Cry Before Dawn were one of the great Irish musical hopes of the late 1980’s and released two albums ‘Crimes of Conscience’ and ‘Witness for the World’.
This weekend saw the band play together on a stage for the first time in eighteen years. I caught up with Vinnie Doyle from the band during the week. First question I had was ‘Why Now ?’
‘I think it just felt right now. Brendan had been in Switzerland playing traditional music and Pat moved back to Wexford. He was in Sweden, I think for eight years. I gave up playing music altogether. It wasn’t a falling out of love with music for me. Life gets in the way sometimes, you know important things like family. But now feels like the right time for us to be playing music together again.’
What’s the biggest difference between the band now and then?
‘Now, we’re purely playing for the enjoyment. Yeah, we’re taking it very seriously this time but there isn’t the pressure or possibly the stress there was the first time round and anything we do now, we’re doing it because we want to do it and we enjoy it. And I think that’s coming through as well. We haven’t played yet, we’re going to play at the weekend, for the first time in eighteen years but we have been in the rehearsal hall and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s to do with enjoyment and not any other outside pressures.’
I remember hearing you on Gerry Ryan’s late night radio show and you being billed as Ireland’s ‘Next Great Hope’ for the music industry. Is there anything you would change about what happened then?
‘I suppose you’d change, possibly, a number of things. It’s very easy looking back after twenty years (laughing). I’d say one big thing we’d change would have been, we probably wouldn’t have gone to America to do our second album in Los Angeles. We should’ve probably stayed around here or went to Britain and what we probably went for was the big sound. Whereas we probably should have developed more over four albums, not just try to make a big album on the second one. That’s probably the main thing we would change.’
There are lots of things I could ask you about ‘way back then’ but do you as a band want to make this reunion about back then or do you want to make it more current so it’s about you now?
‘Yeah well, i think that’s a very relevant question in the sense that initially when we decided to get back together it was just to do some gigs, enjoy ourselves and hopefully people who liked us in the past would come and enjoy the gigs as well. Now, it’s still all about that but what’s happened in the meantime is we’ve probably pencilled in more gigs than we thought we were going to do and also the record company that we had way back then, Sony or Epic as it was called then, they’ve decided to bring out an album a kind of ‘Best Of’ our first two albums. That’s a nice thing for them to do, I won’t say it snowballed but there’s a little bit more than just playing two or three gigs which was the initial intention. And ‘Gone Forever’, which is probably our best known single, they’re releasing that this week as well.’
‘Gone Forever’ is regarded by many as one of the all time Irish classics now.
(laughing) Yeah, I’ve heard that said a few times and it’s nice. Someone said to me the other day that they heard it on the radio. It’s still played a bit on the radio and it still stands up today. Given the fact that it was 24 years ago when it was recorded, which is unbelievable, in my eyes anyway! I don’t know where the years have gone.
There’s a bit more to it now than playing or two or three gigs, we’re playing our Vicar Street gig which is brilliant and we’ve just about sold out two dates in the Wexford Opera House which is a lovely venue as well. They were the main gig we had pencilled in, now we have other gigs around those.
So what can people expect to see at a Cry Before Dawn gig now?
‘I think they can expect to see four fellas who are a good bit older ( laughs) and there’s nothing we can do about that now is there? What they can expect to hear I suppose is the bulk of the songs from the two albums so if you take it there was 20 songs on the albums, the bulk of the songs and we have a few new songs as well so that will be interesting.’
The new songs that you’re playing, are you going to record those and put them out or have you thought about that yet?
‘Well, we’ve thought about it, I guess we’re going to get this tour, these gigs over, let the ‘Best Of’ record come out, see how that does.. We feel we have a couple of good new songs and if all goes reasonably well and people like the show and what they are hearing, we’ll possibly look at it and see what comes of it.’
So if you were to bring out new material would this be through Sony, or would it be a independent release?
‘If we were to do new recordings it would be an independent venture, although Sony are doing the album that’s coming out that’s all recordings from say, twenty years ago so anything we do now we would do ourselves.’
Does that make you apprehensive about doing it? The music industry has changed a lot..
‘ If you’re scared easily it possibly would but I don’t think at this stage we do scare easily. The music industry has changed massively and dramatically over twenty years. There was no iTunes..there was a lot of changes. We do what we do, if we do it, we’ll put it out and if people like it, that’s great. If they don’t sure there’s no harm done there either.’
I think the most important thing is that if you are loving what you do and people come see you and see that and that comes across, people will get into the band again..
‘Yeah I think so and what’s going to be interesting is that we’re going to play songs that people know and Please God, we’ll get a good reaction, maybe that’s a normal thing. But if we play a few songs people don’t know, it will be interesting to see what the audience think If they like the music, if they don’t like the music. It might tell us a few stories too about where we are with the new stuff.’
Of all the things that happened in the eighties, what’s the thing you’re most proud of?
‘I suppose I have fond memories of selling out two shows in the National Stadium on the South Circular Road in Dublin, er what else? Some of our shows come to mind, they were really special to us. Playing in New York, Boston. We got a couple of IRMA awards then, I think they’re meteor awards now. There was a few things and from a musical point of view, I’m proud of the albums, I think there’s some great music of them and both albums hit double platinum status. That’s something to be proud of.’