The Jimmy Cake – You’re Actually Going To Hate This

‘Jimmy Cake‘ sounds like a sweet gangster or spiced teacake but instead is the name conferred by a seven-piece spread of musicians in Dublin. Nay McArdle spoke to Vincent Dermody and Paul G.Smyth ahead of their December 23rd Crawdaddy gig.

Jimmy Cake‘ sounds like a sweet gangster or spiced teacake but instead is the name conferred by a seven-piece spread of musicians in Dublin. Nay McArdle spoke to Vincent Dermody and Paul G.Smyth ahead of their December 23rd Crawdaddy gig.


What kind of record do I want to listen to today? keyboardist Paul G. Smyth asks himself. “If there isn’t it, the thing I want to hear isn’t there, I’m going to go make it with these people. You want to be able to make a record and go, ‘that’s fucking cool. That’s a great record.'”

That was the last quote recorded and pertained to the definition of success. We were sitting in Odessa with swing music in the background but still the only spot in Dublin quiet enough for an interview at 6.30 on a Friday at Christmas. The Jimmy Cake played Bourke’s Bar in Limerick the night before and Crawdaddy in Dublin on 23 December, raising funds to put towards their fourth album in 2012.

“I think the album will probably be out in March.” Says guitarist Vincent Dermody. “The mixing is just about to kick off and then we’ve just got to finish naming everything and decide on formats. I think the main format we’re going to go for is double gatefold vinyl. No musicians would have invented the MP3. I understand from a consumer point of view it has its benefits but I think the benefits are heavily outweighed by the negative effects. It creates a perception of music that leads to quick decision-making and a certain lack of variety. As artists, if we slavishly follow what the industry dictates we should do, then we’re not artists. I don’t know what we are. We’re supposed to be decision-makers and our decision is double gatefold vinyl. Deal with it!”

Paul: “We’re not desperate to be liked. We’re at that point in our lives where it doesn’t really matter.” He does the band’s graphic design himself, from the pyramid to the white bunny, covers and posters. 
”We’ve always taken the artwork aspect seriously,” continues Vincent. “You can see it in Brains and Dublin Gone… and Spectre & Crown.” He ticks off their albums. “We’ve never done a vinyl release because at the time there was no money and it was basically a choice between the two, vinyl and CD.
”Now that the CD has gone into freefall…” Paul begins.
”We’re delighted, quite frankly. We’re going to do a small CD run, but it means we can present the work in double gatefold vinyl.

Described as ‘a zombie-rock triptych’, the three-song record will rack over 70 minutes.
”There are three tracks on the album and we’ve gone to three places and had three very different experiences. We went to the Shed, where Adebisi Shank…” begins Paul.

Vinnie: The Hive, was it?

Paul: It was the Hive. We did one track there. We’d been told that it’s actually a shed and we were like, ‘yeah yeah yeah, cool.’ Then we got there. ‘Oh my god, it’s a shed!’ It was like guessing how many Jimmy Cake members we can fit in a telephone box? 
”We did some good guitar work out there.” Says Vinnie. 
Paul: “We picked that track for that space because the guitar was the priority for that track.”

“Then we did another track out in a studio in Inchicore with this guy Tristan. That was an experience in itself. And then Jimmy Eadie. Jimmy Eadie – this is the David Kitt link – did the sound for Kittser in Vicar St. 
”Jimmy Eadie is amazing – a complete joy to work with. We saved the biggest one for him, and we kind of thought, ‘yeah, we should just use him from now on, for everything.’

Vinnie: “He’s very patient. He knows a good take when he hears one and he doesn’t get emotionally involved in the recording process. And he’s sober.”

Paul: “He looks like he slept the night before, whether he did or not. He’s great.”

The ‘David Kitt link’ was also witnessing Paul’s role on keyboards at Vicar Street the week before as a posse of old hands limbered up to Kittser’s side for a ten-year anniversary performance of The Big Romance album. It was a rare moment, and wonderful to see David, and Dublin’s, accomplishments observed respectfully, like an oath of loyalty being honoured. The Jimmy Cake sprang up close to the time in 2000 and fared well. They have seen the changes on the audiences over those years.

“Paul: There’s been a good reaction but there’s definitely been a tail-off though. People forget very quickly – understandably – particularly now as the turnover of bands is just ridiculous.

Vinnie: “The turnover of information too. Compared to when we started – it’s only ten years since we started – the difference in the industry is… it’s almost like an entirely different beast at this stage, I terms of the amount of venues, the amount of bands and the amount of people writing about bands. And even in terms of the intentions of people writing about bands these days and what writers have to do to stay ahead. There’s not a lot of time to stay focused on bands that have been around a long time. That doesn’t seem to be the market anymore – the market seems to be staying ahead of the curve and finding new stuff all the time.”

Paul: “Being around for ten years is nearly a handicap rather than any benefit to us. It seems the trend of the moment is that ‘oh, they’ve been around for years so there’s nothing interesting to be gained from checking them out.”

Vinnie: It is one of the few industries that – not at an artistic level, but at a critical level – tends to punish longevity rather than appreciate it. You can understand a lot of bands make their first record as their best record because they’ve spent their entire lives building up to that, and you have a certain amount of energy and a certain amount of devil-may-care. You become increasingly adept at writing, structuring and composing over time and you become a much better band as a result. Because of the critical infrastructure, it doesn’t tend to happen that way. I find that a very curious thing.”

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