Cake (officially capitalized "CAKE) is an American alternative rock band from Sacramento, California which has had several hits throughout the 1990s and 2000s from six albums.
Cake was formed in 1991 by vocalist/songwriter John McCrea
, guitarist Greg Brown
, trumpeter Vince DiFiore
, bassist Shon Meckfessel
and drummer Frank French
. Shon Meckfessel soon left and was replaced by Gabe Nelson
. In 1993, the band released its debut single, "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle
." Although self-released, the single managed to hit number 31 on the US Modern Rock Tracks
. After the moderate radio success of their first single, Cake released their debut album entitled Motorcade of Generosity
. Eventually, Cake signed a deal with Capricorn records, who in turn released the album nationally. Some time after this deal Gabe Nelson and Frank French left the band.
In 1996, Cake released their second album, Fashion Nugget. The album produced the radio gem "The Distance," which "dominated alternative radio that fall". The next single released from Fashion Nugget was a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive".
Later Victor Damiani was replaced by Gabe Nelson when he rejoined the band.
Cake released their third studio album, Prolonging the Magic, in 1998. This album contained the hit single "Never There" which reached number 1 on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks.
In 2001 Cake released their fourth full-length album entitled Comfort Eagle. This was Cake's first release under Columbia records. The lead single "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" was a major hit on alternative radio stations, climbing to number 7 on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks.
Cake's fifth album, Pressure Chief, was released on October 5, 2004. It contained the moderately successful singles "No Phone" and a cover of the Bread song "The Guitar Man." John McCrea discussed the album with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air in February 2005.
Cake released a compilation, B-Sides and Rarities, in October 2007. It features covers of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," Barry White's "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up," and Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," as well as live versions of Cake songs "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and "It's Coming Down". Rarities is the band's first album on its own label, Upbeat Records.
The band has announced that two new albums are in the works: Live at the Crystal Palace, the band's first live album; and a new studio album, originally due in fall 2008, but later announced to be early 2009 at the band's Earthfest 2008 performance. John McCrea describes the studio album's sound as "very different" from previous Cake records, also indicating that he will be playing piano much more than usual. Both will be released on Upbeat Records.
In 2008 the band removed their studio (Upbeat Studio) from Sacramento, California's power grid by installing a photo-voltaic solar system. The band subsequently announced that their upcoming studio album will be "recorded using 100% solar energy."
Damiani left the band in 1997, replaced by Gabe Nelson. Greg Brown left in 1998, replaced by Xan McCurdy. Brown and Damiani continued to work together when they formed the band Deathray
. Todd Roper left the band to focus on parenthood after recording Comfort Eagle
, and has also joined Deathray. Drummer Paulo Baldi joined the band in 2003 during the second "Unlimited Sunshine Tour". (See "Band Lineup
" for more)
Although Cake's music is often classified as alternative rock
or indie rock
, it combines multiple musical genres
, such as funk
, and country
. Cake's music features droll lyrics rife with word play
(laconically voiced in a rap
-like style by lead vocalist/guitarist John McCrea
), catchy distorted guitar riffs (courtesy of guitarist Greg Brown
until 1998, and bass player Victor Damiani
), and a solo trumpet (played by Vince DiFiore
). Cake's approach to arrangement, composition, and instrumentation has been compared to Soul Coughing
, They Might Be Giants
, Talking Heads
, The Cars
, Camper Van Beethoven
, and Lou Reed
Cake headlined the Unlimited Sunshine Tour
festival in the summer of 2002
among an eclectic ensemble of bands including Modest Mouse
, The Flaming Lips
, De La Soul
, Latin techno
fusion band Kinky
and bluegrass group The Hackensaw Boys
. Cake brought back the tour in 2003 with Cheap Trick
, country singer Charlie Louvin
, garage rockers The Detroit Cobras
and a return performance from The Hackensaw Boys. The tour returned in 2007 with the Brazilian Girls
on the East Coast dates, return of The Detroit Cobras
for the West Coast dates, and Oakley Hall
, Agent Ribbons and King City for all the shows.
In June 2008, lead singer John McCrea told music publication REVUE that he is thinking seriously of quitting touring to become a farmer.
