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Cake Goes Solar

If you’re a Cake fan, then chances are you’ve already snagged their latest album, Showroom of Compassion. What you might not know, though, is that the band recorded that entire set of songs off the grid – literally – with their recording sessions powered completely by the sun.

No wonder they were recently named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top Ten Greenest Bands.

Cake teamed up with a company called Borrego Solar in order to convert their California recording studio to solar power. The band’s John McCrea said that it seemed like a waste to be living in California and not be taking advantage of all the free electricity that the region’s sunny days could provide; bandmate Vince DiFiore agrees.

“With the current scientific knowledge (available), the logical step was to better the situation,” DiFiore explains, “without halting our operation altogether, we did something that might help a little.”

The band even recorded the proceedings of the solar gear being installed in their Sacramento studio; fans can watch how it all was done at a unique dedicated link.

“Sacramento, like many places in California, has a gigantic supply of sunlight,” DiFiore says, “and because Sacramento is lucky enough to have a public utility, we actually get checks in the mail every month for our excess electricity.” DiFiore explains that the solar conversion box is continually making electricity, which is either used in the studio or sent back out to join the city’s power grid.

DiFiore also emphasizes that he hopes bands and musicians both big and small scale will start taking steps towards converting their work equipment to sustainable energy as time goes on.

“Hopefully very soon, more and more solar panels and converters will be available for many applications and many different situations,” he says. Albums not withstanding, that is – singer McCrea and his bandmates released a series of witty ringtones to preview the album, of which he mischievously says the format – yes, the album itself – might be on the way out. The ringtones served as mini-previews for the in-progress songs on Showroom…, effectively amping up interest in the new music long before it was ready.

“We weren’t sure if people were still even listening to albums – so we thought we might just release ring tones instead,” McCrea says. But DiFiore still has confidence in the traditional album form.

“Albums are a great idea,” DiFiore confirms, “they’ll be around for a while…”

“… but ringtones are here to stay too,” he concludes with a wink.  – Kristi Kates