Interview – Cloud Nothings

2012 has been a year of reinvention for Cloud Nothings. In January the Ohio quartet, led by Dylan Baldi, released Attack On Memory, their third album in 18 months. The record signaled a shift in direction, moving away from the comfort of indie-pop to a dark, uncompromising and at times ambitious punk sound. It was a bold move which paid dividends. Earning the album a string of high review scores and new army of fans.

Six months on, Cloud Nothings are still riding the wave of hype and are about to embark on a world tour. Before the last show of their UK tour, [edit] radio caught up with Baldi in the paint cracked dressing room of the Leeds based, Brudenell Social Club, to grab a chat about Attack on Memory, the Queens diamond jubilee and a Japanese cafe where you can pay to stroke cats.

[edit] radio – Have you enjoyed your time in the UK over the Diamond Jubilee weekend?

DB – *laughs* I have, yeah but it has been a pain driving around cause of all the traffic. It’s funny, just seeing what people are doing after 8pm and how insane it gets (in the places we’ve been). I dunno if people here actually like the Queen or just like getting wasted and running around outside. But it’s cool, I’ve been getting excited.

[edit] radio – How have you found the crowds?

DB – Pretty good for the most part. Some people don’t necessarily like it when go off and do noisier things for a long time, but I like it so I don’t care. But in general, they’ve been good.

[edit] radio – After tonight’s show you’re traveling all over the globe for a few months, is there anywhere you’re looking forward to visiting and playing?

DB – I’m really looking forward to Japan. We’re going to Tokyo, I’ve never been before so it should be really cool. It’s not a place I know much about, but a couple of days ago I was online and I read this article about this cafe where you pay $10 to play with cats. I guess it’d be really depressing in that place; it’s just like old people who don’t have any friends and pay money to hang out with cats all day. I’m really into that idea, I wanna go see what that’s like.

[edit] radio – Your live show’s in the UK have had set lists made up entirely of tracks from Attack On Memory, why is that?

DB – Most of the people who know us, only know us from this newest record so we kinda just wanted to play those. They’re more fun to play than the old stuff, as we’ve only been playing them for six months.

[edit] radio – In previous interviews you’ve mentioned The Wipers as a significant influence on Attack on Memory, what is it that draws you to their sound?

DB – It’s just that it sounds like music I’d want to make. I don’t necessarily find myself relating to music very much, I don’t listen to a whole lot. I just enjoy making it rather than listening to it for the most part, which is kinda strange. After I heard their songs, I didn’t want to listen to anything else for months. For some reason it just connected with me. They’re kinda dark, I feel like Greg Sage and I have the same outlook on a lot of things.

[edit] radio – The Wipers are cited as an influence by quite a lot of 90’s stalwarts like Stephen Malkmus, Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr. Do you think this is why Attack on Memory is often described as having a 90’s sound?

DB – I do think that, because I really don’t listen to whole lot of music from the 90’s. I don’t listen Nirvana or Pavement, it just happens to be what the music sounds like.

[edit] radio – The album has a really bold track listing, front loading challenging tracks like No Future / No Past and Wasted Days, what was the thinking behind that?

DB – I just wanted the stuff which had the biggest difference to our older work to be at the front. So that when people heard it they’d be like ‘Hmmm,’ this isn’t what I’d thought it would be at all. And because those songs are first it makes people think we’ve made some huge leap or change from what we’ve been doing. Even though a lot of it is kind of the same, it’s just recorded differently. I just wanted those two songs first so that we could show that we we’re doing something different.

[edit] radio – You seem to be quite keen on change, are you creatively restless by nature?

DB – I like bands that change from album to album, I don’t wanna hear the same thing over and over. I stop liking band’s if they do the same thing on two different records. It’s kinda in my nature I guess, to change and mess with people.

[edit] radio – Lyrically the album is full or nihilistic-mantra’s like, “Stay useless,” “I thought I would be more than this” or “No Future and No Past,” were they an important theme you wanted to convey? or are lyrics not something you attach meaning to?

DB – Yeh, I pay attention to them enough so that I don’t want to say something stupid and obviously I wanted them to be something I could identify with. Stuff I can sing every night and not feel like an idiot. But I don’t generally put a whole lot of though into them, they’re kinda the very last thing I do. I wrote the lyrics to the album over the four days we recorded with Steve (Albini).

[edit] radio – By releasing 3 records in under a year and a half, you’ve earned a reputation for being prolific, will you be taking more time over the next record?

DB – Because we’re touring so much more, we’re kinda being forced to for the next one. I just don’t have as much time to sit and write cause we’re never at home. I still hope we can get something out next year, but it might not work out. But I’d like to keep putting records out as often as I can.

[edit] radio – Although your bandmates are longtime friends, you’ve not been together as Cloud Nothings for very long. Has the touring given you an idea of the type of music you enjoy playing together? And will it have a bearing on the next record?

DB – More getting a better idea of what we don’t like about what each other do. *laughs* Yeah, so it’s kind of informing of what to avoid doing on the next record. Hanging out with the same person 24 hours everyday can get kinda old and on your nerves, so you realise the things you need to change (musically) to make everything fit better.

Listen to ‘Stay Useless’ from Attack On Memory below: