STUDIO TO STREET: Cloudeater

Cloudeater

Call it luck, call it fate or some good old-fashioned hard work and perseverance, but the stars seem to be aligning for Cloudeater. Ever since the release of their debut full-length, Sun and Sidearm, in 2011, the band—which consists of vocalist Sam Dew, guitarist Daniel Friedman, bassist Trevor Flanders, drummer Chris Hunt and Nolan Kramer on synthesizers and electronics—has been on quite the tear, steadily premiering new videos and singles on such respected sites as ALARM, Break On a Cloud and Life + Times; collaborating with the likes of rapper Wale and a small host of up-and-coming producers on various remix projects; and maintaining a relatively aggressive touring schedule. But the best, as they say, is yet to come.

The group recently finished work on a new EP, which features production work from acclaimed artist/producer Guillermo Scott Herren, better known by his stage name, Prefuse 73. The eight-song effort promises a moodier, more focused sound, one with a darker palette and more elaborate sonic textures. But while most bands would do everything they could to rush the release to market, Cloudeater have smartly decided to take a step back and weigh their options before moving forward. Still, don’t take that to mean the band is taking the time to sit back and rest on their laurels. Quite the opposite, actually. Earlier this month, the group released a new single and video for the fiery “Always on the Way” and tonight they will celebrate the release of yet another single, “Idiot March,” with a headlining show at the Earl. The band may be a lot of things, but complacent isn’t one of them.

Can you tell us a little about your back-story? How did Cloudeater come to pass?

Chris Hunt: Back in 2009, Nolan was DJing at a coffeehouse in Castlebury Hill where Sam was working as a barista. Nolan heard Sam sit-in on a song with the house band one night and decided to link up with him on some new music. Nolan knew Dan from childhood so the two joined up with Sam in a bigger band that soon broke apart and those that were compelled to became Cloudeater. At that point, Dan knew me from high school and we all came together and started in on the new band. After a year or so of rotating bass players, we finally ended up with Trevor, who also had worked with Sam at some point. So it’s not the typical “dudes hanging out in a garage” band story, but we’ve managed to use our differences and influences to fuel what we hope is a unique aesthetic.

How do you guys operate as a band? What is your songwriting process like?

Daniel Friedman: We have what I think is an unusual songwriting process, but it works for us. It usually starts with Chris and a drum idea or a drum and bass idea. Then Sam takes that idea and creates a song structure, melody and lyrics. Sometimes he’ll add some additional synth and percussion tracks to give us a better sense of the aesthetic he’s trying to achieve. At this point we have an early form of a demo. Chris will then send this demo out to the rest of the band so that we can add tracks to it. Sometimes they are additional, new parts. In other instances, we try to improve upon and replace some of the sounds in the demos, many of which are placeholders. We’ll also critique the songwriting itself if we think we can improve the lyrics, or the form, or the harmonies.

We have a more clear division of labor for all the other things we have to do as a band. Chris has a lot of experience and skill in photography and film, so he shoots and edits a lot of our videos, and provides a lot of the “in the moment” photography. I handle most of the booking, accounting and legal stuff. Nolan and Chris both work on social media, press and marketing strategies. It’s a lot to handle to say the least.

I hear your next record is complete and ready to go. What is going on with it?

Nolan Kramer: Right now we’re building a team to help promote and distribute the EP. To me, this is the most exciting Cloudeater release yet. Developing a proper release strategy is more crucial than ever.

How did you hook up with Prefuse 73? What was it like working with him? What sort of contributions did he make to your sound and the direction of the record?

CH: I had known a mutual friend of Guillermo’s for several years, someone that I would share music with from time to time over the years. At some point in the Fall of 2012 I sent this person some Cloudeater demos and asked for advice on producers. Guillermo ended up hearing a bunch of tracks and wanted to help us put together an album. It was an interesting experience in that we basically finished all of our production and then sent it to him as we finished each song. Guillermo would then add or take away elements, and finalize the mixes. He essentially acted as mix engineer although he added a good deal of sound and contributed a few ambient interlude type pieces that were built from our sounds. Overall he seemed to have a good understanding of what we are trying to do, so he helped us to take some of our ideas to new places and to focus the madness, so to speak.

What should fans expect from this new record? How will it differ from Sun and Sidearm?

Trevor Flanders: The new record is a great representation of where we are now as a band. The pop sensibilities you heard on Sun and Sidearm are still heard in the new music, but with a darker, broodier tone. The songwriting, sounds and aesthetics are more left of center, and while the songs are still fairly easy to digest, they sound like they come from a noticeably more mature band.

In the past, you’ve collaborated with the likes of rapper Wale and quite a few producers have cut remixes of your work. If you could collaborate with any Atlanta artist who would it be?

