(L-R) Billy Dalton, Colin Fennelly, Cormac Battle and Darragh Butler: Kerbdog in 2014
Kerbdog are an alternative metal band from Kilkenny, Ireland who formed in 1991. Following two major-label albums released on Mercury Records, the band split up in 1998. Since 2005 the band has reformed for a series of occasional one-off performances in Ireland and England. In 2012, a live album was recorded entitled Congregation and was released in October 2014.
Originally named 'Rollercoaster', Kerbdog were formed in 1991 by Cormac Battle (vocals/guitar), Colin Fennelly (bass guitar) and Darragh Butler (drums) while attending St Kieran's College secondary level school. The band went on to obtain their Leaving Certificates, but they devoted their energies to music rather than studies. Their early live shows primarily consisted of cover versions of songs by Sonic Youth, Loop, Spacemen 3 and Fudge Tunnel. Rollercoaster spent a year in London, but they failed to win much interest from the UK music press and returned to Kilkenny.
Billy Dalton joined the band in early 1992 as a second guitarist and his fondness for heavy metal acts Metallica and Slayer complemented Battle's fascination with the British and New York underground. The songs that resulted from the disparate influences of the band's primary members were visceral and cerebral. Realising that they had a potential for success with the band, Cormac, Colin, and Darragh dropped out of college and Billy left his job as a truck driver with his family's prosperous milling company.
The group changed their name to Kerbdog in honour of a Californian BMX team that they were "obsessed with".
"We were really into BMX as kids and those guys were our heroes"
Darragh Butler - Kilkenny People newspaper, 2010
After supporting Therapy? in Kilkenny's New Park Inn (since demolished) in February 1992, the band suggested that Kerbdog record and send off a demo to the record companies. The foursome recorded their first demo in Dublin that Summer (two songs of which later appeared as b-sides on their debut Vertigo Records single "Earthworks"). A second demo was recorded in December and yielded the version of "Earthworks" that became the aforementioned single:
"We weren't expecting to hear anything from anyone, but we had 22 labels get back to us. It was just insane. We had to split them into two days, so we met 11 sets of record company executives a day in the Pumphouse. We were just kids and there they were pulling up in their limos to meet us"
Darragh Butler - Kilkenny People newspaper, 2010
Debut album (1993-1994)
In early 1993, Kerbdog signed with Mercury Records subsidiary Vertigo Records. That summer, Kerbdog recorded their self-titled debut album at Rockfield Studios in Wales, during which time Sepultura were also there recording their 1993 album Chaos A.D. The album was produced by Jack Endino, who helped cement the Seattle grunge sound along with Sub Pop.
"If I remember right the whole thing took five weeks. No problems except that Cormac was still writing lyrics right up to the next-to-last day of mixing. Dummy Crusher was literally the last thing finished, we cut the vocal and then I mixed it next day. We had about run out of time at that point. [I] liked almost all of it. Thought the intro to EOG should have been half as long, but band disagreed; and in retrospect I would have turned up the vocals on EOG just a teeny bit, though no one ever complained. Didn't like Xenophobia much but that didn't make the album. Thought Clock should have been a single."
Whilst recording, Kerbdog were also planning a major tour of the British clubs. A winter support slot on The Almighty's UK tour brought added exposure, promoted by second single, "End Of Green". The group also recorded a session for the BBC Radio One Rock Show.
1994 saw another run of gigs, including a support slot with Therapy?. The debut album was released that year to acclaim, and two further singles were released, "Dry Riser" and "Dummy Crusher". The latter charted in the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart and was shown in the chart listed on BBC Television's Top of the Pops.
Second album and split (1995-1998)
In July 1995 the band travelled to Los Angeles to work on their second album. Produced by GGGarth, On The Turn was rehearsed at Full Blast Studios, before recording was completed at Sound City Studios and A&M Studios over the following months.
"We did one record with a band named Kerbdog, and we started off with about 25 cabinets and amps. It took about two days just to go through 'em all, but we got the best sounds that we have ever gotten. We used old Les Pauls, old Strats and Teles, different strings, different pickups."
Billy Dalton left Kerbdog a few months after the band returned from Los Angeles. In early 1996, the Mercury Music Group was bought over by PolyGram Records, and Kerbdog shifted to Fontana Records, Vertigo's sister label at PolyGram. "JJ's Song" was released in July 1996 as a limited edition EP, preceding the "Sally" single in September 1996. In January 1997, the band recorded a session for Dave Fanning's show on RTÉ 2FM radio. Music magazines such as Kerrang! and Metal Hammer praised both Kerbdog's albums and featured them frequently, Kerrang! 's editor spent a weekend with the band in Kilkenny.
