By Juliet DeRose
Photos by Olivia Vaughn
“I don’t want to deal with promotions or sleazy booking agents, I just want to make music.” It’s a late summer night in Fishtown as Marc Neibauer, the mastermind behind local band, Eat Your Birthday Cake, reveals his dislike for gigs, touring and mostly everything that comes with being a musician – besides, you know, actually making music. After a headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s, he decided to retire from the whole “touring” aspect. Whereas most musicians live for the thrill of a sweat-soaked, adrenaline-induced live performance, Marc prefers to lay low and let his music speak for itself. He explains, “I do it because I enjoy it. I just want to make music; I don’t want money at all.”
What began in summer 2008 as two friends (Marc and then-guitarist Bill Storck who left the group early this year to “pursue other things”) experimenting, quickly turned into a bona fide musical endeavor with a clear vision. “[We were] messing around with a backing track and an iPod and that was kind of lame,” Marc admits. A year later, the EP, I Know You Can was produced: four tracks of light, airy indie rock. Admittedly, at first listen it makes one question whether they’re listening to a pirated Teletubbies soundtrack. However, after another attempt, their casual sound and silly intention is discernible.
Eat Your Birthday Cake (the whimsical, catchy moniker is coined from a song written by Bill) is currently composed of, along with Marc, Rob Rouse and Matt Jakielaszek. Although, according to Marc, “[EYBC] is not a band, but rather a collective that I lead.” Much like its name, EYBC centers on playful melodies with equally playful sentiments. But it goes deeper than just that. EYBC chronicles Marc’s attitudes and emotions at pivotal moments while growing up. It’s just as much about coming of age as it is about sing-song tunes and dissing once-friends.
Key tracks off I Know You Can include the ironic, tongue-in-cheek, “Vegan Leather” and the ambiguous robot-esque, “Peter Pan.” However, the most commercial (and successful) track, “Lightweight Stars” coos “Fancy cars and neon signs, electric hearts all intertwined,” which is somewhat redolent of early Jimmy Eat World or Matt Pond PA.
Marc grew up listening to (surprisingly) the 90s rock heavy hitters, Metallica, Radiohead and Nirvana (Who he accredits as “The reason I play music”). After studying Jazz Performance at Temple University, he enrolled in Eastern University where he is currently studying to become a music teacher.
“I’m always going to be making music whether or not with EYBC,” he says, “I do it because I have to.” His Jazz influence is what makes him more instrumental rather than a prolific writer. It was only until recently that he started listening to indie artists. “I was 22 when I discovered Morrissey,” he admits. Only last year did he first hear his current fixation and inspiration… Granddaddy.
Next up for EYBC is the LP, Enemies, which will be released early next year. “A lot of people I used to hang out with aren’t going to like it,” Marc warns. Maybe it succeeds the message of “Vegan Leather”: beware of fake friends. Even if the inspiration was a few backstabbers, Marc honors it, his “proudest accomplishment.”
It’s pretty rare to find someone who creates a work of art, pouring their energy, emotion and money into it, and would be just as happy if it reaches 50 or 50,000 people. It’s obvious that this project really isn’t about “making it big.” At all. Much like a runner needs to run, Marc needs to make music. So he does.
For right now, Marc is satisfied. With “Enemies” on the horizon and working towards becoming the next generation of America’s educators, he is exactly where he wants to be. There’s nothing more he wants. Well, maybe to find his dad’s long-lost record collection that perhaps vanished somewhere in the jumble of yard sales over the years. He shrugs and shakes his head with a slight blasé grin, “As long as somebody’s enjoying them, it’s alright.”