Catch up with Joe Salgo and Ross Procaccio of alternative rock duo Of Clocks and Clouds and listen to their new single, "Another Life", off their forthcoming album, Better Off, due out later this year.
What brought you two together?
Joe: A couple years ago I started making songs in a solo electronic project. I made a bunch of songs with a friend of mine who's an audio engineer and we played one show and some guys came to see us play and I went to see their band play the next weekend and Ross was playing drums with them and I hung out with everybody afterwards and Ross and I talked and figured out that we were both born and raised in Brooklyn which, in New York City these days, it's a very rare thing to find people that are actually from Brooklyn.
Ross: Right now, everybody's from Brooklyn, but nobody's actually from Brooklyn.
Joe: We had a lot of people in common and the next day I hit him up and he actually didn't remember me, 'cause I guess he'd had too much to drink the night before, but we rehashed and I asked if he knew any drummers and he said, yes, himself.
Ross: I was not too happy with what I was doing at the time with the band, that's why I had to drink and that's why I didn't remember Joe the next day. I had a message on Facebook when I woke up and Joe was like, 'hey man, great talking to you and hanging out, had a really good time last night, hope to talk to you about some drummers,' and I was like, 'who the fuck are you,' and he's like, 'dude, we talked last night for two hours,' and I was like, 'oh shit,' but then we talked it out and it just so happened to be that I was looking to move on from where I was at, musically, and try something new and be a part of something else and Joe was looking for somebody and we were both at the right place at the right time.
Where does your name, Of Clocks and Clouds, come from?
Joe: I was reading Wired magazine a couple years ago while I was working on some songs and I read this little blurb about this German scientific philosopher, Karl Popper, who wrote about different types of metrical events - a little cerebral, I know - but he wrote that the world was broken down into two types of events: things that are clocks which are precise and constant and easily measured, and clouds which are more amorphous and always changing and difficult to contain or measure, and so that became the statement for the music.
Ross: The motto of our band.
Joe: Yeah, we have something that's rigid and then we have these more ethereal layers where every time we play the song, it would be a little different.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Ross: We both come from different musical backgrounds but, at the same time, we both come from very similar backgrounds. I grew up on a lot of Led Zeppelin. When I was in high school and I would drive to school, I had Led Zeppelin 1 in my car and, one day, my CD player broke and I couldn't eject the CD so it was either really bad radio or Zeppelin and so, by chance, I was forced to study Led Zeppelin 1. And I also played a lot of jazz in high school and college, too.
Joe: For me, I come from a classic rock background. My dad always was playing records when I was a kid, like Dire Straits and The Beatles and there are so many other things, but I think the things you'll hear in the roots of our songs is like Pink Floyd, for sure, and that classic rock/psychedelic feel. More recently, bands like Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips and stuff like that, people that are just trying to push the envelope and take things to a different place. I've also been influenced recently by more jam music which, moving forward, is sort of the goal for us, not that we're ever going to be a jam band, but to have elements of improvisation during our live show; maybe we'll break off into some sort of jam. Jam music is not what we're trying to do. but there are certain things that happen in it that we're heading towards.
Ross: When we first started out, a lot of our music was more rigid and dictated by a computer, where Joe set up these tracks and we'd play along to them and, not to knock what we were doing in the beginning, but it was almost karaoke-esque, where we were letting the computer run the show and we were just accenting and creating stuff around it whereas, now, our music is blossoming and doing its own thing and that's where Joe's going with the jam thing. It's developing its own shape and form and we're relying less on the computer and letting the music speak for itself.
How would you describe your sound?
Joe: I've been telling people that I play psychedelic alternative blues rock, which is a lot of things [laughs]. We're a little all over the place. At the end of the day, we're a rock band.
Ross: For our new record, we're pulling from rock influences, we've got some heavy rock and roll influences and, essentially, we're all over the place but, at the end of the day, we definitely are a rock band.
What was the inspiration behind your new single, "Another Life"?
Joe: The two of us both went through pretty heavy breakups while we were writing new material and "Another Life" is a song about being with someone day in and day out and then, the next thing you know, they're gone and you never see them again. That's something that a lot of people have dealt with or will deal with or continue to deal with and that's what influenced this song. It's a little snarky in a sense, because the song has an upbeat feel but it's pretty sad at the same time, so it's a juxtaposition of those two things.
That's off your forthcoming, self-produced album, Better Off, could you tell us more about that?
Ross: It's kind of a breakup record. The title track, "Better Off", is pretty much about breakups and all the songs are very emotional songs, but we try to do these little twists on all of them; like "Another Life", if you cut the lyrics out, it sounds like the fun, pop-y, beach-y, jam-y kind of track and the song is upbeat but, when you listen to the lyrics, you're like, 'oh shit, this is dark and really, really sad,' and a lot of the other songs on the record are like that.
Joe: I would say that the overall arc of the record is like going through the initial breakup with anger and then dealing with the pain and then moving forward and then acceptance. That's sort of how it's been plotted out, in terms of the songs.
Is there a song off the album you're most excited for your fans to hear?
Joe: I'm excited for them to hear all of them. "Another Life" is, strangely enough, the one that I'm least excited about, not to put that forward first, but I think the other songs are a little darker and a little more vibe-y.
Ross: "Another Life" is a poppier one; it's a little more accessible in terms of a general audience where the other ones go a little bit deeper and have a lot of different elements.
Joe: We have a song that sounds like Queens of the Stone Age meets Muse sort of and it sounds pretty cool; I'm really happy with that one.
What do you want your listeners to take away from your music?
Joe: For me, I just want people to be able to pop on our tunes and disappear for a little while and have some sort of experience with it within themselves and their own minds and feel what we went through and have a good time with it.
Ross: I'd like to think that it's relatable. We've all gone through that shitty breakup in one way or another and we've all gone through heartbreak, whether it's family, friends, relationships, boyfriend or girlfriend, we've all done it and it's something that can relate to everybody.
Joe: We also want people to come see us play the songs because it's a whole different experience when it's live in front of you.
Ross: It's a very back and forth experience in terms of the energy at our live shows. Our recordings are very thought out and planned and a lot of work has been done with it, but with our live show, one of the most important things for me, and for the both of us, is to have a good crowd. If we have a good crowd in front of us it definitely affects the feel; if we have a bad show and we don't have a lot of people there and there's no energy in the room, it kills it.
Joe: That doesn't happen anymore, luckily.
Ross: Yeah, thank god, but we've all had those shows.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Joe: Thank you for taking the time to even listen to our music. There's so much out there today that everyone's inundated with the latest whatever in the top 40s or all the indie stuff and you can get lost in it, so if you're reading this, I just want to say thank you for taking the time and taking an interest in what we're doing. We can't do it without everybody else. Without our fans, we're just two dudes making music for each other.
Ross: It would be fun regardless, but we'd like to share it with other people, too.