At only a year old, indie-rock band Concrete to Clouds has undergone more name changes than Black Sabbath had revolving band members. Initially, they were known as the Jonathan Cannamore Band after the lead vocalist; then they transitioned to just Cannamore – a name that stuck with them all the way to the final round of the 2018 Battle for the Warped Tour. A few days later, the band officially finalized their name and Concrete to Clouds was born.
“The name came from an album by Kevin Devine called ‘Between the Concrete and Clouds,’” explained Cannamore. “The album is really about searching for answers for everything that happens between the concrete and the clouds. To make the name our own we shortened it to Concrete to Clouds, but the meaning is still the same.”
The name change ended up being prophetic, according to drummer Derek Haukaus, who credits the new name with bringing the band together.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize how much changing our name would affect how I viewed the band. When it was the Jonathan Cannamore Band I definitely viewed it more as a session gig, so it wasn’t as big as a priority. Having a name that we all bought into makes it feel like an actual band – now I’m the drummer for Concrete to Clouds not just a drummer for hire,” explained Haukaus.
The moniker isn’t the only major shift in Concrete to Clouds’ evolution. The band which originated as a solo singer-songwriter outfit has grown to encompass a full four-piece group.
“It’s really been this organic thing where band members used to cycle through and I think it’s really cool to know how we’ve evolved from a solo act to having a cajón and then a bass and a drummer. Now we have a fourth member, so our sound is going to keep developing,” said bassist James Webb.
The band’s final addition is guitarist Joel Hadley, who joined the band a month ago after moving in next door to Cannamore. Hadley hasn’t played a gig with his new band yet but Cannamore is confident he will fit in perfectly.
“Joel moved in next door and I found out we liked a lot of the same music, so I invited him to Battle of the Bands. Then we had a game night and of course nothing makes instant bandmates quite like game night,” laughed Cannamore.
Of course, a love of game night isn’t the only thing that unites the band. Haukaus, Cannamore and Webb all studied music formally in college and Hadley grew up playing a variety of instruments for his church’s band. Collectively, this talented group can play nearly every instrument from French horn to cymbals and everything in between. When crafting their intellectual brand of music, Concrete to Clouds pulls from their collective knowledge of music theory to create a unique sound.
“I feel like we have a really solid indie-rock framework with occasional jazz and blues thrown in there,” said Hadley.
There’s little doubt that the jazz influences come from Webb, a veteran of UAA’s jazz program.
“Sometimes Jon will come in and say that he was thinking of adding a funkier groove, so I tend to automatically think more jazz. But I think that some of the chords that Jon writes really lend themselves to something more complicated than the standard alternative punk-rock eighth note kind of sound – and that’s what’s really cool about how we collaborate because we all have the individual skill to bring something unique to the table,” Webb explained.
Concrete to Clouds’ musicianship recently paid off when they were invited to perform as part of the Surreal Sessions under the direction of Alaskan recording legend Kurt Reimann.
“Doing the Surreal Sessions was a lot of fun because it was a stripped back version of our full band which gave me a lot of input into the songwriting process. I got to reimagine how we do things and it forced me to draw attention back to the melodies that Jon writes. I think going forward, we’re going to refocus our songwriting to support the melody more,” said Haukaus.
“I think it’s really cool that we’re not the kind of band that has one person coming in and saying, ‘this is how it’s going to be.’ Instead we take a central idea for a song and all work together to make songs that are collectively shaped and refined,” Webb enthusiastically added.
For the band’s originator, Jonathan Cannamore, the progression of Concrete to Clouds is characterized by various important periods of his own music career.
“I met each one of these guys at different periods of my life. I went to college as a pretty well-established singer-songwriter and then I met James in a UAA music theory class and pulled him into the group. Then I met Matt, who had been playing rock shows forever and that took it to a new level. Now I am in a full band,” said Cannamore. “At this point, I am just looking forward to cutting an EP with these guys and seeing where the music is going to take us – hopefully it will be more gigs!”