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Cloud Cult on fame and farming

Indie rockers Cloud Cult will bring their unique live show to Plush on Saturday.

Indie rockers Cloud Cult will bring their unique live show to Plush on Saturday.

A year after Cloud Cult’s indie folk-rock release “Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-partying through Tornadoes),” the Minnesota-based band continues to tour nationally, playing sold-out show after sold-out show.

But the band has announced it will take a break from touring after its string of spring and summer dates, including a Saturday show in Tucson.

On his time off, band founder Craig Minowa plans to bury his hands deep in the dirt on his organic farm between Hinckley and Sandstone.

“We really aren’t big-city people. We’re kind of quiet, rural people, so touring really takes its toll on us,” Minowa says the morning after Cloud Cult’s recent sold-out concert in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The band’s unique live show features two live painters, including Minowa’s wife, Connie.

The national successes of Cloud Cult throughout the past seven years are gratifying, Minowa says, but the limelight can sometimes be too glaring.

“On the positive side, it’s really great to see how the positive message is coming across. There’s a lot of people sharing really touching stories about how the music has helped them through tough times,” Minowa says. “That’s where I’m really able to find the purpose behind this.”

Cloud Cult has been around since 1995, but it wasn’t until 2002 that the band really broke out of its shell.

Minowa and company’s first taste of national fame was “They Live on the Sun,” an album written after the unexpected death of Minowa’s 2-year-old son. The disc went to No. 1 on the college radio charts by 2003.

At the rate of about an album a year, Cloud Cult continued to pick up steam and in 2007, The Denver Post ranked “The Meaning of 8″ one of the top 10 best albums of the past decade, alongside bands like Modest Mouse and Radiohead.

By the time “Feel Good Ghosts” came around, the band gained the attention of Rolling Stone magazine, which dubbed Cloud Cult a “breaking band.”

“It takes a lot of energy to be … in the public eye when we prefer to have our hands in the soil and be quietly weeding away in the gardens,” Minowa says.

Cloud Cult is one of the pioneering “green bands” of the indie rock scene.

“The entire Cloud Cult process has been really developed along organic premises from the songwriting to the actual production of the products to our stage shows,” Minowa says.

Cloud Cult’s products are 100 percent postconsumer recycled and all but one of Cloud Cult’s CDs have been recorded and produced at Minowa’s environmentally friendly farm studio.

Minowa’s Earthology Records has been an eco-consultant to national acts and music industry heavies such as Universal, MTV and ASCAP.

Even while the band is touring, Minowa works from the road with the Organic Consumers Association doing nonprofit work.

“The big trick is touring around the farming operation. We’ve got chickens that require care while we’re away,” Minowa says. “We typically try to schedule the tours so we’re home for the first planting of the year and build the fall tours around the first frost.”

While the group takes a touring break, Minowa will write, with plans to release another CD in 2010.

“I feel like there might be some closure coming in on the live show level,” Minowa says. “Connie and I really are just going to focus on family and the farm and our Earthology Institute.”

This year’s big project was releasing the feature-length documentary “No One Said It Would Be Easy,” a film that follows Cloud Cult’s rise to fame. The movie hit stores in April.

Even though Cloud Cult has become a prominent name in the indie music scene, Minowa has no intention to hang up his farm life to be a full-time musician.

“When we’re back at the farm, that’s really the true joy,” Minowa says.



What: Cloud Cult in concert

When: 11:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Plush, 340 E. Sixth St.

Price: $10

Info: 798-1298, www.plushtucson.com

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