• > Home
  • > Artists
  • > Cake
  • > Biography
  • Cake

    Cake

    Cake Biography

    CAKE's founding singer-songwriter John McCrea spent most of the 1980s in Sacramento, playing both solo, and in various bands. In the late 1980s he moved to Los Angeles, because he thought this was the only way to succeed in music. For the most part, he played solo-acoustic music around town in coffee shops. This was the first time people outside of Sacramento heard songs like I Bombed Korea, Haze of Love, Jesus Wrote a Blank Check, Sheep go to Heaven, Pentagram, Ain't No Good, Frank Sinatra, It's Coming Down, Italian Leather Sofa, Guitar, Walk on By, Hem of your Garment, Alpha Beta Parking Lot, and Cool Blue Reason. Los Angeles didn't have any more opportunities than Sacramento did, it was just more expensive and required more driving. In the summer of 1991, John played his first show as CAKE (unofficially) before moving back to Sacramento.

    Once in Sacramento, CAKE began to take form. John recruited Frank French on drums, Vince di Fiore on trumpet, Greg Brown on guitar and Sean McFessel on bass. In 1993, they released a 7" single, Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle b/w Jolene. Soon, they were in the studio, self-producing their first album, Motorcade of Generosity. They paid for it themselves, recorded it themselves, designed the artwork themselves, and practically pressed it up themselves. They sold it without distribution; soon it came to the attention of Capricorn Records in Nashville. By 1994, Motorcade of Generosity was released, in its original form, on Capricorn Records. Frank French and Gabe Nelson left the band (replaced by Todd Roper and Victor Damiani), and the quintet began touring, touring, touring.

    The song Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle (actually titled, "How Do You Afford Your Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle?") was released by Capricorn and became a minor hit on college and alternative rock radio. The video, co-directed by John McCrea, was played fleetingly on MTV, giving the country its first look at CAKE (albeit dressed as Romans). By January of 1998, guitarist Greg Brown had also left to pursue other interests, but instead of replacing him, John McCrea decided to record CAKE's third album using a variety of guitarists. McCrea wrote the basslines first, then structured the songs upwards. Handing those songs off to different guitarists, he picked the parts best for each song. One song, however, just didn't seem to be working with any of the new arrangements an older song called Never There. CAKE recorded Prolonging the Magic, and by August of 1998, it was ready to be released. After months of auditions, CAKE picked guitarist Xan McCurdy to join the band. Prolonging the Magic was released in September of 1998, and CAKE was off to Europe to tour. The one song that had given them so much trouble Never There ended up being recorded almost as it had originally been arranged, many years earlier. Never There became CAKE's biggest hit to date, hitting the #1 spot on Billboard's Mlternative Rock charts for three weeks.

    As a follow-up, CAKE released the song and video, Sheep go to Heaven.



    CAKE continues to tour in order to entertain you, the listener.









    Cake All Music Guide Biography

    Best-known for their ubiquitous hit "The Distance," Cake epitomized the postmodern, irony-drenched aesthetic of '90s geek rock. Their sound freely mixed and matched pastiches of widely varying genres -- white-boy funk, hip-hop, country, new wave pop, jazz, college rock, and guitar rock -- with a particular delight in the clashes that resulted. Their songs were filled with lyrical non-sequiturs, pop-culture references, and smirky satire, all delivered with bone-dry detachment by speak/singing frontman John McCrea. Cake's music most frequently earned comparisons to Soul Coughing and King Missile, but lacked the downtown New York artiness of those two predecessors; instead, Cake cultivated an image of average guys with no illusions and pretensions about their role as entertainers. At the same time, critics lambasted what they saw as a smugly superior attitude behind the band's habitual sarcasm. Perhaps there was something in Cake's doggedly spare, low-key presentation that amplified their ironic detachment even when they didn't intend it, but most reviewers pegged them as one-hit wonders after the success of "The Distance." Nonetheless, Cake managed a few more alternative radio hits in the years that followed, while largely retaining the same approach. Cake was formed in Sacramento, California in 1992 by vocalist/songwriter John McCrea, who'd recently returned home after spending a few years in Los Angeles, unsuccessfully trying to break into the music business. The original lineup of Cake also featured guitarist Greg Brown, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, bassist Sean McFessel, and drummer Frank French; McFessel soon left to attend college, and was replaced by Gabe Nelson. In 1993, the band released their debut single, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle," on a local basis, and followed it with a self-produced, self-released, self-distributed album, Motorcade of Generosity. Motorcade found its way to the revived Capricorn label, which released the album nationally after Cake signed a contract with them. With the prospect of extensive national touring, both Gabe Nelson and Frank French left the band, and were replaced by bassist Victor Damiani and drummer Todd Roper. Re-released by Capricorn, "Rock ‘n' Roll Lifestyle" caught on at college radio in 1995, and was followed by two more singles, "Ruby Sees All," and "Jolene" (not the Dolly Parton song). Cake's second album, Fashion Nugget, was released in 1996 and spawned a breakout smash in the Greg Brown-penned "The Distance," which dominated alternative radio that fall, and even turned into an unlikely sporting-event anthem. Mostly on the strength of "The Distance," Fashion Nugget charted in the Top 40 and sold over a million copies. It also spun off a somewhat controversial follow-up single in a cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"; although the band professed its sincere admiration for the song, some critics and listeners took it as a smarmy putdown, in part because of McCrea's deadpan vocals. In 1997, Greg Brown and Victor Damiani both left Cake and formed a new group, the new wave-influenced Deathray, which eventually released its debut album on Capricorn in 2000. Meanwhile, McCrea briefly considered putting Cake to rest, but brought original bassist Gabe Nelson back to replace Damiani instead. For Cake's next album, McCrea used a tag-team procession of guitarists -- five in all -- on different tracks; the result, Prolonging the Magic, was released in 1998. True to its sardonic title, it defied critical opinion to produce another big, alternative radio hit in "Never There," plus decently successful follow-ups in "Sheep Go to Heaven" and "Let Go." Prolonging the Magic sold nearly as well as Fashion Nugget, and was also certified platinum. For the supporting tour, one of the album's guitarists, Xan McCurdy, officially joined Cake full-time. In the spring of 2000, the band signed a new deal with Columbia, and debuted in 2001 with their fourth overall album, Comfort Eagle, which became their highest-charting yet (at number 13). The lead single, "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," was a hit on alternative radio, and even earned some MTV airplay -- no longer an easy task for any artist -- with a video that featured reactions to the song by randomly selected people on the street. Following the completion of the album, drummer Todd Roper left the group to spend more time with his children, and was replaced on the supporting tour by Pete McNeal. Pressure Chief appeared in 2004. Redefining the meaning of independent -- the band was by then recording in a studio powered entirely by solar energy, and free of the corporate involvement of even so much as a utility bill -- released Showroom of Compassion some six years later in 2011. ~ Steve Huey & Steve Leggett, Rovi


    Featured Links