This week on The Show On The Road, a rare career-spanning interview with the ever-curious frontman, activist, and rock hitmaker John McCrea, who founded Cake, one of the most beloved and yet misunderstood bands of our time in Sacramento in 1992.
Despite putting out unlikely ubiquitous radio hits like “The Distance,” “Short Skirt/Long Jacket,” and “Never There” featuring the signature combo of dry speak-singing, spaghetti western brass, muscular guitars, and spacey synths, and becoming one of the best selling groups of the 1990s and early 2000s, McCrea and an ever-changing group of collaborators have always operated more like a DIY garage band. They produce and record everything themselves and exist outside the music industry spotlight — only putting out their oddball, genre-defying work when it’s ready.
While you may have forgotten some of their danceable favorites that burned through college and indie-rock radio — with further study, songs like “No Phone,” which tackled our toxic relationship to technology (even before smartphones came out), now seem both deeply of (and way ahead of) their time.
Critics were often confused by Cake’s lyrically dense, subversively political records like Motorcade Of Generosity, Prolonging The Magic, and Comfort Eagle. And with their obtuse album art, strange homemade videos, McCrea’s conspiratorial slam-poet frontman delivery, and his shaggy Sacramento-based bandmates, it was all quite atypical in the era of shiny studio-created MTV and radio-ready rock. And yet their legions of fans, including our host Z. Lupetin, ate it up and continue to anxiously wait for what’s coming next from the group. After a decade of home recording and environmental activism (with a recent emphasis on combating deforestation) McCrea hints that a new album and a return to playing may finally be in the works.