By Kristi Kates
With a new album on the way in September (Light Chasers, on their own
Earthology Records), experimental indie-rockers Cloud Cult are doing a
great job of balancing life in the Midwest with being a swiftly-moving
national touring band.
Rolling Stone has dubbed them a Breaking Artist, and their new
single, Running with the Wolves, which was released to preface the
album this past spring, is climbing the playlists on national radio.
The band themselves will be climbing Up North for a show at
Interlochen on July 27.
You might recognize the bands sound from a popular television
commercial they did for Esurance, in which the band is shown, in
animated form, performing one of their songs while floating on - what
else? - clouds. Or you may have seen them at one of their many, many
live shows - this is a band that knows how to tour.
But for Cloud Cults frontman Craig Minowa, Minneapolis, Minnesota is
still the place to be - and hes still firm about having his band do
things their own way. The band has had plenty of offers from the
labels, but have rejected them all in favor of a DIY approach, which
includes touring in a biodiesel van and recording in their own studio,
which is also environmentally-friendly and off the beaten path.
Our new studio is literally in the middle of the woods, with a
beautiful creek nearby, Minowa says, I recorded a lot of the natural
sounds into the actual album, and much of the music was inspired by
watching the wildlife. We are incredibly happy with where we are
living right now.
The environmental component of their music is a big one for Cloud
Cult. Their label, the aforementioned Earthology Records, focus mainly
on helping to green the music industry; in addition to their
recording studio (which is powered by geothermal energy and built
partially from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic), the band plants
trees to absorb their CO2 output, and donates to a variety of projects
that build wind turbines on Native American reservations.
Minowa himself developed the first 100% post-consumer recycled CD
packaging in the U.S. market. And both he and his wife and bandmate,
Connie, are active in advocating something thats of particular
interest to Michiganders.
Connie and I have both spent a major part of our nonprofit
environment careers working on Great Lakes issues, Minowa says,
theres no state more centrally located for that than Michigan. Weve
been there many times - its one of my favorite states, particularly
the Upper Peninsula and Traverse City areas. We actually talked about
moving there at one point, but it would be too far from family.
In addition to the environmental challenges, Cloud Cult are constantly
working on yet another challenge as a band - bringing their complex,
intricate songs to the performance stage.
Translating the music to a live setting is very difficult, Minowa
admits, weve added another multi-instrumentalist to the band; she
plays French horn, trumpet, accordion and keys. Everybody in the band
plays multiple instruments on stage.
Connie Minowa and Scott West, are a more unusual part of the bands
performance lineup; they paint live on canvases during the bands
sets, with the paintings to be auctioned off at the end of each show.
Even Connie and Scott join in on the music in several songs, Minowa says.
For their latest trek, theyll be bringing along an opening act, too,
namely Ohio indie-rock band Pomegranates. Let it not be said that
those in the Midwest dont stick together.
Our band manager, Adrian Young, picked them up as one of his bands a
few months ago, Minowa explains, this will be our first time
performing with them. Their album is also a concept album, and few
bands do that these days, so I have a lot of respect for them.
As for the Interlochen show, Minowa says that Cloud Cult will be
performing a good number of their new songs, and that hes confident
the locale will contribute to the bands high energy.
The Interlochen venue is so gorgeous, its going to bring our energy
to new levels, he says.
Cloud Cult with special guest Pomegranates will be performing at
Interlochens Corson Auditorium on Tuesday, July 27 at 8:00 p.m. For
https://tickets.interlochen.org; for more info on Cloud Cult, visit