(From left) Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, John McEntire, Eric Claridge
In 1993, The Sea and Cake played their first show, an opener for Yo La Tengo at Lounge Ax. They were nervous—with good reason. The members were moonlighting from beloved Chicago bands of that era: the Coctails, Shrimp Boat, and Mosquito—an early incarnation of Tortoise. Predictions abounded that, together, they would form an indie-pop supergroup. “Most people’s shows don’t get that kind of liftoff,” says guitarist Archer Prewitt. “That show almost killed me right there.”
Eight albums and 15 years later, The Sea and Cake remain one of Chicago’s most inventive rock bands. Their new album, Car Alarm, out in late October on Thrill Jockey, showcases the elements that position them just left of pop’s center: Sam Prekop’s minimalist, whisper-in-your-ear vocals; the rhythmic interplay between drummer John McEntire and bassist Eric Claridge; and the unusual guitar union of Prekop and Prewitt, which is a modern-day update of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd—guitarists who each play against the other by shifting riffs and trading unusual chords according to cues that can only result from an unspoken connection.
After touring Australia earlier this year, the quartet stepped off the stage and directly into the studio to record Car Alarm. With its heavy rock moments and big riffs, the resulting album matches the intensity of the group’s live performances. Finally, The Sea and Cake are coming off as they always wanted to—as a polite rock band with serious issues. On November 15th, The Sea and Cake play two shows at The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.; emptybottle.com.
Photography: Lisa Predko, Hair and Makeup: Karen Brody, Background: Tamara Backdrops, Camera: Progear Rental