Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I had arranged to meet Daragh before the start of the world cup qualifier between Ireland and Germany. Once we got talking the conversation flowed and I missed the match which in fairness was just as well as the Germans thrashed us six goals to one on the night.

Tom; So, thanks Darragh for coming along, can I just ask you about your album “On the Turn” it has just been re-released.  So, how does it feel second time around?

Darragh; Yeah, it feels like a complete surprise because I only found out a couple of weeks ago. I own a record store as well and it was only from a guy that Willie at the record store deals with that told us this and he said you must be delighted about the album coming out and I was there saying, what are you talking about?  The live album, you mean?   Because we have recorded a live album and he was there no, the two albums and I said like this is the first I have heard of it and I said you know your bullshitting. I don’t think that’s possible and we had tried to buy the album, both albums from Mercury and we had just spent  about a half a million on it, so we were kind of at the time up to our neck in it as a band.
Tom; That must have been difficult?
Darragh; There were two labels that wanted to sign us at the time and came to see us supporting Placebo who, the first night, we blew away and the second night they wouldn’t give us the PA in Belfast  but anyway they came to see us but they couldn’t afford the album. They wanted the album and had Mercury sold that album we would have kept functioning as a band and moved straight to the States, everything was pretty much in place to do that, so I would be curious to see how much it was sold for now. 
Tom; Would you hazard a guess?
Darragh; I think it was about a hundred grand sterling put on the table for the album but I presume the record label, maybe wrote it off and perhaps there is a fifteen year thing or twenty year thing or something that it’s available now again. I don’t know, but Battle rang the guy the other day and no he emailed the guy and he said no this is way too complicated for an email, give me a call and I will go through the whole thing with you. He didn’t get to call yet because he is as busy as I am and has had a new baby and he is on the radio, so we don’t have a clue of the background to it just talking to Willie in the record store. They seem to be a decent enough label like the work they do on back catalogue stuff it’s not like just kind of cashing in label, they do still push it so I don’t know, it’s a bit of a weird one.
Tom; Yeah, because it was a very influential album at the time.
Darragh; It was yeah, there was a big build up to it and even touring wise we would have sold out maybe five, six hundred seat capacity in every town in England on the last tour before everything and everyone cracked up.  It didn’t get any kind of promotion from ourselves or the label it literally just was put on the shelf to fulfil the contract and the plug was pulled and we spent so much time. We spent two years writing the album and between partying in a house in Wexford that we rented and going to LA and everything else then we came back and it was the wrong time of year and we had to wait another six months so it took about two years by the time it got to be released. All the people that had been with us five years previous, working on the album “Kerbdog” had kind of moved on or been fired or just basically the background of people in the label for us wasn’t there anymore.
Tom; So the album suffered as a result?
Darragh; It was a bit of a casualty and accountants just looked at the bottom line and that was it you know so it was a bit of a weird one. It was a bit disappointing to say the least but I think a lot of it is like Thin Lizzy, that we were just talking about if people still want more and it can’t be got you do get a real hardcore fan base which is why I think we can still come out of the blue and we can go to London and sell out “The Garage” and do whatever we do, I mean you wouldn’t do it every night of the week but we can still do it, which is great.  And it’s a good kind of indication as well of the hard work you know but there is definitely that album was just cut short from a tour that had eighteen months of touring left in it or two years of us to tour it which never happened and then it was just pulled and that was that you know.  One of those things!
Tom; Yeah, definitely.  So Daragh, I want to go back to the beginning and how did you get started in drumming?  Where did it all begin?
Darragh; It began one day when I was listening to Back in Black my brother’s AC/ DC album and this is the absolute truth, I was listening to Hells Bells and it just sounded like a ride cymbal coming in. I was obsessed with music anyway, the likes of Talking Heads and stuff and the rhythm in Talking Heads and what I thought at the time was drums but it was a full separate percussionist at the side.  So I was obsessed with bands like that, I mean The Ants and Talking Heads would have gotten me into drums and got a rhythm first but then  The Police as well. The Police, I think got the whole world nearly into drums.  But how it started, how it actually physically started was I was listening to Hells Bells and I was listening to the ride cymbal coming in and I was thinking I could actually do that and it sounds massive and it’s probably a lesson that I should have learned then that as in less is more and that it took me about ten years until I met Garret Richardson to have that drilled into my head that less is more and it really is when it comes to drums.  But anyway so I was listening to Hells Bells and I went outside of my house in Sycamores where Cormac and myself would have grown up and I found a purse with sixty euro or sixty pounds in it and Billy the guitarist, his brother was selling a drum kit for sixty pounds so I just asked my neighbour did anyone own the purse and I stopped there. I didn’t bother with the local shop or the priest or whatever and I just went up to Billy’s brother and went, there you go so I just had a new drum kit in the space of about an hour.
Tom; Wow, that was fate.
Darragh; Ah, it was just a weird thing I probably shouldn’t have bothered with the fucken thing!
Tom; I’m glad you did. So ok, that’s how you got started. What was your first band?
Darragh; I played a gig about three weeks later in April I think the fourteenth, I think it was in Henderson’s Bar in Kilkenny which would have been a kind of an earlier version of the New Park Inn where Kerbdog  would have started and Therapy? and all the really good gigs that were here. The crowd that went to the Newpark used to go to Henderson’s till the owner got pissed off one day and kind of shut us down but the first gig would have been about three weeks later playing mostly Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy mostly Irish stuff actually because the lead guitarist was a very Celtic type chap, you know.
Tom; So what happened after that?
Darragh; I played with a few dodgy school bands for a while and then got into a cover band with Battle and  Fennelly and another guy Declan Meehan who would be Willies brother that I own the record shop with. It’s all very incestuous down here you know .  But the four of us would have done a lot of Sonic Youth, Basement 3,  Ride, really Indie shoe-gazing stuff but I would have been leathering the shit out of the drums because I came from a rock band and the kind of low production of the indie stuff, that never did it for me so we used to get kind of a little bit pissed  and I was trying to get off with chicks you know yourself. Then Battle and myself were getting into heavier music and then he rang me one night, we were going out to the rugby club and disco or club at the time and we used stack up on a few flagons of cider and get blind drunk and go out to this place and never even remember coming back, but that was our kind of weekly thing when you are seventeen, eighteen. We were going out one night and Battle called me up and he says you have to listen to this album and we have to just start fresh and make a new band that is based around this album and it was Fudgetunnel, which are full of these mad offbeat’s and I was blown away by it and of I went that’s where all those offbeat, base-rift stuff started from. That came from Fudgetunnel.  And then ironically we ended up recording the first album with Jack and Dino in Rockfield in Wales and Sepeltura were in the other studio and he was another. probably the best drummer out there but Sepeltura’s manager was a girl what was her name?, something Newport but anyway it was Alex Newports mother, Alex Newport was the singer in Fudgetunnel so Fudgetunnel were down at the studio a good bit when we were recording and I was completely star struck and kind of had the fears as well because they were going to suspect some of the off beats and because they were literally in and we were going on about yeah yeah about Fudgetunnel and next thing they arrived because we were telling Sepeltura about this band Fudgetunnel and it turns out Max was going out with his mother and it was just so anyway, they ended up in the studio and the drummer was like, nice offbeat man and I was like yeah I know it’s yours, so that was a really funny moment of starting to play drums and kind of first recordings and kind of not only meeting your absolute direct peer that you robbed stuff off but him sitting in the studio while you are listening back to it, so it was all very bizarre. 
Tom; Wow that’s excellent.
Darragh; It was great times you know.
Tom; So Darragh, who else would have been an influence around that time?
Darragh; Well, if I was to rewind back to when I started I would have had just the headphones on and a mixture of The Police and Iron Maiden, a lot of Rolling Stones on my headphones and Thin Lizzy as well so they would have been who I would have drawn early influences from but once I got into really heavy rock like that, probably my biggest influence as a drummer would have been John Stanier, from Helmet. He is just unbelievable, another band that we got the pleasure to tour with. We toured Europe with them and every single night like Battle was as obsessed with them as I was so the two of us used to stand behind him every night, looking at him, he was just phenomenal, he is like a robot you know, but really nice guys as well.
Tom; So, starting out what kit were you using?
Darragh; Drum kit?  I can’t remember what it was called, it was orange and it was so ganky that I took off all the lugs with a view to actually doing something with it, spraying it black or doing something with it because it was horrible. It was a bit jazzplug, showband and I was obviously a cool heavy metaller at the time and it didn’t wash with me at all, so when I took off the outer coating there was a silver at the other side of the orange and I said feck it I will just reverse it so then I had a pretty cool silver kit.  So that was class but then I got a set of paralett sports, that was my first kit so that was my first proper kit. Then I got a Tama Granstar which is a birch kit with loads of attack on it. That was the kit when we got signed and it’s the kit I still use because I love the deep shallows. Its only good live, its crap in the studio but I would have had a Yamaha kit a Yamaha maple custom I got during the Wilt days. It sounded so good and when we finished I kind of thought I would never drum again because I had enough of everything and I gave it away for a nominal fee to a chap who could have really done with it, put it that way and I kind of got it under an endorsement anyway just kind of like, you know, so I said I would keep the other kit out of sentimental value while the Yamaha kit sounded an awful lot better.
Tom; When recording what drum-kit did you use?
Darragh; I used the Tama kit to record the first album and then I’m endorsed by Zildjian so they do phenomenally good cymbals so thankfully I used them before I was endorsed by them. It was actually Fyfe from Therapy? that got me that endorsement.
Tom; That must have been brilliant?
 Darragh; Yeah, we were supporting them in Brixton academy and he said make sure you get down early and see Darragh, he is just one of those lads who will look out for you.  So the second album we had a vintage Gretch kit which was just gorgeous, yeah, we rented it out in Los Angeles. Just the sound of it was ridiculous and it was really after playing that kit that when I came back I had to get a maple kit you know because it was just and even the lads would notice. Though just they wouldn’t really care you know, but Jack and Dino, on the first album we were talking about kits and we said no it doesn’t matter as long as you hit any drum hard enough, it will sound good enough and that was his theory. It kind of works you know but it was still probably early days for me with recording. I probably should have spent more time on checking out different skins and tuning and all that kind of stuff. I was a little bit green going into do that album you know with the finer details we knew what we wanted to do musically but just there are a lot of the things we could have prepared for more including drums that would have maybe saved time.
Tom; Stick wise what were you using?
Darragh; Stick wise, I can’t remember at the start I had Zildjian sticks maybe 2b or 5bs, I can’t remember and I basically got my own stick made based on them but a bit longer and where it tapers off to the plastic bit at the top, a bit thicker so there is more swing in it. My drum tech JJ used to laugh at me or if like my drumsticks weren’t around he would go, “did anyone see Darragh's poles”, you know?  Because they were friggen massive, they were absolutely huge, but they were deadly. They were deadly fun like you know you would get some craic out of them.  But for me it was all about not being loud enough. I could not be fucken loud enough. I used go through three to four cymbals a week. 
Tom; Wow, that’s impressive.
 Darragh; I remember we were doing the Sally video or down in Camden Lough and we had been touring a good bit so I had stacks of cymbals coming and going the whole time because I kept breaking them all the time, smashing the place with cymbals and Battle, (we were set up doing this video) kind of went to jump back with his guitar so he fell over the high hat stand and the high hat stand hit a cobble stone on the ground which put an impression of like the incredible hulk had played so there was this perfect dent on the two cymbals so I sent them back and then Zildjian sent me out a diagram of how to hit a cymbal because that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had gone through so much stuff that they eventually just said ah fuck this, send this idiot a sheet of paper on how to hit a cymbal” because I was probably breaking more than anyone else at the time you know but I do love my cymbal. It was all like a twenty four inch crash ride it was such a part of our sound and I can’t get one now I can’t get it, it’s only twenty two and I have a twenty two and it’s just every time I play it I end up going back to the actual ride and playing that harder just to get the same buzz of it yeah.  And again it was seeing the likes of Fyfe and John Stanier and seeing the size of what they were using because sometimes you don’t really pick up sizes when you see a music video when you actually stand beside the kit and you see this twenty four inch and then like your sixteen or eighteen sounds like a little slash you know because these big cymbals just fill the room. 
Tom; Ok, very good; When you were recording songs or playing live, did you have 100% control over what you played?
 Darragh; Absolutely 100%, I would have wrote a lot of music with Cormac anyway. A lot of the nicer grooves would come from Battle’s rifts anyway because we would work out timing together and then Fennelly would add the bass after that, that’s the way songs were constructed, so it was always an intricate part of it, it was always kind of a drum driven kind of a thing, I think probably Battles favourite bands were the same, they were the likes of Therapy?, Helmet, Fudge Tunnel they were all driven by strong drummers with offbeat’s and all that kind of stuff..
Tom; When you were recording did you feel you had something special?
Darragh; The first album, like every single, Kerbdog was kind of ahead of its time. We probably recorded the first album too soon and we were probably signed too soon. The album especially the second album was ahead of its time when it was released.  I mean it would do really well now you know like fifteen years later and there is a lot of people like even including the likes of Biffy Clyro that would have cited us as an influence.  But no, I mean the first album bizarrely we went to record it and I would say we recorded it too early we went to record it with no lyrics so there is a lot of parts  where rolls come in and they shouldn’t and Cormac starts singing you know and there was a lot of times when he was writing the lyrics and we were actually recording and he was coming up with a melody that we would kind of come back and say oh no fuck we can’t put that there because that has got to go there and we are like oh right yeah.  Yeah, so there are a few little bits and you would probably notice if you listen back to the album where there just shouldn’t be a roll and there is but we went in with no vocals or melody or anything and it was just backing tracks, which is again why maybe we shouldn’t be signing so soon.
Tom; Ok,so you got signed very early?

