CDB Reveal: ‘Our Record Company Made Us Do Cover Versions’

24 May 2023 | 9:58 am | Gavin Scott

“We were like, ‘We do not want to do another cover, we’re not a cover band, we’re writing our own songs, we’re good at what we do.’"

Photo of CDB

Photo of CDB (Source: Supplied)

Exactly 25 years ago, R&B vocal harmony group CDB entered the ARIA Top 100 with their remake of Dazz Band’s 1982 funk tune Let It Whip. But as the four members of the band tell the podcast A Journey Through Aussie Pop, releasing a remake was the last thing they wanted to do. They hadn’t even wanted to put out a cover three years earlier when they recorded a version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Let’s Groove, but their record company convinced them it was the right move.

“I was in the studio at the time and my manager said, ‘Hey man, they want you to just demo Let’s Groove,” recalled Andrew De Silva, who had written the group’s first two hits, Hook Me Up and Hey Girl (This Is Our Time). “I go, ‘What? Let’s Groove? Earth, Wind & Fire’s Let’s Groove? But everybody’s going to know that’s a cover.’ We never knew that it would work.”

Gary Pinto continued: “The demo went to Sony, and they were like, ‘That’s your single.’ They jumped on it so fast. This whole force just went behind us.”

Turns out, Sony were right on the money in 1995, with CDB’s take on Let’s Groove becoming one of the biggest Australian hits of the year and spending most of that summer in the top 3. But in 1998, things turned out very differently for Let It Whip, which felt to the quartet like a cynical attempt to repeat the success of their earlier single.

“That was Sony going, ‘You need to do this… and we guarantee this is going top 3,” Pinto told the podcast. “We were like, ‘We do not want to do another cover, we’re not a cover band, we’re writing our own songs, we’re good at what we do.’ We just got peppered with it: Let it Whip, Let It Whip…  so very reluctantly we did it.”

Instead of reaching number 3, Let It Whip stalled at a frustrating number 51, with the lack of success for the single the beginning of the end for CDB, who had already seen original member De Silva depart following his diagnosis with testicular cancer in 1997.

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“We were doing the Tina Arena tour and something wasn’t right, so I went to my GP,” De Silva said. “I was warned about it, but as all young guys are, I was like, ‘I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine,’ and I went back on tour. When I came back, they were like, ‘We need to check this out, it doesn’t look good.’”

While he underwent treatment, De Silva’s place was filled by Jude Nicholas and CDB carried on, but the band felt they didn’t have the same record company support with their second album, which included Let It Whip, as they had done with their first, which featured Let’s Groove. And the push to do a second cover was evidence of that.

“They didn’t believe in it,” Brad Pinto said of Sony’s attitude towards their second album, Lifted.

Brother Gary added: “At the time, we would see the budget allocations and feel it with other artists around us. We’d go, ‘They’re pouring money into what they’re doing but not even really opening the cupboard to us.’ So we kind of felt that neglect around the second album.”

All four original members of CDB, Andrew De Silva, Danny Williams and brothers Brad and Gary Pinto, appear on A Journey Through Aussie Pop and explain how Peter Andre helped them early on in their career, discuss what Rockmelons and the late Paul Gray brought to their music in their capacity as producers, and reveal what life-changing event ultimately resulted in the demise of the band in 1999.

Listen to A Journey Through Aussie Pop on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and all major podcast platforms or at