interview: my friend the chocolate cake
World/folk-pop sextet My Friend the Chocolate Cake may sound, thanks to their flippant appellation, like a children’s party band; but, in listening to their aural wares, you will find a six-headed Eastern European-flavoured folksy combo, lovingly wrapped in traveller’s charm. MFTCC are nice and, luckily, so is founder David Bridie.
‘We’ve been together a while,’ Bridie says of the band’s twenty-first birthday this year (get them a giant key!), new album Fiasco (out now on Shock) and upcoming national tour. ‘It feels like one of the best records we’ve done. Creatively, we’re in the spot for it. We’re really proud of it.
‘Music can cross generational gaps; it doesn’t feel like twenty-one years. It’s the legacy of how everyone gets on in the band….we wouldn’t be doing it if we weren’t still enjoying it. We don’t push it too much. You need to commit to being in a band; you can’t just go through the motions. We have fun with it.’
The name itself, of course, is a cause for query…
‘It’s a plainly daft name. Sydney used to have a label called M Squared that used to put out a lot of electronic music. They had a band called Ya Ya Corralle; they had a song called My Friend the Chocolate Cake…the name was chosen in a desperate effort. The band started as a side project, I was in a band called Not Drowning Waving.’
Luckily, though, the band has blessed itself with a delicious enough name: ‘Everyone likes chocolate cake. Sometimes an over-rich chocolate cake can be difficult…the mud cake version can be a bit difficult.’
Creating their distinctive style is nothing less than a joy for the convivial cronies of the Cake; after two decades and five albums, Bridie can attest to this.
‘It’s a generalisation that doesn’t always work but I usually write the bits with words and Helen [Mountfort, cellist and forming member] writes the instruments and we rehearses them…we just keep playing them and adjustments keep being made…it’s a fairly organic process.
‘We’ve got a great range of instruments, a string section…so that means the musical pool we’re swimming in is different than most other bands. It’s been relatively easy but it’s not the main potato in everyone’s life. Life’s too short to play music with people you don’t get along with.’
Even after a band life span only a few years short of your humble interviewer’s, Bridie admits there is no stopping the Cake juggernaut yet.
‘I speak only for me, but if I no longer thought that what we were doing wasn’t artistically relevant or I didn’t enjoy it anymore or we weren’t connecting with people, I’d finish but it hasn’t gotten to that point. No thoughts of winding it up at all!
‘There no shortage of people who romanticize the life of the musician; there are a lot of great musicians out there…you could listen to music twenty-four-seven and still couldn’t catch up with all the great music out there, you need to offer something different, something interesting. One of the reasons why we’ve made it so long is we’ve made our own agenda, rather than let other people tell us. We’ve created our own destiny. There’s a lot to be said for that….to travel your own path.’