It’s undeniable: the ol’ music industry’s a’changin’. In the sanctimonious name of progress, with bands releasing albums online-only and the looming threat of CDs going the way of the mastodon (animal, not band), it must tax a band’s creativity to come up with interesting ways to encourage album sales. Fans of CAKE, though, need not fear since the Sacramento-based quartet continues to up their own creative ante. Released in spring of 2007, on the band’s label, Upbeat Records, B-Sides And Rarities gives fans new, sensory reason to leave the comfort of their computer’s keyboard to venture outside, file through alphabetically sorted CDs, dig deep and hand cash and pocket lint over to actually buy the disc. The album, containing covers by musicians from Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”) to Barry White (“Never Never Gonna Give You Up”) delivers CAKE’s latest intricately arranged music as a follow-up to 2004’s Pressure Chief. Of the new album, keyboardist, trumpeter and background vocalist Vince DiFiore says, “These songs were recorded at times when we wanted to extend our idea of what the band could do stylistically. It was good to see that the recordings worked as a collection, and I’m glad we can offer it to listeners.”
In your press release for the B-Sides And Rarities album, it says some discs are sold in a scratch and sniff CD package. Can you tell me a little about that? How did the idea come about?
That came from the love of album art. When there were vinyl LPs, you had that big square of album art, then down to the CD and down to MP3s. And, you know, MP3s are good for getting that information easily, but you can’t download, in that old factory sense. So the scratch and sniff was a way to make the CD valuable for people who are still buying compact discs. They actually had something that was tangible and of value. It’s a complete experience, when you smell the album. There are four or five scents now. There’s brown leather, fresh cut grass, grape, red roses and banana.
So are all of those scents included in one CD or one scent per CD?
Yes, that’s right. It’s sort of like Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door, where there’s different album covers and it just depends on which one you get. There’s also a secret, hidden scent. When you lift up the CD tray on the back cover ,it’ll smell like gasoline.
What’s your plan for a future album, as far as a bonus gift is concerned?
We were thinking of including a sandwich in one.
That would be excellent, but you’d have to be careful of the condiment you decide to include, right?
Yeah, it would get soggy and damage it. Low shelf life.
I guess that might be a way to get albums to sell quickly; people would have to buy the disc quickly to get their fresh sandwich. B-Sides And Rarities was released on the band’s own label, Upbeat Records. What can you say about the label and is it just for CAKE or would you consider signing others?
We certainly don’t want to mess up anybody else’s career. [Laughs] It’s just for us. You put a lot on your shoulders when somebody gives you an album, something they’ve worked on for a good chunk of their life and they’re asking you to let people know about their music. It’s sort of a big deal. We’re not at that stage where we’re representing other people’s music; I don’t know if we ever will be. Columbia Records and Capricorn Records, they were a good thing for us, but with Columbia our album option had ended. It was time for us to get out of the contract so we did because we wanted to take the bull by the horns.