INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Originally from Italy, but now based in London, Desert Clouds are a four-piece who specialise in an alluring, atmospheric style of alternative rock, containing elements of stoner and psychedelia, influenced by a broad range of bands and artists.
Having been busy in the studio putting together a concept album, entitled ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’, coming out next January, the quartet’s frontman, David Land, chatted to me recently about that, as well as a host of other band-related topics.
How did the band get together initially?
Desert Clouds was formed by a bunch of guys who, among all the things they were doing together, music was that one which allowed them to express freely all their emotions and hopes. That strengthened their friendship and put new incoming members in front of a sort of family rather than a simple band.
That’s how everything started, and that’s how it has always been so far. All genres and music approaches we play and have are just consequences of our moments and growth throughout the years.
How did the name Desert Clouds originate?
It comes from a song we released in 2008. Looking for a band name, we noticed that the song’s lyrics strongly represented the way we see life, in fact, they are about a state of mind where all ideals, hopes, gods and thoughts are, metaphorically speaking, described as clouds that pass by and vanish, leaving you roaming around a desert which represents life in its essence, and, sometimes, you even wonder if those clouds were real or simple mirages.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
It’s pretty simple and spontaneous. To be honest, I don’t sit down and think about writing a song or about its subject, and I don’t really try to dig in ourselves to find the right inspiration for doing it.
It’s more like that the idea, or the sensation of having one, comes by itself, we try to be ready to catch it and transform into a song…like a vulture does with its prey.
After that, the original idea gets into our hands and becomes what you listen. Sometimes, it is close to what I’ve hunted, sometimes completely different, but, in the end, always better, as more vultures are better than one.
What inspires the band lyrically?
Most of the times, songs themselves guide our lyrics.
In general, our lyrics tend to represent an uncommon perspective on life, in its essence. They often merge existentialism with ordinary, everyday human emotions such as frustration, hope and interior state of decay.
We don’t really touch political or social subjects and, unintentionally, always find ourselves writing on things that we consider beyond those.
In our lyrics, you can often find metaphors that try to describe emotions through cosmic events or introspective analysis and abstract feelings.
Last year, you released an EP, entitled ‘Time Distortions’, which placed the band firmly on the map. How was the reaction to the EP for you all personally?
‘Time Distortions’ is an important step for Desert Clouds. That is the first record with our producer, Andrea Lepori, and we were excited when we released it, because we knew that it could have pushed the band onto a new level, which eventually, it did, and only because we jumped, straight away, into the new release, that ‘Time Distortions’ has been put on one side…a bit.
Besides that, we all consider ‘Time Distortions’ our hidden trampoline, and are still performing some of its songs such as ‘Strangelet’ and ‘Weight’. You can find it on Bandcamp, and, of course, at our live shows.
In January, the band will be unveiling a new album, ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’. How has the recording process been for that?
All of our work in a recording studio can be considered like a very long surgery: very uncomfortable and with some post-operative pains.
It has been a long dispute between us and Andrea, where, in the end, we enriched our music knowledge, we increased our studio experience, and opened up our horizons.
All efforts, arguments and recording sessions will bring ‘Nothing Beyond the Cage’ to light in January, and we are confident that it will be even better than ‘Time Distortions’.
And how will the album differ to ‘Time Distortions’?
Compared to ‘Time Distortions’, ‘Nothing Beyond The Cage’ comes from spending more time working in the studio where, along with the producer, we went deeper into the arrangements and song structures, which, in our opinion, made this work more complex and mature than its predecessor.
Around the time the album comes out, you will be embarking on a UK tour, then a few dates in your native Italy after that. How is the experience, for the band, of performing live?
Besides whatever I said above, live performances are still the perfect environment for Desert Clouds, as during our show, you can see the real sound and vibe of the band, something that we only try to reproduce into a studio.
Our music is made of improvisation and different ways of performing, depending on the moment. Whoever comes to our concerts won’t likely see the same show every time, as even with the same songs, there will be always a genuine mood that belongs to that specific moment.
That is the real reason why we play live music, as recordings are for having a memory of that period, those songs, those people, to promote your music, to let your fans have a piece of you, of your story, to let them support your band, and to listen to your songs again and again, but, really and truly, you are when you are…in the present, and live shows are…
And finally, what is the band’s long-term aim?
We really want to make Desert Clouds become an established band within the music industry. There are not dreams of fame behind our hopes, we only want to reach as many people as possible with our music, and share with them as many emotions as possible.
Nowadays though, it is becoming harder and harder for bands like us to sustain their own projects, and a little help from the industry won’t hurt much.
At least, compared to what you can now find in the mainstream, and unfortunately, sometimes also in the underground scene, Desert Clouds, like many other bands, still have something interesting to say.
‘NOTHING BEYOND THE CAGE’, THE NEW ALBUM FROM DESERT CLOUDS, WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 18.
FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.