January 25, 2016
By Drew Wood
How I Met Your Mother star Josh “Ted Mosby” Radnor was on a “spiritual adventure” in Peru when the ask went down, recalls Cloud Cult frontman Craig Minowa of the moment he reached out to the actor about maybe, just maybe, starring in Cloud Cult’s first-ever foray into feature filmmaking, The Seeker, premiering later this month.
“He was in Peru and his spiritual teacher was saying, ‘You’re going to start shaking things up,’” says Minowa while driving from his organic farmstead outside of Viroqua, Wisconsin, to pick up his dad in Owatonna to take him to an appointment. “And then he got this e-mail from me.”
“As an actor I found myself in a place where I didn’t have to say yes to everything that came my way,” adds Radnor. “So I was on the lookout for projects where I felt some sort of heart connection—with both the material and the people involved. When Craig reached out and said, ‘You want to be in a Cloud Cult movie?’ every part of me was like, ‘Yes!’” Minowa’s call and Radnor’s answer weren’t totally without precedent. After meeting a few times at shows over the years, the duo had bonded over common life philosophies. “I’ve always thought Craig was a perfect tour guide through all of this because he’s known real pain and loss and come out the other end not as a disillusioned cynic but something else entirely,” Radnor says in reference to the unexpected 2002 death of Minowa and wife Connie’s 2-year-old son Kaidin, one of the driving forces behind Minowa’s songwriting.
So it’s no coincidence that the movie and album, both called The Seeker, work hand in hand to document a girl’s journey to self-discovery after being beset by early-life tragedy. And if that sounds heady, that’s because it is. The feature-length film that also stars Radnor’s Hollywood pal Alex McKenna has no dialogue, while the album functions as the girl’s narrative. Although both can be understood and enjoyed individually, when synched—which they will be when Cloud Cult comes to the State Theatre in March—they become a cross-disciplinary whole.
“I’m a huge fan of [an entire] album as a piece of artwork. And in the current paradigm of music we’re getting attacked from all sides to just become singles creators,” says Minowa of why he undertook such an ambitious project. “And there’s a huge desire with us to dream up some way to just create individual songs and have people [listen] to each individual song but at the same time have them all work as a whole.”
Which echoes what Radnor loves about Minowa and company. “There are plenty of bands with great songs who don’t have the hold on my heart that Cloud Cult has,” he says. “There’s so much irony and posturing in our culture, and I love that Cloud Cult refuses to traffic in those things. They ask the big questions without offering easy or pat conclusions.”
As Minowa puts it, “I don’t know what the meaning is, and what this whole God thing’s about, but I do feel the calling to just live in awe and make sure I don’t forget the necessity of being an awe-inspired person and not becoming jaded in the heart.” Sounds like at least one seeker who’s found what he was looking for.
The Seeker album will be released February 12. Cloud Cult will be performing it on March 12 at the State Theatre.
Cloud Cult Primer
- Formed in 1995
- Established green record label Earthology in 1997
- Eight members: six musicians and two artists, including Craig’s wife Connie, who paint onstage during shows
- Headquartered at the Minowa’s organic farmstead in Viroqua, Wisconsin
- Minnesota Music Awards 2004 “Artist of the Year” for its fifth album Aurora Borealis
- Pitchfork.com called 2006’s Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus “insane genius”
- The Denver Post ranked 2007’s The Meaning of 8 one of the top 10 albums of the decade