ARCHIVE: “I used to be a rock star”

Sat, Jun 12, 2004, 01:00    

WILD YEARS: Old rockers never die, they just reinvent themselves. Tony Clayton-Lea catches up with some luminaries of the Irish music scene from the 1980s and 1990s.

BREN BERRY

Then: singer/guitarist in Revelino, one of the few genuine contender Irish rock bands of the 1990s. The band released their third and best album, To The End, in 2001 and split up shortly after. Now: Concert promoter/booking agent for Aiken Promotions.

“Revelino’s first album came out in October 1994, and the week of release was the week we did our first gig. Because of previous bad experiences we had in an earlier band called The Coletranes, we took the approach to be completely independent. In order to have enough money to make, release and work an album, we spent about a year playing covers in a band called The Beat Generators – we did it for the craic and free drink, and for the money we’d get, which was a lot to us at the time. We put every single penny into making that first album (Revelino), which created a big stir in Ireland. It was great to be successful at home, but it was utterly frustrating not to have any kind of success outside the country.

“Initially, we had a lot of major record label interest, but that eventually vanished because we weren’t perceived as being hip. We went to New York to play at an indie festival in 1997, and coming back I came to the realisation that I had just had enough – I didn’t have a penny to my name. I really didn’t want to give up on the band, but I knew I had to start earning some money. I was on the dole and living off the woman who is now my wife.

“Then I received a phone call from Peter Aiken, asking me to check out a new venue called Vicar Street. I went to meet him, and out of the blue he offered me a job. Initially, I was brought in to work with Irish acts, but it was realised quite quickly that my knowledge was broader, having been in a band and having had experience of band management. “Looking back on the days of the band, I’ve come to realise how brilliant they were. Even though we were on the dole, we lived like kings. There were so many ligs, gigs and parties to go to; and then, of course, you’re following a dream. The fact that you wake up from the dream is something you have to come to terms with. I miss playing live, but a guitar given to me by the Après Match guys spurred me on somewhat. I now have seven. If I get any more my wife will beat me over the head with them.

“Any regrets? Well, I feel we didn’t have as much success as we deserved – I can objectively say that we were better than the level of success we received. But those are the breaks and I know there are factors involved other than just talent. It’s great to still be in the music industry. I’m still a big music fan. I suppose I could book myself as a support act, but I only book stuff I like and I haven’t quite reached that point with myself.”

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