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Last throw of the dice

Darragh O'Connor of Wilt speaks as the band faces a crisis that could mean the end.

"It feels strange doing an interview now" says Wilt's drummer Darragh O'Connor, "we're sort of in limbo at the moment and I'm not sure how things are going to go." With the future as unclear as it seems, Wilt may not be doing many more interviews.

Tellingly, it is Darragh who has been elected to speak this time out. The band's usual spokesman, songwriter Cormac Battle, has reportedly had enough and is within an inch from throwing in the towel. Is there any truth in this, I ask Darragh. "I can't really say at the moment because only Cormac only really knows that," he says.

"We're waiting to see if we go ahead with a US release of 'My Medicine'. We have just signed a publishing deal and, if the record were to make any headway in the States, I'd say he would be doing more. But, at the moment, it's hard to say."

The situation they are in at the moment is that Wilt have parted company with their record label, Mushroom Records, and do not own any rights to their two albums. Lengthy UK tours have played havoc with their Irish obligations, forcing them to cancel concerts here and causing rifts between themselves, venues and fans alike.

"We're all looking forward to this tour because so many gigs have gone in the last year. Our label forced us to cancel a lot of Irish dates and insisted that we travel to the UK when they asked. We were caught in the middle. We were under contract to these people to promote the album, but they didn't give a shit about what we were doing in Ireland. Based in the UK, their attitude is that, if you can't make it in their backyard, then you won't make it anywhere. It caused bad feeling and we weren't at fault, so we want to make it up."

Darragh insists the band has had enough of the UK and do not have any plans to return. "We're sick of it, the whole thing is so fickle. It's the kind of people the music industry seems to attract that's hard to handle. Generally we find bands we come across to be sound, it's the people that surround them with the mobile phones that are hard to stomach. Britain is full of that and we've had enough of it for a while."

So what do Wilt think of the independent Irish music scene that has been evolving during the UK campaign? "Ireland has come along way in the last 10 years, the last two or three in particular. There's a lot to be said for the bands that have made a go of it on their own and the indie labels that are supporting them.

"Dublin has a great troubadour tradition, which, to be honest, used to get on my wick a bit in the past, but now is quite accessible and not as elitist as it once was. The whole thing can only help inspire bands to stick at it."

Is it enough to inspire Wilt to stick at it? "We've always had an ambition of going to the US and making some headway there so, if that chance arises, I'd like to go for it. We have new material, but we're reluctant to do anything with it as Mushroom would have the rights to it."

There can be no doubting the extent of Wilt's ambitions.

Wilt, The Mean Fiddler, 19th March, 1999.

by PJ Ahern

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