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Slice of Cheesecake, anyone?

Cheesecake's debut album is a tribute to relaxation. Cheesecake

Like many a rock'n roll band before them, the Swiss pop/rock outfit Cheesecake has arrived at a crossroads.

Earlier this year, the Fribourg-based trio released their first album and they are being booked to play bigger and bigger gigs.

Cheesecake signed a distribution agreement with Disques Office which will see their CD sold in record stores across Switzerland, and they are currently looking for an agent/manager to promote the band.

For brothers Alan and David Munt, and drummer Jeff Nottage, who works at swissinfo, the moment of truth is at hand. On their website they describe themselves as “Switzerland’s most unknown pop-rock band” and they know the coming months will dictate whether they will shake off that tag.

“Generally speaking, in Switzerland it’s quite difficult for a local band to make it,” says Alan. “People do not seem to have the curiosity to go and listen to any type of band. But things seem to be changing a little bit for us, but it’s difficult to say how it’s going to turn out.”

Jamming together

Cheesecake’s early roots were formed back in 1997 when Jeff and Alan, who was already a member of the Romont band, the Daffodils, met at a party. The pair started jamming together with Alan on bass and Jeff behind on his drum kit.

But it wasn’t until the following year that all the components for the band were in place, when David brought his guitar and vocals to the party. However the group’s early outings soon revealed that success would not be won without blood, sweat and tears.

After a handful of rehearsals, Cheesecake took the stage at a student party at the University of Lausanne in December 1997 and unsurprisingly “bombed”.

“It was dreadful,” remembers Alan. “The sound really wasn’t any good since the engineer had disappeared and we were not ready to play. There were only about 10 to 20 people in the audience, but at least it was a start.”

Nuclear sessions

The gig was probably the wake-up call the band needed, and Jeff, Alan and David retreated to the nuclear shelter at Jeff’s parent’s home where they rehearsed and put together a four-track demo CD in March the following year. This was followed by a series of gigs in and around the Fribourg area, and their first tour – to Belgium – where they managed to hit the right notes in front of 600 people.

By the time Cheesecake reached the millennium, the band had notched more than 20 gigs and realised they had enough material to put together an album which finally saw the light of day in July this year, at a cost of SFr6,000.

“Looking forward to retirement” might seem an odd title for a band starting out on a rock’n roll odyssey, but it comes as no surprise for a bunch of guys with a penchant for dressing up in furry jackets and swimming goggles — as noted on the album sleeve.

The album draws on influences from ’60s and ’70s artists, from Van Morrison, Velvet Underground and Neil Young, to the contemporary sounds of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Placebo and Nada Surf. It also draws on the darker sounds of PJ Harvey and Idlewild.

Putting it all together

These influences are clearly audible on the album, which ranges from the upbeat “Waking Up” and “Love in the Woods” to the darker “During the Night” and the aptly-named “The Dark Side of the Cheesecake”.

With the album behind them, the future beckons. It could see the band members putting their current careers on the line. All three hold steady jobs – David at a medical supply company in Fribourg, Alan in a Geneva bank, and Jeff as a journalist in Bern. Juggling work with musical aspirations is a struggle.

“It’s not easy because we’ve all got different plans with work but we try to find some dates at the weekend or in the evening during the week,” says David.

“We are probably more on the amateur side right now,” explains Alan, “but maybe as time goes on we will have to discuss again if we have the possibility to go forward because it’s one of our dreams, of course. A lot of bands dream of being famous and we are just the same. “

by Adam Beaumont

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR