From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the dessert, see pound cake.
Single by Van Halen
from the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Released June 18, 1991
Recorded March 1990
Genre Hard rock
Length 5:22
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Eddie Van Halen
Michael Anthony
Alex Van Halen
Sammy Hagar
Producer(s) Andy Johns
Ted Templeman
Van Halen

"Poundcake" is a Van Halen song and the opening track on their 1991 album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. "Poundcake" was the first song to be released as a single from the album making #1 on U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart and #74 in the UK Singles Chart.


According to Eddie Van Halen, the song first did not earn much a reaction until producer Andy Johns suggested him to play the rhythm tracks with 12-string guitars. Afterwards the band helped the composition of the song over the two electric 12-strings doubled beneath Eddie's usual dirty guitar. Regarding the guitar solo, Eddie said that "The solo goes four bars, another four bars, then two bars. Al kept insisting that it wasn’t finished. He likes to count, and I never do. I’m strictly feel. I’m always screwing around with time, because I never count.”[1]

Song characteristics[edit]

It is a double entendre for dessert and sex with a party attitude and a rounding backbeat. A cowbell can be heard during some parts of the song's bridge and solo (it is unclear if this is played by Sammy Hagar or Alex Van Halen).

The song has acquired a reputation as a test of harmonic guitar technique, because the riff and melody employ countertapping and semibarres, while the main melody is played with harmonic pull offs. The 'full' guitar sound is achieved with use of streaming harmonics, which may or may not have been amplified by an effects pedal. The major third interval on a normally tuned string contributes to the overblown guitar sound (major thirds are widely acknowledged to sound full and overbearing on a distorted tube amp,[citation needed] which is why most major thirds Van Halen play are A barres with the B string slightly detuned). It is generally a song which uses many facets of the Van Halen technique, and it is a popular cover song on YouTube (occasionally being medlyed with other songs with the same characteristics, such as "Mean Street" and "Ain't Talkin bout Love").

Power drill[edit]

The song features Eddie Van Halen using the sound of a power drill both in the introduction and during the guitar solo. Using a power drill in conjunction with electric guitar was not a new concept as Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan had used them while playing with Mr. Big. Gilbert had previously used the electric drill during live solos while touring with the band Racer X in the mid 1980s. Here he would use the drill as a method of tremolo picking, as later employed by Mr. Big. He would also use the electromagnetic interference generated by the drill's electric motor. The pitch of the sound changed with speed of the drill and the volume of the sound changed with the proximity of the drill to the guitar's pickups, letting him actually play notes. This is the same technique used by Van Halen in "Poundcake".

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Poundcake," directed by Andy Morahan, shows Eddie using the technique with a Makita cordless power drill painted in his trademark red, black and white stripes. The video, itself, cuts between scenes of the band playing and a demure young lady who has shown up for an audition (a handmade sign on the wall says "Van Halen Casting"). While waiting, she spies on the other girls through a hole in the changing room door and is fascinated by their provocative dress and behavior. When they finally notice her, one uses a power drill to create a hole in the door and harass her, ultimately scaring her off.

The video is also preceded with a young girl reciting a poem of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", and ends with an outtake of her, as well.

In pop culture[edit]

The song was used by pro wrestler Rob Van Dam as his entrance music, when he debuted in Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1996.

The song was also used by strongman/pro wrestler Bill Kazmaier as his entrance music, when he wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

External links[edit]