- John McCrea - lead vocals, acoustic guitar, organ, vibraslap
- Vince DiFiore - trumpet, keyboards, percussion
- Xan McCurdy - electric guitar (joined after Prolonging the Magic)
- Gabe Nelson - bass guitar (left after Motorcade of Generosity, replaced by Damiani; rejoined before Prolonging the Magic)
- Paulo Baldi - drums, percussion (joined for Pressure Chief tour after drumming on two tracks on Pressure Chief)
- Greg Brown - electric guitar (1991-1998)
- Shon Meckfessel - bass guitar (1991)
- Victor Damiani - bass guitar (1991-1997)
- Frank French - drums, percussion (1991-1994)
- Todd Roper - drums, percussion (1994-2001)
- Pete McNeal - drums, percussion (2001-2004)
Association with other acts
- McCrea contributed backup vocals to the track "Fred Jones Part 2" on Ben Folds' album Rockin' the Suburbs, and made a surprise appearance to do the same during the recording of Folds' Ben Folds Live album.
- McCrea contributes vocals to the track "The Headphonist" on the album Atlas by Mexican electro-pop band Kinky.
- Deathray is a band that features former Cake members Greg Brown, Victor Damiani, and Todd Roper.
Appearances in other media
- A parody instrumental version of "The Distance" from Fashion Nugget is played during the episode Saddlesore Galactica of The Simpsons when Bart's racehorse, Furious-D, exits the turnstile with his new fashion image.
- The theme song to NBC show Chuck is parts of Cake's 'Short Skirt/Long Jacket'.
- The song "Shadow Stabbing" from Comfort Eagle appears in the opening credits of the movies Orange County and Wordplay. It also appears in the movie Shallow Hal.
- The Daria episode "The Road Worrier" featured the song "Frank Sinatra" and used "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle" for its closing credits. The song "Daria" was used as closing credits for "The New Kid", "Never There" was used in "Depth Takes a Holiday", "Sheep go to Heaven" was in "The Lost Girls", and "Friend Is a Four-Letter Word" was the closing credit theme of episode 13 of season 4 : "Dye! Dye! My Darling".
- The song "Frank Sinatra" was also featured at the close of The Sopranos episode "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti."
- Cake's cover of "I Will Survive" was featured in the 2004 Japanese movie Survive Style 5+, the 2003 film Secretary, and the 2003 Canadian comedy, Mambo Italiano.
- The song "Comfort Eagle" was featured in the 2001 movie Shallow Hal.
- "When You Sleep," "Sheep Go to Heaven," "You Turn the Screws," "Open Book" and "Never There" were featured on the soundtrack to the 2001 film Sidewalks of New York.
- "Never There" was in the Friends episode "_1998-1999" during her surprise party.
- "Hem of Your Garment" was in the movie Me, Myself & Irene.
- "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" is featured in the film Waking Up in Reno.
- "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" was featured in the movies Anchorman and Waitress, as well as in the ER episode Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic.
- For two years, "The Distance" was used in the TV advert for the Powers (whiskey) Irish Grand National, which takes place in Dublin, Ireland every Easter Monday.
- The song "Love You Madly" was used in Episode 2 of Season 1 of Smallville. It was also featured in the opening of the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
- The beginning of "You Turn The Screws" is featured occasionally as a buffer segment on National Public Radio, along with the song "When You Sleep". Also, excerpts of "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" are often used as buffer segments on The Splendid Table, which is produced by American Public Media and airs on public radio stations nationwide.
- Cake's cover of "Mahna Mahna" appears on the charity CD For the Kids whose proceeds benefit the "VH1 SAVE THE MUSIC" organization.
- The video of "Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle" aired on an episode of Weird TV.
- "Never Gonna Give You Up" featured in the movie American Werewolf in Paris 1997.
- Cake's cover of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" was featured in the opening credit sequence of the 1997 Australian movie Welcome to Woop Woop, the movie Dream for an Insomniac, the 2001 Mexican film El Segundo Aire, a Heinz ketchup commercial, a snapple commercial, and the first episode of the television show Opposite Sex.
- Cake's cover of Strangers in the Night appears on the PC video game soundtrack Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel Without a Pulse"
- The cover of "I Will Survive" and other songs from the record Fashion Nugget are used in the German film Herr Lehmann.
- An instrumental and uptempo version of the song "Italian Leather Sofa" plays over the opening credits of the animated cartoon "Mission Hill" (1999-2002)
- Cake's "The Distance" was often used by Mitt Romney's campaign for the President of the United States during the United States presidential election, 2008. The song was frequently played at his rallies and as a buffer before and after his speeches.
- A video mashup of Cake's "Comfort Eagle" ("We Are Building a Religion") with scenes of Barack Obama, Obama rallies, Obama keychains, etc. was widely distributed on the Internet during the 2008 presidential election.
The theme song to the cartoon series Mission Hill is a faster, instrumental version of "Italian Leather Sofa."