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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Have your Cake and hear it too


    By those who know them, they are loved, admired and ever supported. For those who are not in the know, they are an institution unto itself, acting as the definition of a band that has earned its stripes in a cult following. Cake, from Sacramento, Calif., has been cranking out a conscious, genre-blending rock for 20 years now, creating a sound that is completely inimitable. Original members John McCrea and Vince DiFiore have built a brass-backed, Spanish-infused empire, and are just seeing their first No. 1 Billboard debut with their latest release, Showroom of Compassion. Showroom is yet another gem in Cake’s discography, recorded in the band’s own solar-powered studio in Sacramento.

    Daily Wildcat: You and John formed this band 20 years ago — do you feel that you guys have accomplished most of your goals musically?

    Vince DiFiore: It always seems like we’re in the midst of it. There’s no peak. We’re never handed a trophy, an award. I feel like what we really set out to do is have a band, and when you put that into perspective, it feels good. It’s like we’re in the middle of a 100-mile bike ride — if you stop pedaling, you’re going to fall over. We’ve worked hard for this opportunity, so we want to work as hard as possible.

    All aspects of the band seem to be exceptionally self-aware. It’s obvious you guys put as much meaning as you can into your music. Do you feel that there’s a lack of that in popular music today?

    The message is a good diversion from the music, even though the music is important to us. Hitting a topic that is bigger than the band is freeing our minds also — it’s more of a regular conversation that two people would have on the interests of politics or world affairs. That’s why we bring these things up — it becomes an avenue of discussion between the band and the listener.

    Given the band’s political background, it came as a surprise to some of your listeners that Cake did not boycott playing here because of Arizona’s controversial law SB 1070. What was the rationale behind this?

    Rather than boycott, we chose to bring attention to the act, to create awareness about it. We had a speaker from an activist group come out and speak before our set. She encouraged the people to be involved in the issue and to make sure their human rights were not violated. Instead of skipping over Arizona, we felt that it was important to keep up communication.

    There’s always been a very do-it-yourself mentality that’s part of the band’s foundation from the sound to the production process. The band just created a solar-powered studio. Was this more in line with the mindset of the band as a whole?

    It’s everyone’s choice to do the solar route. It’s expensive to put the panels up. We felt that if we were going to keep on touring, we needed to take some steps toward energy conservation. It’s been great for the recording process as well. The air in the studio is cleared. There’s something about being off the teat of the city’s energy grid that keeps things fresh. We’re self contained, and it took away some of the antipathy that’s part of the recording process.

    You guys have a true cult following, made up of truly supportive fans, from a truly diverse fanbase.

    That was our greatest dream — to be a cult band, like a heavy metal band from the ’70s. It’s good to hear that.

    Showroom has stayed the most akin to stylings that made you guys popular 20 years ago, from the songwriting to the sound — it’s powerful. Has the songwriting process between you and John McCrea retained much of the same process?

    It really has. We’ve just become better at the way we do things. It’s really the same process — John has a song he’s written on an acoustic guitar, he brings it to us and we start adding parts, riffs, rhythmic ideas and chipping up the song that way. It becomes even greater than when he handed it over to the band. Everyone brings their best creativity to the table when it comes time to work on a song.

    The album definitely shows that you have all been writing and working together for years. There’s a natural element that really suggests that the process is fluid and honest for the band. Your length and credibility have not gone for naught. You all have honed your craft to its highest potential.

    Craft is the key word — not being too esoteric about it, but looking at it as a craft, where you have a certain amount of skills on an instrument, and creativity to draw on, and going ahead and working on. It’s a message for the community — that just working can make anything happen. You don’t get anywhere unless you try to forge it. Shape it into something can recognize, and find the significance in.

    Cake is coming to the Rialto Theatre on Dec. 9.
    Tickets are $39.
    Go to, call (520) 740-0126 or head over to 318 E. Congress St.

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