By Christina Zimmer
VANCOUVER — With their fifth album, Life Without Sound, released a day after the start of their tour, which is taking them through North America and Europe until the end of March, Cleveland-based punk rockers Cloud Nothings have a lot going on. In between practicing for the tour and doing ordinary stuff like grocery shopping, lead singer and guitarist Dylan Baldi explains how the latest album is just another step in the evolution of their music for the band.
“We try to purposefully change with every record, I don’t think any one of us is interested in doing the same thing twice. So we got a little heavier for a while, then the heavy stuff started to get kind of boring, so now we’re kind of making things that are a little more structured,” he says. “This record was more just influenced by trying to write better songs, just trying to become a songwriter that I would have liked to listen to on my own basically, without thinking about other bands, just thinking about what we’d done in the past and how to improve on it.”
It’s an ambitious goal, especially considering the fact that the previous two albums, Here and Nowhere Else (2014) and Attack on Memory (2012) both received “Best New Music” status on Pitchfork. However, their sound has indeed matured and come to be more sophisticated. It’s still loud but more melodic, which becomes especially apparent in the vocals and guitars while the songs are underpinned by the prominent, rapid and powerful beat of drummer Jayson Gerycz. Lyrically, the new album has a recurring theme around ceding to be somewhat insular and isolated and trying to open up to the world.
“I like to be alone but I do think it’s important maybe to not necessarily rely solely on that and be a little more out-and-about in the world and do positive things,” Baldi says.
The album was recorded with producer John Goodmanson (Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie) at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texis, bordering Mexico where the band got to hang out in a beautiful part of the desert eating tacos. The recording only took three weeks, due to the fact that they showed up prepared. “We practiced a lot in this shitty little practice space that smelled like gasoline. We were ready.” The song writing process has changed quite a bit from the time Baldi founded Cloud Nothings in 2008 as a one-man-band, writing and recording his first album, Turning On, from his college dorm and his parents’ basement. “I write the main idea basically, I’ll come with a song, and then after we play it all together, then it kind of becomes apparent like oh we should change this part or we should switch this, you know, when you play together as a band it kind of becomes obvious what works and what doesn’t. So it’s a collaborative process after the initial song idea appears.”
With the amount of records released by now, Baldi feels the band has a good mix of numbers for them to pick and choose from for every gig and he already has an idea what this could look like for their upcoming show at the Biltmore.
“In Vancouver, I feel like we’re going to play the hits. Get ready, yeah. All the hits.”
Cloud Nothings perform at the Biltmore Cabaret on February 16.BC, Biltmore Cabaret, British Columbia, Cloud Nothings, Life Without Sound