Interview: Cake (part one)

Photo from Google Images
Interview by
Tim Cigelske

Things were not so awesome in the world when Cake last came to Milwaukee for a New Year’s Eve show at the Riverside. As the band recorded in its tour journal: “As we passed by television screens in the airports on our way to Wisconsin, we saw many images of death.” Saddam Hussein had been executed that day, and the legendary James Brown had just passed away.

Two years later, things are still pretty scary, but in a whole different way. One constant is that Cake is again playing a New Year’s Eve show at the Riverside.

It’s perfect timing. We’re talking about the band that un-ironically covered “I Will Survive.”

In part one of this two-part interview, Vince DiFiore, a.k.a. the trumpet dude in Cake, talks about Bill Moyers, post-modern rock and crazy Germans:

Fan-Belt: A lot has changed since you played your last New Year’s Eve show in Milwaukee. How do you feel about the state of affairs in the world today?

Vince DiFiore: I think we’ve put our faith and hope in a new President and I think everyone’s holding their breath and hoping it all works out. The concerns have changed a bit and we’re not really out of the woods yet in terms of our military involvement. And there’s this feeling that we don’t need everything that we had before — that the standard of living we became used to was not necessary, and we can be happier with less. Bill Moyers was recently talking with Michael Pollan who wrote The Omnivores Dilemma, and they talked about how a lot of generations have faced challenges equal or greater than this and they made it through on their own wits. Now it’s our turn and we’re the actors in the play. I think so as long as everyone sticks to it we’ll make it through.

F-B: You praised the caterer at the Riverside Theater as “a fabulous cook.” I was also at a My Morning Jacket show where they praised the Riverside hospitality, which is kind of unusual for a rock star. So how good is it?

Vince: Our cook was really on that night. Food takes on a certain significance when you’re on the road. It’s something any human being appreciates. Something about being in a kitchen grounds you and makes you really cool when you’re dealing with food. It keeps you sane.

F-B: What else do you remember about your Milwaukee visits?

Vince: You know what I really like about Milwaukee? There’s something that feels very European. It feels like a city in Germany – the temperament of the people, the homey touches and the architecture are not like a lot of places in the United States. I’m reading Bill Bryson’s book about languages and he talks about Germans who wanted to have states where only German was spoken. They thought that was something that was really going to happen. It reminded me of Milwaukee because that’s one of those strong German enclaves.

F-B: One of my friends had a college professor who said “Rock and Roll Lifestyle” was the first post-modern rock song. Do you agree with that?

Vince: Maybe there’s some truth to that. Even alternative rock sounded like rock. Just because the guys didn’t have long hair like Motley Crue doesn’t mean it wasn’t the same type of music. Nirvana still kinda sounded like Boston and corporate rock even though Kurt Cobain had a cool voice and the lyrics were kind of hip. We scaled it down more to a roots-rock and Hank Williams thing, but we’re still a rock band we’re still guilty. I think the ultimate message of rock and roll is supposed to be sticking it to the man – that’s what I’ve learned – and there’s a lot of variations of that. If we really wanted to be a reaction we would just be quiet and make furniture or something.

In the second part of the interview, DiFiore discusses the devil, Oprah and ultimate fighting. Stay tuned.


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