Drop Out freesheet (July 1993)

Words by Michael Beirne
Photos by Donal Murphy.

When I arrive down at the Whipping Boy's soundcheck at the Baggot  Inn, Fearghal E. McKee, lead singer and frontman, is too busy setting up the lights to notice anything else going on around him. "He always wanted to be a lighting engineer," I'm told. So I head off with Paul Page (guitars) Myles O'Donnell (bass) and Colm Hassett (drums) to a pub on Pearse Street, where we will await Fearghal's presence, providing he can find the pub because we're not at all sure if we've told him where we're headed.

Whipping Boy; you can't have missed them. Arriving on a blaze of publicity four years ago they have solidly and steadfastly refused catagorisation (Ieven the misnomer 'art-noise-terrorists' isn't quite true) while building a sound that is, if not at least distinctive, then definitely original. Last year's debut album "Submarine" left many people dazed with its brilliance and astounded by its simple complexity. When "Submarine" was launched last year, it looked like Whipping Boy would finally get the recognition that they desevered but unfortunately it was not to be. What did Whipping Boy expect the album to do? "A lot better," Myles jokes. "We expect more promotion from the record company," says Paul, "more of a chance to gig and play and it just didn't happen."

Myles puts the problem with the album down to the record's scheduling: "The problem was we were getting reviews from the album in January and February, and it was in Melody Maker in March and NME in April; the album didn't come out until June. The reviews were staggered and with that kind of response, I mean people aren't going to wait around to buy an album. If they see a clump of reviews together there's a chance they might go out and buy it."

The album is a fine affair, but which do they prefer, their recorded or their live sound? "Sometimes," says Paul, "I prefer the recorded and sometimes I prefer the live. We can be really bad live sometimes." Is that because of the highly structured nature of the music? "There's a lot of factors involved," he explains, "they're all too boring to go into. Anything can get you in the right frame of mind and something very simple can knock you right out of place. I think we've only played 4 or 5 gigs that we really all tuned in on." At Christmas they supported Therapy? at the SFX and then followed them to England where they were due to be the featured support for the remainder of the British tour. Unfortunately, both for the British gig-goer and the band, it did not last long. Whipping Boy had to come home sharpish.

"We just kinda run out of money," offers Paul Page as an explanation. "We weren't supplied with money," adds Colm. "There wasn't enough tour support to continue. Great shame, because things were going very well," says Paul.

Whipping Boy don't seem to have great luck with supports. When they supported Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on their Irish tour they were kicked off the line-up. "Just for 2 hours," corrects Paul, "First of all we played in Galway and we had this with us who like to dangle from a rope and the only place that we could put the rope was over the lighting rig. And we never really asked for permission. One of the lights was moved a faction of a centimeter out of place and the crew was up in arms over this."

"And Fearghal threw water over the crowd as well," adds Myles, "and they said it went into the monitors, which it really didn't." "So everybody was saying get Whipping Boy off these dates quick and then Nick Cave himself absolved us," says Paul, "the only way we were going to get back on the gig was to go up to Nick himself. he just like that (waves nonchalantly) and said 'Play, play'."

One thing through that cannot be knocked are their songs, tightly wound bombs of fractured psyches and warped thoughts nestling beside songs of intense beauty, sadness and feeling. They work together as a unit when they're writing, almost as as democracy.

"It's a team performance from start to finish," says Myles, "because everything is scrutinised by everyone in the band, but Fearghal's lyrics are scrutinised by everybody and everybody will say 'that's not working' and he'll say to us 'I don't like this on guitars'. It kind of becomes a bit of a challenge to get the most from each member, whether that always works or not is hard to know."

"We genuinely have grown up," add Myles, "that's something a lot of people mightn't really recognise. I think the people in the band have grown up and grown older. We're not a young band anymore."

The talk turns, as all chats about Whipping Boy do, to Fearghal and more importantly his antics on stage. Thankfully, for both the audience and himself, these have waned considerably of late. There can be no denying that Fearghal is the centre of attention on stage, but there are times when you do wonder whether what happens is an act or actually real. With Fearghal it's hard to tell.

"He once knocked over a pint glass on stage," says Paul, "and he just started cutting his chest just like out of boredom with a piece of the glass. His chest was really bad the next day, covered in scars. People were saying it was queasy looking at him doing it. We couldn't believe it, we were saying to him after but he wouldn't give any indication as to why he did it. You see some bands, the Golden Horse, Simon Carmody, great frontman, great performer, but it is just performed and it does stop short at a certain point. When Fearghal's onstage, that's his territory and he can do what he likes."

He arrives at the pub a happier amn that he was at the soundcheck. Now that responsibility of setting up the lights to his perfect standards is done with, he can relax before the gig. His hair is shorn to the skull as "a statement of intent; throwing off the shackles of society". The new haircut also adds a new dimension to their image. Fearghal now looks more introspective on stage, more self-threatening. I ask him about the new Whipping Boy, about what they are trying to do.

"I think it was important for us to come back being the same people that we were, but also doing stuff and carrying that off with the same intensity as we had when we started out and that's what we've been trying to actually discover. It's like being born again."

Whipping Boy's songwriting has also taken a new direction in songs like 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' with a new sense of hope and dare I say it joy, and in the old/new songs 'A Natural', 'Twinkle' and 'Heartworm', a trio of fractured feeling.

"I'm still trying to get a handle on singing those songs," says Fearghal, "especially live. It was at another point where I realised that I wanted to bring on my own type of ainging, get my own voice. It's just like learning a new craft and it caught between a stage where I was learning how to sing, going to singing lessons and getting the hang of my voice and now after months I'm just getting to grips with what I can do and can't do and knowing its strengths. So on a technical point of view that's what those three songs mostly highlight. The lyrical content is basically the same thing because I had my parents splitting up at the exact same time and through them I could see my own faults and my own ways of doing things"

A Whipping Boy gig can be a strange affair. While the music will take you spinning and turning into a different sphere, and the lyrics will send cold shots of fear down your spine, at time Feaghal will just stand and stare one person out. It's been done to me a few times. Why does he do it?

"You're looking at someone," he says, "and I'd just know they're going to be frightened if I just darted at them. Just things like that. But there was one time in the White Horse in England; the place as jammed and there this young girl about 4 or 5 rows back trying to light a cigarette and she couldn't find a light so I just left the stage, went down, gave her a light and just walked back to the stage. I through that was really nice of me."

It could have been worse. Time rolls on and before we know where we are it's time to had back up to the Baggot and get ready for the gig. Tonight, Fearghal is outstanding, the songs are fearsome and no-one is stared at but no-ne has their cigarette lit. You really just can't trust Whipping Boy to do anything except produce the goods time after time.

This they do without fail. "Submarine"

Since I’ve been going on a bit of a nineties nostalgia trip of late I decided to unearth I review I did for Whipping Boy’s debut album ‘Submarine’ which you’ll be surprised to hear is my favourite album from them by a long distance. You’ll find the title track and the angry ant that is ‘Sushi’ for your listening please below.

