Interview: Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult

A&E sits down with the Cloud Cult frontman to discuss loss, acceptance and the environmental movement.

Conrad Schoenleber

Whether theyâÄôre touring the country in a biodiesel van or recording at the studio on their organic farm, Cloud Cult may own the title of most environmentally aware band. With a new album to be released Aug. 17, Cloud Cult is set to expand their already impressive musical résumé. A&E sat down with front man Craig Minowa after their Spring Jam/Earth Day show. The pain of the loss of his first son was still obviously ripe, but Minowa and wife Connie Staska have a new baby that is inspiring a new sense of optimism in Cloud CultâÄôs songwriting. Although they are playing fewer shows and touring less, thereâÄôs no end in site for Cloud Cult. HowâÄôs living with the new baby shaping your music? ItâÄôs totally shaping the music. It brings back a lot of memories of parenting from before, which brings up a lot of emotions from that. I think it brings our whole family closer together and thatâÄôs like the focal point. So when it comes to subject matter, lyrically, and how that affects the music itself, thereâÄôs a lot of presence of family and the joy and gratitude of having the opportunity to have a family again. Do you have an example of how that works in the new album? ThereâÄôs one song that is really long and meditative. It shifts through a lot of genres over a period of like nine minutes. ThereâÄôs just sort of a mantra of accepting what life gives you and trying to relax and go with the flow and get on top of your anxieties and fears, because if itâÄôs going to come, itâÄôs going to come, and for now, itâÄôs alright, so just enjoy it. So, is the main theme of the album acceptance? I think thatâÄôs a good summary. ItâÄôs a lot of surrender and recognition of the inner work that needs to be done. I think a lot of the past albums have been focused on the grieving process, and âÄúFeel Good GhostsâÄú was on the joy of life, and now, as a parent, this one moves more into the introspective spirituality. The other albums were literally trying to chase the light at the end of the tunnel when he died. This one is like the light is in us. How do I work on my issues to get all the garbage out and see that light like I used to when I was a baby? HowâÄôs the move to Wisconsin shaping the dynamics of Cloud Cult? ItâÄôs different on the level that we canâÄôt rehearse as frequently, but when we do rehearse, theyâÄôre really long mega-rehearsals. In some ways, I think that works better because you get through all the rust and then you have plenty of time when youâÄôre really clicking as a group to grind through things whereas with shorter rehearsals you can spend a lot of your time battling through the rust. Today is Earth Day. What message do you hope your music will send on a day like this? ItâÄôs a big blessing to be able to play the show on Earth Day on such a perfect day. After being back here on the campus after all these years âĦ you know, I went to school for environmental sciences here, so I went through all of the philosophical debates of how I wanted to pursue my environmental career and just everyday life. The biggest step that we can take in really reviving the environmental movement on a level that it needs to be at is that inner work âÄî finding that inner peace. What does that mean? Is there a better way of articulating that? I think the environmental movement got contaminated with negativity. IâÄôve seen so much of it over the years. I think it started off in the late âÄô60s. People were frustrated, and they wanted to voice that. In order to turn the mainstream populace on to the movement, it canâÄôt be this in your face, down with this, no to that kind of movement. I really think it hurts the movement when the most outspoken people are sometimes not the healthiest on the inside, so the face of the movement is sometimes just this negativity. I think that we as a populace or as individuals canâÄôt make the kind of extreme changes that we need to make unless we really find some peace in ourselves first. WeâÄôre not going to go to the level that we need unless we find joy in the process of doing it, and weâÄôre not going to find joy in the process of doing it unless we re-fall in love with this whole creation of whatâÄôs out there âÄî this whole opportunity of being alive. Until weâÄôre completely in love with being alive again, weâÄôre not going celebrate that life by protecting it.