The album was repeatedly delayed before being released in the UK in March 1997, preceded by the "Mexican Wave" single. It sold poorly, their record label dropped the band, and their back catalog was deleted in 1997. Kerbdog recorded a six track demo (including the track "Soaking Wet") at Sun Studios, Dublin in May 1997, with the aim of securing a new record deal. An unnamed record company (believed to have been Dreamworks Records, a subdivision of Geffen Records) expressed an interest in bringing the band to the United States and buying the rights to the On The Turn album from Mercury Records; an offer was made to Mercury and rejected. Without an album to promote Kerbdog with in the States, the record company declined to sign the band
"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 . I think it was about a hundred grand Sterling put on the table for the album [in 1997] but I presume the record label [Mercury], maybe wrote it off and perhaps there is a fifteen year [legal] thing or something that it’s available now again."
Darragh Butler - Irishdrummers.com, 2012
The band soldiered on without a record label for about a year, but eventually disbanded and played their final gig at the Mean Fiddler, on Wexford Street in Dublin on 7 March 1998.
In 1998 Cormac and Darragh with a new bassist Mick Murphy, went on to form another band, Wilt. They played their first gig at The Funnel in Dublin on 26 March 1998. Rock Sound magazine tipped them as being Ireland's version of Hüsker Dü and Weezer. However, after two albums (Bastinado and My Medicine), Wilt broke up in 2003.
Reformation (2005-2008, 2011-present)
Following Wilt's split, Kerbdog reformed in 2005. They played a total of 13 gigs in Ireland that year, most notably two sell-out concerts in February at the Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin, followed by a set at the Oxegen music festival in July. Kerbdog continued to play occasional one-off Kilkenny and Dublin shows in both 2006 and 2007. August 2008 saw the group play the Camden Barfly in London as part of the Kerrang 'Week of Rock', and a show at the "Pumpalooza" in Kilkenny in aid of the Susie Long Hospice Foundation. Dalton rejoined them on stage for seven songs during the Pumphouse gig, marking the first time since 1995 that the four piece had played together. The year finished with a show at the Temple Bar Music Centre in Dublin.
Kerbdog played the Temple House Festival in Sligo on 11 June 2011, also playing a gig at the Set Theater in Kilkenny on New Year's Eve 2011, at which 'Wilt' reformed for a few songs on the same night/stage.
On 7 April 2012 they returned to the UK to play a one-off gig in Bristol, with Souls (Butler and Dalton's new band) on the same bill, to mark the 15th anniversary of the release of On The Turn. This show was the first of three recorded by Dave Draper for a future live album. In late 2012, Kerbdog also recorded their Dublin and London shows. The result, “Congregation”, was released on 10 October 2014 as a CD/DVD package. The first date announced to compliment this was an appearance at the Sonisphere festival at Knebworth on 6 July 2014.
On 16 June 2014 it was announced that guitarist Billy Dalton had re-joined Kerbdog after an 18-year absence. The group also announced that they would enter a recording studio in Evesham, the day prior to Sonisphere, to begin recording a track entitled “Soaking Wet” which was demo’d originally in 1997. This marks the first time the band has recorded studio material since the 1990s. The track, completed a few weeks later and retitled "Electricity", will be included on the new live album. A colour 7” vinyl featuring “Electricity” and "Pointless (live)" was also made available. A Pledge campaign was unveiled on 23 June 2014 to help fund and promote the new releases. The campaign had reached 100% of its goal on 6 October 2014. That same day, Kerbdog recorded a studio session for Today FM radio in Dublin, first broadcast on the Paul McLoone show in November 2014. A UK tour in support of the live album will take place in November 2014.
- Battle lives in Dublin, Ireland and hosts a Friday night radio show on Ireland's national 2FM.
- Fennelly lives outside Dublin and works as a civil engineer, spending considerable time working in Helsinki.
- Dalton lives in Kilkenny and works at his family's milling company. From 2011 to 2013, he played bass with “SOULS” alongside Butler.
- Butler lives and works in Kilkenny where he runs a bicycle store and co-owns a music store called Rollercoaster Records, a nod to the original name Kerbdog played under. Between 2011 and 2013, he was involved in a Kilkenny-based band called "SOULS" which included Billy Dalton, Clive Barnes and Thomas Donoghue.