“My earliest memory of Whipping Boy came courtesy of a gig they played in our college canteen, albeit a short one consisting of only 2 songs. The show was cancelled due to a cleaning lady’s inability to hear herself think above the wonderfully high decibel levels. Whipping Boy were performers who played on the edge. Having met lead singer Ferghal McKee after an explosive gig in Galway I was surprised at how modest and shy he was. Believe me, seeing a grown man with his head wrapped in cling film makes you wonder whether he should out in public without his shrink (wrap). A few years later I happened upon the band again, this time in Dublin. The aggression and pent up emotions were still very much in evidence. My notes on the climax of the gig read as follows; ‘The finale is astonishing, a wall of friendly noise crashes towards the agog crowd as bass player Myles McDonnell (pristine hair intact) ascends the mountainous drum section until he stands at the top crouched like a 90′s Hercules wielding his mighty instrument…. I want to form a band’. That night the band had left the stage a full 10 minutes before the incredible feedback from their guitars was silenced. Exhilarating.

Submarine was released in 1992 is without doubt Whipping Boy’s masterpiece. ‘Heartworm’ (1995) certainly had it moments (‘Personality’ for example) and ‘Whipping Boy’ (2000) is also a commendable listen but nothing on either quite matches the intangible anger and melody of their debut. A re-recorded ‘We Don’t Need Nobody Else’ appeared on ‘Heartworm’, but it pales in comparison to the original version. At times ‘Submarine’ mimics that unique My Bloody Valentine abrasive style. At first the torrent of white noise is off-putting but looking beyond the obvious reveals a montage that is awe-inspiring. So while ‘Favourite Sister’ initially feels like it has made your ears bleed, in time you gather that the salivation process is not only confined to the mouth. ‘Safari’ has huge chunky chords that don’t bed down until McKee’s robotic voice adds some direction. While it has a menacing presence you get drawn in by its eclectic leanings. ‘Beatle’ sways under the weight of some heavy percussion. The guitars sound brittle but send deep shards of sassy sounds hurtling towards you. So far it all amounts to something and nothing but ‘Sushi’ manages to raise the stakes considerably. It’s jangling moments contrast with the unrestrained vitriol of lyrics like ‘In Your White Suburban, You’re Tearing My Home Down’. In this regard Whipping Boy are not too dissimilar to those other anti-capitalists Rage Against The Machine. As the song feels its way into your thoughts, things are cooled down somewhat by a searching twinkling guitar noodle. Sweet.

For a time way back when, ‘Favourite Sister’ was my favourite song in the whole world. It still sounds huge, the searing (appearing from a long and windy tunnel) guitar tumble flits like a budgie with fangs and the vocal delivery is beautifully cast into an art form. After this glorious mess ‘Astronaut Blues’ offers a refrigerated towel to wipe the brow. It’s easy to imagine McKee in all his nautical gear 100 foot under the sea. The vocals swoosh beguilingly along as if every breath taken requires a significant effort. Submarine’s cover has art deco pretensions. A cool blue image of several Easter Island stonework’s hovering over a barren desert landscape contrasts with the portrait inside of the innocent playing a guitar at the entrance to hell. Compared to this, gazing through port holes doesn’t seem that anal after all! Side 2 shuffles out of traps sounding dust free and ebullient. The shimmering guitars on ‘Bettyclean’ are spectacular, McKee appears drunk on their effervescence. The chord change half way through is genuinely spine tingling and even the disturbed out of tune whistling at the end is entirely appropriate. As is their want, Whipping Boy are quick to pull the deep pile carpet from underneath the haven created by ‘Bettyclean’. ‘Buffalo’ is a nightmare vision that appears like a horse drawn hearse with the grim reaper at the controls. The loose-limbed guitar mosh and McKee’s vocal intensity could provide one or two lessons for some of today’s stadium rockers.

Paul Page, Whipping Boy’s inspirational guitarist turns in another virtuoso performance on ‘Snow’. It’s loud, frantic and likely to create a mini tornado in any room it gets to flex its considerable muscles. ‘Valentine’ is equally mesmeric, circling like a helicopter propeller the guitars crash into chaos at periodic intervals. When order is restored you’ll either be enamoured or blinded by the white noise. Like all superb albums ‘Submarine’ signs off with a bewildering effort. The title track ‘Submarine’ focuses on a jangling centrepiece while some infrequent blusters of raging guitars summon McKee’s hushed vocal volleys. Such music deserves a bigger stage and it remains a great shame that this talented band have not reaped the rewards of success. Whipping Boy’s debut has been deleted for several years now so it’s unlikely that you’ll happen upon a copy. If you are lucky enough, savour the time you spend together and pass on my good wishes. This kind of underwater love will fill your life with absurd happiness.” KD - Whipping Boy

Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 18 December 2005

Review Snapshot:
Well after months of rumour and 'will they, won’t they', Whipping Boy make a live return, their first gig since before I even heard of them. The only thing I didn’t know was that Feargal McKee was a bit of a showman; albeit a desperate looking middle-aged Lothario in his leather pants and cringe inducing “we want a revolution!” to the mainly thirty-something crowd. This was no honeymoon let me tell you...

The CLUAS Verdict? 4 out of 10

Full review:
I was looking forward to seeing Whipping Boy. I like them. I like McKee’s offhanded lyrics that are atypically Irish, his sometimes over earnest romanticism and the band's ability to sweep a listener off their feet in a way that only music can sometimes do. That is the Whipping Boy I know from record. After this experience my jaw was left unhinged by what I had seen. A man completely overcome by his own ‘performance’ that was in fact much akin to a weasel on speed. To put it plainly, he couldn’t sing for the life of him. Take the opening thrash of ‘When we were Young’ which was transformed from a sweet ode about acting the mick as a kid into a punk song that barely lasted 2 minutes. I think at least two guitars were lost in the mix, and the point of three guitarists was lost on me. Problems in sound were adjusted by ‘Bad Books’ which had the few fans singing along, albeit more of a morose mumble.

A devastatingly bad ‘Twinkle’ was an abomination compared to its recorded version, while the two ‘Submarine’ album tracks are welcomed, much to my surprise. McKee’s voice can be appreciated when he doesn’t raise it so much that his inability begins to show. ‘Users’ actually stands its ground while ‘Ghost of Elvis’ showed some momentum was being gained which is interrupted as they depart for the encore. A lovely mess of guitars brings ‘No Place to Go’ to life and a sing-along of ‘We Don’t Need Nobody Else’ brings things to a much needed closure.

In all fairness the crowd were just as bad as the music. Feargal was revved up while the audience were showing their annual Christmas time cracks. It didn’t help that it was a Sunday. A lot were from the trendy-twenty-, thirty- something parade that go to the-most-hyped-gig-of-that-month, knowing one or two songs, and proceed to get rather inebriated.

Personally I think the band looked as if they were content at having to endure McKee’s shenanigans on stage (and off) in order to get the money. Since these shows were meant to be a testing of the waters, there seems in my opinion to be no need to go out any further. Get the records (if you can) and appreciate an unacknowledged Irish institution for what they really were. Just don’t bother seeing them live if this was anything to go by. If you do, watch out for the leather trousers and curly mullet. And don't tell me I didn't warn you.

