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My Friend The Chocolate Cake
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C’est Plan Pour Le Gateaux
by Ross Clelland

Star Trek fans will easily accept this as a temporal abnormality, this interview actually taking place about four weeks before you read it, largely cause it was one of the few times David Bridie sat still long enough for it to happen. Between then and now (that’s as you read this, real time) the head Cake has, among other things, jetted off to Alice Springs to produce some promising Koori acts discovered by the CAAMA program, back to finish another film soundtrack with regular collaborator John Phillips, actually get the rest of My Friend together to rehearse for the tour this story is plugging ("we’re working up a version of Plastic Bertrand’s C’est Plan Pur Moi, it’s umm… interesting"), and maybe even fit in a couple of days at the footy to watch the Melbourne Demons get beat again.

More prosaically, this little MFTCC tour celebrating the very lovely Brood album now coming with a bonus disc: The Quiet Bits. An unlikely name for an Australian release, a country where the guitars are so oft turned up to 11? "Hmmm, Maybe," Bridie returns, "but we do have a few who do the quiet bits fairly well: Paul Kelly, Archie Roach, The Jackson Code (incidentally the Choccy’s support for the Sydney shows on the tour). So there is a bit of a tradition for keeping it down as well."

The Quiet Bits is basically in two parts, firstly songs recorded during the Brood sessions, some of which have snuck out as bonus tracks on singles and such, but much unheard, including a couple of covers: Randy Newman’s melancholic ‘Bad News From Home’ and ex-Velvet John Cale’s hypnotic ‘Chinese Envoy’, which folows nicely from the version of Cale’s ‘Buffalo Ballet’ from the first Cake album. Why does Mr. Cale get such a good run, David? "Ahh, that’s my fault," Bridie ‘fesses up, "there’s always a bunch of guitar heroes to choose from, but there’s never that many for we keyboard players. I mean, who have we got? Billy Joel? Barry Manilow? They’re hardly inspiring. The women aren’t much better: Kate Bush maybe, and god save us from the Tori bloody Amos’s of the world. So you find someone worthy like Cale, and you just have to grab it."

There’s also six tracks recorded live at Melbourne’s Universal Theatre, showing the band can rollick and roll pretty well, as well. But even this show wasn’t without drama. David: "I’d just got back from Papua New Guinea and the islands, and brought back some interesting tropical disease. I was really not happening. I think we played 24 or 25 songs that night, and I’m surprised we got the six that appeared - possibly they were the ones I was conscious for. Slow Way to Go Down (one of the songs included) should probably have been the theme song for the night. It was all a bit strange, Helen and Hope (Mountfort, cellist, and Csutoros, violinist, respecitively) were in fancy dress, while Michael Barker and Andrew Richardson (each of drums and guitar) were very due expectant fathers, and a bit tense as well. All a little surreal. I thought it sounded really strained, but we had people telling us how good it was. Huge thanks to the mixer must be in order, I think."

And what next for the Cake? "Well Brood is about to be released through Britain and Europe, but there’s no real hurry to get there. There really is no way to justify the expense," muses Bridie, "We’ll probably record something new and maybe think about going over say the middle of next year - when all the big outdoor festivals are on, and build an audience from there, rather than trying to find the right support slots."

It seems increasingly The Cake is Bridie’s main vehicle, and though the official announcement has yet to be made, it apears Bridie’s other truly original project NDW can be consigned to history. "It has kind of ended," is the candid response, "the minuses were just starting to outweigh any positives. Ironically, doing the film and TV soundtracks I’m probably working more with John Phillips (NDW guitarist and cohort) than before, but we really haven’t worked with any of the others for at least a year." But while that’s a bit of shame, you can still stuff yourself on Cake, and why not?

My Friend the Chocolate Cake and the Jackson Code play at the Sands on Friday July 7 and the Metro on Saturday 8.

Drum Media
4th July 1995