Despite nearly a decade of existence, Portland’s Big Black Cloud still remain a bit of an enigma.  There are only a small handful of YouTube clips of the band playing their brand of loud, groovy, avant-garde scariness .  They tend to draw characterizations such as, “A huge, swirling mess of garage, punk, noise, psych, howls, and yelps” (Maximum Rocknroll).  They recently paired down from a four-piece to a trio for their sophomore LP, Black Friday, which dropped on July 2nd and is currently streaming on Spin.  I recently got a chance to chat with guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello.  I was expecting someone morbidly esoteric and possibly even threatening, giving me artfully abstract answers to questions I didn’t ask.  However, Nick proved to be very straightforward and was more than happy (“happy” might be the wrong word) to share what’s currently inspiring himself and his band…

Izzy Cihak: As a band, you’ve remained admirably mysterious.  What is it that is most important to know about Big Black Cloud?

Nick Capello: If you get injured at one of our shows, we might just drive you to the emergency room.  Which actually happened at a show the other night.

IC: You’re based out of PDX.  What are your thoughts on the local music and art scene?

NC: Portland is probably the best place in the US to see live music right now.  Some of the best bands in the world are based out of here, are probably playing in the next month and, if you live here, they’re people you most likely know.  There’s a lot of cross over in the music scene right now.  A lot of people getting together from other bands, trying new shit, getting weird. The downside of so many people making music is that the city gets saturated with a lot of “pro” bands, but those guys can go fuck themselves.

IC: How would you characterize your latest LP, Black Friday, and the current state of the band?  You seem to have gone through a bit of an evolution recently.

NC: I feel like Black Friday is very much our “sci-fi psychedelic rock” record.  We became a three-piece shortly before writing it and were experimenting with songwriting in different ways and trying to get a lot heavier.  The new direction we are headed in is even stranger and more violent sounding, very jagged.  We are always trying to push things a little further and further out from the traditional rock idiom.

IC: Are there any contemporary acts that you find to be doing especially interesting things, whether or not they resemble your own aesthetic?

NC: Absolutely. We are lucky to have a plethora of really great heavy acts in Portland right now: Prizehog, Drunk Dad, Tiny Knives, and Rabbits are four of the absolute best.  Outside of PDX, I really like Total Abuse.  Tyvek is great and so are the Puffy Areolas in the noisy/garagey scene.  Death Grips are consistently intriguing.  ASAP Mob is great. CCR Headcleaner is fucking killer.  I’m just really happy that there is so much aggressive music coming out that is intelligent.  It seems like that wasn’t popular for a while.

IC: What do you consider to currently be your biggest influences?  You would seem to have a lot of significant non-musical influences.

NC: Quite a bit of our influences come from outside music.  Burroughs, William Gibson, and any gritty, dystopian science fiction are massively influential.  Italian horror movies from the ‘70s and ‘80s.  The architecture of Antonio Sant’elia. Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx. Lately, we’ve been trying to get really into creating a mood, capturing a sort of tension around us, listening to a lot of jazz and John Carpenter soundtracks.

IC: What are your plans for the future?  Any chance of a full-scale tour?  If so, what can be expected of the live experience?

NC: We’re gonna be on the west coast this winter and spring and definitely on the east coast and in the midwest by late spring/early summer.  After that we should be ready to record the next LP in the fall.  We will be three people playing as hypnotically as we can, trying to destroy our instruments/your perception.