Formed in January 2010, the band Clouds Make Sounds makes distinctive, atmospheric, trippy, ethereal, jangly, ambient-tinged indie folk pop that is underpinned by Beatlesque vocal harmonies and rich melodies.
The band is Josh Hines (vocals, guitar), Deron Johnson (vocals, guitar), Jeff Mach (drums), Joe Marchese (bass, vocals) and part-time vocalist Shannon Cantor.
I recently caught up with Marchese and Johnson after a recent Saturday night gig with Titans at Pigs Ear Pub in Loyalsock Township.
DAVID WHITMAN: How long have you been together?
JOE MARCHESE: Nearly two years. We started in January of 2010.
DW: How did the band form?
JM: We all went to the Uptown Music Collective. All of us took lessons, met and started playing there. Before forming Clouds Make Sounds, we played together in other projects. This is the latest incarnation and it's fun.
DW: You have an interesting sound. Who are some of your influences as far as bands and musicians?
DERON JOHNSON: A band out of Brooklyn called Grizzly Bear is a big influence on my writing. Anathallo is another band.
JM: Fleet Foxes is another big one as well as Philadelphia's Circa Survive.
DW: Have you done any albums yet - singles or anything?
DJ: Yeah, we have an album that was released this past spring, so it's been out about six months. It's all the songs we formed the band around. We went in and recorded them.
DW: How do the songs come together?
JM: We usually start with one guitar part and work our way through it. But moreso now because we've kind of progressed in writing and arranging, Deron will bring in a completed song. I'll work on the bass parts. Then we'll tweak it a little bit but usually the whole kind of forms there. It's like we're thinking in full paragraphs now whereas before we were doing sentences.
DW: Which guitar do you play Deron?
DJ: A hollow body Ibanez. I studied jazz guitar for a long time, so I really like that guitar and I put these huge 13 gauge strings on it. I guess I don't know any better to set up my guitar to play rock music but it's worked so far. I think the contrast between the guitars work really well because mine has a deeper tone and Josh's Telecaster has trebly tone. We can kind of cover a wide range between the two of us.
DW: As one of the main songwriters in the band, how do your songs come about - What is the process?
DJ: I can't really pin that down because it's hard to do. A lot of times I'll sit down with the guitar practicing. I'll then accidentally do something and think, "Oh, that's cool I'll be running through scales," and then "Whoops, oh wait, I could do something with this.'" I do a lot after the initial idea. But the initial idea is always random.
DW: So when you record do you record all in the same room or do you layer everything at separate times or how does that work?
JM: We do everything separate now. Though the very first album we recorded as a different band, we recorded it live together. The one we have out now was recorded as different tracks. It helps you to get a better sound.
DW: What do you think of the music scene and how it's changed since the band formed?
DJ: I think it's definitely evolving. I think the one thing we run into, which isn't much of a problem now, but in our older bands, we weren't of age to play in bars, there were hardly any places to play. Now we can play in bars but we have a lot of young fans so we're always into playing an all-ages venue. There aren't many options locally. I mean there's a lot of places to play acoustic like coffeehouses or someplace like that but I think it's good to see more original music in bars. It's a nice surprise when you walk in and hear original music as opposed to covers.
DW: What do you have coming up in December?
JM: We're playing the Bullfrog on the 30th and the Mill in Montoursville on December 9th.
DW: What's some plans the band has coming up in 2012?
JM: We're working on recording an EP right now, doing it all ourselves. We're recording the drums in the Lycoming College chapel, which is big and interesting. Hopefully, work on it through the winter here, and get it out this spring or summer - a five song EP.