Not Drowning, Waving

Not Drowning, Waving
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Rock, ambient, world
Years active 1983 (1983)–1994 (1994), 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005 (2005)–2006 (2006)
Labels Rampant, East West, WEA, Mighty Boy, Reprise, Liberation, Rogue's Gallery, White, Mushroom
Associated acts Easter, My Friend The Chocolate Cake
Past members
see Members section below

Not Drowning, Waving (styled as not drowning, waving) were a musical group formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 by David Bridie and John Phillips. Their music combined elements of rock, ambient music and world music; their lyrics dealt with characteristically Australian topics: word-pictures of landscapes and people, the seasons, and some political issues – such as Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. The group released nine albums and soundtracks until disbanding in 1994, they briefly reformed in 2001, 2003 and 2005–2006. From 2005 to 2007, they issued two compilation albums and a live album. Not Drowning, Waving won the 'Best Independent Release' at the ARIA Music Awards of 1992 for Proof, their soundtrack for the 1991 film of the same name. In 1991, Bridie and fellow members of Not Drowning, Waving, formed a side-project, My Friend The Chocolate Cake to play more acoustic-based material.



Not Drowning, Waving were a musical group formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 – though they first performed as a group in 1984 – by David Bridie and John Phillips.[1] Bridie and Phillips are trained in classical music and met when Bridie, on keyboards, was composing a track, "Moving Around" and asked Phillips to provide guitar.[2] Their name is derived from Stevie Smith's poem Not Waving but Drowning.[2] Rowan McKinnon soon joined on bass guitar and they recorded "Moving Around" with a drum machine.[2] Other atmospheric instrumentals were recorded at the LaTrobe University's music department's studio.[2] "Moving Around" was released as their debut single in April 1984 on the Rampant Records label.[1][3]

While recording tracks for the debut album, Another Pond, Bridie and Phillips joined McKinnon (also on guitar) in the ambient pop band, Easter, with Russel Bradley on drums and percussion, and Tim Cole on vocals.[2] Cole became sound engineer and recording producer for Not Drowning, Waving and Bradley and McKinnon soon joined that group too.[1] Another Pond was issued in January 1985. Easter expanded with the addition of James Southall on congas and Greg Simmons on guitar and released a single, "Cheesecloth" in August. In September, Not Drowning, Waving issued a dance single, "Mr Pooh, (Do Be a Don't Be)".[1]

Bridie and Phillips now concentrated on Not Drowning, Waving's second album, The Little Desert with Bradley, Cole, McKinnon and Southall (also on percussion) joined by Amanda Brotchie on vocals, Tanya Plack on flute and Phillip Wale on cello. The album appeared in January 1986.[1] Bridie and Phillips also worked on the soundtrack for Canoe Man, a documentary about canoe makers from Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.[1] Their work resulted in a six-track extended play (EP), The Sing Sing, which was released in June.[1][3] Other members of Not Drowning, Waving have included Penny Hewson and Andrew Carswell.

In June 1987, the band issued their third album, Cold and the Crackle which was followed in December with an EP, I Did, recorded with Robby Douglas Turner on vocals.[1][3] By 1989, Not Drowning, Waving left Rampant Records and signed with Mighty Boy to issue their fourth album, Claim in May.[1][3] The album was voted 'Best Australian Album' on the Australian Rolling Stone Critics Poll in 1989.[1] Later that year, the group visited Papua New Guinea playing several concerts and meeting George Telek (Moab Stringband, Painim Wok) with whom they later recorded two tracks for their next album, Tabaran (March 1991). Tabaran was credited to Not Drowning, Waving and the Musicians of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea Featuring Telek.[1] The album was nominated for 'Best Indigenous Release' at the ARIA Music Awards of 1992.[4]

Meanwhile, Helen Mountfort had joined on cello in 1990, and the group covered The Reels track "Kitchen Man" for a various artists' album, Used and Recovered By (1990).[1][3] In 1991, Bradley, Bridie and Mountfort formed a side project, My Friend The Chocolate Cake, as an acoustic music group after Bridie took a holiday in New Zealand and wrote a collection of songs that did not fit into the Not Drowning, Waving style.[1][2]

Not Drowning, Waving recorded the soundtrack for 1991 film Proof which was issued in April 1992. It won the 'Best Independent Release' and was nominated for 'Best Original Soundtrack / Cast / Show Album' at the ARIA Music Awards of 1992.[4] They also worked on the soundtrack for Richard Lowenstein's 1993 film Say a Little Prayer.[1] By October 1992, Cole had left and the sixth studio album Circus was recorded at the Rockfield Studios in Wales.[1][2] It was produced by Hugh Jones (Simple Minds, Echo & the Bunnymen) for the White Label Records imprint on Mushroom Records.[3]

