Sorry about the nearly three-month delay in publishing this, but here goes.
DYLAN BALDI (CLOUD NOTHINGS)–12/18/10 @ BEACHLAND BALLROOM, CLEVELAND, OHIO
A darkened tavern in Cleveland’s Waterloo district is blaring late 80s new wave electronica into my ears. I can barely make out the words the kid–most likely younger than the song playing–across from me is saying. Thank God I’m using this hardy early 90s Sony standard cassette recorder.
To make the confusing, stream-of-consciousness first paragraph clear, I sat down with 20 year-old Dylan Baldi, the brainchild of 2011 pop punk “buzz band” Cloud Nothings, after his band rocked the “7th Annual Holiday Getdown” at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio. Shy, unassuming, sweet, and humble, Dylan and Cloud Nothings have a lot to look forward to this year, including the release of their eponymous LP debut on 1/24 via Carpark, ranked the 8th most anticipated album of the year by Stereogum.
B: How old are you? You were born around 1997, right?
D: I was born in 2004; hatched from an egg, man.
B: Wow, you’re like one of those baby aliens from Aliens.
B: O, quick question, Captain Beefheart died earlier today. Saddened?
D: Yeah, I was sad. It’s definitely a bummer, yeah. I didn’t even know that he had MS.
B: I know this has been asked a lot, but where in the world did the name of the group come from?
D: I wrote it down, like, two years ago when I was 17. I don’t really remember why, I just found a piece of paper with it written on it. I decided that [name] was pretty cool, so I went with it.
B: Really, that’s it? There’s no deeper meaning to “Cloud Nothings”?
D: Nope, that’s it. I’m just doin’ what I’m doin’, man.’”
B: Even though you are a pop punk artist, would you say you identify yourself more as a pop artist?
D: Uhh, yeah I would say so, [just] from the way I go about writing things.
B: So I’m guessing repetition, obviously, is extremely important in your song writing, right?
B: That begs the question, why is repetition so important to you?
Because it lets something stick in your head. I don’t like the same thing to repeat over and over, but I do like things with subtle differences.
B: Where do you draw your influences from, especially since you consider yourself a “pop” artist?
D: I’m influenced more by the pop and punk stuff I listen to like Husku Du, the Replacements, Archers of Loaf, lot of stuff like that.
B: You’re only about a year and a half out of a suburban high school, so your experiences there must still be fresh in your mind. So, what was high school like for you?
D: Well, I didn’t do anything. I talked to people who liked music. I didn’t like anybody in high school. I mean, I liked some of the people I went to school with, but that was a pretty small group of people. I didn’t go to school with cool people.
B: So maybe you could quickly comment on the common midwestern high school kid’s favorite music: jam bands?
That stuff’s so bad, ya know? I just can’t identify with the people who like that stuff.
We get interrupted momentarily be a Cloud Nothings fan: “I just wanted to say thanks for playing.”
D: “O, yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was our best Cleveland show ever, for sure.” (chuckle)
B: Well, now, that’s interesting. Why was this your best Cleveland show ever?
D: It was our best Cleveland show because usually, in Cleveland, there’s no one here to see us (chuckles). Just cause that’s the way things go “here.”
B: So the hometown crowd definitely fed into the momentum of the band’s set tonight?
D:Yeah, definitely, always helps us. Big crowds responding to you always helps out.
B: I forgot to ask you earlier, but I know you went to Case Western Reserve University for about a quarter before, well, you left to go ahead with the band. So, what did you study there?
D: Audio Recording and Saxophone…and not having a good time. I was having a good time by not going to class and eating lunch with Christina (the girlfriend).
B: So are you having a good time not going to school?
D: Haha, yup.
B: You toured with Les Savy Fav in Europe. How was that?
It was awesome, a great time.
B: Care to enlighten us a bit on your first time in Europe?
D: It was cool. They don’t give ya free refills and it’s really hard to get tap water. Every time you ask for tap water over there they come out with bottled water. Otherwise it was pretty cool.
B: Favorite artist/album of the year?
D: Problem is, I don’t listen to a lot of current music.
B: Alright, then, well how about the most motivating album you’ve listened to this past year?
D: This English punk band called The Automatics, “Walking with the Radio On.” It’s been my jam this year.
B: So, what has the past year been like, especially as a Clevelander who is doing something “cool”? And especially since Cleveland isn’t the “coolest” city in the world.
D: It’s been weird, really weird.
B: Yeah, I can see that. How about a summary in two words?
D: It’s been a “WHIRLWIND.”
B: That’s one word, my man.
D: Ok, then “WHIRL, WIND.” This has been a fantastic interview (laughs).
B: Brilliant, Dylan. Thanks. You da, man, man.