Eco-Rock, the music of the Cloud Cult

Eco-Rock, the music of the Cloud Cult

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

"Best learn to live while you’re alive" is a line from the song "Happy Hippo" on Cloud Cult’s album Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus. It shows the death and rebirth theme that Craig Minowa’s environmentally friendly band has adapted.

"Over the past couple of years, I feel like I've died hundreds of times and in hundreds of different ways. I've been haunted by mortality and the constantly distorting silly-putty philosophies tied to it. This album was a literal waking up. A rebirth,” Minowa said.

Cloud Cult is almost a Duluth folk band from outer space. Their sound is like some mystical music meeting of Radiohead, Fat Boy Slim, and Phil Spector all producing Jane’s Addiction in a spaceship. Craig’s voice on "Washed Your Car" especially had a Perry Farrell like sound, with Dave Navarro chords chiming away.

Cloud Cult’s music is only one aspect of the band. When they perform live there are usually visual projectors dancing, and a painter brushing up a masterpiece to the music

“There are a lot of artists interested in being a part of the project, and I'm not about to keep anyone from being creative,” Minowa said. “It kind of makes the live shows a sort of communal creative experience. The paintings are always available for sale right after the show. It's just a matter of making an offer to the painter, and the highest bidder wins. The pieces typically sell anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on how much demand there is for that particular piece."

There is almost a revolutionary zeal of environmentalism that comes with Cloud Cult. This includes buying wind-credits, figuring out how much energy they use, and planting trees to renew the resources.

"We figured out how much energy we would be consuming on stage with our gear for each show on the tour and added that to the number of gallons of gasoline consumed with both the auto and air travel,” Minowa said.

“With that data, we then pay for a company to make an equal amount of energy with wind power and feed that into the power grid. We are also planting nearly an acre of trees, which is what it will take to absorb the CO2 we put out on this tour. Then we've also got new solar panels mounted on the van for powering laptops and cell phones on the road, so we can keep doing our eco-activism from the vehicle, as we travel between performance locations.”

People sometimes have trouble thinking of a band that is environmentally friendly and not assuming they are a jam band. Minowa said of this, "I don't like sticking to any single genre, because I love too many different types of music. I think the perfect album is a good mix album, so I like to write the Cloud Cult albums in the same way. You never know what you're going to get from track to track, and most songs blend multiple genres, as well. It's funny, because one of the few genres I haven't really hit is the jam-band kind of flavor. Despite that, just because we pursue a lot of environmentalism in our business practices, there's a weird cultural stigmatism to that, so I still get people saying to me, ‘Oh, yeah, Cloud Cult, I've heard of you guys, aren't you like some kind of hippie jam band.’ I have nothing against hippies or jam bands, and, in fact, love the heck out of 'em, but I'm wondering how long it's going to take mainstream culture to understand that environmentalism can span all genres. Going even beyond that, environmentalism in our business practices, but if you listened to the music, you'd never guess it. I'm not really a fan of directly preachy lyrics, so I just try to stay away from that lyrical topic altogether."

Cloud Cult recently released a new album titled, The Meaning of 8. It is available as a full album instant download and/or as a physical album they will ship to you. To listen to a few song or purchase the CD visit:

Cloud Cult comes to Grandma’s Marathon for a performance under the big top tent inCanal Park on June 16. They are a Duluth band that has made a name for them self nationally and are touring across the United States right now.

The music of Cloud Cult is refined and ahead of it’s time with no single genre. Their live show is always a sight to see and hear. As Craig would say, "I think the only thing I can expect is the unexpected, and that's what makes living so friggin' exciting."

You can see a video from their song, “Transistor Radio”, at the website