Cloud Nothings interview: "Living in Paris is insane, mostly because I don’t speak French"
Dylan Baldi follows his wanderlust to France and a thoughtful new album
Photograph: Pooneh Ghana
Dylan Baldi has come a long way from his parents’ Cleveland basement, where he started his recording career five years ago. Last week, Baldi—along with bassist TJ Duke and drummer Jayson Gerycz—released Cloud Nothings’ third full-length, Here and Nowhere Else. Reached in Los Angeles, where he’s been writing new music with Nathan Williams of Wavves, Baldi spoke about the itinerant urge that prompted him to move to Paris, and its effect on his work.
Do you still identify with the Cleveland scene?
I like Cleveland because it’s home. I have family there; I have friends there. So it’s great, but I like leaving. I like being other places. Living in Paris is insane, mostly because I don’t speak French, but also because it’s something totally new. It’s fun for me to get out of Cleveland and see what else is going on in the world.
What was recording the new album like?
We did it in Hoboken, New Jersey, with this guy John Congleton. We went to Cleveland for a month and wrote everything. Then we recorded in New Jersey for eight days, and mixed it at Congleton’s studio in Dallas for three days.
That’s really quick. Do you see it as a punk record?
I need to do stuff quickly. To me it’s still pretty melodic—I don’t see it as punk. I don’t know, I don’t think of us in those terms. I think we’re just a rock band, essentially. I don’t think we’re anything else than that.
The lyrics seem very Buddhist, with major contemplations of the here and now.
It’s a little bit existential, sure. It’s something I was forced into thinking, more or less. Because I travel all the time, I’m always somewhere different trying to figure out what I’m doing. I’ve been forced to be comfortable with being wherever I was, and not really worrying about what I’m doing tomorrow or the day before. The record is about coming to terms with that.
On the album’s closer, you sing, “I’m not you. You’re a part of me.”
That’s about finding yourself, essentially, through all the things that get sold to you and all of the experiences you have. Finding out what makes you tick.
At SXSW, I saw you guys and you played the new record in succession. What was the vibe with the audience like?
At South By, we just wanted to show people the record. I wasn’t expecting people to go crazy. I wanted to get people excited for it. The response was generally positive; nobody booed us. [For the upcoming dates], we’re going to start mixing in Attack on Memory [Cloud Nothings’ 2012 album] songs.
Cloud Nothings play Music Hall of Williamsburg Apr 13 and Bowery Ballroom Apr 14.
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