eGigs talks to Kerbdog ahead of their first UK tour date

with Cormac Battle and Billy Dalton on Wednesday 19 November 2014

eGigs talks to the reformed Kerbdog’s Cormac Battle and Billy Dalton ahead of their first UK tour show at Manchester Ritz.

So this is the first UK date of the tour, they are selling well; Glasgow is sold out, Nottingham not far behind…did you expect the demand?

Cormac: Yeah they are, this venue's really big, it’s been sold as a festival gig, the doors are at 4 o’clock. Last night we played in Dublin, it was sold out; well it would be wouldn’t it, 'cos that’s our home territory. We didn’t know really about demand over here, it’s been surprising and it’s been helpful. We spent a long fucking time in the nineties playing to 22 men and fucking dog, over and over and over and over and over again. After that we get dropped and all go off and get involved in our own lives and forget about Kerbdog, then we get back together in 2005. I sent a text to the lads; I was sat outside a pub in Dublin pissed, and I say “let’s play a gig for the laugh”. Could be 100 people there, a few of our friends, whatever. We announced the gig in Dublin, we ended up playing in this 800 capacity place, 2 nights in a row, we couldn’t even fucking play the cloakroom in there, when we were going properly, and then we did the same in the cities of Cork, and Galway and Belfast . We just realized, in the intervening years, we had gathered all these fans that weren’t around when we were doing it, so we had this posthumous sort of success, in some ways. It’s not mega success; we don’t play fucking stadiums or any of that madness. This is a big, what is it, 1500 capacity? There will not be 1500 people here tonight… however for a lot of the gigs they are 4 or 500, that’s a bit more appropriate should I say.

Billy: It had sold 50%, that was a few days ago.

Cormac: This is kinda like… it’s fun, we don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks, we don’t care if any radio pluggers are out there; this is not what we do for a living anymore, it’s also kind of a vindication, and I don’t wanna sound arrogant, but some kind of slight victory, saying “Fuck you guys, we were right!” ‘On The Turn’, our second record, was a good album, that was missed at the time, but ya know, let’s do it now, it’s never too late. Better late than never, should I say!

Billy, you’re back with the band!

Billy: Yep

What were your reasons for reforming?

Cormac: We kind of got together and said we were going to do it.

Billy: We did a charity gig in Kilkenny, the boys rang me. At this point I hadn’t played a guitar in fucking years, really, a long, long time. I was too busy busting me fingers and breaking ribs on motorways and stuff like that. Anyway Darragh rang up and said the boys want you to do the Susie Long charity gig, and I said fine. Two weeks went by, and they said you’ll have to get practicing, I practiced most of the songs, and we just played the ones I had got back good at. That was good, I really enjoyed it, forgive the fucking term but I got a horn for the whole thing again. But then again I just went back to what I was doing. Eventually it was, only going to be a sporadic thing, Darragh and meself was like let’s get a band together. It suited me at the time to play bass, as he already had someone in mind to play guitar, and a singer played guitarist. I arrived; we started a band called Souls, played around and stuff like that. Did a gig or 2 with Therapy? Did a few demos… did it for the crac really. Next thing Souls got a few supports with Kerbdog so I got on stage and played 3 or 4 songs…

Was that the Bristol show?

Billy: Yeah. Bristol.

We were there…

Cormac: In the Thekla was it; the ship? Yeah.

Billy: Bristol was the first one, then London, then Dublin. Nice to get back into that.

The live album ‘Congregation’, that came about from those shows…

Cormac: Yeah. It was kinda done by stealth actually, our drummer Darragh, who is a curious man, he brought this guy with all his Protools gear. We played in Bristol, the one you were at at the Thekla, and plugged all his ProTools in. I said to Darragh “Who’s your man?” and he said “Oh that’s Dave, he’s just recording the show, don’t worry about him.” So I said “Fine, right, grand”. We played the gig, then we did Dublin and London, the Garage in London, and this guy was turning up all the time, and I’m like “What th…” “Ah don’t worry...” Then Darragh says “Lads we’re gonna put out a live album”. “Oh right, are we?” “Yeah we’ve got it all recorded, it’s all done!” “Seriously? Ok fair enough!” So we did! We decided why not put out something. We listened back to these tapes, I thought they would sound shit, and they didn’t sound shit, much to my surprise. Darragh was driving this, and he said why not put out a live album, do a tour, put a new song on it and see what happens? And has brought us to this point… The guy Dave, the guy who produced it, Dave Draper, he spent a month, remixing it and fixing it, doing all sorts of twiddley bits with it to make it sound really fucking amazing. Most live albums, certainly bootlegs, sound terrible, but this really does sound… I don’t like listening to our own music but when I put that on; that was the way it was meant to sound in the first place.

