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Cloud Nothings: “We're just in there to get a job done”

Cloud Nothings: “We're just in there to get a job done”

10 March 2014, 14:00

“There’s one track on there that sounds like early Wire,” says Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi about new album Here and Nowhere Else. “The album is a little less melodic. It’s noisier and less straightforward.”

Or at least that’s what he said 12 months ago or so in a conversation with MTV Hive, long before the album’s release this April. The internet responded, lapping up the snippet which came so soon after the release of Cloud Nothings third record Attack on Memory - itself much gloomier and hard-hitting than its decidedly airier self-titled predecessor.

The news was reposted and reiterated and so it was decided. The next Cloud Nothings record would be brutal, huge, and something new and these quotes continued (still, apparently) to surface in the whirlwind that surrounded this most tantalising of carrots.

“Oh, I was drunk when I said that,” Baldi says. “I was on the Coachella Boat when they asked me the question and I just had to make something up.”

The truth was, despite what he told MTV, the band hadn’t even started writing it yet, and it was Baldi’s own internal pressures that indicated it was time to at least start thinking about a new record. “I want to do a record every year pretty much – otherwise I feel like a lazy, useless person,” says the band-leader, and until two albums ago, sole member. “I think that’s the only thing that informs when and how we write the songs.”

So, what are we talking here? The new record – titled Here and Nowhere Else lands on April Fool’s day – but there’s no joke here. We have the preconception that we’ll be hearing something that could well be inclined to smack you in the face with its ferocity, but on first listen, does it? It doesn’t. It’s no doubt pretty grungy and gritty, but while Attack on Memory found the band gloomier than the previous self-titled effort, itself a poppier, more rounded record than the band’s debut Turning On, the latest is much more of an extension on the first – demonstrating a band that have become much more comfortable with their own sound. Is that the case? Baldi doesn’t dwell on the idea, maintaining nothing has changed, ever. “I’ve had the same process writing-wise since the beginning - it’s felt the same. The main difference was recording with the band on [Attack on Memory]. It brought out a lot I couldn’t do on my own,” he says.

The record will once again be put out by Washington DC’s Carpark Records in the US, and handled by Wichita in Europe. It’s the most static thing about the Cloud Nothings’ approach to music. However, the key difference between this record and the last, though Baldi prefers not to dwell on it, is that legendary producer Steve Albini didn’t return to the chair. Though it’s certainly not a big deal: “Anyone can work with Steve,” says Baldi. “I just wanted to try something new.”

That’s fair, so who are we talking here? Here and Nowhere Else has been produced by John Congleton – a wide-ranging producer but also musician, with his band The Paper Chase. He’s worked with bands as diverse as Swans to the fuzzier guitars of contemporaries like The Thermals and Bitch Magnet. However, Congleton is no stranger to a pop hook having also worked with acts like St. Vincent, perhaps explaining the freedom and brightness of Here and Nowhere Else. Though while it doesn’t match the initial promise of brutality, it certainly doesn’t pay all its dues to the Cloud Nothings’ self-titled second record, arguably their most hook-driven. It is in itself a solid record that cements the band as one of the most exciting and unmitigated guitar bands on the road right now.

“The new record is a little more lively I think,” says Baldi. “Steve’s sound was a little more… sterile. It sounds like a negative word, but that’s what I’d maybe call it. It sounds good in that way, but I think I prefer the new one. It’s grungier in the way it’s produced.”

Despite the purpose of the discussion logically revolving around the new record, it’s not a subject Baldi seems hugely invested in talking about. Whether it’s the barrage of interviews while he’s in the UK for a few days (how come? “Oh, just doing a few things”), or perhaps, as he describes, the process of making and talking about records just isn’t his thing. ”It’s not an exciting process, making a record,” he says. “After sessions, we just kind of walk around, eat some dinner, go to sleep – we don’t sit around playing video games, we just took 7 or 8 days, then we took it to Dallas to mix it. We’re just in there to get a job done.”

Wait a minute, he’s in the UK just doing a few things? It’s a long jaunt from Cleveland – the band’s presumed base, to London and the Cloud Nothings aren’t touring the UK until May, which culminates in Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival. “I’m actually based in Paris now,” he explains. That would make more sense, but how come? “Oh, a girl.”

It could be a difficult situation for the band (which includes drummer Jayson Gerycz and bass player TJ Duke) with the others based back in Cleveland – but Baldi sees the positives in this. “I go back there when I can to meet them,” he says. “But going on tour is kinda nice and you don’t get sick of each other.” As for setting up camp in France, Baldi has no intentions of inflicting his music on unsuspecting and tempered Parisians. “No one wants to see me do that man,” he says to the idea of some solo shows.

But either way, the move will give the band a good base for their upcoming touring schedule – an intense programme, taking in the UK, Europe, followed by Asia, Australia, and then back to the US. “We’re touring pretty much until 2015,” he says. Again, he elaborates little on where he’s looking forward to going, reeling off the locations like they’re already become one and the same, and then just as suddenly, the conversation is finished – Baldi’s moving on, to tackle his “things to do”, no doubt. But it leaves a strange air and a slight confusions as to what the motivation behind the Cloud Nothings is. If there was more time to ask an educated guess would be that we’d be told that there simply isn’t one, and furthermore, why does there need to be one?

Cloud Nothings, simply exist, with an instilled sense of urgency that is held up only by a relentless touring schedule and a self-imposed annual record release programme. Baldi explains that their relatively short album length – 8 minutes, around 30 minutes, “is enough” and that it largely translates to their 40-odd minute live shows. The impression that Baldi gives, is always “what’s next” and while the band is locked into this extensive tour, they’re likely to be coming to your town – so you might want to catch these songs while you can.

Here and Nowhere Else is released on April 1 via Carpark/Mom + Pop in the US, and Wichita in the UK.

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