Cloud Nothings: TAS In Session
Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi has very understanding parents. Not quite clicking with college, the teenage Cleveland musician, who was studying the saxophone, dropped out — with the blessing of his mother and father — and focused on his own music.
Signed by Carpark Records the following year, the prolific Baldi and his band Cloud Nothings has released three albums in three years — the most recent being 2012's Attack On Memory. A fourth album is already in the works and Cloud Nothings will launch a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore on January 26.
Listen to singer and guitarist Baldi and his bandmates — drummer Jayson Gerycz, guitarist Joe Boyer and bassist TJ Duke — in session with The Alternate Side on TAS on 91.5 WNYE this Friday, January 25, at 11 a.m., also streaming.
Below, watch the Cloud Nothings perform live in Studio A and read highlights of Baldi's interview with The Alternate Side's Russ Borris.
Russ: How did this all come together for you guys as a band?
Dylan Baldi: I made some songs in college because I hated college and wanted to leave. So I thought starting a band would be a really efficient way to do it. It was three years ago and things sort of took off.
Russ: So Dylan, you tell your parents, here I’m writing songs and I’m going to drop out of school?
Dylan: Yeah, that was it! (laughs). They were like, “We can tell you don’t like this, so just do something that makes you happy.” It went fine.
Russ: Do you have a lot of recollections of some of the [early songs] that you wrote?
Dylan: Our first record is the first songs I wrote, pretty much. I remember it very clearly because it exists on record!
Russ: So when you start out, it’s just you and you’re now at the point where you have a fully functioning, really great band. So how do you get from you trying to get out of college to the band as it’s constituted now?
Dylan: These are just friends of mine from around Cleveland. I needed a band to play a show, basically, so I asked them to play.
Russ: Now, this represents where the band is. Attack and Memory [has a] different vibe?
Dylan: It’s a lot different than the early stuff. It’s the kind of stuff I’m into now.
Russ: What’s really impressive about the record is when you take a listen through it, it has this very raw, live feel. It’s very real sounding, from the first note to the last. I know that you worked with Steve Albini on this. What does he bring to the table?
Dylan: (laughs) Albini just records you. He does it really, really well. He doesn’t make suggestions or anything, but anyone who plays in that studio comes out with a record that sounds sort of the same as a lot of records that come out of there (laughs). It’s just a live band playing. He just made it sound really good.
Russ: It’s what you wanted though.
Dylan: Yeah, I don’t like records that are big and produced. There will never be a trumpet on a Cloud Nothings record.
Russ: It’s funny because in soundcheck, you guys messed around with a piano and I was thinking that it would make its way into the mix.
Dylan: We were playing school fight songs! But there is a little bit of piano [on the record].
Russ: You don’t get enough instrumentals on albums these days.
Dylan: I don’t like singing that much because I yell and it hurts my throat so we needed something to calm it down a little bit.
Russ: Was that really the mindset on the record?
Dylan: Well, I wanted lyrics and up to the very last minute, I was like, “What should I sing?” Then we recoded it and I thought it was okay.
Russ: You started writing on your own, so as far as this album is concerned, how did it differ?
Dylan: I wrote the main parts of the song and I’d come in and we’d play. Everyone else would make their own parts around it so it was more of a group process.
Russ: It was it a byproduct of having a full, functioning band?
Dylan: It was just because I was bored writing the kind of songs I was writing before. I wanted to do something different.
Russ: So you’re just starting out and you’re already bored?
Dylan: Teenage angst.
Russ: When you were in college and trying to write songs, are there certain artists or bands in your head?
Dylan: Definitely. There are bands like The Wipers that I love a lot. And bands that you look up to because of the way they operate, they did things on their own their entire career, like Fugazi or Dead Moon or something. Bands you can respect for reasons like that and try to be influenced by their approach.
Russ: Do you feel like in a short period of time that your writing is growing? Lyrically there’s some stuff that sticks out, like in “Wasted Days”: “I thought I would be more than this.” But the way that’s delivered goes beyond the simplicity of the line.
Dylan: I like very direct words. And in music I like to be direct and present. That’s how I am as a person too.