Sea and Cake spill their influence

Sjimon Gompers

band being interviewed blurry

Sea and Cake tunnelvision. Photos be Jenz.

They have made some of the chilliest music of the decade and ushered the 20th century into the new millennium with a blend of jazzy percussion and guitar fused with soft vocals that make Nick Drake seem loud by comparison. They are Chicago’s Sea and Cake, lead singer/guitarist Sam Prekop and vocalist/guitarist Archer Prewitt, John McEntire on drums and Eric Claridge on bass.

Everybody talks about your influence from Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and company.

Sam: Wait, um, we listen to the music of John Coltrane but there’s really no direct connection..

Top 5 right now.

S. Oh god… Well, you’re right, the other day I recommended the Congos record [Heart of the Congos] to Brendon of Broken Social Scene, that’s great so put that up there.

The Blood and Fire release?

Sam: Yeah but unfortunately that one’s not available, you had to get sort of a bootleg now. It’s still a great record though

It’s one of the greatest records of the 70s.

Sam: Yeah, so they were checking that out on the bus, still awesome of course.
Lately I’ve been citing an old favorite of mine, Plux Quba by Nuno
Canavarro, I’ve also been enjoying a lot of those those Mississippi
reissues with Alan Lomax, don’t know if you’ve seen them, those have
been great, I haven’t heard any new music in a month and a half now
so…three, that’s good isn’t it?

Archer: We listen to a lot of Segovia, harp music, flute music, you know old music, jazz, Bill Evans…

An excellent pianist! Eric?

Eric: Um, I’ve been listening to this! [Points to the stage where M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are faking their hearts out to some Johnny B. Goode guitar riff.]
No, I listen to nothing, so um, I don’t know, it’s general, some Bad
Brains, yeah, I don’t know I’m always listening some Mingus a
mitchmatch of stuff, some Bad Brains, some stuff from my misspent
youth.

Are you a big Cro-Mags fan?

Eric: Somewhat, somewhat, I haven’t heard a lot of their stuff for some reason.

All you need is Age of Quarrel and Age of Quarrel demos cassette from ‘84.

Eric: I’ll get the demos, I don’t have that one.

Mr. McEntire, your top five right now.

John: Mainly I just listen to the radio in my car so that’s a tough one.

Sounds that don’t offend you.

John: The Fleetwoods, um Fernwood, Junior Jackson, Omar Solomon and Portal.

Before Cocktail and Shrimpboat, what was all of your earliest music training?

Sam: I played harmonica and that was about it, Shrimp Boat started from zero you know, I played some jazz piano too.

Archer: Yeah, I started very humbly too I played drums started learning bass started learning guitar started guitar at playing guitar at 21 same time as Sam did strangely enough and us three are all self taught.

Eric: Yeah, self taught, drums first…

Archer: It’s Eric’s birthday.

Well happy birthday man!

Eric: Thank you!

When Oui came out it was the biggest domestic contender to the Franco-wave of Air, Sebastian Tellier and Phoenix’s first album, all my friends were playing Oui and you disappeared for a while at some point. What were you all up to during Sea and Cake’s hiatus?

Sam: In between Oui and One Bedroom? We probably made some solo records, that was so long ago now. Yeah I mean it’s sorta like we probably toured for quite a while after Oui I think I made, in fact I don’t know what were we doing? John (McEntire) was busy I think…
[John McEntire had just walked up sporting aviators and a trucker’s cap.]

Sam: John was busy with Tortoise, this is John.

John McEntirEric: Hey, how you doing?

Sam: What did we do after Oui John?

John: We were just busy on a variety of things you know.

Eric: They (Archer and Sam) did solo records, (John) did Tortoise records, I painted funny paintings. That’s about it.

The press made it out to be like you guys were on hiatus.

Sam: You were working on a solo record; it’s a great solo record that no one has ever heard yet.

Eric: No, it’s not!

John, tell me what you’ve been doing with Tortoise these days.

John: We’ve been playing a lot this year. All over, everywhere, Australia, Japan, Europe, the ‘States we’re going to be in South America early next year, lots of shows.

I know you play drums with Sea Cake but what is different for you with your focus in Tortoise versus Sea and Cake?

John: Well you know it’s how different the groups are and how different the focus is. With Sea and Cake I’m just trying to be part of the texture where as in Tortoise you know there’s a lot more room to spread out into… things.

What was your music upbringing John?

John: I studied privately starting when I was ten, went to music school for about five years, drum core, yeah.

Haven’t you done production work too, like with the Pastels?

John: I did a remix for them, yeah, mmm hmm.

What’s Stephen Pastel like?

John: Oh yeah, he’s one of the nicest people you’d ever meet.

I remember hearing a story about Pastel holding a conference in Glasgow on the effects of 90s music and he came to the podium with a jug of some sort of nefarious liquor jug and got progressively drunk while going on a tirade about nineties music.

So what’s next for Sea and Cake after Car Alarm?

Sam: I think we’re going to start writing a new album after this tour, see how it goes?

Any…

Sam: Predictions of the future?

Any album titles in the works?

Sam: Gosh, we’ll have to try a little harder than Car Alarm, how did we come up with that one? Titles we usually don’t come up with until we hear the record. We never like to fulfill the title of the album

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