To day time listeners to 2FM’s Rick O’Shea show his voice is a familiar part of the “organised madness” that goes out on the air each afternoon. But a long time before he ever took to the national airwaves, Cormac Battle was living the life that everyone who picks up a guitar dreams of. Moving to London with his band Kerbdog to record a debut album, then following that up by heading to the USA to record the follow up, before being dropped by the record label, Battle has seen both the good and the bad side of the music industry during the 1990s.
On Friday week, October 26 Battle and Kerbdog will be making their live debut in Mayo when they take to the stage at Live n Loud presents Night of the Living Freaks Halloween Fancy Dress Ball in the Ruby Room in the TF Royal.
It is a sort of homecoming for Battle as he explains: “Both my parents are from just outside Ballina on the Enniscrone side, I used to spend a good bit of time when we were living in London in around Ballina on holidays.” But it will be a first gig in Mayo for Battle and Kerbdog. “It’s one of those things, when we were going first and touring around, Castlebar or Mayo wasn’t a place you went to there wasn’t a scene here that you would find elsewhere. So it’s good to see the likes of Finbar (Hoban, the promoter of this gig ) doing stuff like this and getting a scene going in the area.”
London and back via Kilkenny
Battle spent his early years growing up in London, before moving to Kilkenny when his parents moved back to Ireland and the music scene in the city was rocking at the time Kerbdog were starting off. “It was kinda amazing, that a place like Kilkenny had such a great scene at that time in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. Everyone seemed to be in bands and playing and everyone was very good, you’d constantly be hearing that this A & R man was coming to see this and that. It was all a bit mad, really.”
Kerbdog went on to sign for Mercury Records and release two albums, over the course of the 1990s, their self titled debut in 1994 and On the Turn in 1997 which has gone on to become a bit of a cult classic since. It all seemed so easy at the start according to Battle. “It just seemed so simple really for us, start gigging and do a demo, sent it out and get signed. It all seemed so easy, it made you wonder why everybody wasn’t doing it. It was great, I was 20 and we moved to London to record our debut album and we were living our dream and doing what we wanted. Then we went to the USA to record our follow up, you couldn’t believe how much fun it was. It cost a lot of money to make, if I had only one per cent of that now, I’d be doing very well. But it didn’t take off as we’d hoped, for a number of factors. But I’m very proud of On the Turn, you can see over the past few years that it’s still well regarded by people.”
The fall and rise
The music industry can be a tough place and Battle found that out not long after the release of On the Turn and the initial spilt of Kerbdog. “We were dropped, that’s the bottom line. You hear some bands saying ‘it was a mutual decision’, no the fact is you were dropped and it happens.”
But despite that Battle and Darragh Butler from Kerbdog kept going and formed a new band Wilt after the split and recorded two more albums Bastinado and My Medicine, in 2000 and 2002, before splitting in 2003.
However music is still in his blood and in 2005 Kerbdog re-formed for the first time, and over the past seven years have been back together on an on and off basis and it is something that Battle is really enjoying. “It’s great, it’s kind of like the pressure is off and you can just go and enjoy being in a band. It’s also kind of strange that some places we go and play in now and there’s 700 people there, whereas when we were a real going concern early on we might have had 20 or 30 people. Hopefully on October 26, it’s going to be great fun night and we’ll have to see what we the night has in store.”
Tickets cost €20 and are available from Downtown Records Castlebar.
We have tickets to give away
The Mayo Advertiser has some tickets to give away to Kerbdog’s show in Castlebar on October 26, all you have to do is answer this simple question; Who is the lead singer in Kerbdog? Send your answer to Kerbdog Competition, Mayo Advertiser, Market Square, Castlebar, Co Mayo. Or email it with Kerbdog Competition in the subject line to [email protected], or look out for the competition posting on our Facebook page and post your answer under it and like our page. Winners will be notified by Wednesday, October 24.