Darragh; We got signed on six songs. Battle played a few rifts and kind of convinced that we would have another four or five songs but even at practise when it came out and he came to see a gig in Kilkenny and we prasticed so loud that he had to stand outside the house that we practised in and look in the window you know that’s how loud we were. We just couldn’t hit stuff hard enough.

Tom; Darragh, if you were putting together a time capsule and had to enclose three of your own favourite songs that  best represent your style of drumming, what would they be?

Darragh; “On the Turn”,” Severed” and” Inseminator” I think the demo version of “The Inseminator” is an awful lot better.

Tom; Anything else?

Darragh; Yeah, on the first album I like Cleaver, I like Cleaver yeah because that’s a song that I kind of, my approach to drums at the time was do the opposite to what you think you should do, so the beats are all back to front and everything.

Tom; When you are playing songs now, do you approach them differently? 

Darragh; Exactly the same way, because we hadn’t played in a long time after we split and Battle came up with a few little changes for different things and we were there like why the fuck are you doing that? And, he is like oh I just thought I would change it and we were there like why would you change it that’s random and like we won’t know what you’re doing and we just kind of agreed we wouldn’t and just kind of left it as it is mostly because we only get an hour or two, like we are practising for an hour and that’s for all the upcoming shows and like we try to. We practised last week and the usual thing is we go in and look how broken Fennelly's amp is for like a half of the hour and then try a few things and so then we would have two hours in total to practice so that’s why you don’t really get the time.

Tom; To change things around?

Darragh; Yeah, yeah I would have to say that mentally I would approach it differently and like I would approach it a lot more relaxed. I used to be very wound up when I was practicing before like you know there was a lot of pressure on us so you’re getting up on stage and your kind of stiff where now, I would just get on stage and fuck it, just go for it.

Tom; Do you still enjoy it?

Darragh; Enjoy it, yeah which I suppose is a thing that comes with age but when you’re a teenager, teenagers are wound up anyway and early twenty something’s are wound up and you think every gig is pivotal and you know that kind of stuff.  I don’t know we were all probably a little bit stressed and tight so like the best gig we ever did was probably the first and am the first kind of return gig I suppose for want of a better word and we went in and we just blew the place apart because we were doing it for the same reason we did the earlier gigs, like in the Pumphouse here or in the Newark Inn just to have fun and blow everyone away like that was our main thing, that is all we wanted to do.  That’s all we wanted to do like was blow other bands away and blow our friends away like and maybe get a cheque if you were lucky like.

