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Published on August 19th, 2011 | by Sue Murphy


Whipping Boy: The Interview

Keep your Joshua Trees, throw your Fitzcarraldo away because as far as you should be concerned, Heartworm by Whipping Boy was arguably one of the greatest Irish albums ever released.  Receiving international critical acclaim in 1995, the band continued for another three years and another album before they disbanded in 1998.  The good news for fans is that they have reformed and will be playing The Academy on the 17th of September.  Culch were lucky enough to catch up with Fearghal McKee and Colm Hassett for a very hoarse chat following a long weekend…


Why reform the band?

FM:  We’re in the second half of the ninth wave, the good energy of man starts to come out and we as a band think this is the time now.

Why did you initially disband the band?

FM:  We had grown too much, it didn’t work anymore…

How do you feel then you’ve evolved over the years?

FM:  We went on and did another album, then we split up and got back together briefly.   I thought we might do something else brilliant but it never happened.  This time it’s a bit different because we just have a new energy.  We’re going into studio now and recording some stuff.  It’s like following a cycle, with the old Whipping Boy, with a trilogy of albums, it set us up nicely for what we have done.  We’ve always followed the bubbles and the booms, we were there prior to the boom.  It was a cycle, we’re in a recession now, it’s always a cycle of things.  We’re on our second trilogy of albums now.

Minus two of your original band, how have you adjusted?

FM:  Well, that’s just the way it goes…

Heartworm is often considered one of the most influential Irish albums of all time. Is it difficult with those expectations?

FM:  There’s no real expectation, it’s just the fact that you’ve made it.  It shouldn’t be the be all and end all of your creative force either.  We’ve all played in different bands, done different things for the last ten or fifteen years.  Just because you’re in that entity called “Whipping Boy”, doesn’t mean that should be the be all and end all.

You have always cited The Velvet Underground and The Fall as some of your influences; has this changed?

FM:  Well, we have influences that go back to the blues days.  The original spark of rock and roll and where that came from and why it happened.  That’s kind of what we are into now, our own original trilogy of albums…

So we’re expecting a new album soon?

FM:  There’s some new stuff coming out, yeah.  We’re going to have a new single called Imperial Venereal.

How do you feel about the Irish music industry at the moment?

FM:  Everything goes in cycles but it’s really about what does anyone think about any industry now.  It’s all collapsing but what’s taking its place is people doing things for the love of it again.  There’s a freedom to make your music and that’s what’s coming back.  There seems to be a lot more energy in the bands these days.  Like Mitchelstown, we played there for the weekend and it was a cracking gig.  Whereas before, you could see people were jaded but not anymore.  There seems to be a real gust of energy.  Everybody’s doing it because you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow.  You have a lovely create and destroy energy right now, it can’t be held back.  It’s blossoming.

Are reality shows like the X-factor etc making it difficult for bands to get their name out?

FM:  No, I think it makes it easier.  If it’s a good album and a good band!  I won’t say it’s easy but you’re going to get somewhere you want to be if you are a half-decent band.

All hard work?

FM:  Well, it’s easy work if you love doing it!  It’s always better when you love doing it, no matter what it is.

What are you drinking just as a matter of interest?

FM:  Bloody Marys….

At a quarter past one?

CH:  It’s been a long weekend…

How’s the tour going so far?

FM:  It’s been amazing.  Its’ rejuvenating us.  It’s giving us an extra lease of life.

Come the 17th of September for your gig in the Academy, what can people expect at the gig?

FM:  Well, hopefully we’re going to have 3 new songs recorded.  We’re going to destroy the place (laughs)

Sometimes when you chat about Heartworm, it can seem like it’s not as popular as it should be…

FM:  It’s popular with whoever wants it to be popular.  Whoever has ears to hear it, it will always make sense to a certain person, at a certain time, which is its value.  We didn’t expect to do that.  We just made an album.  You can’t go out to make a great album, no one ever does.  You just make an album and we just made that.

Whipping Boy play the Academy on the 17th of September and Cyprus Avenue in Cork on the 29th of October, tickets available from usual outlets.

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