The Birthday Cakes
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The Birthday Cakes

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Band Rock Avant-garde

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by Angela Scappatura

Sudbury-based band The Birthday Cakes is releasing a new CD at the Townehouse on Saturday night.

The group, comprised three brothers -- Clayton, Carter and Cameron Drake -- combine pop hooks with "as many choruses as possible" to produce their "spastic rock" style.

Their sound is described on their Myspace page as "Saturday morning cartoons mixed with Internet videos and brains over stimulated from playing "Burnout" for in excess of 500 hours."

Clayton Drake spoke to the Sudbury Star from a Northern Ontario gold mine, where he is completing a co-op for a Laurentian chemical engineering program.

Describe your music.

A.We have as many choruses in the songs as possible. There aren't many lyrics and the songs are really short. It's music made for people raised on Sesame Street and doesn't require long attention spans.

Any given songs range from a melodic ballad to a noise jam to a hardcore breakdown in the middle of it.

What is your songwriting process?

A.We usually write them together. Some I come up with in my dreams and others Cameron and Carter come up with together.

Four came up in my dreams. Usually, I wake up in a half sleep and I come up with lyrics, or I am falling asleep and I can't get a riff or pattern out of my head.

What are some of your themes?

A.There is one song, "When Good Bears Ghost Bad," about being chased through the woods by ghost bears. It's about not having to do something just because it's expected of you.

Another is called "Junior Scissors [sic]," about a young pair of scissors, which is straight up pop. The songs are pretty non-traditional. It's in no way trying to be ironic, we're trying to be as sincere as possible.

What can people expect from your show?

A.We're going to try and bring as much intensity to the stage as possible and cram as many songs into a 30-minute set.

Do you have any tours planned?

A.We just came off a two-week tour. I think it was a rousing success.

We went to Quebec and we had six dates booked in the States and came back through southern Ontario. We didn't make it into the States, so we had to take a six-day hiatus.

Why didn't you make it into the U. S.?

A.This is the first time we've done (a tour) and we didn't know we needed documentation -- work visas and stuff -- even if you're going to play for nothing. So, we got turned away at the border. So, we went camping and played music for people in the streets.

Next time I'll know better.

Tell me a little about the cooperative you are trying to organize.

A.I'm trying to organize a PA cooperative. I'm trying to get investors together to purchase a PA because the cost of renting a sound system can be pretty prohibitive. It will help to build a more diverse music community.

You are a fan of all ages shows -- why so passionate?

A.The kids are usually the ones most enthusiastic about the music and they are the diehards and the ones who will be making the innovative bands in the future.

They can't all play bars and having a diversity of venues will help expand the cultural pallet.

I would just like to take this opportunity to do something that is going to last for years and years. Without all ages shows, all you have is bar gigs. Lots of times, the bar gigs are not as much about the music.

All ages shows are usually about the music and it's kind of the purest performance you can get. - the Sudbury Star


by Matt Moskal

From First blush, it’s difficult to imagine a band can accomplish as much in 20 minutes as the Birthday Cakes do in 19 minutes and 48 seconds.

Their brief debut album Romper Room is a charmingly entertaining adventure in obscenity, obscurity and flat out absurdity. Opening with the instrumental Buried Treasure and transitioning into shape-shifting When Good Bears Ghost Bad, curiosity will keep you listening just to see what direction the band takes next. And though the journey isn’t a long one, it’s most certainly worthwhile.

Sudbury residents and brothers Clayton, Carter and Cameron Drake humorously jump in their lyrics from a viral video sensation in the Death From Above 1979-channeling Bubb Rubb to a notorious former heavy-weight champion in the track Trying to Tame Tyson and then the bewildering world of childhood journeys to Garson in Nanny’s House for Dinner.

It’s not just the subject matter that keeps the album engaging from start to finish. It’s the Drake brothers’ ability to bolster up their own awkward vocals with catchy and simple guitar riffs and equally memorable synthesizer. The pinnacle of which can be heard in the tale of Junior Scissor.

“Are you searching for compassion, Junior Scissor?/In all the sharpest faces, Junior Scissor?/And are you finding it, Junior Scissor?/In all the dullest places, Junior Scissor?” sings Clayton Drake of a young pair of scissors.

The sincerity flowing through the tune can be felt, even when the call and response of Cameron and Carter’s vocals humorously punches up the volume in your stereo.

The Birthday Cakes Theme is another of Romper Room’s stronger points. The track jumps from an a capella introduction into a slow-paced indie rock tune before exploding into a punk song before softening up once more. Needless to say, listeners with short attention spans will be completely enthralled.

Romper Room refuses to sit still stylistically. Songs will, usually without warning, change from catchy pop instrumentals to bizarre noisy jams and then simmer down to speedy punk songs.

The energy and momentum Romper Room gains by the time final track Peanut Butter Factory ends rivals that of any release to have come out of Sudbury this year.
- the Cambrian Shield


I was little nervous about reviewing Romper Room, the debut album from The Birthday Cakes, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the band's lead singer/keyboardist, Clayton Drake, comments here fairly regularly (at least by my standards of comment-getting), and it's a little bit harder to trash a band when you know someone from that band will hear/read about it. Secondly, they're from Sudbury and, having been to Sudbury more times than I care to remember, I had no idea what kind of musical horrors might emanate from that city.