Daire Hall


The Big Issue - May 9 2000

Whipping Boy
Low Rent
"So Much For Love/Pat The Almighty"

"A few years ago Whipping Boy cleaned up at every award show going. They were going to make it. They didn't. However Whipping Boy have achieved what they've always set out to do, ie. make brilliant music.

Their core fanbase should lap us this double A-side. 'So Much For Love' is restrained effort with murmuring guitars, emotional vocals and a chorus that threatens to soar before cutting off at exactly the right moment,

While 'Pat The Almighty' may boast one of the best song titles of the year it never lives up to the standard of 'So Much...' though. There is some good indie sounds but it's a distinctly lazy effort.

What's right with it: The blend of vocals and guitar.
What's wrong with it: 'Pat The Almighty'.
Verdict: Excellent." 4/5


Whipping Boy "Heartworm"

"Dark intense lyrics and emotions pour from this Dublin, Ireland four-piece, but don't expect any patriotic political raving on this album, as the band has a much more personal sentiment to their music. Also, don't expect to feel exhilarated and uplifted, as the lyrics are not exactly simple good time sing-alongs, or even at all optimistic. In fact, they're not even close.

The music itself is UK rock with the basic guitar, bass, drums and vocal lineup with only a few surprises, such as a great guitar melody on "Tripped" and some attractive distortion on "Fiction." The best word to describe this album is, again, dark. For example, on "We Don't Need Nobody Else" Ferghal McKee sings: "I hit you for the first time today/ I didn't mean it, it just happened... Christ we weren't even fighting/ I was just annoyed/ Silence and you started to cry/ 'That really hurt' you said/ Yeah, and you thought you knew me/ We don't need nobody else."

If anything, this band has a talent for speaking raw truth without cushioning their words or hiding their sentiments. This is their second album but a first for Columbia records; they released two EP's on the now defunct Cheree label and a full length album in 1992 on the Liquid label, also now defunct. Perseverance landed them a deal with Columbia and a producer such as Warne Livesey of The The fame. Heartworm is a solid, sombre album with basic music, which finds its strengths in its lyrics. Note, that does not necessarily mean vocals."

Alexandrae Di Ninno - "So Much For Love"

Artist: Whipping Boy
Release: So Much For Love
Format: CD Single
Label: Low Rent

"Allegedly, Whipping Boy once did a huge European Tour with Lou Reed. The session bass-player in Lou Reed's band was a man called "Fernando". Every night during Lou Reed's soundcheck, a straight-faced member of Whipping Boy would come up to the front of the stage, beckon Fernando over and whisper in his ear. "Can you hear the drums "Fernando" ? A comeback single. Majestic, fucked-up, beautiful… Why can't all records sound like this ?"


The Daily Dish "Whip It Up" March 14 1996

The Stateside reviews on Dublin's Whipping Boy and the band's debut album, "Heartworm," are starting to roll in. Dave Ferman from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram found this on his mind after listening to the group's music:

"Dublin's Whipping Boy is part of a wave of talented young Irish bands such as Wormhole, Pet Lamb and Mexican Pets, but Whipping Boy clearly stands out from the pack on this, its first major-label outing....the band's gift of dynamics and well-placed blast of guitar noise against the disquieting lyrics and sometimes ugly imagery clearly mark Whipping Boy as a breed apart. Songs such as the horribly matter-of-fact 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' take Whipping Boy's music to a place of self-disgust and honesty that few bands dare to go, and Heartworm is the extremely promising result."

Dave Ferman


Hot Press "Single of the Fortnight"

Whipping Boy 'Twinkle'

""Twinkle" is commanding Cure-pop. Full of sound and fury, though I'm not sure what it signifies. Track 2, 'A Natural' is worth a serious listen: very very harrowing, it starts off with Fergal intoning "Today I discovered I was has come to my attention that over the past year and a half I have acquired a condition known as acute paranoid schizophrenia" and gets darker and darker en route posing real questions like: "Is it possible to fall in love with every girl you meet?". Even in the middle of summer, this is heart rendering SAD, but hope, idealism and humanity are never far from the surface, best summed up in the lines like "Each person has his own tragedy", and despite the dark subject matter, the oboe backing is quite beautiful."


Whipping Boy - Heartworm

ARTIST: Whipping Boy
TITLE: Heartworm
RATING (out of five): ***

They may not be the next U2, but who cares?

This straight-talking, story-telling quartet from Dublin has got the gloomy rock goods -- both lyrically and musically -- even if they can sometimes sound like a cross between Echo And the Bunnymen (the beginning of Blinded brings to mind Bring On The Dancing Horses) and The Pogues. And when you think about it, is that so bad?

Accused of misogyny early on, Whipping Boy don't hold back much on their major label debut when it comes to women, sex, love and relationships.

At times, you feel as if you're reading their personal diaries. And in a way, you are.

On one of the first singles, We Don't Need Nobody Else, lead singer Fearghal McKee sings (actually he speaks for a lot of the song): "I hit you for the first time today, I didn't mean it, it just happened. You wouldn't let me go to the phone, you wanted to make love and I did not. Now I know the distance between us. Christ, we weren't even fighting, I was just annoyed. Silence."

But my two favorites are less heavy -- the poppier Tripped and the funny ballad Personality that begins: "I want to marry a personality, someone who looks like Koo Stark."

Not every song is a winner but the album definitely grows on you the more you listen to it.

Jane Stevenson


Whipping Boy - "Heartworm" June 1996

If you've been wondering whatever happened to the British, post-punk new-wave sound of the 80s, look no further. Turns out it was concentrated, freeze-dried and stored for a decade, only to be fully reconstituted within the grooves of Whipping Boy's Heartworm.

At various times, this Dublin band invokes Joy Division ("Users"), The Cure ("Blinded"), The Chameleons ("The Honeymoon Is Over"), and New Model Army ("Fiction"). The mournful, self-flagellating tone to the vocals also sometimes reminds me of former Call vocalist Michael Been's solo work. Still, a wild glint of Irish in the eye saves Whipping Boy from the dour excesses all these performers tend to indulge in.

Heartworm starts off catchy if somewhat formulaic until partway through third track "Tripped," one of the most jaw-droppingly cool guitar blasts this decade bursts out of the speakers like the nemesis from Aliens and, well...rips your jaw off before it has a chance to hit the floor. Record label Sony has already lined-up three singles and videos from the album - incredibly, none of them are this song, which has the clear potential of following in the path of Radiohead's "Creep" as a left-field hit.

From this glorious noise on, Whipping Boy frees itself from any self-imposed chains. "We Don't Need Nobody Else" plays on the shamanistic poet approach of Van Morrison and Luka Bloom, with spoken verses, emotively sung choruses, and a narrator who alternates between visionary redemptive and base abuser. Ballad "Personality" floats its minor keys on a salving orchestral wash, prepping the way for the disc's majestic closing aces. After the disc has danced throughout on the dark knife-edge of human relationships, "Morning Rise" concludes the proceedings on a note of bitter-sweet optimism, tender lyrics like "It's in your eyes a fire that's wild and glorious/uninhibited, unfinished in everything I do" off-set by intimations of mortality and a Sgt. Pepper-ish production. Some thirty seconds after the cellos fade, bonus track "Natural" rings in a touching spoken-word narration, the protagonist battling to overcome schizophrenia and his inability to commit to relationships.

