Published Apr 17, 2014"I like making records, or I wouldn't be doing it, but the live performance and touring is much more what I enjoy," admits Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi.
His fourth album as Cloud Nothings, Here and Nowhere Else, has all the heavy riffs and unshakable melodies of the band's 2012 breakthrough, Attack on Memory, but it's the year he just spent on the road, playing to packed holes in the wall and festival crowds that has him feeling pretty good about things lately.
Attack made numerous top ten lists, allowing Baldi to quit his day job and solidify the band line-up, making touring easier and songwriting — formerly a Baldi-only affair — more democratic and dynamic. Baldi says the songs on Here and Nowhere Else were born from time afforded by his band's success, time that he used both to gather life experience and, when the mood struck, to write.
"Everything was going really well, people actually liked the band," Baldi enthuses over the phone from Los Angeles, where he flew on a whim to write and record a collaborative record with Nathan Williams of Wavves.
"The band was my only job. Every time I would sit down, I'd start playing the guitar, and it was like, 'This is fun!' It was just a much easier place to write from, actually, because I wasn't stressed or worried about anything. I could just sit down and be like, 'Okay, I wanna play some guitar. Let's see what happens.'"
What happened was Here and Nowhere Else, which, despite Baldi's positive headspace, builds on the bleak, adrenaline-fuelled Attack. Highlight "Psychic Trauma" begins with an unassuming mid-tempo guitar part that, 43 seconds in, turns impulsively to speed away, while "Giving Into Seeing" builds to a climax in which Baldi wails that if you're "saying something, it's supposed to be true!"
That bitter exuberance is palpable on record — producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, the Roots) "just sort of picked up on everything right away, and knew how to record us," says Baldi — but it's the live show that Cloud Nothings are focused on. The band's straightforward approach, Baldi claims, just isn't conducive to studio experimentation.
"Recording as an art form is not the goal, or anything we're really worried about. I wanna make a document of a live show. There isn't much room for using the studio like an instrument in our songs, so we just kind of go in with everything ready and bang it out really quick. That's sort of the look for us. I like a lot of records that are really produced and interesting but, for our band, it doesn't make sense to do that."
Appropriately, Cloud Nothings will tour the rest of the year. Baldi's set his sight on recording a new album for 2015, but reaffirms that "being in a studio for too long just sort of gets on my nerves. I don't like being in one place too long; I wanna get out there."