cake or death
a paul durham side project

"a couple of years ago, three very close friends of mine came to me and said 'hey, herr rock star, why should you get to have all the fun. we want to be in a band too.' and I was like, 'whoa. do you really think you can handle the intense fun quotient we're talking about here?' and they were like, 'um, yeah, we think we can handle it.'

"none of these people had actually been in a band before. in fact, quite frankly, none of them played any musical instruments at all. Joshua had been carting this cheap Ibanez bass around for a decade but never learned to play. Kristin could sing, fo sho', but she'd never sung into a mic before. Olya grew up in Russia, without running water or rock and roll, and wanted to play drums. in case you don't know, playing drums is really, really hard.

"somehow it actually happened. and somehow I ended up as the lead guitar player. now, I have never played lead guitar before. I have always had guys who actually knew what they were doing for that. but I thought what every human being thinks when offered the possibility of playing lead guitar: 'cool. I'm gonna get to play solos.'"

at this point, the fairy godmother of sleaze-rock descends and grants these poor slobs their wish. the result is sweet. cavity-inducing sweet. cotton-candy-stuck-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth sweet. f-mac harmonies played against brute simple beats. boy & girl throwing shit at each other, taking turns on the salt-water taffy machine. it turns out to be the kind of music you heard at junior high dances, singing along over the buzz of lust and terror. check it.

click LISTEN to hear seven 90-second samples from the album. click BUY CD to order using credit card or paypal. click DOWNLOAD and you'll get an email after checkout offering you a choice of either hi-resolution 192k mp3 or iTunes-Plus-grade 256k aac. the download also features two bonus tracks and ready-to-print CD artwork pdf's with cropmarks.

CD track listing curios
01 whiplash free download : just right click & save
02 rise  
03 safety  
04 cake or death  
05 satisfied free download : just right click & save
06 bag of cookies  
07 again  
08 fandango  
09 sweet abuse  
10 let go  
11 silence  
12 what you got  
13 to the end  

Christmas Eve, 4:30 AM.

The Avalon Ballroom, New York City. Paul is passed out on a couch again. Olya is walking around the room, trying to find someone to help her get him vertical so she can get him to a cab. She tries to approach the people she SHOULD approach first. Joshua. He's the goddamn bass player after all, but Joshua's had enough of Paul, it isn't like this is the first time he's pulled this kind of thing, and anyway, he's having a conversation. can't you see he's having a conversation with someone very important? Joshua is talking very fast to a drag queen about Jesus or Buddha or some nonsense. Joshua thinks way too much, Olya thinks.

Olya is grabbed by a lanky blond in the crowd who recognizes her and wants her to meet her friends, I saw your last show you're so amazing, but Olya's in a hurry and she's not very good with faces. She thinks she's an actress or model or something, someone famous for sure, but Olya's from Russia and she could give a shit about American actresses anyway, they all look exactly the same. So Olya tromps off to find Kristin, who she can't locate for about half an hour, first because Kristin blends in so well in a big club like this, and second because to find Kristin you have to push your way through the inevitable circle of admirers who are trying to make conversation with her. Which is always very funny because Kristin couldn't keep a conversation going if her life depended on it, she has a celebrity's way of starting sentences and just letting them trail off. Somehow journalists always find this mysterious and interesting, which always annoys Olya who just finds it annoying. I'm in a band with rock stars who act like rock stars, Olya thinks. Why do they get all the attention?

Olya criss-crosses the dance floor looking for tell-tale crowds of men. She finally locates Kristin in the men's room, mystifyingly alone and applying cherry-red lipstick while singing an old Fleetwood Mac song to herself. Why does it always come down to Olya to make everything happen? Showing no sign of surprise at Olya's description of Paul's condition, Kristin follows Olya back upstairs, past the first security guard, down a hallway, past a bar, up another flight of stairs and past another security guard to the crowded "VIP" room. Paul's in exactly the same position, it's like he's been embalmed, Olya thinks. A little jewel of spittle shines from the edge of the couch next to his open mouth. Joshua is nowhere to be found.