Roch Parsian


Whipping Boy - Heartworm


Rating: Banal

Sorry, I'm not gonna whup up on these boys too badly. I'm really having trouble saying much of anything because the music is rather unremarkable. Whipping Boy covers territory that's already been covered in better ways by other bands.

In fact, I can't fathom why these guys got signed. Even if a band recycles familiar sounding music, if they manage to perform it in a way that's exciting or a bit fresh-sounding, I can see letting them make a record.

However, this record is so banal, I just don't understand it. As far as I can tell, these guys don't even have that much sex appeal, which would have allowed one to understand it from a marketing angle.

In a way, these guys sound at times like a parody of U2. They seem to consider themselves serious and deep, when in actuality they're stupid and dull. This kind of shoe-staring music turns me off. Particularly repulsive is "We Don't Need Nobody Else," in which the singer describes hitting his girlfriend. His voice contains no remorse, no anger, no emotion. Kind of sums up the whole CD.

The band sounds like any one of a thousand English bands that came out during the New Wave era. File after the Cure and Modern English and forget.

Cary Rodda



by Scott Warden, Music Editor

I'll say one thing about Ireland, and Dublin in particular; it's cold, real cold. Not only that, but it's dark and holds on to a somewhat gritty feel left over from the industrial age. When I was there in December hunting for my hero, Bob Geldof, solid ice filled the potholes in the streets and threatened to overtake any slow moving animal, mineral, or vegetable that stepped outside a heated building. But somewhere among the frozen landscape of Dublin lives a band, a band as moody as the weather and as intense as thirty straight days of snow flurries. Call it Whipping Boy, and don't be surprised if the band melts the layers of ice surrounding American success into a puddle the same way U2 and the Cranberries did.

After seven years together, one indie record and two EPs, Whipping Boy will finally get a chance to unload their brilliant brand of dream pop finesse to the masses with the release of it's major label debut, Heartworm. On top of the touches of Echo and the Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine, and Joy Division running through its sonic veins, Whipping Boy boasts the "Nick Cave learns how to sing melodically" vocals of Ferghal McKee. The lyrics are poetically delivered realities, but no matter how deep and honest, they've already begun to stir up some controversy in the American press that could obscure the potential of a truly impressive band.

The track that's got Whipping Boy the most attention is "We Don't Need Nobody Else," which includes the spoken lines, "I hit you for the first time today/ I didn't mean it/ It just happened." Paul Page, the band's guitarist, explained, "Domestic violence is a big issue that's often covered up in Ireland because of the Catholic Church. Women feel it's their duty to keep the family together." He continued, "We certainly don't condone abuse. The song's just about that out of character, split second of madness."

The band doesn't see any point in censoring their lyrics to avoid misconceptions, but they didn't always have McKee's voice so prominent in the mix either. "When we started we hadn't lived, we just wanted to make some noise, but now we can write about our experiences," says Page. If you listen hard enough to Heartworm, you can hear Whipping Boy spiritually digging to reach a buried emotional core. "Some people find the honesty to be too much," says Page, "Why hide it if you've got something to say?"

It seems quite a few bands from the U.K. have been having their say with American audiences over the past few years, the most publicized of course is the Blur vs. Oasis bullshit. "Oasis definitely know how to write a good pop song, but Blur don't convince me," says Page although he admits Oasis are a bit obnoxious and image driven. "All that Rock n' Roll shit has been said and done by bigger and better bands."

Although Irish bands have traditionally struggled to make it in England and across the pond, Whipping Boy is a positive sign of things to come. "After U2 broke, Dublin was filled with A&R people for years and now there isn't the same level of interest, which is a shame really," says Page, "There's more good Irish bands now than ever before." A shortage of venues due to mutations into dance clubs has been a factor limiting exposure to promising new bands.

Whipping Boy will soon be leaving its home country behind to take on America with a tour starting in April. Page feels the dynamics of the band expand immensely live and unlike Oasis or the Stone Roses, they don't just stand there like arrogant fucks going through the motions. "We move around quite a bit, but Ferghal gives his all on stage," he says. "Sometimes he gets clumsy and he'll pull monitors on top of him, or spend half the show in the crowd. He'll doing anything to get into the music."

Aside from leaving friends and family behind while out promoting Heartworm, Whipping Boy will be without the one thing that always keeps Dublin on the map: Guinness. "Guinness is a major factor in my life and there's nowhere else you can get it like in Ireland" says Page of the thick, iron-fortified stout. "It's a mean beverage, I'd choose it over tea any day." When I was in Dublin the Guinness factory was closed for the holidays and Page reiterated what I knew I had missed out on. "I did the tour when I was in school," he says. "People go all the time, skip the tour, and head straight for the free samples." Damn.

Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on experiencing something truly mysterious and potent. Not a trip to the Guinness factory, although that wouldn't be a bad idea, but Whipping Boy, which for my money is the best export to make it over from Ireland in years. Certainly better than any British mirage.

Scott Warden - Whipping Boy "Whipping Boy"

"One time possessors of Dublin's 'next big thing' tag, Whipping Boy's third album finally sees its release this month two years after it was recorded. The raw dark sexual tension that was prevalent on its predecessor - the excellent 'Heartworm' - takes a minor role here compared to a new found pop sensibility spread on a wider musical canvas. The sheer power of the band remains undiminished. They still present their work in an honest unflinching manner that is in unison with greatness.

'So much for love' is resigned and sad, 'Bad books' and 'Fly' show that McKee can still express love/obsession in a fine manner and the musicians know how to score it. 'Pat the almighty' is perhaps the ultimate conclusion of Whipping Boy's own verse-chorus-verse format, with a killing hook of "the kid's a f**king star / he should be wearing gold monee". 'That was then and this is now' is tongue in cheek along the lines of Heartworm's 'When we were young'. 'Puppets' and 'Mutton' take a swipe at the pretension the band have always fought against. 'One to call my own' is probably McKee's finest vocal performance to date. Technically his voice is flat but he expresses every word, to its full emotional potential. And on the point there is some superb lyricism on the album - "but you wont find gays and lesbians in the emporium of seeds / only perfect boys and girls for suburban garden dreams" on 'Who am I' (an airing of the band's (righteous) views on artificial insemination). And then from 'No place to go' - "woke up this morning from the middle of a dream / and all I could remember was MTV screens / every time you're feeling fine you know it's a lie / every time your feeling fine you know its closing time". I could quote the whole album.

This album has the same obsessive listening quality as 'Heartworm'. Whipping boy are perhaps one of the few innovative downright unique bands that Ireland has ever had and join My Bloody Valentine, the Pogues, a house and Fatima Mansions as unsung national heroes. Admittedly there is nothing as immediate as "Twinkle" or the brutalism of "We don't need nobody else" but this is a quieter more mature record. There are one or two tracks that are just plain old indie but, like the Pogues, weaker tracks hardly matter when you're so easily capable of greatness.

Ireland 2000 needs band like Whipping Boy. With the country succumbing to a gross cosy trendy materialism veiled in pretension and the musical landscape desolate of fresh hope we should thank the stars that a band with intelligent rock and roll principles embedded in their hearts have reformed."

