If it sounds like there is an urgency on Here And Nowhere Else, the fourth studio album from noisy Cleveland natives Cloud Nothings, it’s because that’s exactly how it was created. Apart from the track ‘No Thoughts’, which began its life around the start of 2013, everything you hear on the album was essentially the band flying by the seat of its pants – the musical equivalent of scribbling your homework at the back of the bus.
“I stopped writing songs until about a month before we went into the studio,” says Dylan Baldi, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter. “I guess I got bored or lazy or something. A lot of the album came together last minute, as is usually the case with us. I kind of like it that way. Some of the songs were so new that we were more or less learning them as we went along. You can hear that learning process on the album, which I think is pretty cool.”
Lead guitarist Joe Boyer left the band in 2013 after legal trouble made it impossible for him to tour. Rather than replace him, the band – completed by bassist TJ Duke and drummer Jayson Gerycz – has shifted into being a trio. This meant twice as much work for Baldi as a guitarist – and it was a challenge that influenced the album’s direction.
“It actually helped me get better at guitar, which I think is always good,” he says. “I like it when there’s a lot going on within the chords and what have you, and that’s difficult to pull off with just one person. I’d like to think I pulled it off, in a way, but it was still very challenging. I’ve occasionally thrown in one or two of Joe’s parts when we’ve been playing live, but I’ve been working on developing the parts that I was playing in the first place. It doesn’t sound like the record, but it definitely sounds like us.”
Baldi also adds that listening to a lot of old jazz records was, strangely enough, an influence on his songwriting. “I’d be listening to these jazz trios,” he explains, “and paying close attention to the way that the piano players would fill the space in the songs. It was something that I thought about a lot when I was writing the guitar parts, just figuring out how to make one guitar fill as much of the void as possible.”
The album, despite having the exact same amount of tracks as 2012’s Attack On Memory, feels significantly more concise in its approach. Despite Cloud Nothings often jamming onstage – particularly during their best song, ‘Wasted Days’ – Baldi points to being on the receiving end of such jams as the reason why the album is just a bit tighter this time around. “I started seeing a lot of bands jamming live, and a lot of it really bored me,” he confesses. “It’s fun for them and it’s fun for us, but on the record it can get boring really fast if you’re not doing it right. I left it at being simple, quick songs this time around.”
Now that the album has arrived, the band is set to tour extensively in support of it – and, yes, a return visit to Australia is on the cards. “It’s your summer – for me, it’s winter,” Baldi says. “Like, in December – you say that’s summer, right? Even though it’s winter? Man, that’s crazy. But we’ll be there… in the Australian summer.”
Here And Nowhere Else out Friday March 28 through Stop Start.