The Morning Clouds is a Denver-based indie-pop group that grew from Josh Wambeke’s home recordings into a full-fledged, label-signed band in less than a year. Their first EP, “Wasted Youth Blues,” was released on Lefse records last October, and they’ve recently returned from their first tour and SXSW.
Matt Schild, bassist for the Morning Clouds, recently spoke with KCSU about touring, the group’s upcoming releases and how a group of shoegazers try to show respect for their live audience’s ear drums.
*Tune in this Monday, April 23, at 7 pm to hear the Morning Clouds play a live in-studio set on KCSU.*
“Wasted Youth Blues” has a very slow, homegrown and sparsely instrumented sound, but its 27 minutes go by rather quickly. Each track strikes a tough balance between too little and too much going on, and it makes for a really pleasing sensibility. Is this conscious or a natural product of Wambeke’s songwriting?
It’s probably a bit of both. The Morning Clouds sort of evolved out of a single track, “A Walk Home,” that Josh wrote and recorded because Lanette was sick of him going so prog-rock nutty in his songs with Fell, piling reverb onto his vocals and doing cuckoo wild instrumentation, so there’s definitely a conscious shift away from the more intricate songs he’d been writing before.
That sort of set the stage for everything on the EP. Although there are tons of effects and a lot going on in the songs, they really hinge on the pop foundation that simpler is better. That gets a little obscured in the recording process and live side of it, but there’s classic pop sensibilities at the heart of all the songs.
Is the Morning Clouds already at work on a follow up?
We are working on a follow up and have nine songs recorded so far. Because we record in Josh’s house, we can approach it more leisurely. Instead of recording all the songs for a full-length in a marathon session somewhere, we’re working on one or two tracks at a time, getting them ironed out and moving forward. Ideally, we’ll have a pretty big pool of recorded songs from which to choose when it’s time for or next release, and we can take the cream for a 12-song album and have a few odds and ends for splits or EPs. Maybe we’ll stick to EPs, too. It’s hard to predict at this point.
How do the new tracks differ from those that appear on “Wasted Youth Blues?”
The new tracks are a lot different, and sort of all over the place. There are a couple synth pop songs Josh popped out on his Moog, some that really play up our love of a pop hook, and others that bring our love for The Cure – a big influence on a lot of us – closer to the top.
The Morning Clouds has pretty minimal instrumentation, but the live set-up — with two guitars, drums, bass, keys and vocals — is standard for most rock bands. How does such restrained music translate live?
As with any other band, we are a wee bit more aggressive when we take the stage than when we record, but, for the most part, the songs are similar to how they appear on the EP, with everyone playing the parts that are on the EP. We toss in a couple other tracks off our “Eat Your Skull Part II” release – which is available for free on Bandcamp – to liven things up. We do have that classic shoegaze tendency to want to play horrifically loud, though, and always have to remind ourselves to back off the volumes instead of rattling audience members’ intestines. Our songs are still nice and pretty live, but usually just about as loud as the sound man will allow.
It didn’t take long after forming the Morning Clouds for the group to sign with Lefse Records. How did that come about, and how has the experience been so far?
It’s kind of a boring story really. Before the band got started, it was just an EP of songs. (Wambeke) put them up on Bandcamp, and someone from Lefse ended up hearing them. We have no clue how that happened, but after some “blah-blah-blah” they decided to release the EP. That’s when he figured he needed to actually start a band instead of just recording music in his basement studio.
*You all just got back from touring and SXSW. How’d it go? Any of you get swallowed alive in Austin? *
It was all pretty fun, general ra-ra-rock’n’roll tour stuff, but we didn’t get a chance to crash cars into hotel swimming pools or do any of that Led Zeppelin mud-shark stuff. I guess the most noteworthy misadventure was in the middle of a 16-hour drive between Arizona and Austin; we got a flat at like midnight in the middle of nowhere, and didn’t have a jack. Long story short, we joined Triple A at 2 a.m., got some poor roadside dude to come help us, then made a beeline to Austin. It was the night before our biggest showcase, and we ended up having to go on with about two or three hours’ sleep, which isn’t too ideal.
Any plans for another tour?
Not at the moment, but that’s not to say we’ll never leave Colorado again. We’re focusing our efforts on getting a new release together right now. John needs to fix the damn air conditioning in the van before we go anywhere in the summer, that’s for sure.
Nic Turiciano is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. Follow him on Twitter Follow @Nic_Turishawno