Kevin Fitton - 'Whipping Boy'

Whipping Boy
'Whipping Boy'

Whipping Boys eponymously titled third album is big. In both sound and ambition, this is a big, big record, an album where the songs not only grandstand but showboat as well. Which is not a bad thing. Kicking off with "So Much For Love", a neat meditation on the nature of reality as opposed to those versions of romance portrayed in your average love ballad, and continuing with "Bad Books", this is tumultuous, intense, affected and epic showmanship, all ascending strings and musical turmoil, all knowing sarcasm and discontented vocals.

"Fly" is dense, the vocals buried, hard to decipher, while the Joy Division inspired "That Was Then, This Is Now" is an abrupt slice of guitar rock which sees the band attempt to sonically lacerate their own work. Less successful is "One To Call My Own", despite featuring some excellent guitar work by Paul Page. "Pat The Almighty", "Puppets" and "Mutton" trade satirical sideswipes at pop culture poseurs and all those "ideal stars" who populate the cultural landscape. Direct and savage rather than genuinely insightful, few could deny their delicious wordplay or the latter's swift kiss-off line.

"Puppets" begins a quartet of songs which alone are enough to guarantee the reputation of Whipping Boy as one of Ireland's consistently entertaining bands. The standout track is "Who Am I?", a tale of uniformity, of genetic engineering gone mad, where we can manufacture the perfect offspring in the "emporium of seeds". This is a great song, lyrically and musically astute, a macabre comedy disturbingly close to reality. The muse surfaces in "The Ghost Of Elvis", as poppy as the album gets, a song about restless energy finding an outlet. It's "easy being here in Mono Land" sings Ferghal McKee and obviously not wanting to take the easy way out, Whipping Boy‚ ends with the biggest song of all. In glorious stereo. "No Place To Go" begins sluggishly and then builds. And builds. And builds some more, until, I swear, it tries to kick a hole in the universe.

Whipping Boy‚ is that rare of things: an ambitious, crammed album that avoids being bombastic. This is an album about masks and the self, an album about the modern world and about pop music itself. It is a great record from a band that are worth spending time with.

Deserves to be big.

C.E.A. Donnelly


Ireland Today, Vol. 01 | No. 31 | October 2 1997

Whipping Boy Give It A Lash

"Irish band Whipping Boy blew up a storm in the Temple Bar Music Centre last Friday night. It was good to see the band back to something like their old form again and should see them finally get the deal with a major that they richly deserve. The gig gave their fans and music industry heads a chance to hear some material from their long-awaited new album and some old favourites too.

Whipping Boy have been demoing material for their forthcoming album - working title 'Grot Pop' - the past while and very promising it sounds too. The release date depends on clinching that big deal, but rumour has it that the band is currently being courted by a number of interested labels. This will be good news for a band who seemed to have blown their first chance at the big-time but now have a second bite at the cherry of stardom.

At one stage things seemed to be going on an unstoppable upward curve for the band - their second album, 'Heartworm', released on Columbia, sold over 80,000 copies in Ireland. The critics also loved it, many naming it as their album of 1995 and no compilation album was complete without 'Twinkle'. There seemed to be no stopping them.

But the move to Columbia didn't work out and they left after a few months. "Basically new management came in and decided to sign The Stunning (sadly no longer with us) and drop us," according to lead singer Ferghal McKee. Instead of getting bitter or becoming disenchanted about the music business because of this unfortunate experience the band seem to have gained strength from it. And their new material is proof of that.

'Grot Pop' is an advance in styles from 'Heartworm', containing classic and rock elements that gel perfectly with the sheer blazing energy that is Whipping Boy. "A lot of the songs were written when a lot of the s**t was going on with Sony (owners of Columbia). It's an intriguing album, put it that way," Ferghal eloquently relates. If their live performance last weekend is anything to go by then the new album will be worth the wait."

Jim Doherty
© 1997 by Treadstone International Ltd.

Whipping Boy have been demoing material for their forthcoming album - working title 'Grot Pop' - the past while and very promising it sounds too. The release date depends on clinching that big deal, but rumour has it that the band is currently being courted by a number of interested labels.


Event Guide - Whipping Boy "Whipping Boy"

We all thought they'd left us for good, but that would have been too easy. So Whipping Boy decide, seemingly on a whim, to release their third album, nearly two years of complete inactivity after they recorded it. And we've never needed them so much. 1995's 'Heartworm' was a heartstopping collection of fiercesomely beautiful songs, overflowing with irresistible hooks, almost devilishly satisfying feedback, lashings of poetic darkness and sumptuous string arrangements. And 'Low Rent' (love the aura of sleazy glamour) is, surprisingly enough, much more of the same. It glides in on the back of the chiming guitars and sweeping strings of 'So Much For Love', with Fearghal documenting the sad, slow decay of a relationship. The contrast between 'Heartworm''s opener 'Twinkle' is hard to ignore: a tale of obsessive love ('She's the only one for me, now and always') as opposed to wry, sardonic, downbeat humour. Lyrically, the focus is less on Fearghal's inner demons, so we get ' Mutton' ripping it out of scumbag journos like myself, and ' Pat The Almighty' doing the same to the kid who's played The Music Centre and thinks he's a rock star, all topped off with their trademark blasts of whiplash guitar and scream along choruses. Then there's the witheringly sarcastic 'Puppets', which takes a look at the reality behind all the music biz back slapping ('Her agent's anorexic, great at giving head').

That a band that has gone through so much crap with the music industry can do this stuff without sounding self pitying or bitter but rabidly vital is an achievement. And the reason they can is very simple - they write great bloody songs. 'Fly' is a sublime ballad featuring Fearghal's aching falsetto intoning ' I'm gonna love ya, I want ya, I need ya'. It is possessed of an other-worldly beauty, only enhanced by the intense love that fuels the song's lyrics. 'Who Am I?' manages to vaguely rip off the melody of Wham's 'Last Christmas' while still being a heroic torch song of the highest order, and 'One To Call My Own' is 'Twinkle' with overpowering lust replaced by a romantic reverie - 'She's the breeze that blows my sails, she's the one that gives me shape'.

Despite all the anti music biz polemic, this is a less intense album than it's predecessor. It would appear that our Fearghal may have fallen in love in the interim, with both 'Fly' and 'One To Call My Own' making overt references to finding someone who not only makes you happy, but makes you content. Thus, this album has no equivalent to the defiant, violent 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' and, to be perfectly honest, it doesn't need one. On the album's soaring final track, 'No Place To Go', Fearghal almost gleefully howls 'We've got no place to go from here! We've got no way of knowing!'. It sounds desperate and sad, but gloriously uplifting at the same time. That's hipping Boy all over - they're in the gutter but they're undoubtedly staring straight at the stars. You would be advised to drag yourselves into their intoxicating underworld as soon as is humanly possible.

Each 'Album Of The Issue' is available from Road Records for £1 off the normal retail price for the duration of the relevant issue of The Event Guide.


Local Ireland - Whipping Boy "Whipping Boy"

"So many questions would have remained unanswered had this album not been released. Five years in music is a long time, 1995 until now must have seemed like an eternity for Whipping Boy.

This, their third album was completed over two years ago, but for various reasons has only surfaced in April 2000. Although Whipping Boy managed to grind up and dispose of most of their competitors with the ‘Heartworm’ album, leaving substantial lengths of time such as this won’t have done them any favours.

On first inspection ‘Whipping Boy’ is made up of an uneasy blend of big arrangements and the tortured tales that they made their own in the early 1990's. These aren’t the songs that many would have expected from a new album, but no one would have predicted the events that preceded it either.

If anything, this is a record that will gradually seep under your skin and reveal the charm that it holds deep within. They could have delved a little deeper into the wilderness that they touched on with ‘Submarines’, this though, finds them putting their point across in a more controlled and developed way."

Daniel Hegarty


Hot Press - Whipping Boy "Sweet Mangled Thing"

"Chill Beads of sweat tumbled lightly down my face as my knees slammed together at a rate that struck me as somehow loathsome. The tape found my hand and the band left. What had I done? Oh, God.. the power of a well-worded press-release (in this case, a fleeting mention of the Pixies proved well-enough words). "Sweet Mangled Thing" .. hoboy, no prizes for guessing what this is gonna sound like.

Ak! Several seconds into the first track and life suddenly acquires a flippant attitude towards gravity. That old maxim – ‘The nicest bands come up with the worst crap’ W. Somerset Maughan – fails to hold water this once. Irish newcomers Whipping Boy are a flexible flyer, a spandex truss (postcards only, please) a disreputable perm, a wholesome tweak. It’s nice to know that there’s someone out there who realises that this is NINETEEN EIGHTY NINE and not therefore a time of flowers and spiritualism and all that shite. Whipping Boy have a healthy obsession with cars, and sex, and living like you didn’t exists or you’re an that exists. They also make their guitars sound like spaceships taking off, which is never a bad thing.

And so, "Highway Man" opens with the kind of seething cumulative blast so beloved of Sonic Youth; and overwhelming melodic wave that had me singing its praises to passer-bys after one hearing. Jeez, I almost had my parents moved to a more upmarket rest-home. But the song also highlights their most pressing weakness – an unwise reliance on bands like The Youth for pointers. Just as the name is a bit ‘WE ARE A HARDCORE BAND IN THE TRADITION OF ….’ So their music seems stuck in someone else’s groove. But the best thing about hardcore remains its ability to constantly reinvent itself without losing the thrill to be had from loud, LOUD and fast guitars, so I would imagine that The Whippets might share this ability to shake off influences with each passing song and acquire more distinct, more unique shapes.

For now, however, there’s plenty of evil joy to be drawn from songs like "Velvet Crush" and "I Think I Miss You", but the standout track on this mini-LP has to be "Happy", which ends the Whippet’s first outing on a suitably exuberant and violently scorched note. This could be a big thing over here. Don’t look over your shoulder..

Graham Linehan


Independent Records - "Whipping Boy"

"Dublin four piece Whipping Boy release their eponymously titled third album through Low Rent on 28th April 2000.

Recorded and co-produced by Myles and Paul from the band and Ed Kenehan in Dublin in the Summer of '98, it is a perfect, long-awaited "Part 3" in the fascinating and richly rewarding Whipping Boy story.

Whipping Boy is an album filled with yearning, honesty and sneering, sarcastic contempt, topped off with superbly wry and pinpoint precise lyrical observations. "So Much For Love" kicks things off with a string-laden, yearning "anti-ballad"; "Bad Books" adds swirling keyboards to the equation; and "Pat The Almighty" and "Mutton" roll smoothly along with melodic majesty dripping bile by the bucket.

"That Was Then, This Is Now" rocks things up while poking fun at things past and the gullibility of our ancestors; and "Puppets" is a gently strummed, hilariously satirical stab at the absurdity of the entertainment business. Closing track, "No Place To Go", is a fitting climax, with all the orchestral swells, swooning vocals and gritty substance that you would expect from the perfect rock-epic finale.

This is a band for which anything and everything could have happened (and still might)??!! - Whipping Boy: Heartworm

Hierzulande gänzlich unbekannt, so dass die CDs auch nur schwer aufzutreiben sind, gibt's von Whipping Boy dennoch diesen Renner, den man haben sollte.

Und als erstes danke ich mal wieder dem Hank! Denn dies ist noch so eine Kapelle, die ich durch ihn kennen gelernt habe.
Die CD hätte auch wirklich einen der ersten fünf Plätze dieser Hitlist verdient, wenn hier nicht der Faktor "persönliche Verbindung zur Musik" eine Rolle spielen würde.
Heartworm ist eine wirklich geniale Platte, mit der ich trotzdem nichts besonderes verbinde. Das mag daran liegen, dass ich sie erst einige Jahre nach 95 erworben habe, vielleicht auch daran, dass ich die Stimmung der CD zwar gut nachempfinden kann, jedoch mich selber nicht in einer solchen befunden habe seit ich das Teil besitze.

Was ist dies für eine Stimmung? Für mich kommt hier eine sehr große Unzufriedenheit rüber, Kritik an der Gesellschaft, ein wenig Pessimismus und das Gefühl ein Aussenseiter zu sein. Dies könnte bei entsprechender Musik sehr gut zu Wave Mucke oder dergleichen passen, zu tun haben wir es aber mit poppigem Gitarrengeschrammel - sicherlich mit Waveeinflüssen, allerdings auch mit Einflüssen von Punk und ein klein wenig Britpop (uäh!).

Die CD beginnt mit einem Geigenintro, dann setzt die typische melodische Gitarre, die zum Beispiel ähnlich zu derjenigen von Coldplay klingt ein und kurz darauf die zweite typische sehr verschrammelte Gitarre. Dazu gibt's eine sehr tiefe Stimme mit ruhigem Gesang, der vielfach eher ein Sprechgesang ist. Vor allem dieser Gesang bringt die Texte (oben genannte Weltsichten) mit beklemmender Intensität rüber. Zwei Gitarren sind gerne am Werk und hin und wieder auch verhaltene Keyboards, die aber (siehe Booklet) niemand spielt.

Der zweite Song ist schon gleich einer meiner Favoriten: When we were young. Der Titel verrät schon einiges über den Text: es geht um Dinge, die ich letzte Woche schonmal angesprochen habe. Erwähnenswert hier besonders die gelungenen Backgroundchöre, die ausdrucksstarke Stimme und das flotte Tempo des Liedes (in nichmal drei Minuten ist es schon wieder vorbei).
Bei Tripped hört man dann am Anfang auch mal eine akustische Gitarre, die schon fast country-mässig klingt, doch nach diesem Beginn wird ordentlich losgerockt, wobei das Tempo des Songs trotzdem ein langsameres bleibt. Die Gitarren liebe ich einfach: sie bewegen sich zwischen Schrammel und Süsse, teilweise ziemlich verzerrt, erinnern sie etwas an Cure zu Wish-Zeiten.
We don't need nobody else: Verzweiflung, Frust aber auch Eigensinnigkeit, Überzeugung und ein wenig Romantik sprechen aus dem Text. Gegen Ende wird's hier ziemlich abgefahren und irgend jemand zaubert auch noch eine dritte Gitarre aus dem Hut.

