Light-chasing people

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November 8, 2010
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Cloud Cult’s latest album, “Light Chasers,” has an epic scope — it celebrates the wonders of new life and explores the questions so many of us wrestle with about the meaning of our time here.

While the band’s last album was born out of an intense grieving process lead singer Craig Minowa and his wife Connie went through after the death of their son Kaiden, their new record is about rebirth and is inspired by the couple’s new baby, Nova.

“This [album] is more about the journey of light through the journey of life,” Minowa said. “The final song is a recognition that our presence, appreciation and our love for the gift of this life is really what brings us closer to God and the hereafter.”

Minowa worked on crafting the songs for “Light Chasers” at his home in rural Wisconsin, and band members came out for recording sessions at his studio.

“I think we have the perfect crew for this album,” Minowa said. “They are all good light chasing people. … A good light chaser is someone who is genuinely present, aware and thankful for the gift of life, and does as much as they can to get as much as they can out of it.”

Besides making music, parenting has been a transformative process for Minowa and a life change that has made him a better “light chaser,” he said.

“If forces you to get outside of yourself and be more selfless,” he said. “We get closer to the truth about what our purpose is here when we separate from the island of selfishness that our brain kind of tricks us into thinking that reality is.”

For Minowa, writing songs has been a spiritual journey. His work is born out of a lot of introspective time outdoors.

“I’m a pretty quiet person so the natural world really inspires me a lot,” he said. “I spend a lot of time learning about the stars, the vastness of the universe and all the magic going on out there. There are a lot of key lyrical insights that happen either when I’m out hiking through the woods or staring at the sky in the middle of the night waiting for inspiration.”

“Light Chasers,” which was released in mid-September, is Cloud Cult’s eighth studio album. “Running with the Wolves” was the first song released from the album. It came out last April as a special Earth Day EP.

Cloud Cult started out as a solo project for Minowa in 1995. He used the closet of his small apartment in Minneapolis as a recording studio for his first album “The Shade Project.”

It has since evolved into a musical crew that includes cellist Sarah Young, violinist Shannon Frid, his wife Connie Minowa, who paints during the shows along with artist Scott West, bassist Shawn Neary (formerly of Tapes N Tapes) and drummer Arlen Peiffer.

The band has toured all over the country and performed at high-profile festivals, including the Monolith Festival, Coachella and the 10,000 Lakes Festival.

They kicked off their tour for “Light Chasers” on Sept. 9 with a show at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Cloud Cult will return to Minneapolis for two CD release shows at First Avenue on Nov. 17 & 18.

At this point, it’s not certain whether Cloud Cult will be touring in the future. Minowa said they will definitely come out with more albums, but live shows might be more difficult to handle as his family grows. The couple plans on having a second child and while Nova has proven to be very resilient on the road, keeping up with the demands of touring with two kids would be very challenging.

But for now, they are savoring their experiences on tour.

“The shows have really proven to be great energy and spiritual builders for us,” he said.