Bands usually start out in a pretty normal way. It could begin through a bunch of best friends jamming out in someone’s garage or from a chance meeting at a show. Other times, particularly those in the mid to late 2000s, things can start from someone’s Myspace account, and that’s how Cleveland guitar-rock band Cloud Nothings came to be (spoiler alert: more on that below).
Four albums — including their latest, last Friday’s Life Without Sound — and countless tours later, the group led by Dylan Baldi have staked their claim as a sought-out act in the independent music realm. Tuesday night (January 31), Cloud Nothings take the stage at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston with lo-fi noisemakers LVL UP for what should be a highly amplified experience.
Ahead of the show, Vanyaland had a chat with Baldi about starting “fake bands” in his parents’ basement, Cleveland’s outside perception, the music video for “Internal World,” and what the rest of 2017 has in store.
Rob Duguay: Cloud Nothings originally started as one of the many “fake bands” you created on Myspace via music that you created yourself in your parents’ basement. When it was time to get an actual band together, was it difficult or was it easy? Also what made you want to start a band with the Cloud Nothings name versus the other “fake bands” you made?
Dylan Baldi: It was pretty easy. It was just friends of mine from around town and they already knew how to play instruments so it wasn’t that hard. That was the band that people liked out of all of the “fake” band names and it was the only one people responded to in any way so I just stuck with that one.
When you were doing all of these different projects in the basement, did each “fake band” have a distinct influence? Were you tapping into a lot of different styles and different types of music with each one?
I think I thought they did at the time but I’m pretty sure that they just all sounded the same.
Being from Cleveland, have you seen the satirical tourism videos about the city?
When you first saw them, what was your impression of it? Is Cleveland really that dreary of a city or do you think that the view of Cleveland from people who aren’t from there is a bit exaggerated?
It’s easy to make fun of Cleveland, I think people make fun of Midwest cities all the time. Cleveland has some particular things about it that make it easy to pick on. I like living there, I’ve moved around a little bit here and there but every time I just end up coming back to Cleveland. Every time I come back, it’s a little bit better than it was before. I don’t know if that’s a virtue of me getting older or something that’s more boring but I do like it when I come back a little bit more. It seems like there are a lot of things happening in Cleveland that weren’t going on before. There’s a lot more music and it’s just more fun, it gets better every time.
It’s great to hear that Cleveland is improving.
It’s definitely improving, yeah.
Cloud Nothings just put out their fourth album Life Without Sound. When you were working on the record, did you have a specific objective or a goal in the studio while you were making it? Is there a certain theme behind the album or is it just a continuous evolving of past Cloud Nothings material?
The only objective we have when we make a record, at least when we’re in the studio, is to make sure everything is as good as we can possibly play it. The best version of everything. When we’re recording, that’s all we’re thinking about. I guess the overall theme of the record is that the other records seem to be about being directionless and angry while this one is looking in but more to an outward purpose. Rather than being directionless, take it into account that it’s important to have some sort of purpose and try to do something a little bigger than yourself. It’s a record about realizing that and figuring out what’s good and bad about doing that.
I’ve gotten the chance to hear a few songs off of it and I really like it a lot. Including “Internal World” which Cloud Nothings recently released a music video for. I grew up as a kid in high school in the public school system and anyone who has been in that environment has seen at least one instructional video about life lessons and the video looks like it came out 20 years before you were born. The music video has that aesthetic where it shifts between the band performing and doing all of these instructional video things where it looks all corny. Who directed the video and what made the band want to go that route with the video for internal world?
With videos, what we tend to do is pick someone that we trust in some way who we let do whatever they want and that’s what happened here too. This guy named Jonny Look directed it and he lives in Los Angeles now but he’s from Cleveland. He’s done a lot of videos and he’s friends with a bunch of our friends and his brother plays in bands in Cleveland and stuff. It seemed like a cool thing to pick him and work with him and we kind of knew that he would do something weird if we told him to do something weird. I think that was the only direction that we gave him and he came back with this fake school instructional video but also make it about reptilians. We were cool with it, we told him to go for it and he did and it turned out pretty well.
It’s definitely an interesting video to watch, it’s a bit nostalgic too. After the show at the Paradise, what does the rest of the year have in store for Cloud Nothings? Will you guys be playing any festivals this summer? Are there any collaborations on the horizon?
We don’t really have any musical plans figured out but from what I can tell based on looking at our schedule it seems that we’re going to be touring a lot this year and we usually do that whenever a record comes out. We’ll tour so much that we never want to tour again and then we put out another record and tour again. We’ll probably be back in Boston sooner rather than later.
CLOUD NOTHINGS + LVL UP :: Tuesday, January 31 at the Paradise Rock Club, 967 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston, MA :: 7 p.m., 18-plus, $16 :: Advance tickets :: Facebook event page