Dystopian Future Movies are about to release their new album. Available on Vinyl, CD and digitally from the 2nd March, ‘Inviolate’ will be the first release on Caroline Cawley’s new label, Lasairfhíona Records. Here, Caroline tells us of her love of Kerbdog in the latest in our Why I Love series.
I won’t lie. I wasn’t amongst the first raft of Kerbdog devotees, obsessed with that first show of pure, raucous intent as their first self-titled album roared to life with ‘End of Green’ on its release in ‘94. That came later.
For me it was ‘JJ’s Song’. Played on Dave Fanning’s rock show on Irish radio station 2FM around the release of ‘On the Turn’ in early ‘97.
Those opening strains of muted guitar panned to the left, the power, the insistant vocal driving the melody, those angular chugs, those semi-drop-outs before (is that an ascending key change?!) soaring riffs, that anger, those harmonies, another dynamic shift, some kind of reverse reverb on the drums, bass solo section. Fucking hell, that production. I managed to shove a TDK D90 into my one deck tape player and hit play/record albeit a few bars in. And that was it.
The next day at school, I began sowing the seeds amongst friends. Have you heard of Kerbdog from Kilkenny? A resounding no from my music-loving mates, but word eventually got to one of the lads at the local boys’ school about some girl who was into metal via the bus heading out to one of the villages. This was rural Ireland, single-sex schools and kids who bus daily from miles around – a ragtag disperate community of rock fans.
Later that week, my mate arrived to school with a beaming smile and thrust a tape into my hand, ‘Here, Joseph taped that band’s album for you’. The first album.
I don’t think I ever met him more than once after that, he later furnished me with a bootleg of Whipping Boy’s ‘Heartworm’ – another stone cold classic Irish album.
The self-titled debut held the real meat and bones of the band. Opening the cassette box, with hastily scribbled track listing (remember when TDK released those light grey coloured cassette cases with the sexy rounded edges?!) I noted that the full album didn’t even finish one side of the tape. Plenty of room for Album 2 to fit on Side B when it was released. Excellent.
The power of the tracks on Kerbdog’s only two albums bowled me over. At home, my Dad had always eschewed that muddy, over-driven, heavy-rock sound for clarity. His quest for crystal clear production was rewarded by the mass availability and popularisation of CD at the time. So in a house where there was a great emphasis on being able to hear each instrument in a beautifully EQed package, there wasn’t much room for the raucous. I argued that there was warmth and beautiful separation on even the less commercial but hook-laden first album when coupled with roars of Cormac Battle’s and Billy Dalton’s guitar distortion and that distinctive dynamic ebb and flow.
But no reminisce about the band that changed your life would be complete without a crazy story. At the height of my Kerbdog obsession, my naive and idealistic 15 year old incarnation with little or no knowledge of how the music industry worked would try her hand at booking a gig.
After talking incessantly about the band at school, there were a few more converts and conversation ensued about the fact that we’d probably never see them live as no one ever came to Sligo. (Surprising exception: The Prodigy played in Sligo Sports Centre in December 1994 on their Music for the Jilted Generation tour – in hindsight this must have been why we thought it might actually be possible!)
We started to draw up a list of people who we knew that would probably come to the gig and figured our plan might actually be crazy enough to work. My mate was heading to Dublin that weekend on the train and knowing that the General Post Office on the main street housed each town’s phonebook country-wide, a plan was hatched.
She arrived back to school on Monday morning with the only two Battle addresses listed in the Kilkenny phonebook. I took one, she took the other and we set about writing letters to these strangers in the hope that they were in some way related to the man himself so that we could share our grand Sligo gig plans.
A few weeks passed and on a Saturday morning my dad answered the phone.
‘It’s for you, a Michael Battle?’
My heart skipped a number of beats.
‘Hi there Caroline. I got your letter, thanks very much, I’m sure the lads would be delighted to do a gig, sure I can give you Cormac’s number up in Dublin and you can give him a shout yourself about it. I don’t know why you didn’t write your phone number on the letter, I had to go looking for the Sligo phonebook to get it!’
Mortified (such a rookie mistake!) but elated, I jotted down the Dublin number, I was in no doubt that this was definitely going to happen now.
On Wednesdays, school finished a bit earlier so off my mate and I went to get a £5 call card to use in the public phone box outside the shopping centre. Nerves, excitement and a determination to not let on to the Mr Battle himself that I was but a 15 year old girl in school uniform in a phone box.
The phone rang, a few times.
‘Hello?’,came a voice on the other end shouting over some really loud music. ‘Hi, can I speak to Cormac Battle please?’. I was told to hold the line.
The music was turned down and the receiver was lifted. And in my best, ‘I-am-an-actual-adult-and-also-a gig-promoter’ telephone voice, I began.
‘Em, hi there Cormac, I’m a music promoter down here in Sligo and I was wondering if Kerbdog would be interested in a gig early next year?’
And then the bombshell.
‘Oh, were actually breaking up. Yeah, it’s a shame. But we have a new band, me and Darragh. So that’ll be good. We’re doing our last show in Dublin in March, so you should come along to that.’
Heartbroken I exited the phone box.
For many years thereafter, that eventually battered TDK D90 accompanied me everywhere. School bus journeys, walks, family car journeys, rainy Sunday afternoons. I used it to steady my nerves before school exams, in the bleary-eyed early mornings before my weekend waitressing job. A quick blast of ‘Lesser Shelf’ to celebrate finishing yet another criminally laborious lesson plan when I was at university, ‘Pledge’ when I received the call from Dublin to say I’d got my first teaching job. Those two albums spoke to me like nothing else had, they were the sound of me against the world. I would get utterly lost within them and years before I would eventually pick up the guitar myself, they were helping to form ideas – a foundation for the way I now think about song-writing, the elements and formation of what moves me sonically.
Many thanks to Caroline for taking the time out tell us why she loves Kerbdog. Check out Dystopian Future Movies video for Black Cloaked below. You can also see their upcoming tour dates and where to connect online.
You can read more from the Why I Love archives here.
In conjunction with Cyclopean Productions, 2020 sees the band celebrate the release with a string of UK co-headline shows with Grave Lines.
12th March – Star & Garter, Manchester
13th March – The Chameleon, Nottingham
14th March – Green Door Store, Brighton
15th March – The Exchange, Bristol
15th May – Network, Sheffield
16th May – The Cluny, Newcastle Upon Tyne
17th May – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow