Review: The emancipation of Hank and Cupcakes

Daniel Magalit

The Israeli duo Hank & Cupcakes are back with a new album and are currently on tour promoting themselves as an independent band after leaving the BMG record label.

After leaving Israel in 2008 to make it big in New York City, Hank, who plays bass and works the foot pedals that add sounds to live shows and Cupcakes, the vocalist and drummer, released their debut album “Naked” in October of 2013.

In September, Hank & Cupcakes released their latest album, “Ca$h 4 Gold”. Eleven tracks of mostly up-tempo songs with catchy melodies fill the new album.

Cupcakes said, “One rehearsal led to another and another until Hank eventually said about a week later, ‘Why don’t we just rehearse every day?’ We didn’t plan on becoming a bass & drums duo, we thought that once we’d arrive to NYC we’d meet more musicians and form a ‘proper’ band, but during those few months of intense daily rehearsing, a sound was developing that was different, and it became clear that there was nothing missing.”

However, the band seems to be doing well for themselves with just the two members.

Hank & Cupcakes got the idea for their name from the late American author and poet Charles “Hank” Bukowski who had a lover named Cupcakes.

“Cocaina,” a single from the new album which the newly independent band filmed and edited the video for themselves, is their most popular song on iTunes from “Ca$h 4 Gold”.

“Cocaina” starts off slow with the lyrics “down on the floor but the devil wants more” and picks up speed very quickly, shocking the listener as they get wrapped up in the words.

“I have a bunch of favorite songs [from the new album],” said Cupcakes. “Cocaina” and “Relax” are just a couple the drummer named. “Obviously we like all of the songs,” she said.

“Relax,” another song the duo created the video for by themselves, has an anthem like sound that almost makes you want to shout “relax, expand” along with Cupcakes as if she was hitting the kick drum in your living room.

Emancipation from a major label was not originally planned.

“We were lucky enough to get signed,” said Cupcakes. “[Eventually] we discovered that it wasn’t what we dreamed it would be and we mainly found ourselves banging our heads against the wall. The wall being people who work for a very big corporation which is what [BMG] is … We just thought that we were wasting a lot of time and not getting anything done so we thought we would be better off without them.”

In an interview with Louis C.K., the band was given a kind of motto that they basically live by now. He said, when you are independent, your successes and your failures are better than when you are not.

“It’s very rewarding,” agreed Hank and Cupcakes. “It’s lots and lots and lots of work, and we have to do everything ourselves … but we know we are doing everything we can do,” said Cupcakes.

A motivational track was bound to be on the “Ca$h 4 Gold” album as if Hank & Cupcakes were telling themselves to “Keep Going” as the song is titled. The three-minute tune inspires the listener to push forward and tells them directly, “If you’re going through hell keep going.”

Touring the country, Hank & Cupcakes found there were a lot of pawn shops with signs saying things like ‘Cash for Gold’. As a memento to their time on the road and the work they have put in, the title of the album, respectfully, became “Ca$h 4 Gold”.

Now free from the constraints of a major label and touring to help pay back what they owe to BMG, Hank & Cupcakes is a band that makes it obvious that dreams can come true.

Their song “Money is King” states “cash for gold, gold for dreams”. These lyrics can be interpreted as, though it might be easy to give up dreams to make a quick penny, it is not always better.