There is clearly a dedicated following for the band that’s been with you for more than a decade and a half now. How do you feel CAKE continue to attract new listeners?
Well, it’s music and we’ve been a populist band for a while. We believe in a ‘Come One, Come All’ attitude. And it’s true, there are people at our shows who are very young, and then those on the older side, too. We have some people in their 60’s at our shows, and teenagers as well. I think it’s because our music is based more on songs and not on song style so much. It’s not based on a cult of style, not overly goth or punk or classic rock or anything. It’s just sort of itself based on good songs and a presentation from a band that plays well together and has good arrangements for those songs. I guess it’s appealing because it doesn’t exclude anybody. So if you’re young, there’s nothing to turn you away from it. We certainly don’t play toward a demographic; the music is what the music is. But this is where selling the sandwich in a CD comes in.
I don’t remember which program it was, but John [McCrea] was interviewed and said he carried a memo pad with him at all times, for writing. As the primary songwriter, is this the way your songs come about or is it more of a spontaneous thing that happens when CAKE are in the studio?
I’ve seen him, during phases, doing that. We’ll be having conversations in the vehicle and he’ll take out his pad and write something down. He’s not obsessive about it, but that is the method that he uses to write. If something has a good ring to it, he’ll write it down and then piece some things together later on. It’s really nice how he has a theme to a song and he’ll stick to that theme but end up saying a lot. He’s a good storyteller, but without being too literal. He’s good at painting pictures and not just describing something without some dimension to it.
The Unlimited Sunshine Tour, in the press release, it says it’s ‘a festival designed for audiences that are willing to think twice about what they hear.’ It might be an unfair question, but how do you think the audience at the tour is willing to listen twice?
[Laughs.] That sounds like it’s describing someone who’s thinking ‘What the hell is that?!’ I guess what that means is that a lot of the bands on the tour, their music isn’t formulaic. They have an original sound that comes from somewhere well- informed of music styles of the past but a new expression that is uniquely belonging to that band.
Some of the bands who’ve toured with you were Modest Mouse, Cheap Trick —
Yeah, Flaming Lips, Gogol Bordello, Kinky. The Detroit Cobras have been on the tour before and they’re playing with us on the west coast. When we get to the east coast, we’ll be playing with The Brazilian Girls.
CAKE have a live album coming out. Can you talk about that?
We recorded at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace because we liked the aspect that Buck Owens didn’t want to tour anymore, so he opened a chicken and steak restaurant with a live music venue. He played every weekend and would have other bands there through the week. Also, John struck up a friendship with Buck. It’s just a very unique venue, something you don’t see every day. It has a nice ring to it—‘The Crystal Palace’—so it seemed like a good place to make a stand and record an album.
And, of course, there’s a new studio album due out in 2008.
Yeah, we’ll be working on that. You know, we put out B-Sides And Rarities because we thought it might be more interesting than putting out a live album. We’re a little weary of following B-Sides And Rarities up with a live album because we just want to give people something new. So I think we might hold on to the live album for a while and, instead, work on new material. Optimistically, we’re hoping to get it out by the end of 2008. We’ll see.
Catch CAKE’s Unlimited Sunshine Tour on Dec. 12-13 at NYC’s Terminal 5. For more info visit cakemusic.com