DAVID BRIDIE: Studio 22 Interview
Interviewed by Clinton Walker
CLINTON: David Bridie welcome to Studio 22
DAVID BRIDIE: Thanks Clinton
CLINTON: It took a while to make a solo album, why so?
DAVID BRIDIE: I guess circumstance more than anything, I was very happy
playing with Not Drowning Waving all those years, and that was a great
band, and then Chocolate Cake from there
as well as dipping my
toes in producing and film soundtrack stuff
and it wasnt
really until about four years ago that I thought, wow, you know, thats
something I could sink my teeth into, and maybe there was a little bit
afraids probably too strong a word, but just that fear
of going out on your own, I quite like the camaraderie of a band. But
once I got into doing the solo record, I really enjoyed it, and Id
go so far as to say its probably the most enjoyable record Ive
Ive been involved in making, and its just the
freedom and sort of backing your judgement, going all the way with it.
CLINTON: Also, getting a record deal with a big record company, that
play a part in it?
DAVID BRIDIE: EMI are really supportive, I mean, Not Drowning were with
Warners and Reprise over in the States and, the Cake were with Mushroom,
so theyre, I mean theyre biggish
The actual making
of the record, the record company its less involved in that, maybe
once the record comes out.
CLINTON: What do you call the music, I mean Not Drowning Waving is
sort of labelled a sort of World Music sort of thing do you have a label
you could slap on what David Bridie does?
DAVID BRIDIE: No, look, you know, piano based songs with slow grooves
and a lot of textures and, theres not a real label for it, like
Not Drowning waving were kind of, I mean the World Music stuff came
when we did the PG things, but, before that we were making sort of fairly
atmospheric stuff, then it got quite percussive and rocky in parts towards
the end, and theres just a whole gamut of different musical styles
too thats on Act Of Free Choice, and no, its a hard
its contemporary music. If that means anything.
CLINTON: But, you know, its moody and atmospheric if you could
say that, but its also song based, so you obviously have, a real
determination to remain rooted in a song.
DAVID BRIDIE: Yeah, I think the song, theyre songs that work with
atmospheres and slow grooves and textures and I mean this record probably
went further down the road of using you know, non musical sounds layering
them, in the background more so than before, but yeah, when it gets
down to it, theyre songs with simple chords.
CLINTON: How did you make the transition from making that record
to going on stage, what weve seen tonight. Record created I guess
very much in the studio and layering, and then taking it onto the stage.
DAVID BRIDIE: We sit down a fair bit with Michael, Phil and Chris who
are the band - weve done three tours now, and the first tour we
were kind of thereabouts but the second and third tour I think we were
kind of right into the groove with it, and it was a matter of, you never
you cant reproduce a record live, and its a totally
different environment, everythings so immediate, and its
a record thats very layered up, it wasnt a record that we
recorded the drums and bass and guitar and keyboards at the same time.
So we were doing versions of those songs live, but we kept a lot of
the loops and a lot of the sounds that lay underneath the songs, and
prepared to kind of take them wherever theyre going to go live,
so, yeah, it wasnt that difficult at all.
CLINTON: Do you sort of jam through that, and sort of play through
DAVID BRIDIE: A little bit, were not sort of, you know, sort of
great improvisers, its all, pretty worked out, although there
are sections and songs where you can sort of, take it to the river,
as they say. But weve been really enjoying the live playing, Ive
been really enjoying it, especially after Chocolate Cake which is such
acoustic affair - and so to have Phils guitar bleeding in my ears
and - Michael is such a, you know, hes just such a sensational
drummer, and he, I think he, the songs that I write, I write to suit
his style of playing as well, so, yeah its been that camaraderie
thing that I feared not having in a solo performance. It feels like
its a band with my name on it.
CLINTON: Does that mean if as a solo artist you would go on to another
record you could do it in a format like this with a band that is yours
and, that would mean a different sort of genesis of music wouldnt
DAVID BRIDIE: I would like to keep the best of both worlds actually.
Id like to sort of still have the freedom to work, you know, to
follow a song through in my own head, to the end, but I think Phil and
Chris and Michael are the players to be the core group of players to
work through those songs with, I guess well cross that when I
get to the next record.
CLINTON: Your stuff’s often praised for this sense of place it has, it does have that, how and why is that?
DAVID BRIDIE: I come from Australia. Oh, you write songs about where you are, and what you know, what’s important to you, look, I love getting out of cities you know, and maybe that’s because I was born in the suburbs. There’s some feeling you get when you go sort of, outback or go in the country and it’s a pretty bloody glorious country getting out there, and, I like the fact that when you’re, when you are outback your sense of self is kind of reduced completely. Living in the cities and especially working in the music industry, it’s pretty kind of, you know, self indulgent at times and so landscape’s sort of something that in there? but, also, I’m a fairly political being, for social justice reasons rather than the football side of Labor’s gonna beat Liberal, which they are, at the next election. It’s more about? oh look when I was trying to? when I was first playing music and not making any money out of it, the job I had was working at community services in Victoria and that really opened my eyes to a lot of things, working with people who were fantastic, really committed to social change, really committed, and they’re earning shit house wages but, yeah, really enjoying their work and putting their heart and soul into it and, that changed a lot of things for me, that was a, I was quite inspired by working with those people and working with the, you know, the recipients of the welfare, whatever the terminology is for it? So that really opened my eyes to stuff, and then, producing Archie Roach’s record - Archie taught me a whole lot of bunch of, a whole lot of stuff - working with George up in Papua New Guinea - you learn from these people and as a suburban boy from Melbourne to sort of go to Rabaul and, you’ve just got your eyes wide open, and yeah that comes back in the songs that’s the stuff that draws an emotional response.
CLINTON: Is it that, that sort of fantasisation that youre
talking about? I sense it as more inclusive, and its something
that I like about what you do, is that theres no brow beating
kind of stuff. Do you prefer the idea of suggestion, perhaps thats
the way to put it.
DAVID BRIDIE: I think that works better within the art form thats
music, but I also think for someone whos listening if they get
drawn into it, their response will be better, its more, youre
more likely to draw them into it if people can make the response themselves
- maybe thats going to lead them into, you know the social action
thats required better. Although, you know look, its all
just part and parcel of a whole bunch of things - I think songs about
an issue work with a newspaper article, work with somebody else doing
a film and its all, you know, these little layers that in the
end, are, become this social force if thats not too kind of didactic
CLINTON: Perhaps its related and, just to finish up, I mean,
put it in more musical terms, one certain thing that impressed me about
seeing you is youre ability not to play rather than to play, this
band that sort of lays back so much and doesnt have to crowd everything.
DAVID BRIDIE: Yeah, I really like that sense of space in a song, and
a lot of the artists I like listening to theres that sense of
space there - gives room for the lyrics and the voice to breathe - look
Im not, Im not a fan of sort of musical showing off, I dont
think thats an audience thing, I think thats for players,
you know, for other musicians to go wow, that person played thirteen
notes in the bar, apart from the fact that I cant play thirteen
notes in the bar, the maths undoes me every time! So, but yeah look,
I like that space.
CLINTON: David Bridie thanks a lot.
DAVID BRIDIE: Thanks Clinton, Cheers.
© 2001 ABC