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My Friend The Chocolate Cake
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My Friend the Chocolate Cake - Press Release

Featuring ...
David Bridie     Piano, Vocals
Helen Mountfort      Cello, Backing Vocals
Andrew Carswell      Mandolin
Hope Csutoros      Violin
Andrew Richardson      Acoustic Guitar
Russel Bradley      Drums

"The tin whistle catches slightly on the high notes, like a voice breaking..."
     
-  Mike Houghton, Talking to David and Helen

WHY FORM A NEW BAND WITH A FUNNY NAME?
DAVID: "In 1989 I was on a holiday in a place in rural New Zealand called Teteko. The little house I stayed in had this beaten-up piano and during that time I wrote a bunch of songs and pieces that would probably not fit in with the Not Drowning, Waving format. It was a very productive time. I spent a lot of time looking after my nephew. I came back to Melbourne and played them to Helen over a few too many red wines.  We mucked around with them. Helen put cello arrangements over the stuff I'd written and she had a couple of tunes she'd written herself. We decided to grab some friends and get a band, together. We wanted it to be easy to do and all acoustics.

WHAT KIND OF THING IS THIS ANYWAY?
HELEN: "It was always intended to be a friendly, laid-back kind of project. Just a bunch of friends playing music they liked. We set ourselves a few basic ground rules' Like using only acoustic instruments so it would be easy to rehearse and easy to carry. With none of those big black boxes. We always rehearse In someone's living room, not some smelly, smoke-filled studio with a terrible version of SMOKE ON THE WATER filtering through the wall. It worked. Another thing that got it all going was driving up the deadly Hume on a NDW tour and listening to tapes by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Their arrangements are friendly and loose. This was very appealing and we thought it would be great to form a side project like that. MFTCC is it."

"it's a line from a song. I can't remember which song.  It's very obscure."
     
-  Helen Mountfort explains the origins of the name.

WHO ARE YOU ? WHAT DO YOU WANT ?
HELEN: "People were sort of added one by one. Like soup ingredients. David got an old school buddy of his, Andrew Richardson, to bring his acoustic guitar along.  He plays with real finesse and fitted in straight away. Then Andrew Carswell, the mandolin player came in. He's another old friend of David's. They both barrack for Melbourne.  He's a great player, interweaving beautiful, quirky mandolin lines and even a tin whistle in DANNY BOY. I'd done some classical playing with Hope Csutoros, the violinist.  She's a brilliant improvisor and NDW drummer, Russel Bradley was keen on doing some plinky little percussion stuff.

We don't want anything.  What sort of question is that?"

"MY FRIEND THE CHOCOLATE CAKE' BY MY FRIEND THE CHOCOLATE CAKE.
IT'S LONG BUT IS IT YUMMY ?
HELEN: "Yes, it's a mouthful.  'Scuse the pun. The album was recorded quite swiftly - all the music tracks were put down live in one day. David's vocals and the mix wore done over a fortnight. Tim Cole engineered the record. He's quite a whizz at recording acoustic instruments and building a sound that's both lush and crisp... and yummy."

DAVID: "I guess lots of the songs are little stories about people ... or characters living in their community. The songs deal with the pressures and joys these characters... or people go through. There's nothing too complicated in there."

HELEN: "There's songs about grandmothers, families, the bloke next door and David's uncle's gumboots. We were going to call the album "Songs From The Neighbourhood" but I think Sesame Street beat us to it. MFTCC is a long enough name by itself.'

"Writing a "modern classical" piece you'd never dare use those chords."
     
-  Helen Mountfort speaks her mind to Mike Houghton.

WHO DID THE PRETTY PICTURES ?
DAVID: "The two pictures were done by Warwick Jolly, a former Melbournian now living in Hobart. The original pictures are three dimensional cardboard cutouts. Russel Bradley did the design. He's a genuis. They both are."

LET'S TRAVEL UP THE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS WITHOUT A PADDLE ...
DAVID: "it's influenced by a lot of things ... Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Ben Chifley the train driver, John Cale, the Melbourne Football Club, Joy Division, Tim Winton, Irish and Scottish folk music, Johnny Cash, J.S. Bach, Patricia Grace, The Age, Richard Thompson, John Cain, Randy Newman, Not Drowning, Waving, Paul Kelly, whisky, Billy Bragg, Bela Bartok, Jimmy Stynes, travelling, Michelle Shocked, Joan Kirner, Martin Flanagan, Paul Madigan and Ya Ya Choral. All these can be found somewhere or other on the album.  Listen carefully."