There’s a wonderfully cerebral element to the music of Cafe Racer. Musically and lyrically, it commands the attention of the ear and the mind alike – thus resulting in a deeply immersive musical experience. Though each track within their existing discography is audibly distinctive in its own right, Cafe Racer has mastered the finite art of cultivating a highly unique sound that is the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll cocktail of charm, haze, and grit.
This brilliant artistic formula is displayed through the band’s most recent single, “Two Times A Day.” The track is dripping with etherealism and yet never loses its edge, radiating its own kind of sonic energy that is utterly infectious. The guitar hook that peppers the musical breaks between verses contains a strong sonically addictive quality, and the dreamlike element of the vocal work gives the track an additional stylistic flair. The melodically entrancing nature of “Two Times A Day” prevails throughout, thus creating a hypnotizing spell of delectable rock ‘n’ roll that stays in the minds of listens long after the track has reached its conclusion.
Akin to many great creative endeavors, Cafe Racer was the product of a great idea that was supported by the tenacity to make something great materialize – and it did.
“Cafe Racer started as the brainchild of myself and guitarist/songwriter Adam Schubert,” said member Michael Santana. “We were tossing around the idea of starting a group together for months and when we finally played guitar in the same room we felt we could actually work up something really candescent. We recruited drummer (Loc Tran) and bassist (Rob McWilliams) as a conveniently packaged rhythm section as we got more serious about writing. We’ve had some lineup changes but the original members were us four and grew to as many as six at one point. In hopes of altering and honing in on a new sound for our second record we recruited our fifth member and current guitarist/keyboardist/drone commander Andrew Harper by throwing some social media bait a la Facebook. Cafe Racer seems to morph in many directions but the current creative push is attributed to the current lineup as listed above and I think we’ll continue to grow together.”
Santana cites said growth as being able to actualize a specific idea for a musical work.
“I think growth comes from attaining a particular vision for a sound/concept be it as whole or for a record,” he said. “It takes time for folks to reach that level. We’ve really started to manufacture/funnel a blend of our collective influences to create something new and original artistically for each of us.”
The work of Cafe Racer is undeniably euphonious and intelligently crafted, with each and every track exploring a variety of sonic paths and avenues that, together, form an intricate and well-developed finished product that very much takes on a life of its own. Hearing this achieved level of fullness come to fruition for the first time is something that Santana says is among the most rewarding aspects of the creative process.
“Personally, I feel the most rewarding aspect is hearing a song you began to piece together on your own become a fully realized soundscape through the filters of my bandmates for the very first time at a rehearsal. The extrapolation of a singular idea, which can ruin or enhance a song, but when it’s enhancing it can be euphoric,” he said.
Cafe Racer’s sound is noticeably cohesive, and this refined nature could perhaps be attributed to the connectivity that exists among the band.
“I’m not that talented of a musician so I constantly look up to my bandmates in that regard and they’ve all impacted my playing,” Santana said.
Cafe Racer is a rich asset within Chicago’s ever-vibrant creative community, an entity that has been brilliant not just in their support of a myriad of musical talent, but subsequently enabling it to flourish. Some artists would look at a saturated market and view it with a sense of competition, but Santana sees otherwise. When asked what his favorite aspect of the local creative community was, he stated it was “the abundance of it. The talent I see almost every day. This city is favorable to artists of all avenues.”
A facet of this favorability stems from the support of local venues, who give the city’s musical talent a place to share their art. It is not uncommon for these venues to host gigs that contain a bill entirely composed of local bands, and it was a performance of this nature that Santana cites as among his favorite Cafe Racer gigs.
“I really enjoyed opening for NEHI during their record release at the Empty Bottle with Deeper some months back. Just one of those situations where we were playing with some of our favorite bands at our favorite venue. I don’t particularly remember if we played an extraordinary set but it was definitely a great time,” he said.
The already immaculate body of work that Cafe Racer has achieved in creating is only expanding, with the release of forthcoming record Famous Dust on the horizon.
“We recently uploaded a single from it on our Bandcamp/Spotify pages,” Santana said. “We’ll probably hold up a bank so we can release it on vinyl. Look out for us on the shelves or the evening news.”
There’s something about the music of Cafe Racer that rings true to the soul; it feels innately human. The ability to establish such a potent level of connectivity, via the band’s intelligent use of both music and lyrics as equalized agents of communication, generates a stratospheric degree of artistic authenticity that makes their music unforgettable. This trueness is something Santana says lies at the core of the band’s work.
“The objective has always been to create something honest and I think that evolves alongside our characters as humans and song writers.”