When Clouds Attack adds electro sound, challenges post-rock standards

By Emily Ornberg

Four years ago, in a small Wicker Park apartment recording studio, artist Todd Baran embarked on a solo project. When high school classmate and pianist Chrissy Parisi, college bandmate and bassist Cameron Moore and drummer Andy Angelos joined the band, the electro-post-rock tempest When Clouds Attack began

to brew.

Today, Chicago’s mostly instrumental quartet roars thunderous tunes at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., and festivals like this past September’s “Chicago, I Love You.”

Originally driven by post-rock influences, its most recent album release, “Young Blood,” attacked the band’s standard post-rock catalogue. Adding a shoegazing electronic twirl to the band’s established rock tone, the album pushes the sound into electro-rock territory.

With two EP’s and an LP completed, When Clouds Attack continues to challenge Chicago’s music standards using a whirlpool of genres—at least when the band members aren’t working their day jobs.

The Chronicle sat down with Baran and Moore to discuss performing in Chicago, post-rock shows and the band’s transition into adulthood.

The Chronicle: Where did your band name come from?

Todd Baran: I liked that it had a dual meaning to it. It can almost be read in a kind of silly or funny way and also more seriously. But I don’t want to say I thought too much on it—it’s a band name.

Cameron Moore: It’s pretty common in any instrumental genre: You don’t use a lot of lyrics or come up with clever phrases, so we’re creatively naming things after-the-fact.

Why the transition from your earlier post-rock additives to your new indie-electro sound?

TB: Primarily, we have been less interested in post-rock. Chrissy and I have been playing for almost two years as a duo performing our post-rock material, and the shows just aren’t energetic. They’re not that exciting. So we had kind of lost interest in playing that type of music live. At the same time, we’re starting to listen to a lot more electronic music, so that was sort of a natural progression.

CM: We’re getting more excited about the electronic aspects. The shows are definitely more participatory than just a post-rock band that you kind of just stare at.

How do you like operating your music career in Chicago?

TB: I know Chicago is one of the larger music cities in the U.S., but for us it’s been kind of an easy progression from starting at local bars and clubs and going up from there. It’s fun to get to know more and more bands throughout the city, and it feels like we’re playing on one team rather than a

big competition.

What made you decide to work with Carl Saff, the Chicago mixing engineer who has worked with bands such as Touché Amoré, How to Dress Well and Starf—-r?

TB: We had been mastering with various engineers in the last few years, but we were looking for someone who worked with bands that are in our vein but also for bands that we respect and records that we liked, so we called Carl.

What about adulthood has inspired your most recent album?

TB: With our recent full-length [LP], the central theme is youth and adulthood, like the newer generation being ushered in as the older generation gets ushered out. In some of the songs, they just reference that whole energy and others kind of draw parallels in other aspects—rebellion, revelations—those ideas got woven around as well.

What are you working on now?

TB: We’re trying to take the time to work on new material. We have about four new songs we’ve been working on. Some of it’s back-to-the-’80s, but we just love that type of texture. That’s just what we’re into, [and] that just happens naturally.

CM: It’s a progression. We’re drawing on slightly different references—some of the songs might have a little Phil Collins [in] them … Now we’re working to combine shoegaze, post-rock and electro-pop.

Visit Facebook.com/WhenCloudsAttack for more information.