Earlier this year I had the utmost pleasure of picking the brain of Slice the Cake composer and creative mastermind Jack Magero. As a longtime fan of the band, I felt no choice but to jump at the opportunity to speak about their separation, reunion, and of course their plans for the future of STC.
At the time of this interview, the current global pandemic had not spread to most of the world, and naturally much in the realm of live performances has since been canceled or rescheduled. With UK TechFest officially canceled now as well, all we can do is set realistic expectations for ourselves, cross our fingers, and hope for the best. To that end, it’s also worth noting how imperative it is that we do our part to keep ourselves and others safest in order to ensure live music makes its return to the world as soon as possible.
Below is the entire interview with Magero, conducted back in early February 2020.
-In as many or as little words as you prefer to share, what was the fundamental reasoning that led to the band’s seemingly-indefinite hiatus? Amends have clearly been made now which is fantastic news, but I know fans have been dying for as much insight as you are comfortable giving. Was there any one moment, realization, or other sort of revelation that brought the idea to the forefront or did the stars just align the way they did by happenstance?
Magero: Honestly, ego and insecurities more than anything else. I think at the time, Gareth and I in particular were very wrapped up in the concept of Slice the Cake being relative to our self-worth. We both placed way too much pressure on the idea of this band being EVERYTHING, and since our approaches to creating art are so diametrically opposed a lot of the time, it just led to immature shouting matches. Gareth likes to take time to find the right atmosphere before burning through as much material as he can, as quickly as he can. I tend to be constantly updating, working on stuff, tweaking ideas in a much more fluid nature, so I think both of us were just trying to make the best music we could, without taking any sort of perspective on the other person’s process. Having spent a few years apart, living life a bit more, and working on personal issues above all else, I think has given us both a way better understanding of the other side. I always just felt bad that Jonas got caught up in the middle of our nonsense, because he only ever wanted to make the best music possible, and here were these two prima donnas having screaming matches at each other for the most inane reasons. But the upside of all of this is that I don’t think we’ve ever been happier or more comfortable working on art together than we are now. It’s a cliché, but we’re older, wiser, and the last year and a half of reestablishing those bonds feels perfectly cemented with the TechFest announcement.
-Taking steps back–big or small–is a very natural part of all human relationships, musicians being no exception. How does the ability to see your work from more of an outside, bygone perspective change your ability to hold it in a positive light? In other words: once it seemed there would never again be another Slice the Cake release, did it make it easier to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is–what it was–rather than a chore or a painful ordeal?
Magero: It took me a while to be able to listen to Odyssey. My own pettiness refused to let me see the bigger picture for a few years, and obviously having it as a reminder of such a painful time didn’t help. But I remember having a moment sometime late 2018 where I just put it on and suddenly felt happy about it. I couldn’t explain why, but suddenly the music felt satisfying and I was proud of everything we’d achieved. I think that was also a real catalyst for wanting to reply to Gareth and Jonas after they’d reached out to mend bridges not long prior. These days, I couldn’t be prouder of the music we’ve done so far. If anything, I’m so proud of it, I struggle to know what to do next!
-Let’s take a step back ourselves: where is the absolute furthest from the music industry that you could picture yourselves leading a happy and fulfilling life? I know for me personally, if money were no object I would jump at the opportunity to travel to all the theme parks of the world and ride roller coasters until I’m literally blue in the face.
Magero: Lego dealer. Seriously. Put me in a tiny store selling Lego to other nerds and I would be able to sleep soundly for the rest of my days. I don’t ask for much in life. Just some bricks and breakdowns.
-This year’s TechFest lineup is intimidating to look at, to say the least, and coming right out of the gates swinging hard with a UK-exclusive co-headlining spot alongside Fit For an Autopsy and Gorod only amplifies my jealousy from across the pond in Southeastern USA. If I can be quite frank, how stoked are you to rip this gig?
Magero: Simultaneously excited beyond belief, and terrified, at the prospect of playing alongside such pure and utter talent. I look at the lineup, from top to bottom and just think to myself “How on Earth are we going to impress anyone when playing before/after these bands”. I think Simon and everyone at TechFest have put together an absolutely monstrous line up, and they were so keen to get us on board that we all just feel so loved and taken care of. It’s going to be one hell of a show.
-Lastly, reunions of this magnitude beg to question: what can we expect musically from new Slice the Cake? Is there any sort of timeline for production of new material? Any abstract themes or other inspirations that can keep the fans (like me) at bay for a while?
Magero: We’re working on SOME material but we really don’t have any concrete timelines yet. I think something that we’ve learned is that if we need to take time, we can. If we need to fine tune something, we can spend however long we want to get it right, and it’s ok. Having said that, we’re definitely aware that people would love to hear something new and we all have ideas on where to take this band next. The one thing I will say is that the next material will most likely be more experimental, and potentially heavier than ever before. We’re all grown up and matured as people, but our rage and fury at the state of the world has only intensified.
Fast forward to today. As most aspects of life may be put on hold for the time-being and with so much uncertainty surrounding the state of the world, it is almost impossible to know for sure what to expect from the music industry for the foreseeable future: When will we be able to go to shows again? What will live music even look like in a post-COVID world? What bands will still be around on the other side of this mess? And what about all the canceled shows/festivals?
Unfortunately if anyone had anything close to an answer right now, we would all promptly be made aware. However, what I do know with concrete certainty is that bands like Slice the Cake are no strangers to adversity or stagnation. And as the person fortunate enough to gather and share their sentiments with the world, I have no doubt in my mind that they and countless others just like them will shine brighter than ever before when the dust starts to settle.
They will all need our help rebuilding momentum when that time comes. Now is arguably the most important time to actively support that which you care about most.