They enlist a security guard, and the three of them manage to carry Paul out the back entrance and crumple his giant frame into the back of a taxi cab. Kristin and Olya manage to fit themselves in by sitting on top of his legs. Paul's face is pressed up against the window, and his breath slowly leaves a print of condensation. Outside it's snowing. Olya IM's Joshua, since he's nowhere in sight. The cab rolls away. Kristin's still singing to herself.

It was Joshua who insisted that the album be recorded on Christmas Day. Said the millions of people staying home from work that the day will affect the sound. Their energy. Paul said that was bullshit when Joshua first said it, but then Paul went missing for two days, was finally found penniless in Philadelphia, and meanwhile Joshua booked the studio so here they all are. Joshua begins tuning his bass.

Paul's finally waking up, he's amazingly lucid for about three hours a day, and the brilliant thing is it's always just the three hours they need him. Kristin comes in with a bag of cookies and casually says David Bowie is recording in the next room. Everyone stops for a moment and thinks about that.

Olya finds her drum sticks. She's all ready to go. She's never been happier in her life.
photo, munny & fantasia c/o paul budnitz.

things people say
"I got my copy of Cake or Death a few days ago, and wanted to let you know that I think it’s amazing.  I’m not going to say it’s better than Black Lab, but it’s certainly just as good."
Ryan (email)

"Hey Paul... I got the CD’s!  I am listening to Cake or Death now... Love it! "
Brooke (email)

"Excellent! One of the things I loved about Ecstacy was the complement of Eve's voice to Paul, and Kristin brings even more of that to this song. I like the style... I think Let Go is my favorite so far, it's completely where I am emotionally right now, and it just sounds cool. I also like To the End, it's got a great beat. What You Got, Sweet Abuse, and Again are also pretty high on my list, and of course Whiplash is what I'll always think when I hear "Cake or Death". The whole album makes me think of the 80's, but in a good way. That little guy on the cover is cool, too."
Fluffy (forum)

"I can't get enough of Cake or Death. I really can't. Seriously, ten minutes after downloading Satisfied and Fandango I was buying the CD. I love every darned song! Let Go and Again are my favourites this week! I also love Satisfied (Paul's singing on that song blows my mind), Safety is also a top song. Man, I've been playing these songs so much I even hear them in the middle of the night when I'm half asleep! Haunting, very haunting. In the best possible way."
Nefetari (forum)

"After only hearing the two free downloads (Fandango and Satisfied) and the mp3 of the month release (Whiplash) I've got to say I'm hooked. The vocals are stunning, the partnership of Pauls vocals and the haunting female vocals are incredible. Just need to get my hands on the album...."
Stoka (forum)

Cake Or Death RAWKS!! love the new disc!
Behind Blue Eyes (myspace)

"I got home at around 7:30 this past Saturday night, checked my mail and found that the Cake or Death cd had been delivered. At 8:30, I jumped in the car on my way to the Redshirt show in Milwaukee. I put the Cake or Death cd in my player. "Whiplash" started and I immediately started to dig it. Paul Durham and Kristen Kelly exchange verses during it. ''Rise" was up next and it’s very catchy. By the second time the chorus hit, I was hooked and started to sing along. It was followed by another catchy song "Safety". Kristen's vocals sound like Cindy Alexander, a singer-songwriter, here. "Cake or Death", "Satisfied", "Bag of Cookies" then played, followed by "Again.", a beautiful tune about someone's lover. The dance influenced "Fandango" came next, followed by "Sweet Abuse", which in my opinion is about two people fulfilling their needs with each other. "Let Go", "Silence", "What You Got" and "To the End" round out the disc. A lot of these songs I could see on mainstream radio today and that is why I have to reward Cake or Death with 4 out of 5 Woodchucks. Paul Durham delivers again with emotional laced lyrics."
Woody (myspace)

"Love it. Enjoy the tracks: Whiplash, Cake Or Death and Safety most at the moment. A++++++ would purchase stuff from the store again... and again... and again. Now if only there was something else to be bought from there... make more music Paul!"