Touch the Clouds create a sound that is as layered as space rock, as cutting and quick-cutting as post-hardcore, and heavy yet melodic as 90s alternative rock. featuring members of King For A Day, Lovesick, Few and Far Between, and more.
‘Tension’, The second single from Detroit scene veterans Touch the Clouds’ upcoming 15-song LP, ‘Tension,’ was produced by Joe Philips, Erik Maluchnik, and Adam Cox and was mixed at Third Man Mastering by His Name is Alive legend, Warren Defever.
Joe Philips is recognized by throngs of millennials and zoomers as the voice behind the theme song to the wildly popular TV series and movie Pokémon: Black & White. A certain generation may know him from post punk local heroes, Few and Far Between.
The album examines the times when hustle culture and the self-care movement are in a constant tug of war with one another. Regardless of the outcome, the constant pushing and pulling of modern life often leaves us yearning for comfort, much like how an earthquake’s reset snap puts the fault line back in balance. Check out the single ‘Tension’ and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: We’re from the Detroit area, and all come from different musical backgrounds and upbringings. As fledglings, we cut our teeth playing basement shows, VFW halls, and the like. From there, venues and opportunities grew. While Touch the Clouds officially started in early 2012, many of us have been playing together in different configurations for over 25 years at this point. In many ways it’s a blur.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: Some of us took lessons early on, but for the most part we just found our own way. We really got going by tracking down other musicians in our scene, forming bands with them, and learning from each other as we went. In rock music, technical proficiency is second to feel and vibe. Although we’ve continued to hone our craft over the years and have developed as players, we’re not shredders. We serve the song.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: Collectively, some big ones for us are bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, Elliott, Cursive, Quicksand, and Chamberlain to name a few.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: We’re an intricate mixture of thick guitar tones, melodic vocals, and a powerful, pulsating rhythm section. In addition to enjoying those elements, we hope listeners find authenticity in what we do. We play from the heart.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS:
Music is multifaceted; for us, it’s all those things at once. We like the physicality of being encompassed in loud, live sound and when we play, there’s a meditative aspect of getting lost in the music. While we don’t go out of our way to explain our lyrics, there’s undoubtedly reoccurring, underlying big-picture themes, and we always try to push positivity. Once the music gets out into the world, the meaning is malleable. If one of our songs enhances someone’s state of mind, pumps them up, or speaks to them in a specific way, we’re happy they’ve found a personal connection.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS:
It sounds cliché, but we’ve never expected anything from music. It is a place for us to grow as people and musicians. That being said, music has provided us with so much over the decades playing together. Many of our closest friends and even significant others are all connected through ties in the Detroit music scene – that’s pretty fulfilling! The goal is to continue creating well into the future and continue to grow as a group. Right now, we’re more focused on the art, less on the outcome.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: It’s pretty collaborative. Joe and Darrin will begin working out guitar parts together, organizing and building song ideas. Then we all get together to work in the bass and drums, and lock in the structure. Joe will take those instrumentals and disappear for awhile to write the lyrics. Then comes the fun of working in all the intricacies and interplay between rhythm, melody, and dynamic. There’s a lot of sculpting.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years. Deals or professional relationships that don’t work out always sting, but after a while you realize that to be in a long-term band is to endure difficulty. What matters is how you handle the problems that arise. We now go slow and steady through things, which is something we had to learn over time. With regards to Touch the Clouds specifically, COVID was initially a lot to contend with (not just for our band, but all of us individually as well). It was the first time we were kept away from each other for so long, and it felt like the band might be done. But, after realizing we could still be collaborative without being in the same room together, we began to complete songs that were left over from previous recording sessions and found forward movement in new ways. When we were finally able to be together again physically, there was a renewed sense of focus and excitement for what the future holds. Lesson: take the punches as they come and keep going.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
TOUCH THE CLOUDS: It’s tough to highlight the pinnacle of our musical journey to this point. We’ve played with bands we love, seen a lot of the US from the road, made the music we wanted to in pro studios, and developed lasting friendships and memories. But, we’re really enjoying this moment, now. With each passing year, we aim to take our music to a new level and continue to explore what we are capable of. We truly feel our best is yet to come, and we’re excited by what we’ll be working on next.
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Photo credits: Jeremy Schemm