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Cloud Cult's mystical collision

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Minnesota collective Cloud Cult was touring in a biodiesel bus before the green movement was but a whisper on the lips of PR gurus everywhere. And that's just the beginning of their environ-conscious moves: the band records all of their albums using geothermal power and produces them on 100 percent recyclable materials. Their own imprint, Earthology Records, is a non-profit which donates all gains to environmental charities.

They're a thoughtful band, not only in industry action, but in lyrics - and, as I found on the phone with singer Craig Minowa, in conversation. We spoke about Cloud Cult's new album, Love, and their new acoustic tour, which stops in Indianapolis Sunday.

NUVO: What surprising challenges have configuring this new set presented?

Craig Minowa: Well, its taken a couple of years, the typical Cloud Cult album is pretty thick with tracking. There's a lot of instrumentation and electronics, and there's so much going on that you really can't do ... in an acoustic setting. So, we've just, over the years, worked on songs from past albums and reconfigured some new songs. But we've taken a lot of time to create a 75-minute set that feels engaging the whole way through.

NUVO: It seems this year is culmination of a lot of different efforts and projects; you have a documentary, a live acoustic album coming up, another full album, a different kind of tour, a biography. What's happening in 2013 that's making all these things come together? Is it planned; is it natural; is it a mystical collision?

Minowa: That's a good question. I like the latter on that on. Yeah, it just kind of seems to be manifesting itself. We really try and keep our fingers in the stars and our ears to the ground to figure out what direction we're supposed to be going at any given point in time.

By a necessity, we had to do the acoustic set in Seattle just because the lodge that we played at didn't have a full sound system, so we sort of had a deadline for creating it. And when we did it, it just felt so rooting for all of us and spiritually empowering and it was just a whole new intimacy with the audience. We all walked away from that and felt like, "We gotta do this more!" It was a natural new direction, created out of something that was initially just out of necessity.

NUVO: I wondered if you had any advice to labels that are getting off the ground that are trying to be environmentally responsible and also trying to launch themselves into existence. What do you wish you would have known?

Minowa: Initially when we were creating environmentally responsible products, the price tag is really scary because for example, organic cotton T-shirts cost eight dollars to manufacture, whereas conventional cotton T-shirts cost two.

If you think about how many t-shirts you sell at a show, you really chip into your profit margin pretty deeply by choosing the environmental route. What we underestimated was that fans are supportive of that environmental product line and they'll pay a little bit more knowing that it's created in an ethical way. So I would say, don't be scared by the slightly more expensive cost of producing albums and merchandise in general in environmentally friendly ways. So, people are coming to buy it because they like the music and they like the band. You have to run your business how it feels [right]. 

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