Cloud Nothings have gone from making lo-fi indie rock in a parent’s basement in 2009 to releasing an EP, a handful of singles, a compilation album and two studio albums of new material, as well as touring North America and Europe, where their live performances showcase songs full of energy and precision. In 2010, the band recorded in Baltimore’s famed Copycat Building (home to the original Wham City and many of the city’s best musicians). The resulting self-titled album released in 2011 featured group founder Dylan Baldi playing all of the instruments. The band released the critically acclaimed Attack on Memory, which was engineered by Steve Albini, in early 2012 and performed at SXSW in March. Cloud Nothings have been featured in Rolling Stone, Spin and the New York Times.
Here, the Rock Hall catches up with Cloud Nothings founder Dylan Baldi in an exclusive interview. Cloud Nothings headline the first Summer in the City concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 11. RSVP for this free concert here and use #summer2rock to connect with the Rock Hall on Twitter.
Rock Hall: What was the first record/CD you ever bought and do you still listen to it?
Dylan Baldi: It was probably something terrible. I remember owning a Good Charlotte album pretty early on, but I definitely stopped listening to it after about fourth grade.
RH: What artists did you listen to when you were growing up and what about them appealed to you?
DB: I listened to a lot of bands that had a joke-y element to them. A lot of They Might Be Giants especially. Growing up I tended to like funny stuff rather than serious, heavy-handed music.
RH: What do you remember about playing your first gig – how old were you, where was it, when was it, how’d it go, the crowd?
DB: The first Cloud Nothings show was in New York opening for a couple bigger bands. There were 400 people there, so it kinda blew my mind. I honestly don't remember if we played well, or much of the show at all, but it was one of the most fun things I'd ever done at that point in my life.
RH: Which album of yours would you say is your favorite and why?
DB: I'm always happiest with the newest one. I tend to feel embarrassed by old material right after I finish a new record.
RH: Do you have a favorite city where you like to perform? If so, why?
DB: Anywhere in the Netherlands. They love music over there, especially more rock-oriented stuff. And the venues and people treat you way better than anywhere in the U.S.
RH: Do you have a favorite concert? One by someone else? And one by you?
DB: I don't have a favorite concert by us, but the best show I've seen lately was Pierced Arrows at the Happy Dog [in Cleveland, Ohio]. Totally blew me away, and I had pretty high expectations to begin with.
RH: What can your fans expect when they come to your show?
DB: A lot of music with very little talking between songs.
WATCH: Music video for Cloud Nothings "Stay Useless" (from Attack on Memory)