Cloud Cult brings their dreamy soundtrack to Saturn Wednesday, January 25th. The band began with Craig Minowa back in 1995 in Duluth, Minnesota as a solo project, but quickly grew into 8-piece orchestral indie-rock band, record label, and filmmaker. Filmmaker?! Yes, you heard correct. The band's latest album, The Seeker, serves as the soundtrack to the award winning feature film of the same title. The Seeker, stars Josh Radnor and Alex McKenna, and written by Cloud Cult and directed by Jeff D. Johnson. The film is a story of Grace, a daughter whose idyllic life is turned upside-down by immense tragedy. As she grows older, her cynicism and apathy towards her new reality is challenged by a reminder from the past that sets her on a pilgrimage that will define her.
Cloud Cult takes their show on the road, and makes a stop in Birmingham at Saturn on January 25th. We caught up with Minowa, to discuss the film, and the band's connection to their home state.
Bhamrocks: What was it like working with Josh Radnor in The Seeker?
Craig Minowa: It was very humbling to have the honor of having such a brilliant actor in our film. Josh is a really deep and selfless person who has as much curiosity about the big hows and whys of the universe as we do. He's a fellow seeker.
BR:Your music has an aura of spirituality surrounding it. Is the music a reflection of that spirituality, or is it the music that creates that vibe?
CW: For me, music has always been a really sacred tool that helps me get to deeper spots than I'm able to get with anything else. I like how it gets me out of my personal skin and into a big picture mindset. In that sense, when I'm writing music, the lyrics are usually pretty exploratory into why we are here and what our purpose might be.
BR: Tell us about the process of recording The Shade Project?
CW: That was my first solo album. I literally wrote and recorded the bulk of that in a closet of a shared apartment. I didn't have access to a lot of fancy gear, so I used odd things for instrumentation, like kitchen ware for percussion.
BR: What made you decide to create Earthology Records instead of seeking a record company?
CW: I went to college for Environmental Science and worked with a lot of nonprofits that were focused on righting the wrongs of big business. When I created my first album, I realized I was now a business and that I should operate it with the kind of environmental ethics I would hope from all businesses. There really were no record labels that were "green" at that time, so I created Earthology Records. We did have offers from some larger labels, but in negotiating the deal, they were unable to promise to use the kinds of recycled and organic materials in manufacturing that we feel is necessary.
BR: The Seeker was the first record to be entirely recorded at your solar powered studio in Viroqua, WI. Your touring vans even used to have solar panels; are you continuing this on your current tour?
CW: We're constantly crunching numbers and learning better ways. We discovered that the amount of energy it was taking to haul the batteries that the solar panels were charging around the country was actually more than what the panels were generating. They now are part of our stationary solar system at Earthology Records.
BR: What's your favorite place to perform in Minnesota?
CW: Anywhere on the Northshore. We lived there for years and Cloud Cult was actually born there along with Earthology Records. Performing outdoors next to Lake Superior feels more rooted than any show anywhere else.
BR: How did growing up in MN influence your music?
CW: I think having access to the great outdoors has inspired the music a lot in regards to the lyrical inclinations.
BR: Was it a supportive community?
CW: When we were in Duluth, we experienced a really tight musical community. It didn't feel at all competitive and everyone seemed to have a certain kinship.
BR: What was your favorite Cloud Cult album to create?
CW: The Seeker was my favorite album to create, because it was the manifestation of a long held dream of being able to make an album and a film at the same time. It was wonderful to have so much teamwork within the band and with Jeff D. Johnson, the director.
BR: Any plans to do another film?
CW: I don't know that we'll do another feature film, like The Seeker, as it's a pretty costly endeavor, but I've been doing work scoring music for other people's films, and I hope to expand that going forward.
Cloud Cult performs two full sets (one acoustic and one electric) at Saturn, January 25th. Doors at 7pm and Cloud Cult on at 8pm 18+ $12 advanced $15 at door.