John McCrea (musician)
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McCrea performing in 2006
|Born||June 25, 1964|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano, vibraslap|
|Associated acts||Cake, Ben Folds|
John McCrea (born June 25, 1964) is an American singer and musician. He is a founding member of the band Cake. He is the vocalist and primary lyricist for the band, in addition to playing rhythm acoustic guitar, vibraslap, and piano. He also programs drums and does mixing work while he and the rest of the band have produced all of their albums.
Prior to Cake, McCrea spent most of the 1980s playing in various bands or performing solo. His mid-1980s band John McCrea and the Roughousers recorded the songs "Love You Madly" and "Shadow Stabbing," which were later re-recorded by Cake (both featured on 2001's Comfort Eagle). This band included Michael Urbano (drums), Pete Costello (bass), and Robert Kuhlmann (guitar).
In the late 1980s, McCrea moved to Los Angeles and began playing acoustically in local coffee shops. His first solo release was a double-sided single on vinyl only called Rancho Seco. One side was electric and the other acoustic. The LP was a protest song against the now-decommissioned nuclear power plant Rancho Seco built southeast of Sacramento.
McCrea's voice has a very distinctive "rough-around-the-edges" quality, which is especially evident when he sings in the lower part of his vocal range. He is also known for half-singing, half-speaking lyrics in many of his songs, sometimes in a kind of energetic monotone, such as the hits "The Distance" and "Never There." He is also known for "back-singing" some of his lyrics as he does in Cake's cover of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" from Fashion Nugget. McCrea also commonly sings with off-beat rhythms and emphasizes the consonants in words instead of the vowels. The single "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps," is a good example of this.
McCrea is a vocal activist for various causes, notably global warming and world poverty. He frequently uses the band's website and concerts as a platform to increase awareness about these and other issues. He is a member of the board of directors of HeadCount, a non-profit organization that uses music to promote voter registration and participation. He is also the founder of the Content Creators Coalition, a group of musicians and creatives that advocates for the rights of artists.