Members of Cloud Nothings Dissect the Tracks on Their Forthcoming Album

With 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else, which local indie rockers Cloud Nothings recorded in Hoboken at Water Music over an 8-day period, the band opted for a poppier, cheerier effort than 2012’s Attack on Memory.

That trend continues with Life Without Sound, the forthcoming studio effort due out Jan. 27. The band will launch a North American and European tour with a performance on Jan. 26 at the Beachland.

Singer-guitarist Dylan Baldi worked on the songs for a good year before putting the finishing touches on them with his bandmates, drummer Jayson Gerycz, keyboardist Chris Brown and bassist TJ Duke. The band wrote some songs during sessions in Northampton, Mass. and then finished the songs at a writing session in Cleveland at Duke’s practice space on the near West side.  Members then joined producer John Goodmanson (Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie) at Sonic Ranch in El Paso for three weeks in March of 2016 to lay down the final tracks.

We recently met with Baldi, Gerycz, Brown and Duke at Hanabi Japanese Restaurant, a sushi joint in the Warehouse District, to talk about the tracks on the new album.

"Generally, it seems like my work has been about finding my place in the world," Baldi says about the album. "But there was a point in which I realized that you can be missing something important in your life, a part you didn't realize you were missing until it's there — hence the title. This record is like my version of new age music. It's supposed to be inspiring."

“Up to the Surface”

Gerycz: The first riff in the song was mixed in with another song but it came from that session in Massachusetts. It was really bipolar sounding song. That was some last-minute shit we did in the studio. The intro features what we were told is Steve Winwood’s favorite piano. That’s how it was introduced to us.
Baldi: We joked that it was a “Winwood.”
Duke: Everything in the studio had a celebrity connection. It was pretty funny.

“Things Are Right with You”

That riff comes from a long time ago. I thought it sounded like Tom Petty at first. But I changed it up and now it doesn’t sound like him anymore or maybe it didn’t at all.
Gerycz: Dylan had an idea for it even before we went to Massachusetts and emailed me the music, and then I wrote drums.
Baldi: There’s a demo on a weird 7-inch. It’s some guy who put it out and I never got a copy of it. I think it was on Joyful Noise. This version is different. The guitar part is the same but the rest of the song is pretty different and the lyrics are different.

“Internal World”

The chorus to that one is “I’m not the one who’s right,” so I’m sure a specific scenario inspired it. It’s a good thing to realize. It’s something I say a lot. It’s an oldie. Jayson called it the Yo La Tengo song for a long time. I forget why.
Gerycz: It was slower so it sounded like Yo La Tengo.
Baldi: We have a version with acoustic guitars.
Gerycz: I have all the different versions on the hard drive.
Baldi: It’s about how it’s good to look inward and think about things.

“Darkened Rings”

I was trying to rip off a Wipers song. I like that band and every once in a while I just try to rip them off. It’s crazy. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Gerycz: There are mean riffs.
Duke: It’s crazy as hell.
Gerycz: That was the last song that got fully structured. All the other ones we had were completely figured out. It was a minute and a half longer. We made some adjustments at the last minute in the studio.

“Enter Entirely”

We don’t have another song that sounds like that. It’s kind of slow, and I wanted to make a song that’s like something you can play on acoustic guitar and sing. It’s how I wrote it. I wrote it sitting on Jayson’s couch.
Duke: It’s my favorite song. I like that it’s the same thing throughout. The melodies and chords don’t really change but it still evolves.
Gerycz: It’s a mean closed high hat and guitar solo thing. I love that. I’m a sucker for that. I’m stoked about that. I like the song as well. It has two solos on it.

“Modern Act”

It’s a last minute one.
Gerycz: We had the song but the whole intro thing that happens twice in the song wasn’t there for the longest time. That was not part of the song at all. I thought that part was a throwback to the older vibe of our music.
Baldi: I don’t know what that song is about yet. It sometimes takes me a while to figure out what the song is about.
Duke: The guy who mastered it said it was a good song, and he’s mastered some crazy records..
Baldi: That’s how you know.

“Sight Unseen”

That’s an older one too. I think the whole record is about doing a different thing with every song. At least that’s what I was thinking about. With that one, we haven’t done something like this before.
Gerycz: It’s similar to the last record and is closer to my natural bpm.
Duke: I remember it being easy to record. It was most similar to the last record.

“Strange Year”

It sounds like it’s melting.
Gerycz: I was listening to This Heat. I was thinking about This Heart, even though it doesn’t sound like This Heat at all. They had a record that came out in 1979. It’s really good.
Baldi: There’s some aggressive yelling and lots of screaming. The people who work for our European label happened to be at our studio for a couple of days. When we were mixing it, they were there and the guy said something really funny about the screaming part. He said something like, “What is this ridiculous shit?”
Gerycz: When we recorded it, there was a horrible storm. It got really scary. The sky was orange.
Duke: The whole place looked like it was in a Tim Burton movie as far as you could see.
Gerycz: It was extra spooky when we were recording that song.

“Realize My Fate”

I wanted it to be the first song for a while but it didn’t make sense. It only made sense as the last song after that. It was the first song I wrote for this record. I came home from France two years ago, almost three years ago, and made that song. I had all the words, and we didn’t make a record until last year, but the song was still around. It seemed like a good closing statement and the noisy part is fun to play. It’s just two really big dumb chords.

Cloud Nothings, Mist, The Cowboy, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $15 ADV, $18 DOS,

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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