Tom; Just enjoy yourself!

Darragh; Yeah, Just enjoy it – exactly yeah. Now we all have partners, wives so we don’t need to go, we are just going for the fun now but now it is a good catch up for us for a great buzz just to catch up on  everyone’s lives and like I mean Cormac and myself would have seen each other every day since we were nine years of age up to and all the way through college and Kerbdog everything then we all just split to different  parts of the country so its ah it’s something we miss so it’s a great catch up and then we would see some of our crew as well. We are probably turning into UB40 or something I don’t know  at this stage but we just do it for the craic.

Tom; That’s excellent Darragh, apart from the live album is there any possibility of another album in the works?

Darragh; If it was down to me there would be yeah and I know the boys will come around and am I know yeah there will be something sometime I am convinced of it. But am, I don’t know like we had a discussion about it and we kind of felt at the time that  we don’t really have anything to say anymore so we will probably be shit like you know and we don’t want that to happen you know because I think it would be very good. I think if you could get the time you know, the amount of time that was put into those albums’ like the first album was Battle and myself out in Billy’s farmyard house, out the back for four months and Billy would come in, in the evenings and Fennelly would come also after work for like four months all day every day and like we can’t get an hour these days to practice.  So, I have kind of a cunning plan with the boys because you know I wanted to release a live album, like a live acoustic album and am with a second live plugged in album so I booked a venue here, The Set which is a fantastic venue and we were going to have to set up acoustic gear and then a full set up behind and ah we were going to do a new song at that which was kind of my ploy with the guys for them to get feedback  from people to make them realise that people would actually really like it.  So we went to talk about this and again we got an hour’s practice and we were looking at Fennelly's broken amp for half an hour so we said we better not try any of this or we will fuck it up so we went and we just did a gig and we had a great night and that was it you know. 

Tom; Excellent and after that?

Darragh; So then am, when we were in Bristol this guy kind of emailed me before hand and said can I record you and I just thought you know, mentalist but I just said grand whatever, but he turns up anyway with all his extremely expensive gear and his assistant engineer and hardly even spoke he was so professional and the job he did on it was just phenomenal you know. It blew me away. I heard three of the tracks mixed so far.  It was absolutely massive and it was one of those gigs because we did a festival in Sligo in the Summer and it was shit. It was just absolutely shit, it was just disjointed and we were kind of half pissed. We were all far away from each other there was no one at the festival anyway so it was just crap we kind of had the fear and then we did this gig in Bristol through a friend of mine and it was just one of those gigs. It just erupted and it just went off. It sold out in a day to start with so the people really wanted to enjoy themselves.

Tom; So they were there to listen to yeah!

Darragh; You could see, you could feel it in the venue you know. You can feel it if someone touches the guitar, to tune the guitar and the whole place cheers and you just know it’s going to go off and so we just busted into On the Turn and we played the best gig of our entire lives. It was phenomenal and that was the one we recorded. They weren’t always like that,  they would be about fifty- fifty and some nights we would be really sloppy and some nights we wouldn’t you know, we weren’t a meticulously tight band but when it clicked it was usually pretty good and so that’s about it on the recording front, that’s about all we have done but I think that will get people kind of thinking as well you know but it’s just a time thing you know Cormac is on the radio, he has a new baby I have got my own kids and business and Fennelly's in Helsinki two weeks of the month you know he comes back then, he has to do the family thing so it’s just hard.

Tom; Do you find it difficult to get time for everything now?

Darragh; I think it’s when we went from having no kids, to like three of us having babies in about three years.  So it’s just like all we talk about is babies and you know it’s not Fudgetunnel or heavy metal, you know what I mean.  So I think when all of that settles down and it will, I think we will be freed up a little bit. I would say something will happen then you know if it’s down to me. I will try and make it happen anyway. 

Tom; And what about the other band members?

Darragh; I know Cormac has the fear about it because what’s there is quite good so you don’t want to taint it. It would be awful to do a shit album, but if it was shit you know, we wouldn’t release it but we have been asked. There are a bunch of records labels that have asked us

Tom; Wow, that’s great!

Darragh; Yeah, like there is nearly a label that has asked us every year just to do stuff but I suppose Kerbdog ended so badly. Anyway, it ended so bad that you wouldn’t just jump in the band you know like you really would just do it piecemeal, at your own time..

Tom; Exactly, just to be sure?

Darragh; Yeah, yeah

Tom; Excellent, can I just ask Darragh if someone is starting out playing drums what advice do you give them, what are the important things?

Darragh; Playing drums, I don’t know. I am a bad person to ask that because I never got lessons and I never did any of that kind of stuff and later on I kind of well, It was kind of my attitude at the time anyway it was kind of fuck everything, I am seventeen and I know everything you know. But there were a few things after like, how to balance a stick and stuff like that you know that would have made life easier so there are some basics. The bit of advice I would give is that less is more, less is definitely more. Don’t bother with a million rolls, do maybe one and they will be far bigger.

Tom; Yeah, anything else?

Darragh; If you have got a million drums, get rid of most of them, just leave one of two toms you know.  Don’t get carried away with gear, just try and listen to the song and try and step out of your actual task at hand. Try and fit in with the song which I only learned to do maybe after the second album and if you are listening to the song the rest will happen under you and even more will happen under you and you are always going to be prepared a few bars earlier than if you weren’t listening to your song, you were just doing your beat, you know what I mean. Probably there is a bit more advice like, practice a good bit which is something I never ever did, also get a few Police albums or you know albums that are hard to play and just put on the headphones and  just play them start to finish. Then put something different on, a completely different band and you know whatever you get a buzz off you know, go see Metallica and Therapy? and bands like that actually go and see as many good  live bands. That would probably be the best advice. I suppose if you are a signed up and kind of a small band that is going to get big try and think about how stuff is going to sound like through a PA. You know I learned from Helmet like you know a subtle stop maybe on snare and a snare tom can sound like enormous, where as if you just did it in a shed  it wouldn’t really translate but with the right PA and the right sub you have to account for that as you go along.  That’s why bigger bands get so much better when they get bigger a lot of the time and you know drummers get a lot better because you can feel the stuff a lot more. But I think it’s just practice away.

Tom; Ok. I mentioned before that there was such a scene here in Kilkenny. There would have been yourselves, My little Funhouse, Engine Alley.

Darragh; Yeah, it was brilliant.


Tom; How did that come about?

Darragh; It was all just random. I won’t brag, but eh like Kerbdog would have been the scene, we would have been the buzz. There was another bunch of bands around the same size then but we had a group and kind of everyone supported each other.  It’s not like now, I just look at Kilkenny and I just cringe.

Tom; What do you mean?

 Darragh; You know there are bands and they are all just fucken light weights and half arsed. They put up a thing on face book and get their friends to pat them on the back all that it’s horrible, it’s scary that they don’t actually get out and create a scene and fill venues and get a buzz going and have people wrecking the place.  You know that’s what rock music is about you know it’s all gone a bit safe, I don’t know back then it was am we probably came from the Therapy? school of thought, of kind of having as good a live show as possible and have it rammed and just have it kind of electric and like people going fucken nuts and a lot of alcohol involved and just mayhem. Mayhem, just teenage mayhem which is what it’s all about, you know.  That was our angle. Engine Alley, they kind of did their own thing. We never kind of crossed paths, they lived in Dublin I would have been in school with Canice and Eamonn but the band themselves lived in Dublin and kind of came about in Dublin and everything else. My Little Funhouse, kind were just a non entity they were a few kids from down the road who in our opinion were shite and same with everyone else in the town they couldn’t fill two or three people in a pub like.   I remember like ah and I like them all I get on really well with them and I spent a lot of good times with them but if I was to be really honest about that time I just thought they were just this shit glam band that you know this glam rock group we used just call them glam. I don’t know what it was, it wasn’t edgy enough it wasn’t Fudge Tunnel. It wasn’t hardcore, it just kind of bored me anyway.   And ah I remember I was doing some poxy project and where it was my first year in college and I was doing some marketing project and the computer just fecken crashed and I had done about three days of this fucken thing and anyway I just lost it all so I was just sitting there looking at the screen and I was utterly depressed and I turned on Nighthawks, do you remember Nighthawks?

Tom; I do. Yeah!

Darragh; And Tom Zutaut was on and he was saying that he was signing this band from Kilkenny called My Little Funhouse and I’m there like, “am I fucken hearing this shit like?  Because they couldn’t get two people in a pub like and here’s us stuffing places out and so next thing Battle is on the phone and he said, “did you hear this shit?”  and I said yeah for fuck sake what’s going on like and that following Saturday night they had their  showcase for Tom Zutaut in a pub in town and like no one went and the entire town was over in the Newtown Park Inn watching us you know so it kind of then I don’t know what happened after that but we just sent off a load of demos on Fyfe from Therapy?’s advice and we got a huge response.   We had twenty two labels after us or at least interested in us so what we did was we split them. We did two gigs in The Pump House we split them into two  because we literally wouldn’t have been able to deal with that many labels which it’s ridiculous like looking back and the guy actually Tom Zutaut  came to the gig the guy he signed bands for Geffen at the time he signed Guns & Roses and all this but just regarding the limo, the limo is screaming up outside The Pump House and we were just utterly embarrassed  because that is what we would have been against, all this shite and next thing he came in anyway and one of our friends Ciaran Scott, he is out in Australia now .  He staged the guy, now if you picture this gig and there were peoples’ feet on the ceiling and there were lights coming down and it would hold two hundred and there was about four hundred in there and everyone was going mental and Tom Zutaut arrived in anyway and my big friend just stage dived on top of him and he got taken, headed off and he goes “nah who needs another Nirvana anyway” and he just stormed out and he screamed up town in his limo. But you know a lot of the other bands or a lot of the other labels started bidding on us and wanted us to do stuff and that kind of thing.

Tom; Wow, that’s excellent!

Darragh; Yeah so it was a really buzzy thing but then I mean fast forward till another five years until we were doing the “On the Turn” album we ended up living in Los Angeles and living in the same apartment as My little Funhouse which is where I got to know Graham (Hopkins) because Graham and myself had finished our drums in whatever it was, five days and we just bonded and got on really well and we used to just drive around LA the whole time and party for the next three or four months you know. 

Tom; Jesus, yeah?

Darragh; So, it was a phenomenally good time but that’s how I got to know  My Little Funhouse over there even though I grew up about a hundred yards away from the singer but we would never have had anything in common  even though there was only a year in the difference but they were just Guns & Roses and we were Metallica and that was it. We just  had no interest in the music and you know we used to just play some of the songs at practice just to have a laugh, you know to take the piss.   There was another band that got signed as well Kaydee which were kind of a pop band. Yeah there is a girl, do you know Tara Blaise?

Tom; I know the name, yeah.

Darragh; She would have been the singer on it, so there were actually four local bands that got signed within a relatively short period you know, which is a lot for a town of twenty thousand people.

Tom; It is yeah because I mean there was a kind of a scene happening at that stage?

 Darragh; There was yeah and I would say a lot of people were kind of looking here just because some other bands got signed you know.

Tom; So how did Kerbdog get signed?
Darragh; As it turns out the guy who signed us a guy called Paul Flanagan from Mercury  or Phonogram. At the time he was down in Cork and he came up here because everyone else was coming up here.  He had a kind of an Irish scout and he asked the scout was there anything going on in Ireland and the scout said well the world and their dog is up in Kilkenny looking at this band Kerbdog, so he said fuck it he would just spin up and see he was looking at some band the night before in Cork and he came in and he went fuck!  He said if ye can replicate this stuff anywhere else then ye are laughing because you know he walked into that gig with the feet on the ceiling and the lights coming down and you know he was just blown away like.

Tom; Excellent, I just want to ask, in your opinion, British drummers, American drummers what’s the differences that makes Irish drummers so unique?

Darragh; Ah, I don’t know? I have a few theories.  American drummers anyway are much better because they have to try an awful lot harder because they have a bigger pool of talent to get out of and Americans really appreciate that big fat type of metal when it comes to rock that’s lost especially in England.  They are only really getting around to the fact that of getting a type of metal now they never really got it and we just had to have American producers because they got that type of thing, that type of rock music and Irish drummers, I just don’t know why they are so unique?   You know a lot of them are very different to each other but I suppose because there is no major scene, it’s very cyclical here and there is no major big scene all the time you know.   But I don’t know, English drummers  don’t really do it for me – not many of them anyway you know.   I couldn’t answer that to be honest. I don’t know what makes us unique probably because we get away with murder .  Like, I have played at some festivals and you know and I have looked at guys and gone you know oh for fuck sake what am I doing here like you know as time went on I didn’t feel it as much but at the start like we are all like what the fuck are we doing here?   At the start we did feel a bit like what the fuck. It did feel a bit alien because the level of bands was but then at the time it wasn’t we should have appreciated that a bit more. It was more about the vibe with the band and the songs rather than the technical and perfections or whatever and all, but as we went on it got better and better you know.

Tom; Was Kerbdog a bit naive in the beginning?

Darragh; Probably a little bit. We got signed a little bit early you know because the first album we did. We kind of had to slog it out you know. 

Tom; Darragh, the Irish drummers you mentioned, the likes of Fyfe Ewing and Graham Hopkins, would there be anyone else that would have been an influence to you?

Darragh; Not an influence I suppose. Fyfe would have been a huge influence for me, absolutely huge, and Brian Downey would have been a massive influence.  I would have watched his videos. I suppose the closest thing there was to live. I played the Rainbow gig over and over until the tape stretched. I was kind of, I loved the band anyway and we toured with “The Almighty”, Ricky Warwick.  Now he is singing with Thin Lizzy so it’s amazing how things come around and Fyfe definitely, when I saw Fyfe I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I think the last time I saw him was in the New Park Inn. It was a long skinny venue kind of like where we are here maybe about twenty foot by about forty or fifty foot long and there was just a tunnel of people and that’s all you could see like a tunnel of bodies and heads and arms and people standing on each other just to try and see him so I think he was just doing his thing and it was so fucken cool and left handed drummers are always better I don’t know why they are they just are. They are always just that little bit better.

Tom; Is there any reason for that?

Darragh; I don’t know?

Tom; Is it just balance or something?

Darragh; I don’t know, but they are just better and he was so much better. He blew me out of my boots straight off and then it was the like listening to Fudge Tunnel and stuff after that but Irish drummers it was like definitely Fyfe.   Fyfe is the man, but there is a guy called Harvey from Wexford who I think is probably the better probably the best in the country you know. Probably, would give Brian Downey a run for his money you know. He is a proper hard hitter and he played in a band called Imodium and they have since split but they probably I thought, they were much better than Kerbdog and doing a similar kind of thing.   Like, I remember seeing him one night and just being blown out of my boots and they kind of split then, so I asked Doireann the singer to come and play the guitar with Wilt you know and I kind of stayed in touch with him for a long time. I actually play with another band at the moment” Souls” its very, very like Kerbdog really and really, really heavy.   I asked him to join but just he couldn’t. He was working in Dublin and  with night time practices and he doesn’t drive and all that kind of stuff so he couldn’t do that, but no as regards Irish drummers, Fyfe is the man.

Tom; Ok,really! 

Darragh; Yeah definitely, Fyfe and Brian Downey you would probably hear the same from every drummer you interview as well. Larry Mullins I like as well, but I never liked him really much so I never really appreciated him until the making of one of the albums and it was just him doing a drum pattern on his own and I thought, Jesus ok I get it now, because I always thought it was basic enough stuff but he is a class act and yeah, he is deadly.  There is a guy actually, there is one guy who was a huge influence on me before any of those other guys and it was a drummer called John Mc Cormack. He played with Belsonic Sound from Cork. 

Tom; What kind of influence did he have on you?

He was like I learned a lot of my early drumming from him. The band used to come and play here in Henderson’s and I would go and I would watch him from start to finish.  I loved the band at the time because I was listening to ‘The Police and they had a lot of reggae grooves and that kind of stuff and he was so good.  He would probably be one of my favourite Irish drummers as well.

Tom; Do you still keep in touch?

Darragh; Ah yeah bizarrely I met him recently at the back of this place, drinking actually. He is a sound engineer now and he’s based in London and he does a lot of really big tours like, huge tours you know but he got into being a sound engineer after drumming .

Tom; Brilliant, I’ll see if I can look him up or something.

Darragh; Yeah, John Mac Cormack from Belsonic Sound. You will find him on Facebook, but Irish drummers yeah, Jesus you should try and have a chat with him. Yeah, because he is a good lad.

Tom; Do you rather drumming live or in the studio?

Darragh; Live, live

Tom; Yeah and why?
Darragh; Because you can get half pissed and no one knows the difference and  personally I just get a buzz off people that are  around and I don’t get caught up in being perfect you know. It’s about the energy, it’s all about the energy. I don’t care if there are mistakes in there.  You know sometimes there is sometimes there’s not but you know the energy is the absolute most important thing. To be able to wind up a crowd and once that starts happening you know you will just get better and better and you will play out of your boots and you will actually pull off stuff. You will go for stuff and pull it off and you will laugh after doing it because it’s something you couldn’t do at home do you know what I mean, but no definitely live. 

Tom; Do you like recording?

Darragh; We had a few good times recording actually, the very first time was funny because we went in with Metallica ‘The Black Album’ and said to Pat Dunne up in Sound Studios will you just make it sound like that!   We had a two day session and we actually thought what’s wrong you know and he was kind of laughing but that’s where we got that really clicky metal sound going right, well it’s something I stuck with. I love that sound, where it’s like really scooped you know loads of attack and loads of bottom end.

Tom; Do you find recording difficult?

Darragh; The first Kerbdog album, the self titled one was hard work. It was literally played until the songs were perfect and I personally felt that the demos as out of time as they were, where so much better and the first album, while the playing is kind of perfect on it, I feel maybe after say ten hours of drums that it just feels a little bit yeah its zapped out where as it was a total different approach with Garett Richardson.  We went over to LA and like Jack was brilliant but he is such a perfectionist like he would be playing the drums and there would be a fucken racket and he would come out with the drum key and would give it a tiny little turn maybe about one percent of a turn and run back into the studio and that’s what it was like, but that was hard. 

Tom; It sounds like you were frustrated with the process?

Darragh; You know it was frustrating like there was a few skips that went through skins which wouldn’t be really like me and there were arguments and there was like ah it was just so fucken tense it was ridiculous, like it was so hard. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life was record that fucken album.   But with “On the turn” I went over and I kind of had the fear again and I kind of said to Garrett well there is a way to do it like and he goes oh no we are going to do it my way and he said what’s that and he said four gos’, four coffees then four gos’ in a row for each song and that’s it and I was there but what about? Doesn’t matter and I will fix it, four gos’ and that is it you know  and they fixed it the old school way there was a few flubs but he got it so right because the energy is just there. There is a lot of energy on that album and they literally got out the Stanley knife and the tape and cut the edits and made it perfect like, you know.  Yeah and everyone does it I’m not ashamed to say it, you know four goes and you know your not going to get it a hundred percent you know. I could have played it for ten hours and got it absolutely perfect but it would have been you know but doing that album he set that up like a live gig and he had an AKPA behind us and like when we were playing he is like he is nuts anyway, when we were playing he is in jumping around and like and having his arse out and just pretending he is a rock star to Battle and all this stuff. It’s just, he just makes it really funny you know and he just gets the most out of bands. But like yeah I felt that approach suited me an awful lot better  and that’s probably why I like live music as well because you just go for it. You know you have got one shot and if you fuck it up, you fuck it up you know.

Tom; Darragh you use an awful lot of energy live. What do you do to keep yourself in shape and how do you approach that?

Darragh’ At the moment nothing – evidently, but I used to cycle. I used to cycle when I was actually like a full time professional, between each tour I would just go on my bike.  Get out on the road throw on some headphones and just cycle and I do like ah I do maybe an hour every day.  I kind of watch what I eat and when we are on tour bizarrely we would never ever, ever drink like Battle and myself would have a few drinks and well we would get blind drunk on the last gig of each tour which was usually London in England anyway because the labels and promoters will always pick the capital for the last gig because the band would be tighter after playing for a month or two and that’s where the journalists would be and everything else so you would have a better chance of pulling off a good show so now I just have vodka and power bars, but I remember being back stage at Metallica their manager wanted to manage us but unfortunately his partner didn’t and they went with another band and he was bringing us around for a few weeks just kind of showing off like and he brought us to Metallica.  We were at Metallica three nights and ah we met them like you remember the Snakebit tour we were in the Snakebit tour and it was something else.  We were kids like and this was blown away but I remember saying to Peter Minch their manager, how does Lars do it like?  And he just went Power bars and I got Power bars because I had never heard of them in my life  and I own a cycle shop as well so I just get a bunch of Power bars whenever I am playing.  Yeah and they do work, like a half an hour before they like you don’t get  that burning in your shoulders because if you are not used to playing, you get an awful burning.

Tom; Because of the way you play I suppose?

Darragh; Yeah, I play with my arms instead of my wrists.

Tom; You have a huge amount of energy there you know.

Darragh; Yeah, so at the moment I am not in shape at all. We have twins at home and my metabolism is gone. I tried the cycle thing and on two hours sleep a night it’s just not going to work. My metabolism is just shot like so I need to sort that out you know and I went on a kind of month training thing for these gigs and it lasted a day, so that was that.  I’ll be hoping for some kind of divine energy to come from somewhere you know.

Tom; How are the shows going?

Darragh; The Bristol show was fine, I was equally as out of shape for that. I have never been as out of shape but I suppose that is kind of a typical thing for wound out has been bands to come back.

Tom; I suppose once you are playing live, the energy it will carry you.

Darragh; Yeah, it does I suppose, adrenaline kicks in you know, it gives you a boost and the thing if you are only doing the way we do now as we can only do Saturday nights because the guys work and everything like that, but if you’re doing like a one off thing you can kind of overdo it and get away with it. You can bust in the power bars and worry about the pain in your shoulders the next day, do you know what I mean? Whereas if you are touring you just kind of watch yourself you just kind of keep an eye on it, but Wilt was the opposite every night. With Wilt we were blind drunk but Kerbdog we were never drunk.  I was ah like everyone, like especially all the guys in Kilkenny when we would come back to the pub, was it fucken nuts lads like and what are you doing?   And we were like we go to a Travel Lodge and have some All Bran do you know the way. That was the way it was for us you know. It wasn’t as raucous as you think you know, until Wilt came and that was a different scenario.

Tom; Was that much different to Kerbdog?

 Darragh; Yeah, bored the shit out of me to be completely honest.  I’ll call a spade a spade, drumming wise, it was just, I was bored you know it was just four fours and it was all a bit light and just ah it just, I didn’t like it you know. I like it, you know, hard rock and ah I don’t think anyone else really did either like I think people respected that we did and all that but, you don’t get people calling you about Wilt ever you know.

Tom; Do you think it’s really Kerbdog that do it for a lot of people?

 Darragh; Yeah, it is yeah and to be honest Wilt even the song writing and everything it was always it was a different setup like I had gotten a job between the two bands so I wasn’t as involved which is probably what other drummers are like so I couldn’t get off work for one of them so I had to send a drum track down on an email and they used that on a computer thing so it was a different approach completely.  Like it was different circumstances like we weren’t bashing out the tunes for four months.  You know it was just really kind of am, none of us really kind of wanted to run away with the rock band again. It ended so badly previously so we kind of waited until we got play listed on the BBC and stuff to go you know we weren’t really doing it up until then and I have a feeling that if “Wilt” had another album it would have maybe went a bit better and a bit heavier because I was trying to bring in that influence again. The idea to start trying to make stuff heavy again, like proper heavy. I got this intro and then Battle was like and then we will put this after it and I was there ok you know, but it was clear conflict whereas before, it would have been right and then I will make this heavier again and so on.  But I remember doing a video for a song when we were out in New York we were on a barge all day and in a sixties car and one of the guys went out on the barge so I just got talking to him shooting the breeze like and he was into the deftones and a lot of the heavy stuff you know.   He is like man I thought that song was going to be really good it started off really heavy and then just like REM and I’m like fuck yeah I know people start telling this to me and I was like I know. I was never really comfortable with it.  I had some really good parties and some good times but I would never have any gra to play a Wilt song ever, even though we did hear it last night. It was just like it ended up being an evening with Kerbdog so we had Billy and Mick from Wilt and we just had everything just to make it a bit different and but I  would never have a gra to go and do that stuff, like it wouldn’t fire me up at all.

Tom; I know yeah.

Darragh; When I played “On the Turn” live or “Severed” and then play a Wilt song it’s just like being some kind of rhythm keeper in just some regular band or something, I don’t know.  It just doesn’t really float my boat you know.

Tom; I know that’s fair enough so yeah.

Darragh; But then again I think you know Battle in fairness to him was making a conscious effort to make it different and there was no point you know in going out to try and be another Kerbdog and we knew with the time constraints we wouldn’t be able to do another album.” On The Turn” or an album that’s better than it you know just because of the time that was another angle you know so basically I would try and get on the radio and go at things from a different angle.

Tom; And it worked, yeah.

Darragh; It did work. We got the first Wilt stuff on to Radio 1 in England which Kerbdog could never get on and we were b listed till we were sabotaged by another band for a playlist. They said some nasty stuff about us and Feeders radio programme claimed we were making some racist slurs against the time Radio 1 so that was that. They just turned off the switch like and we were all like wearing our t-shirts in Radio 1 and it was like happy days and it was like ah and we did a Radio 1 session with a producer, I can’t remember his name but we got on like a house on fire and brought him out and he is like you know kind of a BBC like a unions guy and all the rest and we convinced him to come out and we just had a brilliant time. We really got on well with him and then we heard this stuff, about a week later.  It was just a pure slur because they Feeder and us were up for the slot on the playlist and their radio programme made up this so Feeder would get the slot, so that was that.  That was literally the end of Wilt right there, career over that one, one thing which I don’t know, I hope karma comes and gets him you know.  Because it wasn’t nice because that playlist was something we would have worked on for probably ten years or eight years just to get on Radio 1 because in England and I am fucken delighted that the internet has taken over that. They don’t have that monopoly anymore that  there is decent rock radio and there is stuff out there you know and there is an alternative now, but at the time if you don’t get on Radio 1 you don’t do anything but if you do you do I mean look at JJ72.

What about JJ72?

Darragh; They are just straight on to the A list and they are huge you know and we are scratching our heads going you know what the fuck like. They were good in their own way you know I think the bass player opened a few doors for them. 


Date;  Friday 12th October 2012
Location; Kilkenny, Ireland.

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