DF: Andre 3000. He’s actually been to a few of our shows and will randomly show up at 529 from time to time.

Cloudeater QuoteCH: We actually have at least one collaboration track in the can with a couple of our favorite local emcees that we have done many shows with. That will surface at some point. Other than that I’ve been hearing rumors of Omar Rodriquez-Lopez relocating to Atlanta so that would be an interesting one. For me, our other band peers do such respectable work that I am comfortable not wanting to collaborate with a bunch of people. As if not collaborating is one of the better things for the music in Atlanta to figure itself out.

NK: Andre 3000

A lot of bands in this town seem to stick with the one or two venues that they are comfortable with. But you guys have played just about everywhere. What’s your favorite ATL venue to play at and why?

DF: If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the Earl, which we’re playing at this Friday (tonight). It’s a good, medium-size (venue) and the sound is really great. But Terminal West, 529 and Hell in the Masquerade are also great venues.

CH: 529 has been some sort of a home base for awhile. The vibe in that room is conducive to so many sounds and it remains genuine to whatever is happening in the moment. And there are always good folks working the sound/door/bar… Kyle, Taylor and everyone else.

NK: Its a tough call but I’d have to say Terminal West. It’s one of the newer venues in Atlanta. They really care about the sound quality, both on and in front of the stage. The people at TW paid attention to all the details when building the main room. The acoustics, drink selection, staff, and even the HVAC, rival any venue in the city.

TF: I agree with 529, the Earl and Terminal West. However, the spots in East Atlanta Village have a lot more foot traffic so there tends to be more people at those shows that haven’t heard us before.

It’s Saturday night and there’s no bands playing. Where can we find Cloudeater hanging out? What’s your favorite spot to kick back and unwind?

DF: The Porter and the Wrecking Bar are both favorites. Some of the spots on Edgewood like Church are also favorites.

CH: I’m typically a homebody so most of the kicking back and unwinding happens at the house. 529 occasionally.

NK: The Edgewood area has been growing on me recently. If live music isn’t involved, that part of town has a lot to offer.

TF: The Local on Ponce. 529 in East Atlanta.

What’s the one restaurant/menu dish in town that you can’t live without?

DF: This is a really tough question, but probably the Thali at Vatica. Amazing vegetarian Indian food.

CH: I don’t have a good memory for specific dishes but the Bocadillo Latino from La Fonda has been at the top of the brain recently for whatever reason. Delia’s is always good before or after a show in East Atlanta.

NK: Bibim-bop at Hankook Taqueria with a side of sesame fries.

TF: Sun in My Belly has a dish called the Hangover. Open biscuit stacked with cheddar cheese, two sausage patties, two eggs, avocado and topped with sriracha. Delicious.

Spring is here and the weather will soon start to turn. What’s your favorite thing about springtime in Atlanta?

DF: Braves baseball.

NK: My favorite thing about springtime in Atlanta is that I’m not allergic to pollen.

CH: What Nolan said. And girls in sundresses.

TF: Swimming. Even though the sun burns my skin with no mercy.

What’s your favorite Atlanta landmark, the one place or thing that you believe captures the spirit of our city?

DF: Piedmont Park although I’m very tempted to say the Clermont Lounge.

CH: I think Atlanta is peculiar in that one place can’t quite capture the spirit of the city, yet all places sort of embody what the spirit is composed of. So if there could be a landmark of “decentralization of city spirit” or something maybe that would be it. Maybe Underground Atlanta.

NK: Anything but the Varsity.

TF: Whenever I have friends or family in town that don’t know Atlanta I make sure to take them through Little Five Points. Good food, good venues and plenty of booze to go around.

Music scene notwithstanding, what’s the best thing about living in Atlanta? What’s the worst?

DF: The best thing is the cultural diversity and the delicious food that accompanies it. The worst is needing a car to get everywhere.

NK: There is such a wide range of places and scenes to discover in this city. I’ve lived here for 27 years and I’m still stumbling on new treasures. My least favorite thing about Atlanta is the lack of adequate public transportation.

CH: I appreciate that living in Atlanta isn’t as defined of a ritual as living in a New York or a Los Angeles. In terms of identity, Atlanta seems to be perpetually up for grabs, which is also why it is great: so much opportunity for molecular activity and identity exploration without the pressures and expectations of other cities that act as major cultural factories. I agree that one of the less desirable qualities is that a car is fairly essential.

Cloudeater will celebrate the release of the “Idiot March” single tonight at the Earl. Supporting them will be Asheville trio RBTS WIN along with fellow ATLiens Warsz. Doors open at 9pm. $8 gets you in.

More Info:
Web: www.cloudeatermusic.com
Bandcamp: www.cloudeater.bandcamp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cloudeatermusic
SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/cloudeatermusic
Twitter: www.twitter.com/cloudeatermusic