“A couple of the songs had been around for a while, one of them was pretty new, but we just wanted to get new material out there because we felt like we could, once it had been recorded and released in some format, although these days it’s a digital download it’s not like you hold it in your hands” replies Young. “We thought that then we could get on and do new stuff. We just kind of felt like that was part of the process towards getting new things happening, to get existing stuff out there in the domain and then keep going with new things.”

Being previously signed to Sydney label Red Eye Records and later with Elektra in the United States, The Clouds worked in the studio with the likes of Tim Whitten and Paul McKercher for the majority of their earlier releases but are now independent in every sense of the word. Having always been hands on co-producers in the past, the band have recorded and produced their latest material themselves this time around.

“It was all ourselves”, adds Young with a hint of pride in her voice. Thinking about the relative ease and accessibility of recording now compared to recording 20 years ago, Young feels there are definite pros and cons.

“That’s interesting because that’s something we’ve actually been talking about. When you have a budget and you book a studio and you book an engineer/producer, you’ve got a set number of days and you’ve got to get in there and you’ve got to be really disciplined and you’ve got to do it and you’ve got to do your best. You can’t just think ‘Oh I’ll watch a movie now’ or ‘Oh I’ll got to the pub and I’ll do some more tomorrow’. You’ve got to be really disciplined. Whereas the way you can record now, which is swapping files on the internet, we’ve found it’s actually a bit hard to discipline yourself.”

“Because we’re not together, the four of us live in different cities, it’s not as though you have that kind of captive situation where you’ve just got to get on with it. You’re all in a room together; you’ve all got to get on with it. Also when you do the drums and the bass, you’re actually all playing, all at the same time and you’re getting the vibe off one another, you’re making eye contact, you’re all in the room. Doing your own parts in isolation just with headphones on looking at a screen, in one way it’s sort of liberating but in another way it’s really hard to giddy yourself up, keep the pace up and get the momentum…It’s very disconnected” Young explains.

“Another thing too that we found is, if you record your own bit and you’re looking at it – and it’s visual now, it’s not on the tape anymore – and you’re looking at it and you go ‘oh that doesn’t quite line up, oh I can just, I’ll just move it a little bit or just nudge that one bit.’ Then you’re looking at the rest of it and go ‘Oh I missed that note’, and you can spend a hell of a lot more time editing your take than you spent playing it. It’s very, very hard to resist that temptation to fiddle with it. And of course once you fiddle with one thing, you throw everything else out and you can find you’re just down the rabbit hole and it’s pretty dark down there!” Young laughs.

Although much of the new recordings were done remotely they did record some of the tracks old school and in person.

“We actually started it maybe 2015/2015 but then I was diagnosed with cancer and it took us about two years to finish it because I was having treatment. The two songs House of the Sun and Mabel’s (Bookshop), me Jodi (Phillis) and Raph (Whittingham) actually all got together and played together”, which they were able to use as the foundations on which to sonically build.

Earlier this year The Clouds embarked on their first tour for some time, being included nationally on the bill with Blondie and Cyndi Lauper as presented by A Day On The Green. When I saw the Melbourne leg of this tour at Rochford’s Estate in the Yarra Valley, their set was disappointingly cut short due to a ferocious lightning storm that took hold after about 6 or 7 songs. In the interests of staying alive, it was the only course of action to take but they definitely left the crowd wanting more.

“I was looking out to the sky thinking ‘Oh wow isn’t that spectacular, doesn’t that look great!’ not actually registering ‘Hello this is dangerous’. We were called off stage and that was that. I can’t remember how far in we were. I know we were playing Heironymus but I don’t remember. Probably about half way through really” reflects Young.

“You know that’s not the first time it’s happened to us! It happened to us once in Brisbane, I think it was the Livid Festival. The same thing happened, there was the electrical storm, thunder and lightning and we had to get off stage! The place had to be almost evacuated. It was very heavy rain and the ground got saturated and cables were actually under 2 or 3 inches of water.”

This should not be surprising given the band’s name but I’m sure it wasn’t something promoters would have been factoring into the equation.

The ’90s saw The Clouds and The Falling Joys tour the country together on many occasions playing to packed venues and festivals for much of the decade. In speaking with Young it’s obvious the band is looking forward to taking this double bill back on the road again just as much as the fans are.

“Oh absolutely. We played with them (The Falling Joys) lots in the old days and we’ve all stayed mates pretty much since then. Jodi, Suzie (Higgie) and I have stayed close the whole time. I lived in the UK for about 6 years and Suzie lived there for about 5 years. She lived quite near me and I used to see her quite a bit there. At one point Jodi and Suzie both lived in the Blue Mountains and they saw one another all the time, at least once a week. The three of us have maintained a really close friendship. With the boys – ‘The Joy Boys’ I mean – I would just see them here and there or see their other bands or run into them. There’s never been a sort of a cut off” says Young.

Once you form musical bonds they never really go away…

“Especially when you tour together, you get really close” Young explains. “It’s an intense experience and you spend a lot of time together. We would be sitting in the same tour bus driving up and down Australia, 12 hour drives and stuff, you get to know each other pretty well! Suzy would always come up with games to play on the road. She would come up with guessing games and word games. Of course people would have, back in those days you had tapes, and people would make mix tapes to take along. For the first hour you would listen to one person’s tape and then the next hour it would be somebody else’s. The time passed!”

What can we expect from these shows that are coming up?

“It will be a mixed bag” says Young. “In terms of rehearsal, as I said we live in four different cities, we’re only going to have maybe three rehearsals. What we do is, we kind of agree on a set list and send around mp3s these days, of new songs or demos/ideas for new songs. Everybody listens and decides which ones that they think (will work), we’ll work out a short list of what we work on. Then we rehearse the older stuff and then try and jam out a bit of new stuff” explains Young of how they choose from their vast song book in order to work out a comprehensive setlist. From the sounds of it we will all be in for a real treat. The Clouds and The Falling Joys will be touring the nationally, kicking off The Beautiful Nothingness tour Friday November 3rdat UC Refectory, Canberra ACT. Just like the old days!

Select Music Presents THE CLOUDS
The Beautiful Nothingness Tour
with very special guests Falling Joys

Friday 3rd November 2017
UC Refectory, Canberra ACT 
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78824
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Saturday 4th November 2017
The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW SOLD OUT
Tickets: http://bit.ly/2xdk8VP
(02) 9550 3666

Sunday 5th November 2017
The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW 
Tickets: http://bit.ly/2xdk8VP
(02) 9550 3666

Friday 10th November 2017
Metropolis, Fremantle WA
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78827
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Friday 17th November 2017
The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne VIC
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78828
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Saturday 18th November 2017
The Gov, Adelaide SA
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78838
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Friday 24th November 2017
The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78834
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Saturday 25th November 2017
Sol Bar, Maroochydore QLD
Tickets: http://tickets.oztix.com.au/?Event=78835
1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets

Head to www.thecloudsofficial.com for tour info and official merchandise.

Tickets are available exclusively through www.oztix.com.au

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