Wilt – Cormac Battle

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Interview by Mark Bayross

Irish three piece Wilt are probably best known for being the product of two former members of Kerbdog – singer / guitarist Cormac Battle and drummer Darragh Butler. Having hooked up with bassist Mick Murphy, they re-emerged as Wilt, and after a string of singles, released their well-received debut album BASTINADO this summer.

I spoke to the splendidly-named Cormac while he attempted to recover from a nationwide tour with Reef and a variety of toxic substances.

How has the tour with Reef gone?

It’s gone great but it’s been so fucking hectic. We’ve got a day off today, but tomorrow night’s the last show of the tour. There’s been a lot of self injury…you know, drunk too much, smoked too much… The whole thing’s been fantastic – it’s the best time we’ve ever had. The crowds have been brilliant and it’s been nice to play to more than one man and his dog, you know?

Is this the first time you’ve played large sized venues?

Yeah, it is.

What’s been the best show so far?

Er, probably the one we did in Bristol, crowd-reaction-wise. That’s not to say that the others have been shitty – they’ve all been good. The whole tour’s been brilliant.

Who have you most enjoyed playing and touring with?

We haven’t toured that much, really. We did a small tour with Seafood in March – that was fun. They’re a good band.

And, of course, since then, your album BASTINADO has come out. Has that made a difference to your shows?

Yes, it’s made a big difference to the audience’s reaction – people know the songs now. We’ve actually been selling lots of copies of the album on this tour, making new fans as we go along.

Any plans for album no.2 yet?

We will record half of it in January, then release a single in March. I guess we’ll see where it will go. There’s going to be no more fucking around…

Are you going to develop the sound in any new direction?

Well, we’ve got more time and more money this time around, so we are definitely going to push the sound further, make it more diverse. The slow songs are going to be slower and the heavy songs heavier.

Are you happy with the way BASTINADO turned out?

Oh yes. I’m very happy with it. I mean, we recorded it for about 3½ or 4 grand over a few weekends, so I’m very happy with the way it turned out!

I actually quite liked Kerbdog – do you consider Wilt to be a progression or a totally new chapter in your musical development?

I see it as a new chapter. We’ve left a lot of the extreme heaviness behind – we are song writing rather than riff-writing. I am still singing, so I guess in that respect the two bands sound similar.

Did the change of musical style come about because you changed?

I was never into hugely heavy music anyway. I guess I have changed, yeah. I guess I’ve grown up.

You once supported Ministry, if I remember rightly. What was that like?

Weird! I mean, Al Jourgensen is such a fucking scary guy! Especially when you see him in his get-up… You really knew when he was walking down the corridor, you know? [laughs]

So he’s really as mental as his image?

Oh yeah! He’s for real. He was pretty mental – he wasn’t putting it on. He reminded me of Gary Oldman in Dracula or something.

Do you think people expect you to be bitter after what happened to Kerbdog?

I’m sure they do. But we’re not bitter. We see it as a very “once bitten” situation, you know. This new album is a fresh little jab… I suppose I am a little bitter, but I’m not going to moan on about it.

You’ve said that you “want to make people give a shit about music again” – do you think there’s a way out of the current miasma of boy bands and whiny indie music?

I have my own theory, which is that he only way it will happen is if we have a recession – then people will have less money to spend on shit like Robbie Williams. The problem now is that that people don’t care what they buy and the real artists suffer. They just buy a CD to throw onto the coffee table and play once a year. When I was a kid, the music industry was less lazy and musicians had to work that much harder. In a way, we were better for it.

What’s strange is that sometimes an artist like Moby will break through into the mainstream – his PLAY album really has been the coffee table CD of the year – and people have no idea about the rest of his music, and the fact that almost every other album of his was critically panned.

I think he was just as surprised as the rest of us by his success. He’s really the exception to the rule, you know? A real phenomenon. But knowing Moby, don’t be surprised if next album is punk rock… What he’s doing is so different from all the premeditated fucking pap like Robbie Williams.

Who do you particularly admire in music right now? What have you been listening to a lot lately?

Er…[long pause] …PJ Harvey. I guess she’s kind of a hero to me – I don’t think she compromises herself. Her new album’s fantastic; it’s to die for!

What made you decide to get back into a band and form Wilt? Were you spurred on by any other music at the time?

No, basically, I just got together with my drummer, we got a bassist, and started writing songs. That was it…

Is there anyone you’d like to tour with?

Talking Heads…if they’d reform! Oh, I don’t know…there’s millions of bands! [laughs] Oh, I’d like to play with Sonic Youth…

Apart from the new album, what are the future plans for Wilt?

We’ll do the record in two bits – we don’t want to waste two months fucking around. So we’ll do the first bit in January. And before that, on the 29 December, we are playing with Moby in Ireland. Then we’ll release a single in March, then do the usual bullshit…burn onto someone else’s tour, play some festivals in the summer…the usual thing really!