[Interview] New and Exciting Things for Cloud Cult
Summer Set Music Festival, held in the small town of Somerset, WI, has already become a larger than life festival in the few years that it’s been around. It just finished its fourth run, and with headliners such as Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, and Deadmau5, it was one for the books. Sensible Reason had a chance to talk to new Wisconsin residents Cloud Cult before their phenomenal Saturday set.
So it’s just you today, but how many people do you have on stage usually?
We have 8 people. Six musicians and painters–they provide the visuals on stage.
That’s awesome, so these artists are regular touring artists?
Yep. They do every show with us on the road. There was a period there where we used to invite other artists up there, but it started to get a little crazy, too many people.
I heard that the art gets sold later on?
Yep, we auction it off after the show, usually for about 15 minutes afterwards. Whoever’s got the highest bid gets to take it home and have a piece of the show that they get to live with.
Where does the money go from these auctions? Does it go to travel expenses or the artists?
It depends on the situation. We do a lot of different types of benefit shows and sometimes the paintings go in that direction, but otherwise yeah–it goes to paying bills on the road.
Some of our readers might not be as familiar with Cloud Cult as I am. Your name is Craig, what is your role in the band?
I started the band, and I write the songs and oversee the business.
How many people do you have in the studio versus on stage? You said you have 6 people on stage, are all of those people involved in the recording process?
In a way, the artists sometimes help with the posters and album art. Sometimes if we need to add more vocals or something like that, we’ll bring people on.
How does the creative process go with that many people?
It’s a little bit different, because we have a studio that’s out in the middle of the woods. My wife and I live there, so I’ll write and record and get a developed sense of the song, and then the band will come in [for] a couple days each month and we’ll orchestrate it and arrange it and throw everything together.
How does that dynamic translate on stage? Do you ever jam out or is it more planned than that?
Yeah, it’s all very orchestrated so every song has its arrangements and themes.
You guys played the first Summer Set (2013), what brings you back?
I don’t know, I think maybe because they’re integrating more art this year, and Cloud Cult has always pursued that visual aspect of the physical art as well as the music. Maybe that was something that interested them [festival organizers].
How do you like Wisconsin?
We love it! We actually moved here just a few years ago.
Where did you guys move?!
We are actually in Veroqua, which is down between the Madison and La Crosse area.
So, are you planning in playing Madison venues like the Majestic more often?
Yeah, we actually just did Live on King Street a couple weeks ago, and we’ll probably do a couple nights at the Majestic in February when we have the new album come out.
What do you have planned for the rest of the summer to prepare for your album release?
Yeah, we’re finishing the new album and the album is actually a story, so we’re making a film out of it and we’ve got some really good Hollywood actors that we’re really excited to announce in the next couple of weeks.
That’s really exciting! How long is the film?
It’s feature length, so we’ll tour with that and the band will orchestrate the score for the film as well.
That’s amazing! How did you guys get that started?
This album just kind of turned out to be a concept album that’s a story and we’ve had a couple other albums that were kind of like that in the past, but we never really had the means to do it and we’re finally at the point where we can do it.
Are you working with an independent studio for the film or is it bigger than that?
Everything is indie, but we’re really lucky to have a couple of well-known actors that are involved.
I want to know who they are!
We’re super excited to announce it. We’re thankful for that.
When will you announce it?!
Later this next week. [Updates coming soon]
So how long are you at Summer Set this weekend?
Probably just through the night tonight.
Are you planning on seeing any other artists?
Yeah, I think we’re going to wander about haphazardly and see what kind of fun we run into.
Are you excited for any one artist this weekend?
I think with this particular festival, we’re allowing the magnetic forces of the world to draw us in the direction that we need to be.
Great answer. What’s your impression from the first Summer Set until now? A lot has changed since you guys were first here.
Well the first Summer Set was mostly just the one stage (Main Stage and Hockey Rink), so it’s grown a lot [there are now 5 stages]. There are also more people; I think it looks like twice as many as the first year. The organizers, which include the guys from the Majestic, are really good guys and their intention is to bring a lot of good art and music and bring attention to the culture of Wisconsin, so we’re super supportive of that.
During Cloud Cult’s set, their live painters Scott and Connie swiftly spun their canvases in all directions to create a beautiful visual experience. It was awe-inspiring to watch these beautiful and complete paintings come into existence in such a short period of time. The painters created an intense feel with only spinning canvases and paint, much different from the giant LED screens most artists have now. The group played songs from all of their albums, never leaving a hit behind. Craig’s presence on stage was one of pure joy and comfort, and it was easy to tell that he belongs in the music industry. His unique approach to music is an easy indication of that as passers-by stopped to catch the visual and aural experience. His wife’s ability to pickup and play several instruments impressed the audience. During their set she played keyboards, picked up a trumpet and a French horn, and provided gorgeous vocals. Together, the whole experience was unlike anything else at Summer Set. We hope these guys enjoy the Wisconsin landscape, and that it breeds more of the great creativity they have already.
Here at Sensible Reason, with contributors from all over the country (and world!), we also want you guys to know about the culture of each area in which we cover the music that you love. Wisconsin is more than just cheese and beer, although those two things are very dear to our hearts, and there is a plethora of amazing music and art that comes from this North Midwestern state. The guys of Cloud Cult have embraced the area and it has become a destination for secluded studios that allow for impressive creativity. We’re super excited to see what Cloud Cult has in store for their new album and their new feature film. Stay tuned for more!