Cake Like Biography
Last updated: 11/12/2003 08:12:58 PM
Formed 1993 - New York University
Kerri Kenney - bass, lead vocals
Nina Hellman - guitar, vocals
Jody Seifert - drums
Kerri Kenney met Nina Hellman while both were studying at New York University's Experimental Theatre Wing. The two became friends and decided to work together on a creative project involving music. They borrowed some instruments and were soon joined by Hellman's new roommate, Jody Seifert. The three would later say in interviews that none of them had previous experience playing or singing music. The trio began working on original songs and developing Cake Like's unique sound. Kenny would later explain, "We were trying to achieve absolutely nothing other than the three of us having fun for an hour a couple of times a week. We never dreamed of playing a live show or even completing a song, let alone making CDs or going on tour."
Cake Like - 1995
The three women already had nifty day jobs. Jody Seifert was and is a fashion designer, Nina Hellman was and is an off (and off-off) Broadway actress. and if Kerri Kenney looks familiar, it's because she was the female member of the quirky comedy troupe and TV show, "The State," which ran on MTV from 1992 through 1995, and its progeny, Comedy Central's "Viva Variety" series (1996-98). Kenny would later admit that her exposure on television definitely helped the band in its early days. The trio had composed and rehearsed just five songs when they were offered a spot as an opener for a local band.
Jazz saxophonist John Zorn caught a Cake Like performance and invited the band to record an album for his Avant Records. The result was their debut album, "Delicious," which saw release in October, 1995. The album, produced by Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys) and Craig Wedren (Shudder to Think), is available as a Japanese import. It earned critical praise from the rock press around the world.
Ric Ocasek, ex-Cars front man, picked up a copy of DELICIOUS, originally attracted to the CD by its unique Rita Ackerman cover art, and loved the album so much he volunteered his services as a producer, much as he had done for Romeo Void in the early '80s. He ended up producing the band's follow up three-song single, "Mr. Fireman." The song "Mr. Fireman" would be rerecorded for Cake Like's next album, but the single is very much worth owning, especially for an hysterical avant-garde ballad on the B-side called "Paco's Last Return."
Ocasek next introduced the band to Neil Young, who signed the band to his Vapor Records, which subsequently released Cake Like's second CD, "Bruiser Queen," in May of 1997. Produced by Carl Glanville and Craig Wedren, BRUISER is a smart, hook laden pop album, considered by many to be the band's best work to date, as well as a quirky fun masterpiece. The women of Cake Like still tentatively held on to their day jobs, but toured extensively in the US in support of the CD, playing with acts such as Fugazi, Soul Coughing, Cibo Matto, Shudder to Think, Girls Against Boys, Jad Fair, Luscious Jackson and the Kelly Deal 6000.
Cake Like's next and latest effort, "Goodbye, So What," released in June, 1999, received the full attention of the band. Nina Hellman explains, "This was the first time we actually all got together and wrote songs full time. We put our other interests and day jobs aside and just sat there and said, 'Let's write songs!' It was great, and we had a lot of fun. I think you can hear it on the record."
Cake Like is an exciting female trio possessing tremendous imagination and natural talent. Their lack of formal musical training harkens back to some exceptional female-powered punk and riot grrrl bands of earlier times, which relied on emotion and heart rather than technical ability to create amazing music. When asked once about the group's sparse sound, Cake Like's Kerri Kenny laughed and quipped that the band simply didn't have enough ability to fill in the gaps. But the group's musical skills are definitely improving, and most important, Cake Like has something to say.
Kenney is an impressively emotive vocalist and clever lyricist. Her, as well as Hellman's experience in comedy and drama, television and theater, are true pluses when it comes to drawing the listener in. The band's latest release, GOODBYE, SO WHAT, showcases Cake Like's growing technical proficiency and confidence. The lyric's on the new album seem related more to personal experience then those on the previous two outings. Kerri still likes to pull our leg, but songs like "Blacked Out and Blue," about a friend's drug addiction, come from an entirely serious and reflective place. This band is getting very good. The musical universe is a far better place with Cake Like in it.
The three women of Cake Like continue to hold on to their day jobs. Kerri Kenney is currently portraying the character Pam on The Ellen Show on CBS Television. Jody Seifert is designing handbags and men's snowboarding fashion apparel for OP. And Nina Hellman has appeared in numerous off-Broadway plays in recent years. More power to them, but a new Cake Like album seems a remote possibility anytime soon. Wahhh!