Three-Layer Cake

How to make a three-layer cake: the past year’s lockdown has proved undeniably challenging to improvising musicians who typically thrive on face-to-face interaction. But bassist Mike Watt, drummer/percussionist Mike Pride, and guitarist/banjoist Brandon Seabrook have all built their careers on kicking down the barriers between genres, so why would they let a little pandemic-induced isolation and geographic distance stand in their way?

Convening for the first time as Three-Layer Cake, these three dizzyingly inventive artists bake up a long-distance set of singular, boundary-defying collaborations on their combustible debut, Stove Top.

“I knew Brandon was a big fan of Watt’s and kind of carries a lot of that ethos that Watt carries around in his own work. He is amazing, so I thought it would be musically cool and karmically cool to connect those two guys.”

Mike Pride

The basic idea for the project is embodied in the name, which came to Watt fully-formed along with the concept itself: Pride would record drum tracks and send them to Watt, who would respond on the bass.

“There’s a lot of fucked up things about the Internet, but this is one of the good things: instead of spreading lies you can trade files.”

Mike Watt

Watt, of course, has been rewriting the rules of rock since his ground-breaking days with the legendary Minutemen, through his influential work with fIREHOSE, his idiosyncratic solo career, and his latter-day hook-up with Iggy and the Stooges. Watt has always referred to punk not as a style of music but as a “movement,” one which encompasses a far wider range of exploration than is typically associated with the four-letter word.

Watt’s younger cohorts embody that lesson. Pride has brought his powerful yet adventurous drumming to work with everyone from improvised music icon Anthony Braxton to punk legends Millions of Dead Cops (MDC), toured arenas opening for comedian Amy Schumer with Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore, and spanned the worlds of modern-jazz, avant-rock, noise and death free jazz with his own ensembles – a roster that includes the jazz quartet From Bacteria To Boys, the 7-drummer installation Drummer’s Corpse, and the piano trio I Hate Work.  He is also co-leader of the ensembles Pulverize The Sound (w/ Peter Evans and Tim Dahl) and Period (w/ Charlie Looker and Chuck Bettis).

Seabrook has established himself as one of the most forward-thinking and versatile guitarists of his generation as well as an influential banjo innovator, described by the New York Times as “a man apparently hellbent on earning the title of World’s Least Rustic Banjo Player.” He leads the nuclear trio Seabrook Power Plant, donned “a manic clusterfuck of merciless banjo torture” by the Village Voice, and has been called upon by titans such as Anthony Braxton, Nels Cline, Cecile McLorant Salvant, So Percussion, and Joey Arias for his idiosyncratic physical performance style, hyperreal technique and impeccable articulation.