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Chasing the Light

Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story

Mark Allister
Foreword by Mark Wheat
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Chasing the Light
    Book Description:

    "Cloud Cult's grand, unkempt indie rock is at once jam band, emo, and avant-garde. Their songs, born out of personal tragedy, are otherworldly lessons in being human." -PitchforkDuring the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography,Chasing the Lighttells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country.

    Tracing Cloud Cult's rise to critical acclaim, author Mark Allister details the band's defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa's two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss. Allister describes the band's unique philosophy and principles, including how Minowa created a zero carbon footprint for the band's recording and touring, adopting DIY and green-sustainable practices well before the ideas became mainstream. Allister also presents a first-person account of a day in the life of a quintessential indie band and conveys the immense emotional impact of Cloud Cult's albums and live shows. Described by a fan in the book as "the anthem for the soul searcher in us all," Cloud Cult's music and message are both stirring and sincere.

    Featuring rarely seen photos from Cloud Cult's history and passionate testimonials by fans,Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band's personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados in search of beauty, meaning, and redemption.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4333-6
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Mark Wheat

    When I heard Cloud Cult’s first albumWho Killed Puck,put together by Craig Minowa alone in 2001, I remember thinking that it was brilliant and beautiful but had no chance of being a success. I was lucky to be working at the University of Minnesota college station Radio K then, in the cynical world left after the 1990s. Within the music business the promise of the alternative revolution had turned crass and exploitative. Minowa seemed so open and vulnerable with a wonderful naïveté wrapped in interesting tunes expressed with such utter sincerity that I thought the business would eat...

  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Conversations hush. Rhythmic clapping and callouts for the band come from the balcony and the tightly packed floor— fans are sensing that it’s nearly time. When the screen in front of the stage begins to rise, band members walk out and take up their instruments, greeted by a near-deafening roar of excitement and devotion, which only gets louder when the lights go down and the opening horn and string-heavy melody of “Unexplainable Stories” begins. The music builds, and when the guitars and drums join the strings and horns, when the spotlights come on, when the painters begin spinning their easels...

  3. Seeds
    (pp. 9-34)

    Lying sixty-five miles due south of Minneapolis, Owatonna is representative of an iconic upper Midwest small town, the kind that Garrison Keillor has made famous and made fun of onA Prairie Home Companion. The Straight River winds through Owatonna, and Bridge Street joins the west and east sides. Main Street runs through the middle of town and has turn-of-the-century buildings. Well-maintained neighborhoods surround downtown, with class divisions distinguished only subtly by the size of houses and lots. Known mostly as an agricultural center because of the fertile farmland surrounding it, Owatonna also serves as headquarters for several large companies,...

  4. From Tragedy, Art
    (pp. 35-62)

    Although Craig and Connie enjoyed living in Duluth, in fall 2001 they began looking at rural property, wanting to buy a small farm for several enterprises that they would call Earthology Institute. They would grow organic herbs and cash crops for farmers markets; the institute would be a rural learning center with classes on sustainability and farming; they would build a recording studio, hoping to pull in bands from the Twin Cities and Duluth for recording. They found a farm they liked near Sandstone, Minnesota. The property wasn’t the classic midwestern farm of cornfields, rolling pasture, a stock pond, and...

  5. Fans Write
    (pp. 63-70)

    What I love about Cloud Cult’s music is how honest it is. Innocent, bizarre, beautiful, and so childlike. It makes me wish I didn’t have to grow up, but shows me that adulthood can be bizarre and beautiful, too. It tells me that I’m not the only one who feels scared and small and alone, who wants to feel safe.

    –Justin Macdonald, 16, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

    I met my best friend at the age of two in our preschool classroom, and from that moment onward she was the only person who truly understood me. We grew up more like sisters...

  6. Psychological and Philosophical Sojourns
    (pp. 71-104)

    On March 22, 2005, Cloud Cult released its third album in less than two years,Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus, a marked departure fromThey Live on the Sun and Aurora Borealis. During the composing of songs for the earlier albums, Minowa was alone on the farm, desperately calling on Kaidin and the spirits to come visit him. By now, after confronting his philosophies about the meaning of life and mortality, he had come to believe that the two states of being we call life and death are less separate than most Western and modern people think, that the boundaries...

  7. Fans Write
    (pp. 105-112)

    I’d just started falling in love when I fell in love with Cloud Cult’s music. Three years later, both loves are stronger than ever, and they’re inseparable because the band offers a perfect soundtrack for life through simple binaries: grandiosity and intimacy, passion and calm, beauty and imperfection, understanding and unknowing. The music seems crafted to grow with its listeners, through thick and thin, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s growing with the two of us.

    –Luke Ramsay, 21, Allentown, Pennsylvania

    The first time I ever heard Cloud Cult, I was on a walk by myself in Seattle, and...

  8. The Message Established: LOVE AND LIGHT
    (pp. 113-140)

    On April 8, 2008, Cloud Cult released its albumFeel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying through Tornadoes).The album’s songs have little of the angst and confusion ofThey Live on the Sun or Aurora Borealis,and little of the philosophical and psychological searching that we see inAdvice from the Happy HippopotamusorThe Meaning of 8.In an interview withRolling Stone,Minowa said the album “brings closure to a lot of the storylines involved in the grieving process, and moves into a rebirth process.” As suggested in the album’s title, the ghosts here are comforting, not scary. They aren’t...

  9. Fans Write
    (pp. 141-152)

    I can’t think of another band that captures the true essence of freedom and hope quite like Cloud Cult. I clearly remember the music of Cloud Cult coming to me and restoring my hope at a moment of utter despair. My husband and I were in the throes of the adoption process. This journey involved cumbersome paperwork, painful waiting, and a lot of uncertainty. It also involved a trip to the rural countryside of Ethiopia to meet our child in an orphanage. After spending only a few short minutes with her, we had to leave her behind while the government...

  10. Your Show Starts Now
    (pp. 153-172)

    It’s late afternoon, and I’m sitting nearly alone in the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, watching Cloud Cult band members bringing in their gear from their trailer, setting it up to ready for a sound check. In come amps, microphones, instruments, computers, soundboards, a projector and screen, spinning easels, an endless number of cords, and rolls of duct tape. Madison is the seventh stop on the band’s national tour in support ofLove, its new album. The tour began in early April with an unusual gig at an unusual venue, the Phenix Theatre in Concord, New Hampshire, where during an...