Interview :: Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi on ‘Here and Nowhere Else’
April 9th 2014
“I write a lot, and there’s a whole bunch of garbage, so I try and just keep the good stuff for the records…”
Dylan Baldi and his crew of fellow angst-rockers Cloud Nothings have just released their fourth and most unwavering record to date, Here and Nowhere Else. He chats with Dom O’Connor here about the writing of the record, his collaboration with Nathan Williams of Wavves and his favourite power trios of all time.
Dom O’Connor: This record had so much hype and buzz surrounding it after the success of the last one (2012’s Attack on Memory). How did you deal with the added pressure around making this record?
Dylan Baldi: I ignored it, completely. It was difficult at first, but it was something that I just learned how to do. I sorta stayed in my own little bubble while I was writing this record and tried to just think about only making things that I liked, and not really worrying if anyone else was going to be as into it. I’ve done that in the past anyway, so it felt pretty natural.
The new album is probably the most consistent collection of songs you’ve ever done. Did you consider this at all?
Uhh, you know I just wanted it to be the best collection of songs I could write. Every time I do something, I try to make it outdo the last song I wrote, or the last record I wrote in this case…
Does that mean that there’s a whole bunch of unreleased songs that’ll never be seen by anyone?
Of course, that happens all the time. I write a lot, and there’s a whole bunch of garbage, so I try and just keep the good stuff for the records.
There’s a lot of massive choruses on this record. Is this something you’ll always gravitate towards?
I like every part of the song to be melodic and memorable in some way, so that’s just something I need to do and these kind of songs need them to make them sound good to me.
My favourite part of Here and Nowhere Else is the double time switch that happens in ‘Psychic Trauma’ around a minute in. How did that come together?
I had that first little riff written, like the slower one, and I couldn’t really figure out what to do. I had the whole song written and we just kept playing it slow, and I just thought it was kinda boring. Then at one point, we just started accidentally playing it double time at one part and it just sounded really good. It was just a really organically produced song.
I keep seeing the new record being described as a ‘grower’. What do you think a ‘grower’ means?
I don’t really know, to be honest. I’ve seen it being called that too and I had no idea what it meant. I guess it’s just something that every time you hear it, you can find different stuff in it that you didn’t notice at first. This record might be like that just because there’s so much melody around it.
The drums are mixed almost as loudly as the vocals on these songs. Why is that?
I see the drums as almost melodic, and as a lead instrument. I just think they’re so important to these songs, as an equal element to the music. It also mirrors the whole ‘seeing the band live’ experience I tried to capture on these songs.
You’ve previously said that the lyrics to Cloud Nothing’s songs ‘don’t matter’. Why not?
I’ve said that a lot, and they do matter. I do want to be saying stuff that I can stand behind, but I don’t want to over-think that when I’m writing it. If I over-think what I’m writing about, I’ll never finish it and I’ll find something else to do.
I was just going to ask about one lyric on Here and Nowhere Else, and it’s in ‘Pattern Walks’. The lyric is, “I’m moving forward while I keep the past around me..”
It’s a very literal line. It’s just about being able to continue with your life but also to keep doing what you’re doing and being aware of who you were and where you’re coming from.
Last week, you announced you were doing a record with Nathan Williams from Wavves. Can you tell me any more about that?
Yeah, I can. I was in Los Angeles for eleven days or so and we made about eight songs that are good. I don’t know what we’re going to do with it, really. But it exists and I like the songs so we’ll probably put it out.
There seems to be a recurring habit of your records lasting eight songs. Is that the limit?
It’s just like, eight is such a good number. If you have eight really good songs, there’s just no fat on the record and that’s a pretty decent record. Every song on a record should feel essential, so that’s always the goal for me.
You’ve been a three piece for about a year now, but this was the first record done as one. Was it daunting?
It was, because I didn’t really know what to do. But I practiced a lot [laughs], and got better at guitar. It was more just something that helped me figure out a way to keep things interesting. I mean, trimming it down to the bare essentials of just guitar, bass, drums and singing is as minimal as it gets.
Who is your favourite power trio then?
Uh, probably ZZ Top. Just because they’re the best band of all time. They’re the tightest, best band that ever existed.
Finally, you’ve said in previous interviews you’ll be coming to Australia in December. Can you reveal anything else?
It’s all I can say, because it’s actually all I know. I just know we’ll be there in December, and I think we’ll do Attack on Memory and Here and Nowhere Else in full back to back.
WHAT :: FBi Presents CLOUD NOTHINGS
WHO :: Palms + Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys in support
WHERE :: Oxford Art Factory
WHEN :: Wednesday 10 October
HOW MUCH :: $47 + BF from Moshtix