Saturday, November 12, 2011

Interview:Cloud Rat

J. Randall's Grindcore Karaoke netlabel is home to some of the best grind bands out there. For me, one of the standouts is a three piece from Michigan known as Cloud Rat. Their ability to blend of savage grind, bone crushing sludge, and textured (dare I say mellow?) passages has made their "S/T" release a lock for my year end top ten list. I wanted to know more about this group and their guitarist, Rorik, took some time to answer some questions for me via email.
~Marc Sabo

OG: Can you give us a quick band history?

Rorik: Cloud Rat Formed in late December 2009, after our good friend Kevin Kitchel had mentioned that he wanted to put out a Michigan grindcore compilation (never actually happened). One night I was at a party/house show at Madison and Adrian's house, Adrian's band Capacitor (now called OLD SOUL) was playing, and Madison was screaming along in the crowd, and I could hear her loud and clear over everything else. I mentioned to her that we should start a grindcore band and record some songs for this comp, with her singing. Adrian offered to play drums. Adrian and I had been in a grind band together a few years back (Shatner Mask, very obscure, not very good), and at the time her and Adrian were in a serious romantic relationship. Logical. So we got together, and wrote 4 songs in about an hour (Canine, Pillbirth, Mouse Trap, Vain). After 4 or 5 practices we recorded our self titled LP, and since then a lot of really awesome people have helped us along the way, and a lot of crazy things have happened.

OG:Personally, the most interesting thing about Cloud Rat is how you manage to blend the more textured/atmospheric parts with some of the most blistering grind I have heard in a while. Was it a conscious decision to try and merge the two or did it just sort of happen?

Rorik: Our very first practice, we just wanted to write the fastest, most aggressive music that we could. Every practice after that though, all of our other influences started to seep in to the songs. It was a little bit of both actually, because after writing a couple songs that had parts like that and it just happening, we started to talk about it and tried to develop those idea further, something we still do now.

OG: You mentioned your other influences. Now I am curious.

Rorik: Well, we all seem to have some common grind and crust influences, such as Pig Destroyer, Discordance Axis, Dropdead, His Hero Is Gone/Deathreat, etc., and have all dabbled in screamo such as Orchid, Neil Perry, pageninetynine, Funeral Diner, Raein. Apart from that, we all have pretty big tastes in music. Madison is into a lot of new wave / goth, shoegaze, 80's punk, and way more. Adrian is into a lot of electronic/hip hop stuff (Madlib and similar folks) as well as roots in Slayer and black metal. And I personally enjoy a lot of Japanese hardcore, 80's and 90's death metal, folk/singer songwriter stuff, and public radio. Haha. Oh and both Adrian and I love Bruce Springsteen. Madison hates it.

OG: Was there a lyrical theme to S/T?

Rorik: Not really, but in a way, yes. If there was a theme, it was for Madison to write lyrics that were devastating and cathartic. It seems that between the three of us, there are a lot of past issues with physical/mental/emotional abuse, addiction, you name it and we seem to have a common bond somewhere. I still get chills when I read what she wrote and listen to the record, it's kind of painful actually. Other than that, the Hindu and Greek mythology references are just things that we find interesting. In conjunction with the lyrics about abandonment, ugly societal undertones and broken parental figures, I feel like they were pretty effective.

OG: How did you end up working with J Randall and Grindcore Karaoke and what has the experience been like?

Rorik: I checked our email one day, and there was a new one that said basically "Hey, It's J Randall from Agoraphobic Nosebleed. I dig your band, would you like to put out stuff through Grindcore Karaoke?" Needless to say, we were all really stoked. J is an awesome guy and working with GK has been easy and very helpful. I'm terrible at internet stuff, so having that out there helping to promote our music is really nice. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from listeners from all over the world, which is surreal to me.

OG: What is the scene like in Michigan ?

Rorik: Michigan is a big state with a lot of different scenes. I have been booking shows in Mt Pleasant, MI for about 10 years now, and it has been up and down to say the least. Currently this area is dead, absolutely. I owned and operated a record store / showspace called Justice Records for a couple years up until September of this year. We did shows all the time, but now this town has no showspace and no local punk bands ( Madison lives in Detroit , so we aren't even technically local anymore). However, west Michigan ( Grand Rapids and to a lesser extent Kalamazoo and Muskegon ) has a great punk/metal community with shows happening all the time. Detroit is huge, and kind of disjointed. But it seems like there are always a lot of shows happening there, and there are a lot wonderful people there. Hopefully they can stay up! Like anywhere, the scene here fluctuates all the time. Ups and downs... you know.

OG: Can you tell us more about the Inerds battle set?

Rorik: That took place at the 2nd annual Buffalo Vaggie Fest, a celebration of womyn's involvement in punk music. It was a rad show, super awesome folks. Corey from Inerds got ahold of us about playing, and she was partially involved in setting up the show. The battle set was an idea that we got 2 nights before while on tour in Cleveland . We did the same thing with a band from there called Not My Problem due to time constraints, the show was running super late. It was fun, so we talked about it with our buds in Inerds, and decided it would be a fun thing to do at Vaggie Fest. I don't know how it happened, but the energy in the room was unreal, the video doesn't really seem to quite do it justice. Adrian and Moezes were improvising drums together, Madison, Corey and Jessika were trading the mic, people got buck. It just all felt right, like we were all a part of something bigger than just a floor show/vocal pa/punk fest. Good stuff.

OG: What made you decide to go without a bass player?

Rorik: It was just logical when we started, because we were just writing songs and thats how it was easiest. We make it work. It would probably be easier with a bass player, to have another person helping with gear (I play through two heads and cabs, one being a HUGE sunn 2x15 bass cab, it's dumb), but it works. The three of us have a chemistry that I feel doesn't need another person at this point.

OG: I understand you’re a father? How do you balance the band and raising a kid?

Rorik: Yes, I am the father of a seven year old girl named Lydia . She turns eight in January, so crazy. My life has always been really wild and busy, so it is just natural for me I guess to balance being in bands and hanging with my child. Her mother and I are not together, but we get along well and have joint custody (not through the court, fuck the system!). She was born when I was just about to turn 17. I was playing in metal bands then as well, and had a nasty drug problem already at that age. She pretty much saved my life, I'm sure of it. I guess to answer your question though, I have to be somewhat organized. I am a crane operator and steel fabricator / construction worker, father, and play in two bands that strive to be active (though my other band Under Anchor has slowed down immensely since everyone moved). Can't be a slacker very much! Haha. I have been fortunate in getting along with her mother, and having a mother myself that is supportive of me and my child. When we tour, Lydia goes between her mother and her grandparents and school generally, and I keep in contact with her via phone and now skype. It works nicely.

OG: What’s up next for Cloud Rat?

Rorik: We are writing for a full length LP, hoping to record it in February or March next year. We are doing an 18 day US tour starting December 1st, the dates are up on our blog. Apart from that, we are playing a couple fests in the winter, both benefits for abused womyn's/families organizations, one in Milwaukee in February, and one in Boston in March. Hopefully next spring touring over to the West Coast, summer doing a Canadian tour, and fall doing (fingers crossed) Europe and more international in the future. That's wishful thinking, but we're going to shoot for it. No harm in setting some goals, right?

Thanks again for Rorik for taking time to do the interview! You can check out Cloud Rat at the links below.

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