Es folgen einige Stücke, die auch nicht schlecht aber weniger einfallsreich sind, zum Teil die zuvor gehörten Elemente wieder aufgreifen und noch einmal neu interpretieren. Hier leidet auch etwas die Unterscheidbarkeit der einzelnen Songs.
Zum Abschluss kommt dann aber noch mal die Stimmung der Platte hervorragend rüber: Morning rise ist sehr akustisch und durch zusätzliche Streicher auch sehr traurig, A natural spricht von "acute paranoid schizophrenia" und man kann sich (wenn auch nicht ganz wirklich) vorstellen, was der Sänger damit meint.

Eine schöne Platte, ein verstörende Platte, eine rockende Platte.
Wäre die Instrumentierung eine andere, so könnte man aus dem Gesang und den Texten vielleicht auch Symphonic Metal oder sowas wie Marylin Manson machen. So jedoch erhält man einen unverwechselbaren Indie-Rock, der mitreisst und trotz seiner Düsternis nicht zur Selbstaufgabe oder zu Hass einlädt.
Ein wenig bedrückt darf man aber sein.


London "The Boys Are Back In Town"

November 28th, 1997, and the Highbury Garage is full to the brim, ready to witness the return of Ireland’s most underrated musical export. The band are Whipping Boy and tonight’s one-off show will serve as a reminder that they are still the purveyors of the most thrillingly passionate tunes of the last five years. It has been a rough ride, especially the past six months, which saw them dissolve their contract with Columbia Records, but there is hope that tonight will bring in new record company interest. There might have been temporary despondency in the camp, but Whipping Boy have never relinquished the burning confidence which has fuelled them on throughout the years.

Chapter One of their decade-long saga kicks off in Edenderry, County Offaly, where they played their first gig at a 21st birthday party. Back then, there had also been a fifth female member and they were known as Lolita and the Whipping Boy. Ironically, ‘Lolita’ became a born again Christian and was swiftly booted out when she attempted to convert the others. “She was coming to rehearsals with all this literature and leaving it lying around on the amplifiers and stuff. You’d find it in your pocket when you got home. She had to be blasted out,” bass player Myles McDonnell recalls with humour.

The release of their 1992 debut album, ‘Submarine’, on Cheree Records was followed by a lengthy stay in Limboland when Whipping Boy were “just lying around and not being used”. Proceedings only began to solidify again when Columbia boss, Kip Kroner, witnessed a Whipping Boy gig in Dublin and was swept off his feet by the name. Love for the music instantly followed and not far behind was a two-album deal with the label. “He was one hundred and ten per cent behind us!” guitarist Paul Page chirps. However, the disappointing response to their album, ‘Heartworm’, was proceeded by the departure of Kroner and the arrival of new staff who “just didn’t like the music the way the other people did.” Consequently, the band and label reached the decision to prematurely terminate the relationship. “It’s like any other relationship,” Paul offers philosophically, “When it goes bad, there’s no point in continuing.”

It has now been over half a year since Whipping Boy re-entered Limboland, but they are determined that this time, it will be a flying visit. They realise that the bulk of the problem has been to do with how music has to be in fashion to succeed nowadays. “We toyed with the idea of writing an album full of complete crap because it seems as though that’s what sells at the moment. Just like people sell square Hula Hoops, bands are selling cheekbones and fringes. No one’s really listening to the music.” Myles is half-heartedly attempting to account for the outrageous apathy to which ‘Heartworm’ was subjected. Poignantly tender and yet passionately open-hearted, with lyrics scratched out in brutal sincerity, ‘Heartworm’ was the raw but beautiful diamond which tragically slipped into oblivion. It was more ignored than rejected, merely for its timeless charm and uncanny beauty. But Myles is adamant that they would not have done it any other way. “’Heartworm’ just didn’t slot in with the Britpop of 1994. It was too emotional, but there’s nothing wrong with that.”

The most emotional moment on ‘Heartworm’ comes in the form of the fifth song, “We Don’t Need Nobody Else”, which indicates how, at its most heartfelt, music can be an incredibly sensual experience. Melancholic but exhilarating, it tears your heart apart whilst blowing kisses into your soul. Singer Ferghal McKee’s quirky lyrical edge is fully apparent. “Why say words that I do not mean? They’ll only serve to amuse, ridicule and destroy, and hardly ever to teach.” Often, his lyrics will appear nonsensical but always there is an underlying universal message which will surface. There is a line in their song, “Tripped”, which goes “Accept your mind, and your body lives.” Myles offers his interpretation. “It is all about accepting your limitations in life. Whipping Boy are never going to be The Beatles, nor are we going to be the Velvet Underground. We are what we are and we do it as well as we can. You can spend your whole life wanting to be something else or somebody else and you’re never going to get there.”

There is no experience quite like Whipping Boy live. As soon as Ferghal steps onto stage wearing not much more than silver body paint, it is clear that this is no predictable band, but one which never ceases to surprise, nor amaze. My suspicions had been aroused earlier when Ferghal had politely opted out of the interview, stating that he had to “put his make up on”, but Myles claims that he had no idea what Ferghal was going to get up to. “He won’t tell you what he’s going to do and we don’t want to ask him,” Myles declares. “Ferghal is really exasperated by what he sees going on in other bands and he wants to shake things up. If it was contrived, it would be terrible. The best music and shows ever came out of spontaneity and Ferghal feels that he has to keep on challenging the audience.” So are they confident for the future? Myles shrugs his shoulders but smiles. “If enough people had heard ‘Heartworm’, we could have been The Verve,” he concedes without a hint of arrogance. “But it just didn’t happen. It’s nothing for us to worry about or to get bitter over. We’re still here and it might yet happen.”

Leila Abbas


London "Music From A Jilted Generation"

During the latter stages of the 1980s, a number of Irish groups seemed on the verge of furthering the legacy created by acts like Thin Lizzy and U2. Dublin had become known as 'the city of a thousand bands' and was the playing ground for many of the day's Record Company scouts.

Few of the countless number of hopefuls survived the end of the decade. Most were either discarded by their label or found themselves unable to evolve and move with the times.

As time ran out for the new romantics, another movement had begun to capture people's imaginations. My Bloody Valentine, Stano and UK acts The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive were the forerunners of music that relied on the services of white noise as much as melody.

A young Dublin band called Whipping Boy employed parts of this into their music when they formed during the late eighties. Fronted by Fergal McKee, they came to the local media's attention after a bunch of live shows that brought a new, exciting edge to the local gigging community.

There was a raw, angry side to this band that hadn't been seen since The Virgin Prunes split a few years earlier. Compared to much of what was going on around them, Whipping Boy were on their own. My Bloody Valentine had defected to Berlin and Stano had gone into what seemed like a creative hibernation.

Their debut album 'Submarine' received generally good reviews, but some accused them of being too angst-ridden. Just over a year after its release the band found themselves with one of the biggest record deals ever offered to an Irish group.

Recording began in 1994 on a record that was to be called 'Heartworm'. Studio time wasn't such an issue on this occasion, and when the album was unleashed the following year, this was one of the features that contributed to what many saw as their coming of age.

'Heartworm' was Whipping Boy's ticket to great things and in many ways it succeeded. Publications like Hot Press, Vox, Melody Maker, Select and Q Magazine gave deserving praise.

