Indie rock darlings The Clouds are back with a brand new single and a rare WA headline show at Metropolis Fremantle on Friday, November 10, with old mates The Falling Joys in support. Shane Pinnegar gave bassist/vocalist Trish Young a call and found that the four-piece really are happy in The Clouds.
That’s not to say they’ve just picked up where they left off in 1997 – life has changed for them all since then, but it all comes back to the music and their chemistry.
“There's no way we're back into the lifestyle,” Young insists. “Because it was full-time back then, now people have got work and kids, commitments. We live in four different cities in three different states - so it's not as though we're together, and we can only do two or three rehearsals before a tour. But once we're in the rehearsal room, we're all looking at each other going, ‘oh, I feel like I only just saw you last week’. It all seems so familiar. We do fall back into that pretty easily, yeah.
“None of us were expecting to get a second go around the block and everyone's really pleased about it and really enjoying it.”
Young and fellow singer/guitarist Jodi Phillis reformed briefly as The Girls From The Clouds in the mid 2000’s, and then reunited with former guitarist Dave Easton and drummer Raphael Whittingham in 2011 for a succession of Australian tours. While being back in the band comes easy to all four members, Young says it’s the downtime that poses a little angst.
“It's really hard. The playing and the travelling stuff is great, but when you come back it's a real…” she pauses, searching for the right words, before continuing, “a very hard adjustment coming back to domestic life, the usual timetables. Yeah, it's quite difficult - quite disorientating coming back after a tour.”
To add to that disorientation, the music industry has changed dramatically since The Clouds’ mid-’90s heyday.
“Our music is available as everybody else's is, as digital downloads now, and that's really weird that you're not putting out a CD or vinyl or something that people can actually hold in their hands,” she bemoans. “You're having ideas and putting your artwork together - but then, there isn't a cover. That's pretty weird.
“Popular music has evolved a lot since the '90s, not that we were mainstream popular, but you know. There's so much music now – and I don't know how many of our videos there are on YouTube, but you don't see anything, not a cent,” she explains, frustrated at the unfairness of unlimited music streaming. “We've not received anything, and I don't know how many plays we've had out of all the videos, and out of all the different YouTube channels who host the videos, but I do know personally I haven't made anything. In the old days you got played on the radio, you earned royalties. I still get royalties, but I mean, it's $18 or $23 or something!”
But they are still creating, nonetheless, with their first new music in 20 years appearing in February of this year in the form of the (digital only) three-track EP, Zaffre. New single, Beautiful Nothingness, as catchy an earworm as their best work, followed last month and lends its name to the forthcoming tour.
“Jodi wrote it,” Young explains. “It's about how busy and noisy and frantic everything is, but if you're able to allow yourself to be still for a moment, you can appreciate the stillness and the quiet that you can find in amongst everything.”
Having fellow indie darlings, The Falling Joys, as their tour support is a highlight for The Clouds, with Young explaining that they’ve stayed in touch ever since they made a surprising connection in the early ‘90s.
“We found an agent who put us on with them because he thought we'd be a good fit. And their manager just came straight up to the agent and he thought the agent managed us, and he was saying, ‘oh, these bands are so good together, we've got to do this more - are you their manager?’ And our agent said, ‘no, they don't have one’. And the Joys manager asked us if he could manage us too and then that's how we got to be playing lots of shows together and touring together. It was a really good mix, it worked really well.
“Jodi and Suzie (Higgie – Falling Joys singer/guitarist) both lived in the Blue Mountains for quite a while and they saw a lot of each other then. And I actually moved to the UK for six years and Suzie came over and lived just outside London. I don't know how long she was there for, four or five years maybe, so I saw a lot of her over there. I don't know, three or four times a year now we catch up and sometimes Jodi and I go down and stay for a weekend or whatever.
“We've stayed really good friends this whole time. The Joys boys I sort of just seem to run into them now and again, sometimes in unexpected places. We've kept up contact over the years and it's going to be so much fun.”
All four members of The Clouds have pursued creative endeavours since the band folded in 1997.
“Actually, yeah, we've all stayed doing creative things,” Young realises when I point this out. “Dave and I both have, kind of, ‘real’ jobs - office type jobs, but then I've been writing and recording and playing music the whole time and Dave makes guitars.
“Jodi's doing composition and all sorts of things. She’s been involved 100 per cent in music the whole time, she hasn't had other jobs. And Raph, he works in theatre and event stuff and he does lighting. So this is just really all creative stuff, it's really great… I hadn't even thought of it that way, but it is, yeah.”
Last lap around the country for The Clouds was supporting Blondie and Cyndi Lauper on their A Day On The Green tour, and Young recalls the big stages and bigger crowds were rather different from their usual gigs.
“The audiences were in the range of 10,000 people - that's pretty nerve-racking,” she readily admits. “The stages were enormous. We were, I don't know, three or four metres away from each other - we did a warm up show in Sydney before we left and we're one or two metres away from each other and we're all just packed in and it's dark and there's walls and a ceiling and you feel very close to the audience.Playing in a big outdoor setting like that with the sky above you - it's very, very different. Yeah, it's... I don't know… it's a little bit intimidating.”
But a rush, all the same?
“Yeah, very much so,” she agrees. “You do feel quite disconnected so when you get a positive response, you really appreciate it.”
Will Young feel the same sort of nerves embarking on their own headlining tour of the country?
“Well, I don't know yet,” she chuckles. “Ask me when we get to Perth.”
The Clouds and The Falling Joys perform at Metropolis Fremantle on Friday, November 10. Tickets via https://tickets.oztix.com.au/default.aspx?Event=78827