In 1996, Cake burst onto the alternative music scene with their breakout single “The Distance,” which placed them squarely in the spotlight and led to big-time gigs, including a headlining spot on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour, which featured such soon-to-be-legendary “support” acts such as the Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse. While dismissed by some as a one-hit-wonder, the Sacramento-based band has gone on to release a handful of well-received albums and create a very successful career around it’s funky, indie, alt-rock sound. Their latest release, 2011’s Showroom of Compassion, debuted at Billboard’s No. 1 spot. Not too bad for a one-hit-wonder, eh?
While frequently tossed into the “rock” category, Cake has carved out a musical niche for itself that brings together elements of pop, rock, soul, ska, funk and even spoken word. Lead singer/songwriter John McCrea’s playful word-smithing combines social satire, tongue-in-cheek humor and plenty of pop-culture references, all delivered in his unique and unmistakable speak/sing/recite style. The inclusion of horns into the mix further defines Cake’s sound, and has introduced legions of pop-rock fans to the world outside the musical triad of guitar, bass and drums.
Over the years, there have been several lineup and label changes, but regardless of morphing incarnations, Cake has managed to sustain and grow its sound and identity without losing the key elements that make the band a long-running fan-favorite; one of a handful of ‘90s bands to successfully navigate a way out of the alternative music boom and cultivate a nice little post-aughts career. And, as if the music wasn’t enough, the band members also put their money where their mouths (and minds) were, and converted their recording studio into a 100% solar, off-the-grid structure, meaning that their No. 1 album was recording using solar power… so there’s that.
Cake plays the Avalon Nightclub on March 14.