The band Cake.
The band Cake.

Cake will follow crowd's lead at Harvest Festival today

WHEN Sacramento rockers Cake hit Brisbane's Botanic Gardens for this year's Harvest Festival today, there will be no forewarning of what would come out of them

The five piece do not play concrete set lists, deciding instead to follow the vibe of the audience - a comfort honed after more than two decades in a rarely-altered ensemble.

Cake formed as the Seattle grunge sound was rebelling against the excesses of the 1980s.

They were a group of Californians who in 1991 formed an oddly-named band to rebel against the "big sound" made by grubby Seattleites 12 hours away.

It would be five years for Cake would land themselves into the international mainstream with The Distance - still likely its best known hit.

Now, as the five alternative rockers play Brisbane's Harvest Festival, lead-singer and Cake co-founder John McCrea spoke to APN about being misunderstood, breaking free from a label and loving Aussie music festivals.

From The Distance to Short Skirt Long Jacket and even its cover of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, Cake's inherently sharp lyricisms are taken differently than McCrea expected - The Distance was not a motivational anthem, but is now wheeled out for every possible sporting event.

But the humour that laces Cake's discography can also be easy to miss, especially in their home country.

"It's not knee-slapping punchline type of humour," McCrea said.

" I don't even know if a lot of Americans understand us in the way we're intending to be understood.
"The fact that some others can latch on to our sensibility is miraculous. I don't expect that.

"In my experience, I've been humbled that people are not necessarily getting us the way we intended."

But plenty are getting them, or at least, they are getting the albums.

After seven years since releasing Pressure Chief in 2004 - although Cake released a rarities album in 2007 - its 2011 effort Showroom of Compassion was sent to music shops in a vastly different time and on their own label.

"It's not like people have an amazing attention span these days," he said.

" It was a huge relief for us to know people remembered us and also trusted us enough to buy our album that we released.

"Fewer and fewer people buy recorded music yet we ended up selling the same number of records the first week as we did seven years ago."

So how does McCrea feel about delivering Cake to a round of Australian music festivals?

"We love Australian audiences and people. It's a great sense of community," McCrea said.

"In a different interview I said a lot of these festivals don't foster a good sense of community, especially some in the United States.

"Instead of making a community, they tend to tear it apart.

"In Australia, our experience has been the opposite."

The Harvest Festival toured through Melbourne and Sydney before coming to Brisbane.

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