By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Stefan Pruett, singer/percussionist of Arizona’s Peachcake, has the kind of enthusiasm for life that one almost forgets can exist. The band’s songs bubble with an energy reflected not only in their exclamation point-heavy titles, but also in Pruett’s own words, with cheery sentiments and well wishes coming one atop the other. Ask him a short question, and he’ll give a lengthy answer, and then politely apologize if he took up too much time. (Compared to the monosyllabic statements some musicians can be prone to, this is a blessing very much not in disguise.) This, for example, is only the tail end of his thoughtful take on the inspirations that drive the band:
“The kind of altruistic fervor that exists in Peachcake . . . Let’s take this one to the top; let’s do something together; let’s immerse ourselves in the glory of music, celebration and each other; and let’s show everyone how they can do the same. Let’s introduce them to something powerful. Because truly, you’re the one doing it and owning it; you’re the ruler and creator of your own destiny. We’re just here hoping to point that out.”
Some may find it overwhelming, but the evidence is there to hear on the band’s full-length debut, What Year Will You Have the World? It’s an instantly appealing selection of electronic pop that sonically fits alongside the Postal Services and Crystal Castles of the world but shares its unbridled energy and sense of happy commitment with the likes of Andrew WK and Seattle’s U.S.E.—fun with the brain moving as quickly as the body. For all the sense of sugar rush or crazy in-jokes—consider song titles such as “Stop Acting Like You Know More About the Internet Café Than Me” or “Need Room? We Have Space! (December 22nd)”—the fandom that Pruett and band mate John O’Keefe (who sings and, honest to God, plays keytar) had early on for serious, politically minded groups like At the Drive-In still holds sway.
Pruett describes this careful balance of impulses as being underscored by what he terms “respectful cynicism,” something that recognizes potential ironies but ultimately doesn’t hold itself back because of them:
“Why not give positivity a chance?” he asks. “It does wonders for the way you walk out and view, absorb, treat, experience and allow the world around you to envelop you and thusly for you to be a part of. And if you as the spectator, audience member, supporter, or listener want to see it from the corner of that angle among this massive microcosm, or see that ensemble as a fine fit for you, then great. If not, and you want to linger in the back and enjoy the show or music for whatever it is and means to you, then that’s equally fantastic as well. . . . And if you want to protest it, then please, by all means, so long as we’re making you react, we know we’ve got to be doing something right.”
In keeping with their sense of putting themselves out there completely, Peachcake enjoy live shows to the fullest (one member of the touring band, Michael Craft, is credited simply as their mascot), and if videos on YouTube and elsewhere are any indication, fans aren’t merely loud in their appreciation, but also dance as much as the band do—always a good sign.
Pruett himself has some experiences that fit a classic stranger-than-fiction mode, including a tale of what turned out to be a memorable Oregon performance with an audience of three—the transvestite club owner, a young drug dealer and an ex-marine/KKK member who later told the band how inspiring the show was to thinking of a brighter outlook on life.
“What more can you ask for?” adds Pruett. “It was magical.”
Meanwhile, with the year still young, Pruett’s hopes for where he and the band will be at the end of ’09 perhaps perfectly capture the spirit of people who, in a nervous and unsettled time, might actually have the best way to see it all through.
“Most bands concern themselves with selling as many records as possible . . . which, of course, is an important goal to us as well and is admirable especially in the eyes of a band who really has something they’re wanting to bestow upon the public that is something they feel is meaningful to them and their following and that they’re passionate about. But we, on the other hand, aside from wanting people to enjoy the music, the essence, the energy, the trajectory of (grassroots) activism and our message of empowerment for the soul, concern ourselves with creating as many smiles as possible!”
Peachcake with Get Back Loretta and the Jakes at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067; www.allages.com. Thurs., Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. $10. All ages.