It is rare that you can find a band whose passion is shown both through its music as well as its actions. Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult does both.
Cloud Cult recently released its ninth studio album, “Love,” through its green record label, Earthology.
Cloud Cult formed in 1995 as the solo project of Craig Minowa and has grown into something much larger. The orchestral indie rock band has not only been active musically but has pioneered the way for many eco-friendly practices in the music business today.
Cloud Cult is Craig Minowa, vocals and guitar; Arlen Peiffer, drums; Shannon Frid-Rubin, violin; Daniel Zamzow, cello; Shawn Neary, bass and trombone, Sarah Elhardt-Perbix, keyboard, French horn and trumpet; Connie Minow, visual artist; and Scott West, visual artist and trumpet.
The band of eight is embarking on its nationwide “Love Tour” to promote the new album and will be performing at Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s on April 12.
The Temple News: How did Cloud Cult get started?
Craig Minowa: It stated off as a solo studio project of mine back in the ‘90s, and the album gradually picked up some popularity. We didn’t have a live band, so I just started asking musicians. We’ve had a lot of people come and go over the years, but we have a really, really great crew right now.
TTN: When you have a band this large, what is the writing process like?
CM: It’s still pretty much a solo studio kind of thing. I write and record the majority of stuff here at my home studio, and once I have a collection of songs I’ll send that to the band and then we’ll approach to record the live instruments for what I would have previously had a sample violin or something.
TTN: If you had to describe Cloud Cult’s music, what would you call it?
CM: Eclectic philosophical indie rap.
TTN: Being the primary songwriter and front man of the band, how did you personally get into music?
CM: When I was a young kid my mom played piano in the house a lot, and [my sister and I] started taking music lessons at a pretty young age. At my high school I was playing in bands and started to write music, and that just kind of kept growing from there.
TTN: What has Cloud Cult been up to recently?
CM: Just finishing this album and getting the whole tour planned. Since we are totally independent, you know, we do all the management and business stuff ourselves. It’s a lot of work that goes into the music end, but also a lot work that goes into the business end.
TTN: Describe some unique qualities of the recording process for your new album.
CM: For the first time we did some group recordings outdoors back in the woods. We did some vocals back in the woods so there are spots in the recording where you can hear birds or wildlife. That was something [we hadn’t] done before.
TTN: How has having a band with eight people affected touring?
CM: You’ve got to have people who are really laid back…Actually, everybody is getting along really, really well. We’re very careful about making sure that we communicate well about who runs what part of the machine. That way we can all take care of business and not be jumping down each other’s throat.
TTN: As a songwriter, what would you say the theme of the new album is?
CM: Learning how to work through the layers of personal baggage to be the best possible person that we can be. Our calling is to be loving people.
TTN: What has been a major influence for you and the band?
CM: Family has been huge. We’ve had a couple of kids over the last three years. Becoming a father has been really challenging and has reawakened me to the important things in life.
TTN: What was your experience like last time you played in Philly?
CM: It’s a beautiful city. Last time we were there we got to do World Cafe Live, and that was a program we’ve all listened to out here, so that was a really big honor. I remember our first show out there was in 2004 and two people came. Literately two people came. So it’s nice to see that – well, Johnny Brenda’s is pretty cool and sold out right now – so it’s a nice turn around.
TTN: What are your plans for after this tour?
CM: We’ll be doing festivals and regional shows in the summer and then going back on tour in the fall.
Jared Whalen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.