Dylan Baldi discusses the writing influences for Cloud Nothings' fourth album and the pressures met after career successes.
Life Without Sound is the band's fourth studio album. You describe that the album was written in less frenetic circumstances than your previous releases. Can you explain how this writing process was different and how that enabled you to create this record?
Yeah, we just took a really long time between records for some reason. I moved twice, Jayson our drummer bought a house, we all just sort of took some time off for life stuff. I actually didn't name the record for this, but now that I think about it, I had definitely been living a "life without sound" for a few years. We played a few shows, but I wasn't really actively writing or jamming for awhile there. Which is too bad. I like doing that!
Were there added pressures either personally or from the label/management for the new record after gaining popularity with your previous works?
I don't think so, not really. I think if we had just made a noise record or something our labels probably would not have liked it, but other than that I've always felt a good amount of freedom to try whatever we think is right. If people don't like it that's OK. I'd never want to, like, purposefully try to be likable. That seems like a waste of time and energy.
How does the title of Life Without Sound describe what was going on with you or the band during the writing and recording of the record?
Oops, I think I ended up answering this in the first question! We were just taking some serious time off. I got to actually not be touring for the first time since I was 18, so that was interesting. Got to re-evaluate what my priorities are in life and whatnot. I think I had thought sort of "settling down" in one place would be nice, and took steps to make that happen, but it turns out that I prefer being on the road and in a new place every few days with mostly new people.
How have your influences for songwriting changed over the years? Are things that inspired you early in your career still applicable?
I'm just always trying to write, like, the best song. And my version of the best song changes constantly, so yeah the influences have definitely morphed. Though I still like very rhythmic stuff. Drums are important, and for everything to have a sense of motion and dynamics. The production is important too. I like when things feel very live, and our new record was sort of an experiment with a more "studio" sounding thing. I think we'll probably go back to approaching things more realistically next time around. We're four funny looking dudes, I think the production should reflect that haha.
Cloud Nothings is currently on tour playing club shows before hitting some big festival dates. Do you prefer small stages or large festival? How do you adapt your live performance for the different venues?
I like the small gigs. Festivals are cool but it's not really our scene. We make music for small, sweaty, hot rooms. I had, like, "festival ambitions" at one point but realized to reach big font size on festival poster level and be a rock band you kinda have to make shitty songs. Not really into making those.
Do you spend much time in Cleveland these days when you're off tour? What parts of the city do you miss when you're gone and what makes CLE a good place to be a musician?
Yeah I'm in Cleveland sometimes. My girlfriend lives in Philly so I'm there sometimes too. Cleveland's cool, it's small and the music community is tight knit. I'm honestly not really a big player in it since I'm gone so much. I go to shows when I can. Our drummer Jayson is in some cool bands around town, Magic City and Knowso. Lots of good music in Cleveland. Listen to Perverts Again, Prostitutes, Imaginary Softwoods, ask me for more if you're feeling asky.
What things keep music-making and touring interesting and worthwhile for you and the band? What are the biggest hurdles to life as a touring band?
Making new music is what keeps it interesting. Playing the same songs every night can get a little old but every few shows there'll be a crowd that's so excited that it makes things feel fresh again. 26 hour flights are insane. We just had one to get home from Singapore. Touring Asia is incredible but I wish someone would make a faster plane. That's the future I want to see.