It turns out I had nothing to worry about. While The Birthday Cakes' brand of spazzy, punk-tinged pop certainly won't appeal to everyone, there's enough good stuff on Romper Room that it's worth investigating if you're at all into that sort of thing. Songs like "Buried Treasure" and "Bubb Rubb" are brimming with energy (not to mention catchy riffs), while "When Good Bears Ghost Bad" (which, alas, is not related to this book, as far as I can tell) explodes out of the speakers with an enjoyably goofy recklessness.

Romper Room isn't all good, mind you. Closer "Peanut Butter Factory" gets a little too screamy, while "The Birthday Cakes Theme" lags a little more than the three and a half minute centrepiece of a twenty minute album should. But on the whole, The Birthday Cakes do enough things right that they're worth at least a couple of listens. - I (heart) music


by Matt Moskal.
10. Deerhunter - Microcastle
9. The Black Keys-Attack and Release
8. Hot Chip-Made in the Dark
7. Islands-Arm's Way
6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

5. The Birthday Cakes - Romper Room

Sudbury's self-proclaimed "Greatest Band in the World" didn't need more than 20 minutes to leave their mark this year.

Short, poppy and aggressive, the Birthday Cakes are a perfect fix of hyper pop songs.

Toying with punk rock in Bubb Rubb, I'm Afraid of Spiders and Nanny's House for Dinner and then bouncing from pop to punk to noise in When Good Bears Ghost Bad and the Birthday Cakes Theme, there's no telling what this band will do next.

The Birthday Cakes' Clayton Drake was available for comment after hearding of their victory.

"It's extremely rewarding to get some recognition for the work we put into the album," says Drake. "We may be the 'Greatest Band in the World,' but there is no reason why we can't be humble and gracious when our greatness is recognized."

4. The Dodos - Visiter
3. Beck - Modern Guilt
2. She & Him - Volume One
1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes - The Cambrian Shield


This Sudbury band’s album case is eye catching in its colours and entertaining in its design. There is a lot going on, with scissors wearing pants, a conveyor belt of peanut butter making fruit dance and rainbows. Each picture ties into a song name. It is enough to make you want to listen to the album just to hear what the heck these guys are about.

The songs themselves are a jumbled mix of styles not only throughout the album but throughout each song, making the sound hard to pin down. This can be a good thing showing that the band is anything but cookie cutter but it can also make it difficult since different sounds are preferred by different moods and situations.

The song that stands out most is “The Birthday Cakes Theme”, a loud punk song interrupted by chanting of “chocolate, vanilla, ice cream, banana”. It’s quite catchy and it bridges the album. Falling around the middle the song unites the hodgepodge arrangement of old timey, punk, electronic pop and slow rock that is the first five songs. The last few songs are loud and heavy; sounding almost like it came from a different band than some of the songs earlier in the album.

Romper Room is good, despite its fast and almost constant mood changes. It is able to go from light hearted to almost ghoulish in a few seconds but still holds onto its integrity. It really does have something for everyone. It is clear that the band put a lot into it and this allows it to shine.

(www.myspace.com/birthdaycakesthe) Christy Pyette - Northern Rocks Magazine


Discography

Ladyboy Split Demo with Meadowlark Lemon - 2008 (Ladyboy Records)

Romper Room - 2008 (Ladyboy records) Reached #31 on Canadian campus radio charts

Expansion Pack 7" (Cosmic Records) - 2010

Photos

Bio

We are preparing for the release of our upcoming 7" record, Expansion Pack and the accompanying tour, which will comprise all of July and August and will take us all the way across Canada. We are working with the Musebox for the publicity for this tour.

The Birthday Cakes have reached #31 on the Canadian Campus Radio Charts with their release, Romper Room.

The Birthday Cakes' song, "When Good Bears Ghost Bad" was the featured track of the day on CBC Radio 3 for May 12th, 2009.

In July/August of 2009, The Birthday Cakes completed a cross-Canada tour that took them all the way out to Charlottetown, PEI, and Vancouver, BC. They also completed a 2-week tour booked through Canada and the US in August of 2008.

The Birthday Cakes are three brothers who decided they were tired of all the long, boring songs that everyone else plays. Therefore, they started a band with the mission to create short songs crammed full of as many catchy choruses as possible and only occasional verses. While the brevity and breeziness of their songs may give them an air of effortlessness, make no mistake: the Birthday Cakes are extremely methodical and judicious in their songwriting, with an ear for arrangement well beyond their years. Carter (age 14), Cameron (age 16) and Clayton (age 20) Drake tend to shy away from self-indulgent lyrics, preferring to concentrate on topics not traditionally covered by rock bands such as magic, science and mystery, when they decide to include lyrics at all.

They have been playing together for just over 2 years now. Always performing in stylishly coordinated outfits, with a barreling, slapdash intensity, the Birthday Cakes are a high-energy force on stage with a fun and inspiring live set.

The Birthday Cakes have earned comparisons to Devo, the Unicorns, They Might Be Giants, Mike Patton and DD/MM/YYYY.