Archie Roach & My Friend The Chocolate Cake Both Celebrate 25-Year-Old Albums

6 January 2016 | 10:41 am | Bryget Chrisfield

All of a sudden you're thrust into the spotlight and people wanna know who you are and know what the song's about.

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While sitting outside Blackcat, a Fitzroy institution, chatting with Archie Roach, a passerby stops, introduces himself to Roach and says he puts on exhibitions around Collingwood. Roach's manager politely intervenes, letting our new friend know we're actually in the middle of an interview and then heads inside to grab some water for Roach. Later on, when Roach discusses the success of his debut solo album Charcoal Lane, which was released 25 years ago, he shares, "All of a sudden you're thrust into the spotlight and people wanna know who you are and know what the song's about. I wasn't ready for the reaction, or the response that it received."

Roach says celebrating 25 years since the release of his debut solo album "definitely takes you back". "I can just remember not knowing anything about recording, you know, it was the old reel-to-reel back in those days before CDs came out - a different process than it is today. In a way you sort of miss it, because there's not much room for error and you can't really cheat."

Bridie arrives and we move inside. One of Bridie's bands My Friend The Chocolate Cake is playing a one-off show with Roach at Sydney Opera House and Bridie observes, "It's funny we're doing the interview here, because just up on Victoria Street at the Universal Theatre we did a couple of theatre shows [together] back in the day. Ruby [Hunter] did those as well and Dave Arden... We did Walking Into Doors and both Archie and Chocolate Cake did sets, and then we got together and did a few songs together, so maybe it was kind of a bit similar [to their upcoming show]." The rapport between Roach and Bridie is visible and Bridie acknowledges they are both part of an elite group: "Artists who are old enough to have records that are 25 years old."

"David Bridie and me go a long way back," Roach explains. "I heard him when he was in Not Drowning, Waving — before My Friend The Chocolate Cake — and, you know, you'd see him around and you'd see posters around of Not Drowning, Waving, and I got to meet him when he turned up to produce my second album Jamu Dreaming... I mean, the second album always seems to be the hardest, you know — after Charcoal Lane — and a few people actually came to my house. And I do remember Chong Lim coming there and I thought he was gonna be it [the producer], but then I talked to David and he was pretty relaxed, chilled and laidback..." Bridie first saw Roach live "at Footscray Community Arts Centre" and lavishes praise on Roach's debut solo album, calling it "a game changer". "[I] really, really liked [Charcoal Lane] and then I was asked if I'd be interested in producing Jamu Dreaming, the second album, which I jumped at... It was a world I was really interested in. I've got really fond memories of that record."

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"Yeah, so do I, actually," Roach agrees.   

Although the tracks Roach and My Friend The Chocolate Cake will perform together are yet to be decided, Bridie offers, "Helen [Mountford], who plays in Chocolate Cake, played the cello on [Roach's] Walking Into Doors so I don't know if we'll definitely do that, but we all know those parts."