Kerbdog are set to release Congregation on October 3rd. The live album – funded by a successful Pledge campaign – was pulled together from shows recorded in Dublin, Bristol and London last year. In addition to the 15 live tracks, there’s also a brand new studio recording of the previously unreleased song, Electricity (p.k.a. Soaking Wet). People can still pledge athttp://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/congregation
Congregation will be the band’s first release since 1997. The previous effort, On The Turn – which was recorded with GGGarth Richardson at the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California – was a damn-near perfect album. Their 1994 self-titled debut was the sound of a band finding their feet, but there was something special about their second full-length release.
“The first album did OK, but to be honest, I think it’s really an extended demo and If I could have my time back, On The Turn would have been our debut,” says frontman Cormac Battle. “We had found our groove, the songs were powerful as hell, and we knew it.”
The songs were powerful as hell, alright, but Kerbdog were the right band who’d found themselves at the wrong time. A small matter of Britpop meant that their singles were at odds with daytime radio playlists and the mainstream press and were were subsequently dropped by Mercury Records, two albums into a six-album contract. They struggled on for a year before playing their final show in Dublin the following year.
“After we’d finished the album, we came back to the depressing tone of ‘Who do you like, Blur or Oasis?’,” remembers Butler. “That was shit. It was a stark contrast to the positive feedback we’d had in America. It was a sad time; we had something we were so proud of but knew it would never get its dues.”
“The tide had radically changed music-wise and loud guitars were very definitely out,” adds Battle. “We saw it coming for quite a while which made for a pretty deflating 60-date tour of the UK around this time.”
While the band seemed doomed to reside to the footnotes of rock history, their fanbase unexpectedly grew and their albums, while out of print, seemed to find their way into the homes of rock fans. Thanks, internet. A overwhelming sense of unfinished business was clearly nagging away in Battle’s mind.
“I’d had a few beers and texted the boys to see if they wanted to play a gig, just one,” explains Battle of their 2005 reunion show. “It all took off from there. We played to five times as many people than we did when the record came out in ’97, so we decided to keep rolling with it. It was a kind of posthumous success or a belated extended victory lap, as it were.”
That one-off show slowly grew into something bigger, as the band played shows both in Ireland and England and enjoyed the fevered response and sense of celebration that cruelly evaded their grasp the first time around.
“I’ve loved every single one of the shows,” says Fennelly. “The response was so good, so we just kept going. Why would you stop playing great shows with your mates to audiences that want you to come back and do more? We feel a bit vindicated, really.”
Which brings us to Congregation and the return of guitarist Billy Dalton, who left during the On The Turn sessions.
“There was pressure all round as we returned from LA, so I decided to leave,” says Dalton. “It was a very tough decision.”
“This was the most painful part of being in Kerbdog hands down,” remembers Battle. “We were all very damaged by this. Forget the band… his was in part the destruction of a real friendship that took a very long time to get back on track. Billy is great and he’s good for the vibe. He’s way better than me on the guitar and makes our sound properly heavy. And when I heard the recent live recordings, it dawned on me that we had a major document on our hands, something hardcore ‘Dog fans would love to hear. It’s blown up into this proper release, and crucially, without all the bullshit. It’s a very exciting time for Kerbdog.”
See? Every ‘Dog <does> have its day. Right now, there are plans to record a third studio album next year. And to celebrate the release of their new live album, Kerbdog have also announced details of an Irish date. Join the congregation at the Dublin Academy on November 14th.