Monday, September 20, 2010
The Coolist Kid Around: An Interview with Cloud Nothings
The constant coverage of Cloud Nothings music might seem excessive to some, but the truth is that the music produced is just so good, it be a crime not to cover it. So after fanning over the band for the better part of a year, I thought it was time to find some answers about the band. Luckily, band master mind Dylan Baldi was willing to take time out of his busy recording and touring schedule to don an email interview, where described touring with Fucked Up and Wavves, hardcore dads liking his music, and the details of his upcoming debut album.
The Creative Intersection:You first started playing music in Cat Killers and Neon Tongues. Was this out of teenage boredom or a supportive Cleveland scene? Was there a Cleveland scene so to speak?
Dylan Baldi: It wasn't for either reason, really. It was because I liked playing music with my friends (like the neon tongues stuff), and when I couldn't play music with my friends I made music on my own (like the cat killer stuff). There's definitely a Cleveland scene, but they're an insular bunch. I don't think the majority of the bands here are too accepting of my stuff.
TCI: You concentrated mostly on Cat Killers which had a bit of an ambient bent to it, before Cloud Nothings, which is more indie rock. What led to the shift?
DB: I just happened to make two songs one day that didn't quite fit with the Cat Killer stuff, so I just made a new myspace page and called it Cloud Nothings. There were actually a couple Cloud Nothings songs up there before I put "hey cool kid" on and started getting internet attention, but those will be secret from everyone forever and ever because they sound wayyyy different than everything else. It was, like, freak folk. I don't know what I was doing.
TCI: Both bands have quite a few cassettes releases to them. Are you a fan of cassettes and the growing cassette scene?
BD: Yeah, totally. I think cassettes and cassette labels and all that are great. Though I tend to think of a cassette as a band's demo more so than an actual record, a way to see if there's potential in an artist.
TCI: Did it surprise you when all the blog coverage started pouring in when Turing On came out?
TCI: Was it strange going from a recording artist to a live one? You didn’t have a band together when you started you started and the live set up has changed significantly since starting , right?
DB: I love playing live, so it wasn't too big of a change. Just had to teach the songs to my friends. There's only been one real lineup change...our first two shows had a different guitarist and drummer, but they both had to go to college so I found some other people who are, y'know, "college dropouts" or whatever.
TCI: You tend to create various small releases like 7” and EPs over large scale ones. Why is that, to suit the punchyness of the music better?
DB: I just get offers to do 7"s all the time so that's what I've been doing so far. I'm going to slow down on releasing those, though, and maybe make a blog sort of thing for those kinds of songs. I'm gonna put more effort into full lengths from now on and make sure they're all unified, quality statements as opposed to a bunch of punchy pop songs thrown together haphazardly.
TCI: You just finished playing some dates with Fucked Up. What was that like and were you surprised when they asked you? What was it like opening for a hardcore crowed?
DB: Touring with Fucked Up was great. They're all the nicest people, and it's an honor to know they like my music. Playing for a hardcore crowd just meant we got a little less applause than usual...it wasn't too weird. A lot of dads were in the audience, honestly. It was a mix of hardcore kids and dads, and all the dads bought our record.
TCI: Was it different from opening with Wavves, your other high-profile tour mates?
DB: Actually, it wasn't that different. About the same amount of crowd response at both, pretty much the same amount of merch sold. They were both pretty chill tours. Definitely had a good time on both.
TCI: It was announced recently that you plan to release your debut in 2011. Why so far from now, because it’s obvious that you could release a double album right now if you wanted. Are you taking your time with it and why?
DB: Well it's being released on Carpark, which is a "real" label, so it has to go through the promotion and whatnot that "real" label records go through. Takes a little more time than recording a bunch of songs straight to my computer and sending them to a dude who dubs them straight to cassette and calls it a day. It's all good, though. I'm really excited about the full length...it's definitely a lot different than what people will expect, I think.
TCI: Various releases of yours are coming out in compilation form on Carpark Records late this year. How did that come about and is it weird having a compilation out this early in the band’s life?
DB: Carpark got in touch with me and I ended up signing with them not too long after Todd, the label head, saw us play live. We went back and forth on whether to release a full length or a compilation first, but in the end decided with the compilation. There are still plenty of people who haven't heard Turning On. The majority of people don't scour blogs for new music every day, just weird people like us. So it's being released to reach out to and familiarize that majority with Cloud Nothings before dropping a full length. I think it's a good move.
TCI: When people first heard Cloud Nothings though Turning On, it gave the impression of a lo-fi indie rock band. Through further releases though, a pop punk edge has emerged in some of your stuff, and some maturity has begun to emerge as well, especially in your new Bridgetown release. Was Turning On just your first step and this is how you’ve always wanted Cloud Nothings to sound, or do you view the band as one that can and is always changing its sound?
DB: Every release is going to sound different. The new record is all slow jams - seriously! It's almost like an ambient rock record...it's super chill. The pop punk influence is more or less gone entirely. I just want to consistently put out good material, regardless of how it sounds. I listen to so many different kinds of music that I've realized there's no way I'm ever going to be able to focus on one sound for too long and be happy. I just want to keep branching out, and whether I do it as Cloud Nothings or even some other band name I'll definitely keep changing styles and sounds.
If I stick to one sound I have this feeling that I'm going to end up making a record that is just totally "okay," and not noteworthy in anyway, be it good or bad, and I'm not okay with that.
TCI: Final question: Why does your voice sound different on every recording?
DB: I use different effects on it every time, and I sing differently all the time too. Just to cure boredom, pretty much. On the new record I do some Jeff Buckley-ish falsetto...it just goes back to me wanting to explore as many sounds as I can.