Clouds & Satellites have been around for quite a while, in some form or another. And they’re not going anywhere any time soon, because they’re lifers.
That’s the feeling you get when you talk to Markus Kuhlmann, one of the band’s vocalists and guitarists. Kuhlmann has been part of the music community in Savannah for years, playing in bands like Waits & Co. and The Train Wrecks. Clouds & Satellites has been an ongoing project for him and singer/songwriter Tim Warren for a long time, even throughout many other projects that have come and gone.
“Tim and I have been friends for forever. He was one of the first guys that I met when I first gradually moved to Savannah, Kuhlmann says ahead of the band’s 9:30 P.M. set at Service Brewing on Thurs., March 5 for Savannah Stopover.
“Tim and I have been together for well over 10 years now, so it’s been a hot minute. The first show with this current lineup of Clouds & Satellites was Stopover 3 or 4.”
Their return to Stopover with the long-running lineup of the band marks an important full circle moment for them, elevated by the release of their latest album, EP 4. The EP is an eclectic set of songs that runs the gamut stylistically, but there’s a thread in the imaginative approach to production and harmonies, in particular.
“Using the studio as an instrument has always been [of interest],” Kuhlmann says. “I’ve always been enamored with trying different things. Some people are really dogmatic in terms of wanting the recording to sound like they do live, but I’m actually the opposite. Let’s use this for what we can.”
Treating the studio and live experiences as separate artistic outlets has proven successful for Clouds & Satellites—it allows them to build songs into creative explorations, and treat the live arrangements as their own entities.
“As we’re rehearsing these songs, they kind of take a different life live,” he says. “We’re kind of visually cueing off of each other. There’s a push and pull, and the songs continue to grow even after the studio document is put out into the world. I’m all for letting that growth happen.”
Much of that harmony-driven approach to production comes from a shared love of bands that embraced that sense of exploration sonically—most notably, The Beatles, Wilco, and Spoon. Guitar bands like Built To Spill and Guided By Voices are also among Clouds & Satellites’ overarching influences.
While a Beatles influence might seem unsurprising given that most bands can cite the legendary foursome as being impactful, Kuhlmann specifically looks to certain records of theirs for inspiration in the studio.
“I’m always Revolver and Rubber Soul,” he says.
While the band enjoys playing live, especially at festivals like Stopover, they’re truly chasing creative fulfillment at the end of the day. They’re a studio band at their core, made up of people who have a genuine artistic connection with each other. That connection informs their path forward and their goals as a band.
“We’re not looking to get in a van, but we do want to play good shows. We want to have it be more of an event than something we’re plugging away at as a means of existing,” Kuhlmann says. “But we’re always writing songs.”