Commenting at the time, McKee described 'Heartworm' as being "full of tenderness, brute force, hate, triumph and humanity. That's basically what most people find throughout their day."

The album's first single 'Twinkle' pushed its way into charts all over Europe and was hailed single of the week on BBC Radio One and "single of the decade" in D'Side Magazine. 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' and 'When We Were Young' followed and added to the building hype that would eventually cause an unsavory backlash from some of their early supporters.

At the end of that year, Whipping Boy won every category that they were nominated for at the Hot Press Music Awards. Not only surprising themselves, but defeating other local favorites The Frames and the hotly tipped Revelino in the best Irish album prize.

UK dates and a European tour with Lou Reed followed in 1996, where the band were introduced to a new audience that seemed to connect with what they had to say.

Following the tour, Reed commented; "if 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' isn't a hit worldwide, I know nothing about music." Some called such a claim a kiss of death and in this case it may have been true. A faction of the media had grown tired of McKee's outspoken manner and began questioning Whipping Boy's every element.

Soon after demoing for album number three had begun, tension between the band and record company ended in a split. Writing and rehearsing continued, as did gigs, but they soon dropped out of sight.

Three years passed and there was still no word on a band that had fallen from grace in such an unfair and unexpected way. Rumours persisted that they were no more, but in March 2000 news arrived of a third album simply titled 'Whipping Boy'.

On a first inspection you'd say that the band have grown up and lost much of the energy and anger that first brought them attention. Listen a few more times and the intricate melodies and intensity present themselves from behind a different kind of mask.

Thus far there are no clues to whether any gigs are planned to promote this record. Aside from the new material, all that's left are more questions in the latest chapter of Whipping Boy's story. The only indication that has been made was on the band's press release for the new record, it read; "this is a band for which anything and everything could have happened (and still might)??!!"

Whipping Boy's latest release, simply titled 'Whipping Boy'. It was recorded in Dublin in Summer 1998, but only got its release in April 2000.

'Heartworm' was the band's International calling card and won them the support of Lou Reed, Smashing Pumpkins and others. It featured in many publications end of year best album poles.

SUBMARINE: This album heralded the band's beginning. Released in 1992, it brought with it attitude and energy that hadn't been seen or heard in Irish music for quite some time.


All Music Guide "Whipping Boy"

"Irish group Whipping Boy came to prominence in the mid-1990s with their tales of everyday life and love, seen through the world-weary and cynical eyes of frontman Ferghal McKee.

The band formed in 1988, and their first live performance was at a 21st birthday party in Edenderry, where they performed cover versions of songs by the Fall and the Velvet Underground.

Originally named Lolita and the Whipping Boy, the name was shortened when their female guitarist found religion and left the group. The band was reduced to McKee (vocals), Paul Page (guitar), Colm Hassett (drums) and Myles McDonnell bass.

The band released their first two EPs for the independent Cheree label, The Whipping Boy EP in 1990 and I Think I Miss You EP in 1991. Generating some interest, they signed to Liquid Records to release their debut album Submarine in 1992. The album did not become a success, although their live shows continued to raise their profile, as much for the stage antics of McKee as for the music. McKee had something of a self-destructive attitude, and had been known to cut himself with broken glass on stage.

Whipping Boy's major label debut, Heartworm, appeared in 1994 and was greeted with glowing reviews. Despite allegations of misogyny arising from the lyrics in one song on the album, three successful singles were released. "We Don't Need Nobody Else" was the first and best, and featured mostly spoken lyrics about Irish life. The casual, off-handed reference to domestic violence in this song makes it all the more effective. "Twinkle" was the second single, as good as the previous release, and catalogued the horrifying faults of the female partner in a relationship, before blossoming into the gorgeous chorus "She's the one for me/Now and always". "When We Were Young" was the third single released."

Jonathan Lewis


All Music Guide - Whipping Boy "Heartworm"

"Released in the U.S. several months after the import, an annoying tendency of Columbia's that has earned the ire of British-music fans, Heartworm is an earth-shatteringly powerful experience from a previously unheralded band. Light years ahead of this Irish quartet's obscure, out of print debut, Submarine (in terms of production, scope, songwriting, and ability), this sophomore LP is no "slump." Instead, it's filled with tense guitars, on-the-brink anxiety, guts, passion, brains, and fantastic production by Warne Livesey with mixing help from sharp-eared Bostonian Lou Giordano (who did Sugar's colossal Copper Blue and Beaster). From the gripping, cello-crying, opening moment of "Twinkle," Whipping Boy (not the early-'80s San Francisco hardcore band of the same name) puts the listener on notice that a topsy-turvy ride is coming, and all 11 songs deliver.

"Twinkle" is the standout, the cliché of the chorus ("She's the only one for me") cleverly obfuscating rigid self-defilement and disillusionment. But the barking twin guitars of Ferghal McKee and Paul Page blow Heartworm into the stratosphere on each free moment, and McKee sings like a man coolly possessed, like a devil neatly stepping from the flames of such breakdowns as "We Don't Need Nobody Else" (in the belly of the beast of spousal violence) and the self-explanatory "The Honeymoon Is Over." Yet, for all this fierce determination, McKee and band are also capable of tenderness ("Morning Rise") and the comic wonder of existence ("Personality"). This LP is so f****** good, so unsettling and dangerous, yet beautiful and moving, that Whipping Boy should be headlining Lollapalooza instead of the weak, pathetic pretenders with all their hollow gestures we get every year. But maybe we can't handle the real thing."

Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover


All Music Guide - Whipping Boy "Whipping Boy"

"Posthumous albums are bittersweet. After a decade, Dublin's finest band called it a day in 1999, a year after recording this third LP. Dumped by Columbia despite rave reviews for 1995's phenomenal Heartworm, a Top 40 U.K. hit in "We Don't Need Nobody Else," and a reputation as a fearsome live group, Whipping Boy were unable to secure a new deal and capitulated. Damn it. Whipping Boy finds the quartet evolving exquisitely, adopting fresh touches such as washes of sonorous strings and sparkling piano, and composing some downright beautiful, tickling, ballad-tempo songs. And yet they remain all post-dream pop tension, a mix of Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, and 1992 R.E.M. They're gentle and lulling, then distorted, bruising, and lascivious in turns. Fearghal McKee is the thick-voiced singer everyone should hear, equal measures sinister, sardonic, soothing, sympathetic, and sexy. His lyrics are little observations on other people's lives so succinct and colorful, they're like mini-movies.

Best of all, every song is great. The pretty-pop prizes such as the opening, sweet "So Much for Love," "Who Am I?," and "Ghost of Elvis" are so playful and amiable, you almost forget the thunderclaps of dense, stun-guitar anxiety elsewhere. And even the harsh stuff is offset by something lovely like "Pat the Almighty"'s background harpsichord plinking amongst the chaos. Likewise, the closing "No Place to Go" is a small epic of feeling, with beauty and the beast in one song. In the end, it's hard to find a flaw with this fantastic, meticulously put together record. Unfortunately, this CD is going to prove a bitch to find. Released on their own label, it is at least available through guitarist Page. He has been reliable in selling them to those who e-mail him."

Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover