Thursday, July 28

Bound Away - An Interview with CAKE's Gabe Nelson

Before I did crafts I wrote music reviews and interviewed bands for various magazines, websites and my own zine. It has been a long time since I had a chance to chat with someone in the music industry since my focus has shifted from music to crafts over the years. Recently I discovered a project that combined both my love of music and my passion for all things handmade. "Bound Away" is a new project by the band CAKE and BANDmade Books. I got the chance to chat with CAKE bass player Gabe Nelson about their new CD book and all the DIY touches that went into making it.

Bound Away is a CD single made into a handmade book. BANDmade Books brings together musicians like CAKE with book artists to turn a song into a limited-edition handmade book. Bound Away, which is a song from CAKE’s most recent album Showroom of Compassion, is tailored perfectly to the band. CAKE was closely involved in every step, from creative concept, through the various stages of production.

Let me break down the awesomeness of this handmade/eco friendly/charity donating little gem for ya...

24 illustrated pages using linoleum blocks hand carved by the band and volunteers.

Type is handset in Alternate Gothic No. 2 and Universe.

Printing: two-color letterpress Vandercook proofing presses, by members of CAKE and volunteers

Text pages: 100% post-consumer recycled paper

End sheets: hand made paper made from reclaimed jute coffee sacks from a local coffee roaster.

Covers: handmade paper made by the band using their old cotton clothing

Binding: hand stitched with local hand spun thread waxed with bees wax from a local beehive

Edition: 1000 numbered copies signed by all members of CAKE 51⁄4 x 51⁄4” hardcover book Includes a CD single of the song Published in San Francisco, 2011

A portion of the sales of each edition of Bound Away will benefit 826 Valencia and the Hamilton Type Museum.

So let’s get on to that interview with Gabe. Somewhere between teaching bass lessons and touring with the band he found time to answer a few of my hot burning questions about Bound Away.

How did you guys hook up with Bandmade Books? Is CAKE the maiden voyage for the project? Do you know who is coming down the turnpike after you guys?

Pam Deluco called us up with the idea. It was timed perfectly because our album release was eminent therefore we could use a brand new song for the project. It was pretty flattering that Pam thought to ask us first. The book turned out great and is an excellent partner for the song. Regarding the next BANDmade edition... I know Pam is talking to several artists, although we are not certain who will follow next.

From what I understand you guys were very involved in the making of Bound Away both conceptually and physically. Most bands would have just ok-ed the use of their song and then that would be it. Why was it important for CAKE to be involved in every step from picking red and blue as the primary colors to doing pulls of the prints?

Pam's entire vision was complete band inclusive -- and we believed that was really the only way forward. We embraced that part of it, as we have always done much of our own labor in CAKE. John has worked a lot with print, and I have worked with paper, so we could help the other guys learn those parts. Carving the linoleum blocks was a really interesting experience as well.

How did you choose “Bound Away” as the song to make the book about? Was there a song that was a close first runner up?

"Bound Away" was the only choice for this project. It is an old fashioned song and making books by hand is also old fashioned craft. Sometimes, the right track is the obvious track. I don't recall even discussing a different CAKE song for the project.

What is your earliest crafty/DIY memory. Macaroni necklaces for your mother count. What is your earliest musical memory?

Earliest craft project was a "Happy Father's Day" plaque in 2nd grade. It was made from salt-dough. It was so salty and savory that I ate part of it on the way home from school. I remember my dad completely cracking up when I gave him his " appy Father's Day" gift. Earliest musical memory is watching the "Jerry Lewis Telethon". They had Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Charro, Bobby Vinton, and a host of others. I just remember connecting with the music and thinking to myself that I wanted to make those types of sounds someday.

Besides making music do you have any other hobbies in the artsy craftsy world? Do you knit on the tour bus or paint oil portraits between tours?

Music takes up all my time. I have tried to get into other things, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. So it's pretty narrowed down at the present time.

I love that the band’s old cotton clothing was recycled to make the paper for the covers of the CD. What type of clothing did you use? Could a super stalker fan tell themselves that perhaps a pair of cotton boxer shorts were used in the making of this CD cover?

I gave some old sheets that we had -- which made the paper green.

All proceeds from the sale of Bound Away go to 826 Valencia and the Hamilton Type Museum. 826 Valencia helps students with their writing skills and the Hamilton Type Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. How did you choose the recipients of all the loot?

We thought something that had to do with book making was appropriate. The whole experience was a journey to the past when people had to be more creative if they wanted something. You couldn't just pop into a store a make a purchase, you had to use your wits and your hands. I think science has confirmed that keeping your brain active is essential to good health. Hopefully the money will help those who are interested and have a chance to explore this old fashioned craft.

How do/did you encourage your children (if you have them) to be creative? Do you play music with them? Craft with them?

My son, Max, has always been self motivated to do art. When he was three or four he would be on the floor of his room at 6 a.m. drawing, or writing a story. He can paint water colors very well now. He also taught himself computer animation. I think he prefers it if i don't try to involve myself in what he does. He is a pretty independent spirit. He has done a little music too, but usually goes back to the visual side of art. I think perhaps the practice involved with playing an instrument doesn't suit him. I never try to push anything on him when it comes to art. Homework and chores usually require encouragement from me, but not art.

Thanks so much Gabe for taking the time to chat with me about Bound Away!

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