Billy: Very good quality.

Cormac: It’s fucking quality, and it sounds like we put a lot of work into it. Dave put a months’ worth of work into doing it, and I think the results show. Most live albums sound very shit, but this doesn’t, I really do think it sounds, in many ways, better than the other albums themselves.

What made you choose Pledge to start an album campaign? Was it recommended? How has that worked for you?

Cormac: I dunno, that was all Darragh as well. He was in contact with a lot of labels saying Kerbdog and there was a lot of love out there for us because a lot of people who work in record labels nowadays are fan boys who were into us when they were younger. So these Pledge people got in contact with us and said this is the way the model works these days. It’s like Kickstarter, for any kind of embryonic business plan. So we got involved in that, and it was a brand new experience for us, especially me, I didn’t know what was going on half the time, what it was all about really!

Billy: It seems to be one big bustling… they helped us arrange fucking tours, gigs, get someone to do an acoustic cover and vice versa for the tour like we did with Nine Black Alps. With the help of them to arrange that makes everything fairly simple.

Cormac: But it’s a totally different model, because the whole, get a record deal, go out on tour to sell records; you played live gigs to sell records, now you put out records pretty much for nothing so people would come out to see you live, the whole thing has gone upside down and exploded. So this is all part of the new way of doing things… like Smashing Pumpkins I see are doing something with Pledge now as well, I’m like “What?” It just seems the way things are going now. At first I thought it was kind of exploitative, like you might be taking advantage of fans of the band, but I thought the bands I am a big fan of, say Fugazi for instance, if they were doing the same thing that is something I would like to buy into and get something special from it. I actually think it is a very good idea for bands who need to raise capital to do things, because the people who are willing to invest get stuff that is special, that is unique.

It shows you if you have a point to doing it too, how the fans react to it…

Cormac: Exactly yeah, you’re watching this percentage thing creep up, and you hoping “Fuckin ‘ell!” Then you refresh the next day and it’s like “Fuuuck! Come on!” It’s slightly nerve racking at the same time.

How are the fans reacting to new track ‘Electricity’? It’s a faster reworking of unreleased track ‘Soaking Wet’… when was that first recorded?

Cormac: We only played it first for the first time last night…

Billy: First time to a live audience.

Cormac: The fans seem to like it… most bands that come back with a new track after a number of years, it’s usually fucking shit, let’s be honest! I was afraid that this would be shit; I’m not 100% sure if it’s not or if it is shit! It could be shit, I dunno! I don’t think its shit; you don’t think its shit do you Billy?

Billy: I kinda had to stand back because we hadn’t played it live and I just had to watch the audience and they really got into it.

Cormac: I said last night in Dublin “We’re going to play a new song” and I expected the whole audience to turn around and go to the bar. They didn’t, so, hey, that’s a good sign. I think it’s been received very well. Or I could be deluding myself… it is possible…

Is there a new album planned for 2015?

Cormac: There’s talk of doing something towards the end of next year, yeah. after ‘Electricity’ we just thought yeah, there is stuff in the tank.

Billy: There’s riffs…

Cormac: We’re writing and stuff like that…Our lives are very busy, so maybe in the autumn next year we can convene and make a… a double album. Yeah fuck it! A double album… 20 fucking tracks and a concept third disc of the final version!

Billy: A DVD and all the rest…

Sonisphere was a great show too…

Cormac: You were at that were ya?

Oh yeah, with Therapy? also in the Bohemia tent that day, Ireland were well represented! How was that show for you?

Billy: That was wonderful, it was fucking incredible. It was so warm outside…

Cormac: It was very hot, and everyone was dressed in black, and I thought we may be bottled off the stage, ‘cos I looked like a geography teacher on stage! I thought we’d be bottled off! We weren’t though, which was nice! I don’t remember anyone throwing any piss at me or anything…

Did you see all the dancing Scooby Doos in the moshpit as well? I don’t know how they were coping in those suits with that heat…

Billy: Yeah!

Cormac: Yeah! Some people are really into the band, ya know!

Would you play there again?

Billy: Sonisphere Oh yeah. You wouldn’t need to ask us twice…

Cormac: Oh yeah! We would play anywhere! We would play in your back garden if you had one.

You may regret that! We’ve had a gig in the back garden and one in the living room…

Cormac: Well we’ll do it for a box of fucking San Miguels and some, er, cocktail sausages! You’d have to put us up as well though.

Any festival plans for Summer 2015? Any festivals that you would like to play?

Cormac: Oh god, I dunno…

Billy: At the moment no…

Cormac: Not at the moment no. Headline Reading I imagine? Headline Reading and we’re just waiting for Michael Eavis to give us the call…

Billy: In our own minds Download would be cool, Reading obviously would be cool…

Cormac: Reading and Glastonbury. I would say we would be playing second from the top on the Pyramid stage on the Saturday night at Glastonbury.

