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Coughlan and O'Hagan in the late 1980s
Background information
Origin Cork, Ireland
Years active
  • 1980–1988
  • 2012
Associated acts The Fatima Mansions, The High Llamas, Stump
Past members Cathal Coughlan
Sean O'Hagan
Nick Montgomery
Jon Fell
Dave Galvin
Chris McCarthy
Aisling Hayden
Rob McKahey
Ed Flesh
Tom Fenner
Steve Pregnant
James Compton

Microdisney was an Irish rock band formed in Cork in 1980. It was founded and led by the songwriting team of Cathal Coughlan (keyboards, vocals) and Sean O'Hagan (guitar).[1] They disbanded in 1988, with O'Hagan and bassist Jon Fell subsequently forming the High Llamas in 1992. Both O'Hagan and Coughlan remain musically active.


Microdisney began recording in their native town of Cork, Ireland. Their first few singles, including "Pink Skinned Man", were released on indie label Kabuki records (the label which was also home to Irish artists such as Roger Doyle, Kissed Air and Five Go Down to the Sea). One of their earliest recordings from this period is a live performance of "National Anthem" released on Reekus records (featured on "Kaught at the Kampus EP"). The group moved to Cricklewood London, and signed to Rough Trade, with John Porter (producer of The Smiths) producing some tracks on their debut album, Everybody is Fantastic. This album featured most of their earlier session work from 1983 and some newer songwriting ("Dolly", "Escalator in the Rain", "Sun"). It was also during this time that the band became acquainted with John Peel, who championed their music,[citation needed] and gave them the first of several "Peel Sessions" (they recorded a total of three Peel sessions during 1984 alone).[citation needed]

Soon after bassist Jon Fell and drummer Tom Fenner were added as a permanent rhythm section. Their last recording for Rough Trade was the 1985 release, The Clock Comes Down the Stairs, which reached No.1 on the UK Indie Chart and featured some compositions reflective of the political history of Ireland[citation needed] and the new 1980 driven formation of Eastern Europe.[citation needed] The album featured the song "Goodbye It's 1987". The 'Clock' was followed by the Lenny Kaye produced "Crooked Mile". "Town to Town" (1987) is a rock song about powerless but morally null individuals attempting to live normal lives under threat of nuclear holocaust. It is singled out in Irish Rock literature,[citation needed] while 1985's The Clock Comes Down the Stairs was voted no. 1 album of the 1980s in the 1989 end-of-year edition of the now-defunct Irish newspaper The Sunday Tribune.[citation needed]. "Town to Town" was the group's only song to reach the top 40 in Ireland. It was a minor hit on both the Irish singles chart and UK charts, reaching No. 30 in Ireland, and No. 55 in the UK. Their 1987 single "Singer's Hampstead Home" was described by Cathal as being inspired by a newspaper article showing a huge house bought by Boy George.[citation needed]

O'Hagan (front-left) and Fell (center) performing with the High Llamas in 2008.

Following the disbandment of Microdisney, Coughlan went on to record 1989's "Against Nature" on Kitchenware with The Fatima Mansions and O'Hagan founded The High Llamas, which Jon Fell soon joined, having been part of The Fatima Mansions up until the release of their first album. O'Hagan also worked with Stereolab. Three further compilations were issued of previously released material - Big Sleeping House, Peel Sessions (which has most of their collected BBC John Peel sessions, apart from Session One of 1984 and the last session of 1986), and Daunt Square to Elsewhere, a two-disc compilation.

Between 2013 and 2014, The Clock Comes Down The Stairs, Love Your Enemies and "Everybody is Fantastic" were reissued by Cherry Red Records, all CD versions only including a complete Peel Session and B sides from the corresponding singles. Due to licensing, the first session of 1984 was deleted from the track listing of "Everybody is Fantastic".[citation needed] Coughlan co-wrote "The North Sea Scrolls" with Luke Haines and Andrew Mueller, which was performed live in 2011, and released as an album in 2012.

On 27 November 2017, it was announced that O'Hagan and Coughlan would reform Microdisney for a one-off concert in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on 2 June 2018. Coughlan subsequently stated on his website that due to the sellout of the Dublin show, they would be performing a one-off in London as well. They are scheduled to perform the album The Clock Comes Down The Stairs in full.[citation needed]



Studio albums

  • Everybody Is Fantastic (1984) Rough Trade (UK Indie No. 6)(reissued (1996) Rev-Ola, with bonus track and again in 2013 with additional Peel session and b side)
  • The Clock Comes Down The Stairs (1985) Rough Trade (UK Indie No. 1 reissue 20@3 ibid)
  • Crooked Mile (1987) Virgin
  • 39 Minutes (1988) Virgin

Other albums

  • Kaught at Kampus (vinyl 1980) Reekus (reissued on CD 2013)
  • We Hate You South African Bastards! (1984) Rough Trade (UK Indie No. 7 reissue 2013 ibid)
  • The Peel Sessions Album (1989) Strange Fruit
  • Big Sleeping House (1995) Virgin Vault
  • Daunt Square to Elsewhere: 1982-1988 (2007) Castle


  • "Hello Rascals" (1982) Kabuki
  • "Pink Skinned Man" (1983) Kabuki
  • "Dolly" (1984) Rough Trade
  • In the World EP (1985) Rough Trade (UK Indie No. 7)
  • "Birthday Girl" (1985) Rough Trade (UK Indie No. 6)
  • "Town to Town" (1987) Virgin (UK No. 55, IRE No. 30)[2]
  • "Singer's Hampstead Home" (1987) Virgin
  • "Gale Force Wind" (1988) Virgin (UK No. 98)[2][3]


  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Microdisney". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ a b Microdisney, ChartStats
  3. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980-1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4


  • Mark. J. Prendergast "Irish Rock: Roots, Personalities, Directions" [Paperback]
  • Cork Rock: From Rory Gallagher To The Sultans Of Ping by Mark McAvoy. Published by Mercier Press (2009) ISBN 9781856356558

External links[edit]