Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Cloud Room
Hey Now!

by Kenyon Hopkin

You wouldn't expect it from a suave rock band from Brooklyn, but J of the Cloud Room plays third base in a kickball league on a team called the Orange Sleeves. Sounds like fun, sure, though when you don't know about the gimmicks teams create, it can turn violent. "The Robot Pirates are known for being the bad guys and they heckle everyone," explains J, who, not to be confused with the member of White Zombie using the same letter, doesn't reveal his full name. "It's funny when new teams join and don't know how things work, they take what the Pirates say seriously. Yesterday this girl got so fed up that she smashed a bottle on a guy's head and kicked him in the ribs."

The competition sounds fierce. And it's not too far fetched to compare it to the competition with today's rock bands, especially when you have the Killers bad-mouthing the Bravery. The Cloud Room, who are like a more upbeat Interpol, is facing that feeling as well. "I completely get jealous of bands who are newer than us that suddenly get buzzed about," he explains. "Most of the time their music doesnt do anything for me. Sometimes there were bands that blew me away. It sorta pisses me off that we've been around longer and had to trudge around all these awful clubs playing to six or seven people. But we all chose to come to New York so I'm not gonna whine about what people are like".

Arriving in New York five years ago from California, J was originally trying to break into the film business, persuing a job working for director Hal Hartley. When that fell through, he shifted his focus to the band. And has he been able to watch his films lately? "Just by chance I haven't seen any of his films since. But it wasnt my doing, it was his doing because I heard they were pretty awful." Yikes!

Today he's calling from his job at a law firm, where, after four years, it's his last day before the Cloud Room--J, bassist Jon Petrow, keyboardist Benjamin Nugent and drummer Jason Pharr--goes on tour. How does he manage the job, band and kickball in such an expensive city? "That's why I work these freelance gigs. I normally work at nights. I found a way to make the most amount of money and still have time for the band. Everyone else in the band works at night, so we practice during the daytime. I have friends in other towns who brag about having an entire house for $300. But there's no other town that offers this kind of access, so you pay for it."

After starting the band four years ago, J finally made some inroads in the NYC circuit. About a year ago, they started pushing themselves and things took off after making a new demo. Later, they signed with Gigantic records, released a solid full-length and got the video for the first single, "Hey Now Now" on MTV2. "Sometimes it's good to just pester the hell out of people."

Now that they have some sort of following, does the Cloud Room want to remain in indie rock obscurity or rise to something bigger? "What we're going for is trying to be like immortal bands that we love and not the band of the moment," says J. "It seems like so many indie rock bands these days are not going for greatness. I dont think we've achieved this but thats what we're striving for."

No comments: