Wednesday 15 October 2014

Interview with Wayne Sheehy Part 2

Tom: What happened then?
Wayne: I was called by Ron Woods engineer and producer, both of them called and said would I come down and play on one track called Testify. It was a beautiful old R & B song and I had been playing with Frankie Lane in Milltown the night before and travelling with John Ryan in his Morris Minor, he was probably the worst driver that God ever put. We eventually got to Reilly’s house and John dropped me off and I was hungover, very unprofessional and very bleary eyed. Ronny Woods comes over and says oh right yeah how are you?, I am just having some beans on toast for breakfast and this was three or four o clock in the afternoon and I went over and I met the gang and I ended up playing on Testify which is a beautiful old soul groove, four to the floor, but it has a particular swing to it.  A very specific groove that Bernard and Ronny wanted and the reason I was asked was because I was a great man for the click and I could still make music feel fluid while locking into a click and that was my strength really. So I ended up playing on Testify and then, as I was leaving Ronny goes, we want you to come back, so I came back the following week and I ended up playing on another three songs and replacing Simon Kirke on the whole album.

Tom:  And then you got the chance to play with Ronnie on tour
Wayne: I kept bumping into Ronny occasionally partying and I would meet him in Lilly’s or somewhere and we would get an invite down but I was touring with Hinterland and we had gone to The States and some other places so I was coming and going and then I was in The Rock Garden and I got a message to say would I call Munro Sound in London. So I couldn’t sleep that night and the following morning I called Sherry Daly in London and she said “Alright Wayne I just want to know how you are fixed for the next year?  Are you free for the next year” and I said well what for Sherry? “Well Ronny wants you to be his drummer for the next year” and I said hang on a second and I put the phone down and I danced. I danced around the living room and she said what are you doing and I said I am dancing and she said you haven’t got the gig yet we don’t know how much you are going to cost and so anyway I got the gig and that was that. That was an extraordinary moment. The Ronny thing opened a myriad of opportunities that still twenty years later keep opening up and through Ronny I ended up playing with Bo Diddley.

Tom: What other artists were you playing with?
Wayne: Bobby Womack and when I was touring with Ronny we had The Neville Brothers play with us. We had Aretha and Van. He guested with us in LA, no in California for two shows. I was privileged enough to play with Ronnie, Mac, Rod and Ronnie Lane in his wheelchair.

Tom: Wow, that must have been special
Wayne: Ronnie Lane in Texas, in Austin. “Oh La La” from his wheelchair and there wasn’t a dry eye on the stage so that was quite a privilege and it was amazing. I want to put one thing straight we partied but we never got on that tour bus once over in about sixty shows in America, never mind the rest of the world, without sticking on a video tape of the show that night and the whole band would sit around the three tables on the front deck in that tour bus and we would watch the show and we would tease each other and it was done in such a beautiful spirit of no recrimination. If someone made a blunder it would be ha ha! It would be fun, but you know the person, the perpetrator would always say that won’t happen again, so it was a celebration of the show and yet a great learning curve.

Tom: That feedback must have proved invaluable.
Wayne:  Every beat, every hit, every single thing you did for that three and a half or six minutes of the song, it was like walking on ice. So every single beat had a meaning and had intent and Jesus it really worked, it was on fire you know and Steve Jordan is the greatest living exponent of that type of playing. I just listen to that. Conor Brady, the lovely Irish guitarist has a gorgeous feel for that as well.  Conor is the only guy I know in Ireland who would give a shit that much and Keith Duffy, the bass player. 

Tom; What did you do next?
The next thing is Ronny’s tour ends and Andrew calls me and we are talking Commitments. Andrew has enough of The Commitments and this is his own super band and Jesus was it a great band, f**k*n hell, we rocked and that was real groove stuff as well you know beautiful grooves, travelled all over the world for two years with Andrew and of course my connection with The Stones. Then I was befriended by everyone bar Jagger. Keith called me my little brother, which was really a compliment and they are still kind to me to this day. I put the word in, is there any chance that Andrew Strong could open the Voodoo Lounge Tour and then Keith O’Donnell who was managing Andrew at the time pushed me to make the call and he then had gone to their agent and pushed and we f**k*n got it.

Tom: Wow, that’s brilliant.
Wayne: So there I was back with The Stones again and I remember playing The Olympic stadium in Budapest or Prague, one of them and a hundred and forty thousand people, it hit the outdoor records. I think it is gone now. I think Madonna broke it sadly, but that was just amazing.

Tom: You played with Elemental as well
Wayne: Ah, Elemental would have been 89/90 I think. We did the Andrew Strong tour and that was the end of that period and then I met Conor and Rob back in Ireland. Rob Malone was the bass player with Lir and Lir were the best musicians in Ireland.

Tom: I remember Lir having a great drummer.
Wayne: Craig, fucken hell, Craig could do more with one hand than I could do with two and the boy was a genius. I think he is the greatest loss to Irish drumming. He was an amazing technical drummer.

Tom: Yes he certainly was an incredible drummer.
Wayne:  You know you always have got the Robbie Casserlys’ and the Jerry Fehilys, the chops and god knows Ray Fean has got some beautiful chops as well, but Craig was just an extraordinary player. So anyway, Rob joined us, joined The Sofas and Felim Gormley from The Commitments and Justin Carroll and Conor Brady of course. We built up this incredible following. The Edge and Bono used to come down and  the Edge used to kneel at the front of the stage. He used to sit cross legged at the front of the stage, Bronagh Gallagher, all The Commitments heads, The Frames heads, Carl Carlton and anyone Carl was touring with. Any musician, who would come into Dublin, would come to the DAA club on a Friday night if we weren’t off touring doing something else with other people and it became a great vehicle for depping and Justin Carroll was only sixteen at the time but he was a mistro of the hammond then you know. He is Van’s man. He is living in New York and he is an incredible musician, they all are and we had this extraordinary band.

Tom; I wish I had got to see you live
Wayne:  It just took off but the down side of The Sofas taking off was that we were constantly being poached by other bands so it was only about twelve, eighteen months afterwards that Liam and Fiachra would come and jam with us and we would always have guest slots every week and travelling  musicians who would come into Ireland would guest with us so we played with f**ken everybody and ah the next thing Liam and Fiachra said would you come and join The Hot House Flowers and so myself and Rob became lesser flowers I would describe us.

Tom:  Did you not feel part of the set up with Hothouse Flowers?
Wayne:  We weren’t in the inner sanctum but we were considered Flowers and we played on the album Born and again Chris O’Donnell was managing The Flowers then. So Chris calls me and he says Wayne, The Bridge of Babylon tour is about to go out in about six months time, any chance you would put a push in for The Flowers. So Ronny was a fan of The Flowers and he had used them on his solo album and low and behold we got that, so I was back on tour with The Stones again. The Bridges of Babylon tour was another great experience and from that I think it was then I actually started working with Beau and  I think that’s when I did Man amongst Men which I  am miscredited for actually. I am playing on about four tracks but I only get credit on one track but The Hot House Flowers, that was great. We had a lot of fun you know and there are a few nice stories. I got very close to Fiachra and we became very good friends actually. There was always friction between Liam, Fiachra and Peter. They always had counselling, they had to go to counselling every month. Yeah, very dysfunctional relationship between them and they decided they were going to go trad and then Rob and I were let go, but it was done in a nice way. Then that’s when the Juliette thing started. that’s when we did Burn in a black suit. and I ended up working a lot with Ger Kiely so Ger put a team around himself,  myself and Rob Malone and we ended up working with Juliette and The Sofas of course.

Tom; Who else where you touring with around this time?
Wayne; I was doing a lot of work with Carl Carlton around this time am we are talking the early ’98 to like 2002/2004. So I did a lot of work in Germany with Carl and that has never really stopped you know I still work with him now. Carl introduced me to Eric Burden, so I became an animal and I did summer festivals with Eric and Carl and we talked Eric into playing more war songs funny enough. I prefer the war songs to the animal songs to be honest, so I got to play the house of the rising sun a good few times. I don’t really think Eric really liked my playing to be honest, I think I was too heavy. Then the Robert thing came through, Carl and Robert Palmer and he had just finished one of the most beautiful albums with Carl called Drive.

Tom:  That must have been an incredible experience!
Wayne: I worked with Robert and he was just extraordinary and words can’t describe what an incredibly under celebrated genius. I only got to become a friend of his three months before he died but we got really close and he was so great for my confidence he told me I was one of the finest drummers he had ever worked with and that was really nice to hear from him. I wish he was still around, we all look for mentors you know and I felt that Robert would have been the mentor for me. He left the message on mine and my wife’s  answering machine two days I think before he died saying, Wayne I think we are going to work quiet a lot together in the next few years. That really upset me.

Tom:  Yes it’s sad to think he isn’t around.
Wayne: He was an amazing man oh Jesus, what a waste Tom!  So, I have had some great teachers you know like Ronnie and Robert.

Tom ;  Where were you based around this time?
Wayne:  Oh Jesus I was spending a lot of time in Cork, around about 2006. I started hearing about a rock star and I can’t bear anyone who calls themselves a rock star and neither can anyone else in Cork, as you can imagine. One of the beauties of living in Ireland is that people don’t buy into bullshit you know. So, anyway there was a seminal rock band in Canada at the time, a massive Canadian band called The Tea Party and the singer and principal writer with the Tea Party was a guy from near Toronto called Jeff Martin. He was the rock star, so I spent six weeks one summer hiding under the table when this Canadian dressed from head to toe in black, ah Wayne are you in there man if you are could you open the door I want to talk to you. I just had no interest in it because I was happy with what I was doing with Dempsey and Carl. I was doing a lot of work in Germany with Carl and the sound dogs and doing a bit of theatre work as well and I was away working with Trevor Knight and always working on projects,  you know drumming on peoples records,  Jules and other people even though Jules fired everyone eventually!

Tom; Did that bother you?
 Wayne; I wrote her a horrible letter,  she fired everyone singularly. I was the only person left from the original band. She had been talking to someone who told her that she needed fresh blood, keep injecting new blood into the band all the time, but I hate that. I thought it was very cruel so that means that peoples’ loyalty is never rewarded and I remember writing her a letter and she has never spoken to me since. I have tried to make it up to her but she has never forgiven me for the letter but anyhow Jeff finally caught up with me and asked me to manage him but at this stage John was doing a line share drumming with Damien. I wasn’t doing a great deal but production was starting to get a little bit busier but anyhow four / six months later I was a crap manager and back playing percussion with Jeff except Jeff used twelve strings amazingly well and had an incredible voice and I added two extra gem bays I was using three gem bays in A, B & D gem bay and now the octopus was really truly born and it was fucken huge. Off we went touring the world as a two piece and it was highly lucrative. A very amazing show, we played some massive shows, just the two of us. We were doing big shows, we were doing about a thousand seaters in Australia and in Canada about five hundred. We did do a twenty five thousand open air headlining and we headlined all the festivals in Australia as a two piece going on after Sinead ah with Damien and the opening act that was wild, very wild but anyway  the drums were the kiss of fucken death because  we were going to work on an album which was to be a representation of what we did live as a duo and he got the sniff of rock again and I think he wanted  to prove to the boys in The Tea Party, who he had fallen out with acrimoniously that he could make another rock album and he had found me as a secret weapon so we wrote in a very strange way. I would write out an arrangement and he would discuss the arrangement and then I would record it with a click playing with nothing else but what I heard in my head.

Tom: Did you find this a difficult process?
Wayne: Jeff would work away on the drum tracks and he would write on top of it and then he would play it down the phone and I would make suggestions. I would send something down on pro tools and it would come back up and he would say, what do you think?  I would say yeah and so we built this rock album and then Jeff moved to Australia, Jeff’s wife wanted to move to Australia for a while so he moved to Australia and finished off the album in Australia and we had formed a band at this stage. We had decided it was going to be a band called the Armada and it was cursed just like the other fucken album.  So we went out touring as two entities in Australia. Jeff Martin and Wayne Sheehy  and then The Armada. So we would tour with the former and not make a fortune but do well and then we would lose it by sticking on the rock band part at the end. The production costs were huge. We released the album it went down well but it was a bad move as far as I am concerned. Because I couldn’t afford to, because I had a young family to be trucking over to Australia to lose money continually so we did a couple of tours towards the end of the band we got Jay Cortez, a beautiful Australian kid to come and play with us, a multi instrumentalist ,which I am, which Jeff is and we just had all these amazing instruments on the stage, harmoniums and zithers and all sorts of things and I think there was about sixty five/seventy instruments on the stage my full ray including orchestral base drum is here somewhere yeah, it’s all on the face book page actually. (Shows the face book page) That’s it.

Tom: Wow it looks impressive!
Wayne: So, that’s what we did with Jeff and we did three full days in Sydney with a full back system and Jay playing with us and filmed it with fourteen cameras and there in editing at the moment for a DVD to come out and so that’s still one more product to come out of there and I will me meeting them and I am over there with Damien next month and ah for four days, three shows for four days in Australia.

Tom:  Are you and Jeff working on other projects?
Wayne; He is very annoyed that I am coming over with Damien. He feels it’s kind of rubbing his nose in it but I have offered to buy him dinner in Sydney and all sorts of things because I would love to see him again I would love to work with him. But he is still a rock star you know, he has still issues. I am not sure about that chapter yet so that was it really and then Dempse and I am away in Malta. The most exciting thing I did last year I guess apart from Dempse was recording an album for the singing surgeon who was professor Austin Leahy but that comes out next month.

Tom: So your back behind a drum kit again
Wayne:  With Damo last year I did the Westport Festival and the Galway Arts Festival and another festival playing kit. I am playing am I am in love with Gretsch.

Tom:  What kind of Gretsch drum kit?
Wayne: I am playing a classic Gretsch from the seventies and I absolutely fucken love it. I also would like to say I love drumming again.

Tom: Ok, that’s great.
Wayne: And I am enjoying the kit and I am working with a new country star with Cork who is just incredible, Nicole Maguire, you are going to hear a lot about her. She is super.

Tom: Any other projects?
Wayne: That’s up to date really that’s it just a lot of production work. I have to think about my drumming. When I am producing I am drumming very simply on the records I am producing there is an element of meat and potatoes when I am producing and get it over with as soon as possible but drumming is almost becoming a kind of a hindrance.

Tom: Is it sort of an anti drumming maybe to somebody?
Wayne: I need to analyse it Tom, it could be, you know. I need to think about it.

Tom: What advice would you give someone starting out?
Wayne: Ah, that’s a hard one but the best advice I ever gave to someone is don’t spend too much time alone in your bedroom, with an electronic drum kit or an acoustic one for that matter drumming with your favourite bands, find your local, find a local gang of players to put ads up in your school and get playing with other people as fast as possible. As well as playing in your bedroom where you are learning your chops, but playing with other people and God when you are playing in public, just keep it simple.

Tom: Ok.
Wayne: Play simply, play the songs, listen, play, don’t  listen, there are so many drummers Tom that they don’t listen. They only hear the fucken drum. I don’t hear the drumming, I feel it you know. I don’t hear my drumming, I feel it. That’s really what kept me going and it’s a tough shitty unmerciless business, how many better players than me are driving fucken trucks and serving in Mc Donald’s and God knows I am one of the lucky ones.

Tom: What songs impress you drumming wise?
Wayne: The collection of drummers that play on “Woman in Chains” by Tears for Fears. it’s one of the most exciting commercial tracks, it’s got everything, you have got Phil Collins and you have got the producer Chris Thomas.  Then you have got Manu Katche and I love the production on that and the sonics. If I am travelling and I can’t bring my own speakers I use the production on that so I do love that pure technique. There is one more track actually I would like to “When the Levy breaks”

Tom: What Irish drummers impress you?
Wayne:  The Horselips were on after us in Westport festival you know and the next thing I could fucken hear someone drumming behind me and I pulled behind and it was Ray so we have a great relationship you know he is real, he is a complete c**t, I love him. He is a really great drummer, he is Ireland’s greatest drummer. I love him and I love Brian Downey, as the all time greatest drummer in Ireland never to be surpassed. He is the most beautiful player and and I also rate technically Robbie Casserly. The two of these boys got sucked up into river dance and no one ever heard from them again and of course you have got Jerry Fehily and you know it was a sad story with Jerry but he is back playing again. Graham would probably be the most popular drummer in Ireland at the moment but he also enjoys that. He works it very hard but he is a nice player, I don’t get him with the Frames I don’t get him with Glen, I don’t get it so much.  I prefer him to play rock. I think he is a better rock drummer, The Therapy thing is what he did best you know but he is lovely. He is a lovely player you know and a very nice man. Rod, yeah, gets a fucken rough deal as well, you know against the grain and all that with Gerry Mc Evoy he would kill a rhythm like I think Rod you know worked in a kitchen in London, a kitchen porter and Rod yeah that’s what I mean Tom it’s an unmercifully, an unforgiving business.

Tom: Wayne what do you believe is the secret of your success?
Wayne: Well, my success wouldn’t be that great really in one sense really it’s like you see that’s how driven I am. Me, I believe and I love songs. I am a little bit of a drummers drummer but I am a musicians drummer and musicians love playing with me because I give a shit about the music and I think that’s it you know and also I am always on time in every sense. I am good to tour with and I don’t let people down so I am a good team player.

Tom: Wayne, I am looking at this from an Irish drummer’s point of view and so what is the difference between Irish drummers and other drummers?
Wayne: We are mid Atlantic, we have a mid Atlantic advantage and that is the only way to describe it I have played with a lot of American players and early British players who were all influenced by the blues. A lot of young English players and European players tend to play up on the beat and they tend to play always up on the beat. We don’t, we are good groovers here, but generally like Graham is a beautiful pocket, Ray is a gorgeous pocket, I have a good pocket, Robbie had a beautiful pocket but Brian has an amazing pocket. Larry has a great pocket you know, so we are very groovy and we are also nice guys.

Tom: Yeah, I know.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Interview with Wayne Sheehy - Part One

Interview with ; Wayne Sheehy.  Read the first part of my interview with Wayne Sheehy.
Tom:  Wayne, when did you become interested in drumming?
Wayne: Well, I was raised in England till I was twelve/thirteen so my father was a Limerick man who had dreams of drumming so he moved to England when he was very, very young and he formed his own band and that turned into a big band so it’s Pat Sheehy and his Orchestra. He was the band leader of his own kind of big band, you know a couple of saxophones, electric guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, trombone, organ and guest singers so he was always semi professional. I used to love him always saying that but God rest him he passed away when I was quiet young but he was great. Ah how can you describe him, he was a great lover of big band music, he wasn’t a very dynamic drummer, and he just loved holding it together. He was a glue man you know. He had very few chops so he wasn’t a fan of drumming funnily enough. He liked music and the drums were I think his vehicle to enjoy music. So, he loved drumming so that’s how it started so there were drums in the cellar of our house and it was a very old house in the midlands of England in the countryside and then my brothers Brendan and Kevin were both drummers. So that was the anything but drums thing from my father so that backfired and when we moved to Cork, West Cork in the middle of nowhere where I have my studio now actually.

Tom:  What part of west Cork?
Wayne:  The sheepshead peninsula and we couldn’t find any outlet for my musicality down there so my father decided I should join “Shalom”.

Tom: That’s an interesting name 
Wayne: Shalom was a charismatic choir from Bantry and I ended up singing in the choir and I hated it and then the drummer got fired and I muscled myself in on the drum. And then from that, I fell out with the priest because he said I was too loud during Mass, played too loud and so I left and when I left the rest of the backing band left and so the priest Fr Kehoe, I would go as far as to say he hated my guts because when he fired me he lost his entire band, he lost about six musicians and that’s when I formed a little band in Bantry. It all started then really.

Tom: Who were your influences at that time apart from your father and brothers?
Wayne: Am, would you believe Rod De’Ath from the Rory Gallagher band, Ian Paice a massive influence, Bill Bruford and John Bonham. Oh who else, from Little Feat, Richie Hayward, a massive influence. I loved his groove and Charlie Watts who is a friend of mine actually. I loved the way Rod played and oh Jesus, I remember I was at The Mountain Dew festival in Macroom and I must have been sixteen, it must have been ‘76. Rory was once again headlining but there was a band on called Joe O’Donnell’s Vision Band. You should Google it actually. Joe O’ Donnell was a famous electric fiddler from Limerick. He had a Canadian drummer, Theodore Thunder was his name. I will always remember it, I think he is dead now, but he was a speed head, he loved speed and he was one of the best exponents of the slip jig in rock. It was amazing. Gales Vision was the name of the album. I would love to get my hands on it, I am sure I will hate it now but at the time it was mind numbingly amazing.

Tom:  You mentioned Bill Bruford.
Wayne:  Of course Bill Bruford was a massive influence and least but absolutely definitely not last and I would like him to go on my list of influences ah the guy from Rush, Neil Peart and of course Stewart Copeland, which you can still hear in my playing.

Tom: That’s right yeah. So I suppose you were playing professionally at this stage?
Wayne: No, I did my Leaving and then I got a place in UCC.

Tom: Oh right, doing what?
Wayne: To do Sociology. I never took it. I ran away from home with a Bantry band called Exedus. We used to live in a squat in Greystones and I’m afraid I got in to some rather unsavoury habits and came back, my tail firmly between my legs to my family who had a hotel in West Cork. We were hoteliers and I was in a bad, bad way and my father came in to my bedroom. This is a nice story actually but potentially depends on how much time you have, but my father came in to my bedroom and I was really quite not well and he put an acoustic guitar at the end of my bed and a pile of albums and he said ah amongst other things he said now there are two friends waiting down stairs you know them both well, one is a singer and the other plays the mandolin and the fiddle.  We need a traditional band here for the hotel for the summer and you need to get on with your life. You have two choices, you take this guitar you improve your guitar playing and you learn all those songs or the option which I hope you won’t take because you’re Mum and I love you so much is that you leave and you never come back. And so I am a huge fan of folk music and so that’s why I play so many instruments because that opens the door for a lot of other instruments for me. So, that was that and then the Banditz happened.

Tom: Ok tell me about that.
Wayne: That’s when the Banditz happened. They knocked on my door and I said no  a few times, I was too shook, I didn’t want to go into my old naughty ways and I was only eighteen/nineteen and then I moved to Cork, Cork City. Then I was approached by a guy called Gerry Lane, who had a heavy metal band called Drive Shaft. And so I became a member of Drive Shaft and we were like I guess, a heavy metal show band and we went to this amazing house down near Bandon and then Kieran Kennedy joined us as in Rio. And Kieran and I were great friends before that I had sort of pulled Kieran into the band. So, then Kieran and I then met John Sullivan, a bass player in Cork and we said ok, let’s go to Dublin. So the three of us left, well myself and Kieran left Drive Shaft formed a band called Nineteen Ninety ( 1990) and am three piece Wayne, Kieran & John O’Sullivan and we moved to Dublin. We moved incidentally the same day that Micro Disney left and I remember we met Sean and Cathal. Yeah we met Sean and Cathal on Patricks Bridge in Cork and said good luck to them. We were going to Dublin and they were going to London. We moved up to Dublin and we added Graham Kimm from The Bandittz, another keyboard player called Edwin Tierney joined us and so there were five of us in the band. Then the Cork mafia, Dennis Desmond had moved up the same time, Joe O’ Herlihy moved up to work for U2 ah you know all that gang Timmy, Timmy Buckley, Cathal Mullalley, Tom Mullalley and Paul Tiernan. We all, within the space of four weeks, the whole of Cork’s music industry moved to Dublin.

Tom:  That must have been an incredible time.
Wayne: It was quiet an extraordinary time and Jerry Feehily at this stage used to come down to my sound checks with 1990 and with an old cassette player, sit and record me.

Tom: Ok, brilliant!
Wayne: So Jerry always cites me as an influence.

Tom:  Excellent, at that stage music wise what were you doing?
Wayne: Neil Peart .1990 was very much kind of like Rush meets The Police. There was a heavy emphasis on technique that was really a time when I was getting my chops. There were a lot of chops happening.

Tom: How were you learning them?
Wayne: Oh, just myself listening and listening. I had a golden rule, if there is something I hear and I can’t kind of do it, don’t learn anything else until you can.

Tom: That’s a brilliant concept.
Wayne: It was great. It was really good for me actually. I really developed and then at the same time I started drumming with my right hand, just in rehearsals and just for grooves not rolls and stuff just to develop my left hand side a bit better. It has never been strong but it developed a lot stronger and  then the story gets a bit easier. 1990, we had an avalanche of A & R Interest

Tom: So the 1990 influence was The Police and Rush and that was the three piece.
Wayne:  Ok except at this 1990 the five piece changed significantly and then the influences were all of a sudden, Simple Minds, Big Country, Wire, Echo and the Bunnymen, Genesis.

Tom:  Ok actually, I have to make a confession here, the guy with Big Country, Mark Brzezicki, I would have been a huge fan of his.
Wayne: Mark, Mel Gaynor and I did a Zildjian tour. I was the opening act, Jesus it was really hard to go on before Mark, well better to go on before him than after him let’s put it that way. Jesus he was unbelievable, so was Mel, but Mel and I were probably of the same ilk. Mel was very powerful as well you know, he was a strong drummer/strong player I was always a rock drummer and then came the Bono intervention and because a lot of the Cork gang were involved in the U2 organisation. We were getting very close to that organisation and Mother records were being formed and Bono came to see 1990, didn’t like the band, told Mother  but liked me and came up to me and said I am going to get someone to call you about something, so then Frank Kearns calls me from Cactus World News and Bono, Eoin and Frank turned up in the Baggot Inn and mentioned basically about the Mother deal and single and that they needed me in the band, that Bono said that if I joined, Mother Records would support the band. So then I did the audition and then I said yes and it was very difficult because I was leaving behind a lot of friends.

Tom: Yes, did that turn your head a little bit?
Wayne: Yeah, definitely, but it was one of the band, one of the 1990 band actually who said “you can’t say no”. Graham, who was much older than me and he just turned around and said you can’t say no. We were sharing a house in Ballsbridge and he said you can’t say no Wayne and that was kind of like what swung it for me really, so I said to Frank ok and then we auditioned  for bass players and then Fergal Andrews, Eamon Andrews son, came and he was just tearingly brilliant compared to everyone else. So Fergal Andrews then became the bass player and that was Cactus.

Tom: Excellent and what happened then?
Wayne: And then of course I asked Bono to produce the first EP because he was just saying if I produce it for you, if I produce the bridge for you, he loved the song, he said I am going to fuck it for you because everyone will just think I am just giving you a leg up. I am quite an idealist Tom, you know and I still am even now in my fifties.  I turned around to Bono and I said I don’t care what people say, would you like to produce it and he said sure. He had an annoying habit of calling me baldy and I just did the electric burma thing like. So Bono agreed to produce a record and that’s where the MCA came in and Cactus choose Chris Kimsey and that’s when Frank became an influence on my playing actually.

Tom: Can you describe in what way?
Wayne: Frank kind of declared a sound for the band which was different and funny enough Frank hadn’t copped that I was a muso, like I had chops, the ideal drummer for Cactus. I think in a way would have been for his visionary in the beginning would have been a slammer like a Ramones type player, yeah. So, then he made some very interesting suggestions. He said why don’t you remove the rack tom and put a floor tom on your left and a floor tom on your right and I let him influence me, so I removed the rack so that meant my rolls, all of a sudden were completely different.

Tom: Where was he coming from?
Wayne: Purely lateral thinking, like he was just thinking if I prevent Wayne or discourage Wayne from his chops because I had a lot of chops at that stage and you can see all my influences. And I had a habit of rolling like Perch you know the triple one,  So, I was constantly rolling and then I loved Stewart’s way of you know always hitting the cymbal on the first beat of the next bar rather than crashing on the floor. So, Frank was feeling and I really respect Frank for this, he was in a way, he sort of encouraged me to develop a system whereas I would develop an absolute style of my own. It was actually very successful for Cactus.

Tom:  You mentioned cymbals, what were you using at that time?
Wayne: I was on stage ah we were opening the first show for The Cult and their European tour and they had just released The Love Album so it was a fantastic tour to be on and we were in Bradford and I break into, we were opening with “Years Later” So, I open it up ah live and I go straight to the high hats, I snap the top hat, gone and Ian Croft who was then the artists liaison officer with Zildjian comes running on the stage and  I will always remember his words he goes “Man you need to use Zildjian cymbals from here on in, you’re f**ken Zildjian endorsing till the day you die” and as he was saying this he was screwing on the high hats for me and am I was quite a nervous character anyway, I have got very high energy and I burn a lot of it off. But that was the beginning of my Zildjian endorsements so I had a lovely collection of Zildjian cymbals. You know, I must actually look at them, I don’t go back in to my past very often.

Tom:  Do you mind reviewing the past?
Wayne: It’s interesting for me actually. So Cactus and Chris Kimsey produced the album and we spent a fortune and we travelled the world. I lived in New York and I did all sorts of wonderful things and fell in love and out of love and then you know Cactus charted well in America, in particular. We became The College Radio Number 1 album in the Rolling Stone Poll and the top one hundred albums, selling out shows all over the States and then Irving Azoff the head of MCA at the time came to see us. We were doing two nights in The Roxy in LA  and Irving was coming to the first show and he is God as you know. So Irving came in and we used to do a version of “America”, Frank and Eoin’s influence. Some of our strategies and our obsessional approach to things were almost military in its operation and that came from the core U2 energy, but I think it was a good influence more than a bad influence.

Tom: So as a band you had no problem playing covers?
Wayne:  We decided that when we played America we were going to do a version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” (sings All want to come to America) and a rather smashing version we did of it as well, very powerful and it was a 6/8 feel which is for all us Celts particularly. It’s a very natural feel for us and you ask a French or an American to play it and they struggle with it so anyway we did a lovely version of it and Irving Azoff came in to the dressing room in The Roxy and he said amongst other things he said, “ Gee guys  I love what you are doing, we got to record “America”, it’s got to be the next single. I will get you into Sunset Sands this week, cancel any shows and we will get you into Sunset and we will record that song and we will get someone good to produce it for you”.  Of course, we were young, stupid, spoiled and convinced we were going to be stars with or without Irving’s Azoff’s  influence. We thought the idea of doing a cover was below us, the idea of doing a Simon & Garfunkel cover was even more below us and we didn’t even consider it. We just blew it out of the water and I kind of feel sorry for our management in one sense in that we didn’t have the where with all to do that. It was a rather super idea.

Tom: Do you feel that was mistake for the band’s career?
Wayne; That was a career changing moment for Cactus, one of three. I was on the fence, then we toured the shit out of it and then we started drinking. I was up to a bottle of tequila a day towards the end of the European tour. I was a heavy drinker.

Tom; What were the other, you feel, career changing moments for the band?
 Wayne; Berlin were number one with Top Gun and they had called our management and agent in the UK and they were massive fans of Cactus. Without any buy on, would we do the entire American tour?

Tom: Wow that seemed a fantastic opportunity!
Wayne: Now, our singer was suffering from tinnitus, which most of us have anyway. He was starting to suffer from tinnitus but he wasn’t sharing, he was a nervous wreck. He was going through a real problem with his faith, my relationship was on the rocks and Fergal was home sick. Frank was exhausted and we said no. That was moment number two. That would have been a stadium sell out tour. We would have never really looked back so that was really a pinnacle point in the bands career. I think the pivotal point actually.

Tom: As a matter of interest, who did that tour?
Wayne: I don’t know I must look actually. I think it was somebody that pissed us of as well. I think it was like an English band and because we used to have opening acts, we got pretty big in the UK and we had an entourage as well.  Yeah, I know because I think it was one of the bands who had opened for us in the UK had blagged their way on to it had picked it up instead, can’t remember now. In the mean time Aslan was being managed, without us knowing, back home by our management and using our Irish back line and without Aslan knowing it our management was starting to run up humongous bills, limos to Killarney and van hire, PA hire all us picking up the tab for the boys. We loved Aslan and we didn’t begrudge them a penny of it and still don’t. But that was starting to affect us as well and we were starting to worry about the relationship with our management so then we brought in emergency management. Kieran Owens came in and  we were dropped by the label on a Monday and literally re signed by the American label a month later but the same label we were dropped by London and re signed by LA.

Tom: Wow all within the space of a month.
Wayne: Yeah and then came the second album which for me this was the third and final point for Cactus. For me it comes back to the drumming thing. I had heard Manu Katche playing so Manu was now my main influence, I loved it. I loved ” So” I loved everything about “So” and then Manu Katche became my god and we met David Rose and David Rose wanted to produce Cactus so I could see a shift. So back came the rack tom and Kevin Killen the Irish engineer/producer who did all the Costello stuff and all the U2 stuff. So Kevin Killen and David Rhodes were our next producers and we were to do it in Real World at the very same time that Peter Gabriel was producing the sound track for Martin Scorsese's  Last Temptation of Christ so we had about sixteen, no we had about twenty tribesmen all sitting in the garden. So we were making that album, it was tough on Frank but it was a pleasure for me because every time David wanted me to do something I was very easy, I was one of the first drummers in Europe I would say, to settle in to a click.

Tom: Did you enjoy working with a click?
Wayne: I had no fear of machines and I had no problems with them and I realised from day one that they were going to be a friend, a help and not a hazard and I think I influenced a lot of players about that actually, you know I remember Brian Downey having a lot of issues about clicks and me talking to Brian, Brian I loved, oh actually he is another influence there.  So, the click thing the whole thing we were recording in real world in 1988 and we had done some pre production in Windmall Lane and then my father goes and drops dead. And that would have been four months after Eamon Andrews died so that was the second major bereavement in the band and I just had split up with my girlfriend at the same time who I was living with and that was it that was the body blow that we never recovered from really and then Frank, Frank didn’t like the way Kevin and David were taking the album because they were bringing it more mainstream and I was starting to use my chops again and starting to groove. I was starting to feel soul again, it wasn’t sort of new age and arty, it was back to very groove based music and I was leaping on this and we made the second album which only came out four years ago or something  ah “No Shelter”. It was eight years ago now actually the time flies. That was remixed by Andy Newmark, no Andy Wallace as in Nirvana. And of course what is the guys name from Pearl Jam? The main man, the singer, Jesus what was his name? Oh, God! Eddie Vedder.

Tom; Was he a friend of the band?
Wayne: He is a great friend of Glen Hansard actually, he was a massive fan of Cactus, huge fan, he used to hitch everywhere to see us. I am digressing there so anyway at that stage I can definitely say it was a mixture of everything I had ever heard and on the Manu Katche thing that was when I decided that world music was something I really wanted to explore.

Tom: So what happened then?
Wayne:  I left Cactus not long after that and Fountain Head was very successful in Switzerland. Well then Fountain Head’s manager Kieran Owen started managing another band called Hinterland.

Tom:  I remember, who was the band signed to?
Wayne:  They signed to Island Records and they asked me to join them so that was the next project. It was Hinterland and Fountain Head and a tug of love went on for a year or two. 

Thursday 7 August 2014

Interview with Billy Doherty, Drummer with The Undertones

The Undertones are without doubt one of the greatest bands this island has ever produced. The man occupying the drum throne is one of my drumming heroes, the brilliant Billy Doherty

Tom; Billy how did you get started in drumming?

Billy; I was about maybe 7 or 8 years old. My sister and I went to a Christmas party and there was a folk group consisting of a guitar player and another guy with a snare drum. The drummer placed a handkerchief on the snare drum to dampen the sound and I was intrigued by that. So, from that time on all I wanted to be was a drummer. But I had no drum kit so I just used my hands and tapped of the sofa and table. I was anything but a technical drummer and I was never able to do rudiments.

Tom: What was your first drum kit?

Billy: My first drum kit was a mixture of drums maybe a Dixon bass drum, an Olympic tom-tom and a hyman snare drum. A real hotch potch of drums and we got them second hand from a shop in Raphoe called Reynolds. I probably bought them in 1976. John and Damien from The Undertones, their father, took out a loan of providence cheques and he gave me the money so I bought the drum kit second hand.

Tom: Did you get a drum endorsement after that and when did you update your kit?

Billy: Well, I was always in to Premier drums. Probably through television you would see all these guys. Premier was a British kit. I’m a big fan of Charlie Watts and he uses a Gretch kit and probably through Top of the Pops because there was always a Premier kit on the programme, so I always wanted to have one. They were common in the local music shops so when the band got success I was very lucky to get an endorsement with Premier and I have been with them since 1979.

Tom: And cymbals wise Billy, what do you use?

Billy: Back then I preferred Zildjian to Paiste but I have an endorsement now with Sabian and I really do like Sabian cymbals.

Tom: Billy, you mentioned that you didn’t get any formal drum teaching. How do you feel your style has progressed over the years?

 Billy: My style Tom is very basic, very much 1,2,3,4 and Go. My style really hasn’t changed but I did play with other bands, just messing about. I went to play with a Country and Western band. I think if you can do the basic patterns, nail them and make it groove, I think that puts you in good standing as regards progression. Obviously I’m not a technical drummer so I couldn’t jump in to say, a big band and you wanted swing drumming I would find that difficult you know reading music and playing chops, but I would give it a try. If I had time to sit down and work it out I would be able to work it out by ear. One of my big influences is Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones. He was one of the guys I thought was an amazing drummer. There was a guy called Tony Leonard and Suzi Quatro’s drummer, Dave Neal. Paul Thompson from Roxy Music, Woody (Mick Woodmansey) who played with David Bowie. They were all big influences on me when I was growing up.

 Tom: Excellent Billy. Were there any Irish drummers at the time that you would have been listening to? 

Billy: There would have been drummers locally. There was a guy called Mickey Feeney, also Jim Whiteside and a guy called Mickey Sheridan. They were loud guys playing in bands who would have been slightly older than me. I couldn’t get in to the pubs where they were playing so it would have been a case of poking in through the window from outside. I would have tried to copy what they were playing and I think it’s important for any young drummer starting out that they get good training. You could agonise for years in order to figure out just how to do a beat and then if you see someone show you and explain to you how it’s done it can demystify the whole thing.  In Ireland for me at the time would have been Eamon Carr out of Horslips. That would have been the big Irish band for us. I thought he was too good, his band and his drumming was too good for me. I suppose Brian Downey, of Thin Lizzy. These would have been the most serious Irish drummers when I was growing up. Also the drummer out of the Royal Waterford Show band, he was an amazing drummer.

Tom: Billy, what advice would you give young drummers starting out?

Billy: I think the important thing is to have the enthusiasm for it. You just have to love it, which I do. I still get enthusiastic about drumming. It’s also important to get a tutor, whether it’s Country & Western, Rock and Roll, if you can get someone who does that style of drumming and speak to them and figure out how they do it. Break the beat down in to small sections. The thing is to try and learn some very basic beats and just study the bass drum, start to finish, then focus on the snare drum, same thing and then move to the hi-hats, then the cymbals. Try to nail all those sections and bring it together. Definitely you should learn rudiments because the rudiments give you very good independence and very good co-ordination which is a thing I never did and I’m sorry I don’t play them. Also there is so much stuff now as to when I was growing up I think the only magazine was Modern Drummer. There is so much stuff now on the Internet, on YouTube and then there are so many DVDs. So try and collect as much information as you can. Try and copy as many styles, that’s the thing about drumming, knowing what angle to come at it. For me drummers are like that, they just want to hear what’s going on. They can emulate the beat. It certainly works for me.  

Tom:   Billy, when you’re drumming with The Undertones do you have 100% control over what you play?

Billy: Well it depends who writes the song. They might want it to sound like a Creedance Clearwater Revival song or a Beatles song and so the drummer in those bands I try and emulate their style. Yeah but it’s kind of more or less left up to me. So nowadays with John being the main songwriter he would do a lot of programming so he would do a beat and the song more or less can be done drumming wise. It’s just up to me to copy the beat and throw in what I think works but I tend to be fairly straight and just keep the beat and lock it down. You see Tom it’s easy for us because we all like the same thing and we tune in to each other. We all know what works, what doesn’t and what we can or can’t fit in.

Tom: There is a song from The Undertones called Really Really that’s credited to you. How did you come up with that song?

Billy: I think it was influenced by a Dave Clarke song. It was a kind of an upbeat, funky, summery very happy song. I just had that idea in my head and I came up with the riff on the guitar. I would tend to look more towards the sixties. For me the whole sixties sound and the sixties drum sound is so good.

Tom: Billy you’ve had a lot of highlights in your life with The Undertones. What are the key ones?

Billy: One of the key highlights for me was when we did the Teenage Kicks song and we gave it to John Peel. He told us that he was going to play it on his radio show. We were all in O’Neill’s with the radio on listening to John Peel. We were so thrilled. You know the radio and TV were very important back then. We could hear music and see bands whenever. The fact of John Peel playing our song on the radio was absolutely unbelievable but no sooner had he played the track he put back the needle and played the song for the second time. We were just speechless and we just looked at each other. We just roared out with laughter. O my God, that’s absolutely amazing. We never heard a record played back to back on Radio One at any stage. I mean I could have died and I would have been happy. The aspiration I had for the band happened very, very quickly. Make a record, have it played by John Peel, have it played on Radio One, and be on Top of the Pops. That happened within a matter of months so I fulfilled all my ambitions really, really quickly so anything after that was a bonus.

Tom: Brilliant Billy and recording wise what would you say was your favourite album? 

Billy: I think for me probably Sin of Pride. People would say our first album which is in the top 100 albums of all time. I think it’s in the top 1001 records to hear before you die as well. But I prefer the last album Sin of Pride probably because I was more confident and I knew more about the recording process. Eh, I knew how to get better drum sounds. When we went in to record the first LP I didn’t know much about studios, I didn’t know different skins give you different sounds. Being in a studio is a unique experience and an art in its own and you have to adapt to that environment so by the time I got to that LP I became more confident, more familiar of the whole recording process and I like the songs better as well.

Tom: Billy, what are your own favourite songs?

Billy: Forgetting The Undertones, there was a guy called Bobby Graham. Bobby Graham played with Van Morrison and Them and he drummed on Gloria. The drumming on Gloria for me is absolutely brilliant. Some drumming, I mean there is so much going on in that, Latin American technique, great snare drum sound. It’s just an absolutely brilliant track and I was very, very lucky to speak to Bobby Graham before he died. He’s dead now probably two years. I was disappointed that a documentary was never made particularly about the British drummers. For me Bobby was one of the best players in the sixties and seventies. I think he played with Petula Clark, Tom Jones and Van Morrison. I love Gloria, I think it’s my favourite track and of course Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones. Eh, anything by Charlie Watts, Jumping Jack Flash is absolutely an amazing track for me. I would have to say The Ramones, Tommy Ramone. Any song from The Ramones. It’s just that we would copy The Ramones so much.

Tom: Billy, you’re best known for your work in The Undertones but you’ve played in other bands as well!

Billy: Well I played in a band called The Carrelines and it had a singer called Paul McLoone. Paul now sings with The Undertones. We won the Hot Press best unsigned act. I think the key to a band is that everybody can get on. It’s important that everybody has the same outlook, the same style in music and if you can get these elements to work then you’re very, very lucky. It’s then very enjoyable and fun.

Tom: Did The Carrelines release anything?

Billy: Yes, we did a single as part of the prize for winning the award. I think it got a couple of airplays and there was a lot of record company interest.  We were about to sing with Virgin records but one of the guys in the band he wanted to do other things so it just didn’t happen.

Tom: Billy, you supposedly came up with the name The Undertones, is that correct?
Billy: I did yes. I always liked names that have some kind of rhythm to them. Names like The Beatles, Roxy Music, and The Rolling Stones. I always liked those kinds of names. So obviously with the punk thing coming out and you had, The Buzzcocks, The Sex Pistols and The Damned, all the big names and I said to the lads, what about The Undertones and they said ok, except Feargal. He hated the name. He was on holidays at the time and when he came back we just told him but he didn’t like it at all. But I think bands go through that thinking of all different names until they get something that’s ok. The Undertones, that name just stuck with us.

Tom: You have done a lot of studio recordings and playing live. Which do you prefer?

Billy: I prefer studio work.  I like it a lot because you can go back and decide what works, what doesn’t work and if a beat needs changing. I definitely love the recording process. I think it’s great. I could work in a studio all day. When your drum track is finished and then guitars, vocals go down etc.

Tom: Do you listen back to certain songs and think I wish I had played the beat differently?

Billy: Eh, every one of them I would change, (Billy laughs). I should have done a fill there. I should have left that drum fill out. Yeah, every song I would change absolutely.

Tom: Billy, I love the tuning you get with your drums. What do you do to achieve this?

Billy: Well for live, I tune the heads very tight and that’s because I’m a big fan of John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. Also I remember Ian Paice of Deep Purple talk about Bonham saying that he tuned the heads very tight, so that’s what I do. I try and get the top skins to tune as tight as I can. I really don’t use any gaffer tape or dampening on the drums. The only bit of dampening I use is a light bit of dampening on the bass drum. I use coated heads which isn’t really good for my style of drumming because I wear them out too quickly. I think they give a very ringy sound which I like and because my toms are quite deep it gives a nice depth to the sound. Live, I try and keep everything very bright and with very little dampening.

Tom: What size bass drum are you using at the moment?

Billy: I use a 22 inch bass drum, a 14 inch rack drum and that’s because I’m a big fan of Charlie Watts. I’m a big fan of the Ludwig Black Beauty snare, I think there excellent.

Tom: So what’s next in the pipeline for Billy Doherty? Is there a 5 year plan?

Billy: (laughs) I wish there was a 5 year plan. With The Undertones we just potter about day to day. If someone says lets go in and record we’ll do that, if someone says let’s practise we will go and do that, we’re basically a lazy bunch. Well at the moment we have dates in Germany and we’re doing a fund raiser for John Peel. Also the band could be going to Australia and South America early next year, there’s talk of us doing that. Also there’s a documentary coming out about the band, I think it’s on September 7th on BBC4. Well I mean six months would be a long time for us to plan for. We just keep it day to day and please God we’ll stay in good health and do more dates and people come to the shows.

Tom: You mentioned playing live and staying in good health. What do you do to keep yourself in good shape for drumming?

Billy: Well for my type of drumming I definitely have to keep myself fit. I need to keep myself fit because our songs are very, very fast. If anything I think we are faster now than we were when we first started out.

Tom; Do you run any drum clinics Billy?

Billy: I don’t Tom because I don’t consider myself in any way a technical drummer. If I teach someone all I can teach them is to play a real steady rock beat, you know bass drum, snare drum and hi hat.  I was thinking about setting up a basic course on rock drumming. It would take a bit of time but I never got around to actually giving lessons.

Tom: You mentioned that you play guitar, anything else?

Billy: Maybe a bit of keyboard, a bit of guitar, a sort of a jack of all trades but master of none as the saying goes but drumming is definitely my preference. I just love drumming. That’s just what I’m in to. I know it’s sad but it’s just what I’m in to.

Tom: What advice would you give to drummers?

Billy:  Go to drum clinics whenever you can. There is so much you can learn. I’ve gone to quite a few. The last one I went to was Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Now I wouldn’t be a big Chilli Peppers fan but he was very, very good.  Also I went to see John Thompson, he drummed with Rory Gallagher and I went to the drummer who plays with Paul Weller. And if you go to these drum clinics, ask questions, even silly questions. I remember someone asking a question and I was thinking that’s exactly what I was going to ask because it’s just priceless information. So get to as many drum clinics as you can and there really good fun as well. It’s a really good day out.

Tom: Billy how do you think Irish drummers differ from their counterparts, say in America or mainland Europe?

Billy: That’s an absolutely brilliant question. Funnily enough I was talking to Liam Bradley, drummer with Van Morrison and Boyzone. Liam was saying when he was growing up, along with me; he was always looking towards American drummers and wondering why they were so good. The reason he thinks that American drummers are so good is that they are given lessons at a very young age at junior school and that nurturing continues through primary and through college. That system doesn’t exist in Ireland; well it didn’t in my day. I think it’s changing now with musical education in schools because music covers everything from guitars, trombones and there’s drumming. It’s great if kids can try that basic rhythm whether it’s a tambourine, a triangle or bongos. It would be great to keep that basic groundwork of rhythm through school from primary to college. So I think that’s the difference between American drummers and Irish drummers. I think also generally American drummers seem to be a lot more relaxed, more self assured when there drumming. From the talent point of view I don’t think there is much difference it’s just individually their prepared to put more work in.

Tom: So, can Irish drummers bridge the gap?

Billy: That’s a good question but I don’t look at it as one drummer being better than another drummer, it’s just the style that they bring. Also in America there is jazz and that’s part of the popular culture too. America’s so big and the opportunities for players so better as well. I think here for me and probably with The Troubles as well there wasn’t many bands to go and see.

Tom: Thanks Billy for your time in doing this interview.

Billy: No bother Tom. I think it’s great what you’re doing. I remember when I was talking to Bobby Graham about his playing on Gloria. Now I love Gloria, it’s one of the reasons I got in to drumming. I was talking to Bobby about his snare drum on that and he said he wanted to get a Latin feel on one part and it was totally spontaneous. I couldn’t believe it. Bobby set up the drums and they went for it. I think they did it in one take. So I think it’s great that somebody can document all this stuff about drummers. 

Interview; Billy Doherty
Location; Tom’s Kitchen
Date; 29th August, 2012

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Interview with Darragh Butler, Drummer with Kerbdog / Wilt

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.