Good Cake, Bad Cake: The downfall of the Dublin band once hailed as the next U2
Good Cake, Bad Cake: The Story of Lir is a complex documentary telling of the story the Dublin band whose demise led to a decade of court action and one greatly delayed documentary
Good Cake, Bad Cake director Shimmy Marcus
Som ew here, surely, there exists a support group for the many, many Irish acts, who, in the post-U2 glow of the late 1980s, were snapped up by major labels only to get unceremoniously dumped one ill-starred album later. Of these, Lir, the much touted and greatly adored Dublin band of the 1990s, can point to any number of cruel twists of fate: cruel, certainly, but perhaps not so unusual.
Attendant Lir mythology sounds a familiar tune. Early gigs were frequented by A&R men but it was not to be. The initial press response to the North American tour was positive but it was not to be. The Chrysalis imprint came a’calling but it was not to be.
Were they victims of a conspiracy, of crooked management, of the liquid and smoking blandishments of rock?
The truth, as recounted in Good Cake, Bad Cake: The Story of Lir – a fascinating new documentary from Shimmy Marcus – is far more complex and convoluted than any of these potential pitfalls.
“There’s so much about their career that could be any artist’s career,” says the director. “There’s a constant sense of battling against the tide. Maybe the next song will be the one that hits; maybe the next album. The truth is – and you have to understand this going in at the start – that no matter how good you are or how many things you have going in your favour, the chances are you'll never make it.”
Marcus, a film-maker whose keen eye for rock margins gifted audiences Aidan Walsh: Master of the Universe in 2000, has long had connections with the music industry. The sometime director of pop promos for Fun Lovin' Criminals and Snow Patrol was lighting stages at live gigs just as Lir peaked in the early nineties.
“It was Lir. It was Engine Alley. It was so many bands I used to work with back in the day,” says the film-maker. “They’d get a sniff of success and it wouldn’t happen. And for a lot off those bands it was very easy to point the finger elsewhere but harder to turn the mirror on themselves.”
Unhappily for all concerned, finger pointing, in this instance, translated into more than a decade of court action and one greatly delayed documentary. Two years ago, the Good Cake, Bad Cake premiere was pulled from the Dublin International Film Festival due to the protracted legal action between the band and their former management.
"I think it was the first or second film to sell out at the film festival," recalls Marcus. “We had expected the court case would be settled by then but it dragged on and our lawyers advised us to pull the film. So we went from this high of selling 500 seats and a sense of momentum building. It was another left turn that was tough on the band.”
Good Cake Bad Cake ’s trawl through 25 years of archive footage, sounds and relevant testimonies turns up many such left turns. Founded in Donaghmede in the late 1980s Lir’s first line up – Ronan Byrne, David Hopkins, Craig Hutchinson and Rob Malone – were soon trumpeted as a “next U2”.