Ahead of the release of their upcoming album Sister Raygun, we caught up with Clouder’s bassist Max for a chat. See what we asked below.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
Yes! Hey! I’m Max. And I’m in the rock n’ roll outfit Clouder. We play loud, dirty garage/psych/power pop/what have you. We’re easy on the eyes if the room is dark, we ride dirty, and sometimes we have to be cruel to be kind. In the right measure, of course. Actually, not sure about the riding dirty thing. That just sounded very youthful and modern to me.
So we’re about a month and a half into 2014. What’s in store this year when it comes to Clouder?
A lot! We have a new album coming out called Sister Raygun on Fleeting Youth Records this March 4th. We’re playing at SXSW in Austin and Northside Festival in Brooklyn. We’re also currently writing a new EP that we will try to record and release before the end of the year. Individually, we are bound to gain and lose weight, grow and shave facial hair, and fall in and out of love and trouble.
What went well about 2013?
Well, a whole hell of a lot, actually. We’d been on a long hiatus and mostly didn’t expect to ever play together again. Right around the beginning of 2013, a fire was born, brighter than ever before. We started playing together again, despite our singer’s recent move to North Carolina, and we wrote this album and recorded it with the incredible Jeff Berner at GaluminumFoil Studios in Brooklyn. And then we met Ryan of Fleeting Youth Records when he heard the album and decided he believed in it enough to put it out into the world.
And what perhaps didn’t go to plan?
I dunno…I think a few people vomited at one point or another. We’re all usually pretty broke. Sometimes the pizza places close at 10 o’clock while we’re living in a 2 o’clock world, you know? And, yes… that was an excruciatingly deep metaphor for something much more profound.
You’re currently getting ready to release your brand new album Sister Raygun. What was the writing and recording process like for it?
Very smooth despite extreme circumstances. Throughout the entire writing of this album, four of us were in Brooklyn while our singer was in North Carolina. Which was what discouraged us from continuing to play together before that hiatus. But, we really made it work. Like I said, there was a fire. Steve, Matt, Jim, and I wrote a bunch of songs here in Brooklyn without Eric and then we recorded demos while we went and sent them to him. Then, he would spend a bunch of time with them and write his lyrics and vocals and record all his parts over what we’d done and send them back to us.
And a couple of the songs were actually written by just him. He sent us demos with vocals and guitars for those two, and we finished our parts together using what he’d sent us. Then, we recorded another demo version of the entire album, instruments in Brooklyn first, then vocals in NC. That was a really great exercise for us – we planned on flying Eric up here and recording the entire album live all together in one day, so we wanted to be insanely tight and be able to take a step back and hear everything before going into the recording studio so we could make some last minute changes and develop some more detail-oriented ideas that don’t always come as organically when you’re just bashing stuff out in a practice space.
When the time came, we recording all the instruments live – we did every song on the album in a take or two. Eric laid down the vocals for a couple of the songs live with us and then did the rest the next morning in just a couple hours. It was all a total whirlwind, but we are definitely comfortable with chaos. And Jeff Berner just has incredible ears – everything was sounding great from the start and he is the easiest person to work with – just so patient, and funny, and full of brilliant ideas. The sessions were intense given our self-imposed time constraint, but it truly was a pleasure.
Any interesting stories from the studio?
When Eric was recording his vocals the morning after we recorded the instruments, he had been up til like 5am the night before DJing at a bar and drinking cheap whiskey all night. So, he was running on practically no sleep and he was literally leaving from the studio to go directly to the airport to fly home. So, he had precious little time – dare I say, a frighteningly small amount of time. There was a ton of pressure to get it done quickly. Luckily, he is absolutely incredible.
Were there any songs that were more of a challenge to complete?
Not really. We actually have an extraordinarily easy time writing together. Usually, Matt, Steve, or I come up with an idea kind of off-the-cuff during a jam or something and we drop everything we’re doing and try to develop it together right away. There have been multiple week nights where we’ve come up with something we like so much, and we’re so anxious to explore, that we end up playing until 2:30am. We just won’t stop until the song is done.
Which one are you most proud of?
Everyone in the band would probably give a different answer for this. And, also, I bet everyone would agree we go through phases where we favor certain songs. Sometimes it even just depends on the mood. I’m pretty proud of Damaged Sun because I felt like that song was pretty different for us. Also, I love The Ballad Of Sister Raygun just because I think Eric does an absolutely amazing job with ballads. His vocal range, his lyrics, his entire delivery is just astounding to me. Hearing him sing ballads always gives me chills. I felt the same way about Too Many Eyes off our last album. Also, I think All The Royal Years Are Gone is probably the most anthemic song we’ve ever written.
If you could play a show anywhere, where would it be?
In a forest, with no people there to hear it. I just want to know if we’d make a sound.
If you could collaborate with any band or musician, who would you choose?
Rod Argent from The Zombies – it would be rad to have a killer organ player.
And finally – if Clouder could put their name to any product, what would it be?
That pill you take to prevent hangovers.