How about a Kerbfest?! Well this is a little like a Kerbfest today…

Cormac: Well it is today! And tomorrow…

Billy: Today and tomorrow is, especially with the Nine Black Alps and Jamie Lenman connection with the whole covers thing. It’s funny that the Jamie Lenman song hasn’t been released to the Pledgers yet, ‘cos it’s nine Black Alps tonight and Jamie Lenman tomorrow, so it’s cutting it fucking fine…

You only gave yourselves 4/10 for that cover (of Nine Black Alps ‘Come Back Around)…

Cormac: It’s fucking shit isn’t it.

It was alright!

Cormac: You thought it was alright did ya?

Billy: It’s a cracking song…

Cormac: …And we fucking murdered the bastard!

The Pledge album that came out in 2010 ‘Pledge: A Tribute To Kerbdog’, how did that feel? I interviewed Frank turner recently and he loves you guys.

Cormac: I thought it was weird. We were only used to seeing cover albums or tribute albums to Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen or stuff like that. Who the fuck would want to do a Pledge tribute album to us?? Ya know? Frank Turners on there…

He loves you he does, I’ve asked him in an interview.

Cormac: Oh he’s coming tomorrow,and we’re going to try and get him up to sing a song tomorrow night.

Billy: That was out of the blue.

Cormac: Yeah, we we’re like really?? But hey, it was a mega compliment! And a lot of the songs are much better than the originals…

This tour has only just begun, but are you going to see how it goes and maybe plan another one?

Cormac: Yeah exactly. We’ll see how it goes really.Our lives are very busy, we’ve got kids, and we’ve got all that shit, jobs, all the normal thing going on as well. And drinking habits, and various kind of psychological problems… which we have to address as well.

From the drinking?

Cormac: Well the drinking kind of…

Billy: Helps.

Cormac: …helps the psychological problems, but brings them on as well, it’s a double edged sword isn’t it! Anyway, you’re not alive unless you have some kind of mental health issue, so there you go.

Personally which is your favourite of your two studio albums? I like the first one…

Cormac: Do ya? A lot of people say that, mine is ‘On The Turn’ by a fucking million miles. I think the first one sounds like a band trying to find their feet in some ways, I wish that album had never come out and that ‘On the Turn’ was our first album, because I think it would have been a much bigger statement.

I discovered ‘On the Turn’ first and went backwards…

Billy: I think most people did, it was 1994 when Kerbdog [Self-titled album] came out, then someone started up the website and started contributing to it, so most people I’ve met say for them it is ‘On The Turn’.

Cormac: It seems to be the album that people are interested in.

Billy: They are quite different.

Cormac: Totally different.

Billy: ‘Cos I left after we recorded it I didn’t tour it, I toured it a little but then I was gone. The first one for me, cos I toured it and played it 200 fucking times…

Cormac: I think ‘On The Turn’ is for me what we are as a band really. The first one was us finding our direction. ‘On The Turn’ was our direction.

I saw you put on twitter that you have been practicing ‘Dummy Crusher’…

Cormac: Yeah, we’re playing that later.

We’ve never seen that live…

Cormac: We never did it live. Never did it live, until now.

Billy: Ask him why!

I daren’t! Dare I ask him?! Why didn’t you? Is it like your ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, you get fed up of playing it?

Cormac: No no,the problem is I can’t play it on guitar and sing, I can’t do all this [air guitar solo] it’s too hard. Then decided, fuck it, I won’t bother playing the guitar and Billy can play it with the boys, and I’ll go without.

Billy: It’s a busy one…

Cormac: So I could never do that, I’m not an accomplished player. So that’s it, but now I don’t have to do it, I just stand there looking anguished and dismayed!

How do you set your guitar up anyway?

Cormac: It’s just a right handed guitar turned upside down.

You restring it?

Cormac: I play a right handed guitar, that’s it! Upside down. It’s just upside down.

Billy: We started playing together. I think I had a guitar first I would be playing Silent Night and the shit you start off with, and the he says “Well gi me a go!” and I pass it directly to him [facing him] and he plays it like that, and the strings are that way up…

Cormac: Yeah, ‘cos I had no choice in the matter!

You’re left handed?

Cormac: I am left handed, yeah, but I play a right handed guitar.

Why not!

Cormac: Why not! Fuck them, everyone else is wrong! They’ve all got it wrong except me!

Well that’s all I’ve got. Thanks!

Cormac: Alrightyeah? Fucking top! Well listen, I hope you enjoy tonight anyway. ‘Dummy Crusher’ is for you tonight!

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article by: Danielle Millea

published: 19/11/2014 16:34


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