The Story Behind Captain Cake Punch by Brave Machine

Captain Cake Punch wasn’t the first song released for the debut Brave Machine album but it was the first song I started writing specifically for it. The idea actually predates the band by a couple of years. The chorus melody and lyrics just kind of popped into my head one day as I was thinking about this absurd super hero whose only “power” was that he punched cakes. And that’s where it stayed. I don’t think I even wrote the idea down as I normally do with song ideas so they aren’t forgotten.

Every now and then I’d just start singing this little fragment of a song but never developed it. It wasn’t until I had approached Joe Wenger about forming a band again that I took the time to really develop the idea of Captain Cake Punch into a full song. Very quickly I made the song into kind of a story of who Captain Cake Punch is and how he helps people.

So the verses focus on the plight of an unnamed character who is stuck going to a child’s birthday party that he would rather not be at. Thankfully, Captain Cake Punch is just a call away to help him out. 

The bridge lyrics give more of a full backstory of how Captain Cake Punch became what he is today. As if the concept of the song isn’t ridiculous enough, I think his origin story really takes it up a notch. 

Born the son of a baker and a Quaker
A curious mix of pacifism and pastry
One day something changed
You might say he’s deranged
But ruining parties is his passion
In cake punching fashion
So if you need a way out
I need a way out
But your wife said NO!

The initial demo recording was actually done in Joe’s basement. Nearly all of the recording for this album was done at my house but our first day of tracking demos was done at his house. That was all the way back in 2016. If that seems like a really long time ago for an album that came out in 2021, that’s because it is. If you’d like to get a better understanding of some of the why behind how long ago it was, you can read the Brave Machine history post here. Most everything we did that day was eventually re-recorded with the exception of Joe’s vocals. 

Sometimes when you write songs and then begin the process of recording them, you realize that something isn’t quite right with the instrumentation, the melody, the tempo, or whatever. As you’ll see with some of the later song stories for this album, that was the case for a number of songs. Not so much for Captain Cake Punch though. The chorus never changed from that idea in my head all those years ago. Some of the rhythms on the verses changed and I added a couple synths but the overall melody and feel of the verses stayed the same. The one area that saw some dramatic difference was the bridge. I was very conscious of not wanting the song to feel very one note musically and so I went for a ska-esque feel on the bridge. When I was a teenager I listened to Five Iron Frenzy all the time and musically the bridge felt like it could have been on one of their albums. I think it lost a bit of that Five Iron feel as production progressed though. That this is lyrically the least-serious song on the album also makes it a great choice for a small homage to Five Iron Frenzy’s early work when they were still having fun on their albums. 

The last big production choice I made for Captain Cake Punch was to have Spencer Martin re-record the guitars. I had hired him to redo the guitars on All Hail the Experts previously (for reasons you can read about in that song explanation) and it just felt like the right choice to have him on this track as well and I think he did a great job tightening up the guitars. 

Harvey Marples did a great job mixing Captain Cake Punch and several other songs on this album.

I hope you enjoyed this little backstory of how Captain Cake Punch came to be. Thanks for reading!

Next song: All Hail the Experts

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