Musicians with a cause aren't rare in the industry. Any hipster with a guitar can belt out tunes decrying the government or warning of impending nuclear fallout, but it takes something more to make change rather than just call for it—like courage, conscience, resolve, cause and, not least of all, desire. Craig Minowa brings these things to Cloud Cult, an indie-rock band with songs that depict the best and worst of human nature and actions that try to preserve humankind. The Alibi caught him mid-tour to ask a few questions about the band and their green ways.
Where did the name “Cloud Cult” come from?
It’s a sect of Hopi prophecies about the different eras of evolution of humankind. It talks about the settlement of North America and the various treaties, how the Hopi people would sign no treaty to have their land taken. It goes on to discuss the temptation of technology and the sign of the end of the technology era when the European settlers start to go after Hopi land for something that's underground. That's already started to happen with the mining of uranium on Hopi land.
What prompted you to take on that name to define your band?
I think it's really symbolic of the movement and the message we have. Trying to find this balance of living with the Earth and at the same time continuing to evolve on a technological level.
You started Earthology Records. Can you tell me about that?
When [our albums] The Shade Project and Who Killed Puck? were completed, I realized there wasn't a CD replication company out there where I could get the disc produced and feel comfortable about the environmental process behind it. Earthology Records has been an evolving replication service and record label for Cloud Cult, and is constantly striving to develop more environmentally friendly ways of replicating CDs. We use recycled jewel cases. We print on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper for the inserts with soy ink. Everything is countered with green energy credits, same with the band's touring.
How do green energy credits work?
What you do is pay for blocks of energy. For Cloud Cult, we tell them how many shows we did, the estimated capacity of the venue, how many motels we stayed in, how many miles we flew, everything like that. From there, we figure out how much CO2 we created and how much energy we consumed and buy green energy credits to feed back into the grid. Homeowners, business owners, anybody can figure out what they are consuming off the grid and feed it back with companies like Native Energy. If everyone did, we would dramatically reduce green house gas emissions.
How cost-effective is that for your band?
The first two tours it was a major struggle; we went in the hole horribly. Trying to cover the green energy cost was very, very difficult. But if you look at the big picture, it's a very inexpensive thing to do when you're taking account for the types of pollutants you are creating. Whether you’re paying for the wind power or paying for it down the road in damage to the environment, you’re going to pay for it one way or another.
Here's the difficult question. Describe Cloud Cult in three words.
I always feel the need to describe our sound because, with the environmental thing, a lot of people assume we're a hippie jam band that's going to get up on a soapbox and get preachy. We're really far from that. In fact, most people who hear us have no idea we have the environmental side. Would I need to sum that up in three words?
No. Just off the top of your head. Any three words.
How about: “Searching for truth.”
Wow, a coherent phrase. That's quality.