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Interview: John McCrea (Cake)

Photo Cred: Robert McKnight

Cake has been creating music for over 30 years, led by the signature sound of lead vocalist John McCrea. This summer, the band is bringing their rock n roll lifestyle on tour and finishing up with three shows in Ohio: Cincinnati, followed by dates in Columbus and Cleveland. Cake will perform at MegaCorp Pavilion in Newport, KY on Thursday September 14.

In addition to the incredible decades-spanning career of genre-bending music, Cake is doubling down on their environmental priorities outside of music, also. This includes giving away a tree at every concert and building a global forest database of all of the plantings. They’ve also recently launched a brand new poster store for folks to find the amazing posters and art that have accompanied their tours. John McCrea talked to CincyMusic about their upcoming shows, touring in general, and the state of the music industry.

It has been almost 10 years since recording their previous album, and McCrea is actively writing new music. He expects to spend time arranging the fledgling songs into parts for the whole band later this year, but came short of announcing any official album information. The intermittent tour schedule this summer has allowed him more freedom to be inspired by the live performances and take that excitement back to his writing.

Asked about changes to Cake’s performances over the years, he discussed one of the things the group has been known for - not planning live setlists. Prior to each show, the soundcheck allows them to get a feel for the room and how the overall acoustics are going to affect their repertoire. During the show, they choose each song based on the audience and band’s energy and intuition. As the number of fans and venues they perform at has grown, McCrae acknowledges that some specific arrangements of songs may not translate to every venue. Some of the nuance of the more delicate songs won’t always work in every room, and that’s something they love figuring out and deciding during each evening.

McCrae admitted that for a long time he and the band had resisted using in-ear monitors instead of the traditional floor-speakers to allow the musicians to hear themselves and each other when on stage. But this year they have started to use the in-ears while on tour. Because of the size of the stages they’ve been on, he believes that this change has allowed the whole group to push the background vocals in a way that makes them sound better live than they ever had before.

You can hear An Evening With Cake at MegaCorp Pavilion on Thursday September 14, 2023.