Musical duos are hip right now. There’s even a festival dedicated to them with Anaheim’s 2 Piece Festival on Feb. 22 that features 22 two-piece bands on two stages for a $2 cover.
Then there’s Fresno’s Cloudship, the two-piece alternative Americana group from Brandon Freeman and Jonathan Napoles. The pair got a spot on the festival just in time for the release of their CD “Mayday.” The album, the band’s second, was released this week on iTunes, and will be celebrated with a show Saturday, Feb. 7, at Audie’s Olympic Tavern.
We talked with Freeman and Napoles in advance of the show.
Question: Are there benefits in being a two-piece?
Freeman: Being in a duo is a blessing really. No one misses practice. Checks split nice and easily. Arguments are settled quickly, because it’s like a quarrel with my brother as opposed to a family argument. It also necessitates a sound with which we have become increasingly pleased.
Are there drawbacks?
Freeman: No way. It’s awesome. Maybe, we can’t really stand up when we perform live. But that’s soon to change.
You guys have been referred to as a mini-super group. Tell us about some of the other bands you’ve played in and how that informed what you’re doing here.
Freeman: Our previous projects were bigger on complexity as an art form. Life at Twilight, Luchador and Local Honey were all quite proggy (progressive) at times. Even Blind Bison, albeit less so.
Napoles: The music I compose in this group is nothing like the music I wrote with Gods & Kings and Before Perils. One band had 10-minute-long songs with riffs changing every 30 seconds. Before Perils is pretty much an acoustic form of that, just not as extreme and a little more accessible, especially with the violin and no vocals. Writing music with Cloudship is way easier.
Cloudship focuses on music that’s relateable and fun. Alas, our music is now becoming a bit more complex as we move forward. It’s unavoidable, I suppose. It’s what we’re used to.
Has the band become more focused with age/experience playing together?
Freeman: Focused wouldn’t necessarily be our word of choice. We’ve grown closer, to be sure. We’ve been pretty focused on this since we discovered that it was viable. But we have some serious compositional ADD, too. Every time we think we sound like something, we write a song that says “sorry kid, try again.” So our sound is anything but focused, even though we tried and tried to pigeonhole ourselves.
I play a fully functional drum kit now. Before it was a tom with mallets and the iPad. We filled out our sound now, but other than that, this is the same Cloudship.
Talk about how “Mayday” came together.
Freeman: “Mayday” has been a work in progress since not too long after (our first album) “Sail to Heaven.” We needed to show progress and maturation, and I think we did that. We took our time, changed the track list once or twice, diversified our sound and collaborated with some friends. It was slow to come together, but I think we did our thing.