They were the support act for Peter Gabriel on his first tour of Australia in 1994.[5] Early in the year, Bridie and Phillips compiled a selection of their soundtrack work as Projects 1983–93 which was issued in April. Late in the year, Bridie and Montfort recorded the soundtrack for the film Hammers Over the Anvil, they used Jen Anderson on violin (ex-The Black Sorrows) and the horn section from Hunters & Collectors. It was issued as Hammers under the name Not Drowning, Waving.[1] The group disbanded in 1994, while Bridie and Mountfort continued with their offshoot venture, My Friend The Chocolate Cake.[1][2]

In November 2001, a short reunion of Not Drowning, Waving – consisting of Bradley, Bridie, Mountfort, Phillips and Southall in the line-up – occurred at the Corner Hotel in Richmond for the book launch of Blunt: A Biased History of Australian Rock. In February 2003, they reunited again for The Morning Star Concert for West Papua at the Melbourne Concert Hall. Another reunion, for several months, started in March 2005 when the band, together with Telek, performed twice at the 2005 WOMADelaide festival. Several other performances followed – at the 10th Fest'Napuan in Port Vila, Vanuatu; the Corner Hotel; and the Northcote Social Club, Northcote.[6] The band's final show with the full lineup took place at Festival Melbourne2006 in the Alexandra Gardens, a free concert for Melbourne's Commonwealth Games celebrations on 25 March 2006. During this time they issued two compilation albums, Through the One Last Door – Best Of (2005) and Maps for Sonic Adventures (2006).[3] A live album of performances from 1986 to 2005 was released as Live (At the Butchers' Picnic) in 2007.


Band members have included:[1][3]

  • Russel Bradley – drums, percussion (1987–1993, 1996)
  • David Bridie – piano, keyboards, vocals (1983–1993, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005–2006)
  • Amanda Brotchie – vocals (1985–1986)
  • Andrew Carswell – mandolin
  • Tim Cole – vocals (1984–1992, 1996)
  • Phillip Flinker – (1984–1987)
  • Darren Geraghty – (1984–1987)
  • Penny Hewson – acoustic guitar
  • Rowan McKinnon – bass guitar, guitar (1984–1993, 1996)
  • Helen Mountfort – cello, vocals (1989–1993, 1996)
  • John Phillips – guitar, samples, sounds (1983–1993, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2005–2006)
  • Tanya Plack – flute (1985–1986)
  • Jaqui Rutten – vocals (1984–1987)
  • Tanya Smith – keyboards (1984–1987)
  • James Southall – percussion (1987–1993, 1996)
  • Phillip Wale – cello (1985–1986)



  • Another Pond (1984; re-released in 1986, 1991 and 2007)
  • The Little Desert (1985; re-released in 1991 and 2007)
  • Cold and the Crackle (1987; re-released in 1991 and 2006)
  • Claim (1989)
  • Tabaran (1990; re-released in 2005)
  • Proof (1991 soundtrack to Proof)
  • Follow the Geography (1993 compilation; though both with the same name, the tracks on the US release differ from those on the Australian release)
  • Circus (1993)
  • Hammers (1994 soundtrack to Hammers Over The Anvil)
  • Through the One Last Door (2005 reunion/compilation album)
  • Maps For Sonic Adventurers (2006 remix/compilation album)
  • Live (At the Butchers' Picnic) (2007 30-track compilation of previously unreleased live recordings 1986–2005 — limited to 50 copies)

Extended plays

  • Moving Around (1984)
  • Hunting for Nuggets (1984)
  • Mr. Pooh (Do Be a Don't Be) (1985)
  • The Sing Sing (1986)
  • I Did (1987 with Robby Douglas Turner)
  • Spark (1993)
  • Penmon (1993)


  • "Willow Tree" (1990)
  • "Fishing Trawler" (1990)
  • "Kiap Song" (1991)
  • "Pila Pila" (promo) (1991)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r McFarlane, 'not drowning, waving' entry. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Nimmervoll, Ed. "Not Drowning Waving". Howlspace. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Holmgren, Magnus; Bridie, David. "Not Drowning, Waving". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "History: Winners by Year: 1992: 6th Annual ARIA Awards". ARIA Music Awards. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Pascoe, Ken (29 May 2011). "My Friend the Chocolate Cake – 21 Years and Counting". Infidim. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Kalja Riddim Klan Recording New Album Long Taem Bifo". Vanuatu Cultural Centre: Contemporary Arts/Music. Government of Vanuatu. 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 

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