It takes a lot for a band to stay together and stay relevant for twenty years. In this ever changing music industry, staying relevant for four months can be a triumph within itself! The band Cake has been going strong with radio singles and live shows for the better part of twenty years. Although a few key members have come and gone, the band is still going strong and they have retained their quirky, eclectic sound. After seven years with no new music, the band is now poised to release a disc with a new batch of songs (Showroom of Compassion) on their own record label. Trumpet player/keyboard player Vincent DiFiore took time out of his demanding schedule to school me on all things pertaining to Cake!
David Carr: It’s been seven years since the band has put out some new music. What have you all been up to?
Vincent DiFiore: Well, we have been doing a lot of shows! We have been touring, we released a b-sides and rarities disc and we also re-released our first disc Motorcade of Generosity. We released a DVD to go along with the disc and we also released it on vinyl.
David: Does the extended timeline have anything to do with Cake being on its own label?
Vincent: Yeah it does. We just wanted to be on our own timeline this time around. With the record business being eviscerated, the idea of recorded music has started to plateau. I honestly think if the music is good and worth something, people will pay for it. We just had the luxury of being away from a big record label and doing things on our own terms, so we took advantage of that. We were able to do this record the way we felt was right.
David: The word on the street is your new studio is completely solar powered? Is this the case?
Vincent: Yes it is. We have thirteen solar panels on the west side of our studio facing the roof, away from the street. We just felt a bit guilty about using so much power and yet living in California where we have so much sun. It just made sense to do.
David: Now because your studio is solar powered, does that bring about a new sense of urgency to finish songs before the sun goes down? Does that cut down the arguments about a middle eight section in a song?
Vincent: HA! Our hours in the studio have always been 10:00am – 6:00pm. John McCrea introduced these new songs to us about three years ago, so we had a head start on figuring out what these songs would sound like.
David: You have such an eclectic, quirky sound that encompasses so many genres including jazz, funk, rap, rock, pop, and mariachi to name a few. Some critics have found it hard to describe your sound. How would you describe your sound?
Vincent: I think it’s cool that folks try to figure out our sound. I think our sound is a bit scattered but to be honest, our sound is a mix of what we listened to and grew up with, in Sacramento. Have you heard the Hank Williams description of us?
David: I don’t believe I have. So some folks think you sound like Hank Williams?
Vincent: The comment I have heard is Hank Williams mixed with Sly Stone and AC/DC played backwards!
David: Wow! Now that’s a description.
Vincent: Yeah it is! At the end of the day we are a mix of all the things you mentioned. We play American music, plain and simple.
David: Showroom of Compassion drops in January but the first single “Sick of You” has already hit radio. What are the touring plans for the band?
Vincent: We will be doing a lot of radio shows from now until mid December. We already have our touring itinerary set up starting in January and going through June.
David: Way back when you all had your own touring festival, “The Unlimited Sunshine Tour” and you featured a great mix of acts from De La Soul to The Flaming Lips to Cheap Trick. Will you be resurrecting that tour for next summer?
Vincent: We have been talking about it! I think we really want to do it but nothing is confirmed yet.
David: After twenty years, what keeps you all motivated to still be a part of Cake?
Vincent: Hmm — it’s the good songs. It’s the idea of being able to create good songs. To be honest, being in a good band is motivation enough to keep going for twenty years! We are all looking forward to getting the record out there, for people to hear it and we are excited about touring again, to support this new record. All of that is very motivating!
Be sure to have your Cake and eat it too (sorry I couldn’t resist) when the band drops Showroom of Compassion on 1/11/11 and hits your town in the New Year.