Cloud Catcher guitarist and singer Rory Rummings lives and breathes heavy music. It’s been that way for as long as he can recall.
“I remember the first time I heard Black Sabbath. I was like three or four, on a road trip. I remember the whole moment,” Rummings says.
“We were driving through Texas, and the first Sabbath song I heard was ‘Iron Man,’ of course,” he continues. “And I remember there was a sunset out the window, and this music just completely struck a chord with me. That was the first real emotion I can legitimately remember. It was super-thunderous, man.”
Rummings, now 24, has been rocking hard ever since. His dad turned him on to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, then nurtured his burgeoning headbanger with impromptu air-guitar gigs in the living room. As a teenager growing up in Edgewater, Rummings holed up in his house to practice guitar, and he started writing songs before he was in high school.
For the past few years, Rummings has fronted Cloud Catcher, a heavy psych band with bassist Kam Wentworth, 23, and drummer Jared Soloman Handman, 25. The outfit released its debut album Enlightened Beyond Existence in 2015 and has just released a followup, Trails of Kozmic Dust, through Totem Cat Records, a well-respected French label.
Trails of Kozmic Dust is an interstellar collision of hard rock and roll, old-school metal, skyscraping psych jams and heavy blues. Rummings plays guitar, while Wentworth and Handman make for a powerful rhythm section. Together they whip up blacklight-and-pot-smoke anthems of the highest order.
On Tuesday night, Cloud Catcher will open for Swedish stoner-rock giants Truckfighters at the Moon Room. Westword caught up with Rummings to talk about his band and the new album.
Westword: You’ve said your dad introduced you to heavy music at a very young age. What do you remember most about that time?
Rory Rummings: I have a lot of fun on stage, and a lot of that is about my dad. He’s 50, so he grew up in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He was there for Maiden and Priest, and he would always have so much fun. His energy would get me so stoked on it, and to this day that translates to when I play live. You could tell heavy music influenced his life in a positive way, and I always dug that.
You seem hyper-focused on heavy sounds, but I assume you like other kinds of music...right?
Heavy music is pretty much my life, but as a musician, you’re cheating yourself if you only stick to one thing. So the bands I always come back to are Sabbath, Maiden and Priest, but I also love fusion, like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck around the time of Blow by Blow and Wired. I like jazz — like, Wes Montgomery is an incredible guitar player, and John McLaughlin, too. One of my favorite musicians is [Canadian indie-rocker] Chad VanGaalen. His compositions are so outside the box.
Basically, I’m really into melody, so whether you’re playing melodic death metal or cumbia or something like that, as long as you have a good melody, that’s all I’m looking for, man.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you recorded Trails of Kozmic Dust? It has a really warm, vintage-sounding quality, and I’m curious how you got that.
In my eyes, the two albums are basically two different bands with two different sounds. Trails of Kozmic Dust feels to me like the first true Cloud Catcher album. We recorded it in three days at the home studio of Cody Tarbell (of the California psych band Slow Season), and we were going for a super old-school, raw, live vibe. Like Grand Funk Railroad’s red album meets, like, Motörhead on Overkill.
And we wanted it to feel like you’re experiencing this live, so we recorded live to tape with one guitar, one bass, one vocal and one set of drums. There’s one overdub on the whole album, and I’m improvising most of the solos. If we messed up — if the perfect take had a little flaw on it — then we’d leave that in, because that’s the whole point of music, man. It’s organic. It’s raw. It’s supposed to be natural.
How long have you played music with Jared and Kam?
I’m 24 now, and the first time I jammed with Jared I was seventeen, so maybe 2010? Kam joined Cloud Catcher in 2015, and he was like a breath of fresh air. We’re always writing. Always jamming.
The reason I ask is because Trails of Kozmic Dust feels not only warm and well worn, but also a bit jammier and more psychedelic than Enlightened Beyond Belief. Do you agree with that? And if so, to what do you attribute those qualities?
Oh, Enlightened has its moments, but Trails is definitely where we came into our own as a band. When we went into these sessions, it just felt really natural to extend certain parts of the songs to make them more floaty and more psychedelic and jammy. I think that’s because when we rehearse, we’ll just jam for hours in like twenty- or forty-minute chunks. We’re feeling each other out, listening and playing off each other and understanding how we are as musicians. So it felt natural to bring that into the studio — a free-flowing, grooving, almost telepathic musical language.
But it’s more than that. We’re growing as people and growing as friends, and that definitely helps the music out a lot. Bands are weird relationships, man. It’s like [your bandmates] are a part of you, which helps you understand that person. And that translates to musical growth, too. Like, I know you as a person and I know you as a player, and I can connect with that. So every time we jam, that’s kind of like where our minds meet.
You're just back from a two-week tour, and you're opening for Truckfighters on Tuesday. Then what?
We just want to write and tour and have fun, man. We love playing music together, and that’s what it’s all about. As cheesy as it sounds, if we can travel the country or the world and play music we’ve written? Dude, that’s pretty much all we want to do. It’s a trip.
Cloud Catcher, with Truckfighters, Yawning Man and Luna Sol, Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. at the Moon Room at Summit Music Hall, 1902 Blake Street. Tickets are $13-$15.For more information, call 303-487-0111.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.