Singles / E.P.s
|Year||Title||Label||Track list||UK Chart|
|1993||Earthworks (demo)||Vertigo||1. Earthworks (demo)
2. Cleaver (demo)
3. Scram (demo)
|1993||End of Green||Vertigo||1. End of Green
2. In A Rut
|1994||Dry Riser||Vertigo||1. Dry Riser
2. Xenophobia (CD1)
3. Self Inflicted (CD1)
4. New Day Rising (CD2)
5. Suspect Device (CD2)
6. Same With The Hammer (Clear 7”)
7. Something In My Head (Black 7”)
|1994||Dummy Crusher||Vertigo||1. Dummy Crusher
2. Mildred Pierce (CD1)
3. This Is Not A Love Song (CD1)
4. Dummy Crusher (Kaliphz Mix) (CD2)
5. Kennedy (CD2)
6. Debaser (CD2)
7. Mr. Clean (12”)
8. Don’t Stand In Line (12”)
9. Too Much Too Young (7”)
|1996||JJ’s Song||Fontana Records||1. JJ’s Song
2. Didn’t Even Try
3. Hard To Live
|1996||Sally||Fontana Records||1. Sally
2. My Acquaintance (CD1)
3. Retro Ready (CD2)
4. Dyed in the Wool (CD2)
5. Spence (CD2)
6. Dragging Through (CD3)
7. The Fear (CD3)
|1997||Mexican Wave||Fontana Records||1. Mexican Wave
2. Sally (live) (CD1)
3. On The Turn (live) (CD1)
4. End of Green (live) (CD2)
5. Secure (live) (CD2)
6. Mexican Wave (live) (CD3)
7. Dry Riser (live) (CD3)
8. Pledge (live) (CD3)
|2014||Electricity||Graphite Records||1. Electricity
2. Pointless (live) (7”)
|Year||Title||Label||Track list||UK Chart|
|1994||Kerbdog||Vertigo||1. End of Green
2. Dry Riser
3. Dead Anyway
6. Dummy Crusher
7. The Inseminator
|1997||On The Turn||Fontana Records||1. Sally
2. JJ’s Song
3. Didn’t Even Try
4. Mexican Wave
7. On The Turn
9. Lesser Shelf
12. Sorry For The Record
|1994||Live At Concrete
|Mercury||1. End of Green
2. Dead Anyway
4. Dummy Crusher
5. Dry Riser
6. This Is Not A Love Song (studio version)
|The Palace, Hollywood, CA, USA.
7 September 1994
|2014||Congregation||Graphite Records||1. On The Turn
3. Mexican Wave
5. Lesser Shelf
8. Didn’t Even Try
11. Dry Riser
13. Sorry For The Record
14. End of Green
16. JJ’s Song
17. Electricity (studio version)
|Thekla, Bristol, England
7 April 2012
Garage, London, England
20 October 2012
Academy, Dublin, Ireland
8 December 2012
|1994||Highlander III: The Sorcerer soundtrack||Dimension Films||Dummy Crusher|
|1995||Over There (I Don’t Care) single by House of Pain||Warner Bros. Records||Runnin’ Up On Ya (House of Pain with Kerbdog)|
|1996||Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood soundtrack||Universal Pictures||This Is Not A Love Song|
|June 1992||Untitled||None (Cassette)||1. Cleaver
4. The Inseminator
|December 1992||Untitled||None (Cassette)||1. Earthworks
|May 1997||Untitled||Unreleased||1. Soaking Wet
2. I Want It All
3. Working For The Man
|Year||Radio Station||Session||Track list|
|November 1993||BBC Radio One||Rock Show (Claire Sturgess)||1. Dry Riser
2. End of Green
3. Same with the Hammer
4. Dead Anyway
|January 1997||RTÉ 2FM||Fanning Sessions (Dave Fanning)||1. Sally
2. Hard To Live
3. Mexican Wave
|October 2014||Today FM||The Paul McLoone Show||1. Sally
2. Mexican Wave
Covered songs featured on their singles
- "Debaser - Pixies
- "Don't Stand in Line" - Pailhead
- "In a Rut" - The Ruts
- "Kennedy" - The Wedding Present
- "Kerosene" - Big Black
- "Mildred Pierce" - Sonic Youth
- "Mr Clean" - The Jam
- "New Day Rising" - Hüsker Dü
- "Something In My Head" - Jerusalem Taxis
- "Suspect Device" - Stiff Little Fingers
- "This Is Not A Love Song" - Public Image Ltd
- "Too Much Too Young" - The Specials
- "Jack Endino interview on the recording of the first Kerbdog album". Archived from the original on 2005-03-15.
- "Comprehensive Kerbdog Discography".
- 'Interview with Jack Endino'
- 'Music Producers: Conversations with Today's Top Hit Makers'
- "Info from Darragh on Kerbdog.com in the thread "Re: Billy's contribution to On the Turn"".
- "'Irish Drummers' interview with Darragh Butler, 2012".
- "Comprehensive Wilt Discography".
- "Kerbdog website post regarding tribute album".
- "Kerbdog tribute album artwork".
- "Info from Darragh on Kerbdog.com in the thread "Kerbdog Live News Coming Soon.."".
- "Info from Darragh on Kerbdog.com in the thread "Kerbdog and Souls, this new years eve at the Set Theater Kilkenny"".
- ""Congregation" Pledge campaign".
- "TodayFM Session".
- "Cormac Battle 2FM Profile".
- "Official SOULS Facebook page".
- "Kerbdog.com". Kerbdog.com.
- "Kerbdog.com". Kerbdog.com.