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Interview with Paul Page – Whipping Boy (Part 3)

Interview with Paul Page – Whipping Boy (Part 3)
by Killian Laher

No More Workhorse spoke to former Whipping Boy guitarist Paul Page, about the forthcoming rerelease of their second album Heartworm, 25 years on.

How do you feel about Heartworm now? 

Immensely proud.  For a long time, I didn’t really listen to it.  And I doubted whether it was really any good at all.  But I listened to it again recently for the first time in ages, and I just felt enormous pride. It’s just music, entertainment, it’s not going to save the world.  But I know it gave people the same thrill that my favourite records gave me when I was growing up.

And that counts for something.  For me anyway.  And I mentioned record sales earlier – I would much prefer to have made an album that has stood the test of time than to have made a record that sold well and then was completely forgotten about.

It’s mentioned a fair bit when people talk about the greatest Irish albums.

Yes, it’s bizarre.  To see it in those lists alongside albums by U2, Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine. Bands & artists who have made a massive impact and sold millions of albums.  I find it hard to comprehend.  And we barely made a dent in terms of commercial success.  So it’s a puzzle to me, but I am just grateful to see how well it has endured.

Do you hear much of its influence in music today?  Some reviewers of the recent Fontaines DC album mentioned Whipping Boy.

I don’t know.  I mean, I have no idea if bands like Fontaines DC or Murder Capital listened to Whipping Boy or would consider us an influence.  I can hear some similarities, but that’s always going to be there – they are Irish bands making heavy-ish guitar music.  So there are going to be some similarities.  But they are good bands in their own right, forging their own sound, just like we did back then.

The market for reissues seems to have contracted in recent years as streaming replaces ownership.  In years to come do you think artists will continue to release anniversary editions of their work for those of us who still buy them?

I think there is always going to be a market for reissues.  From our own perspective, it isn’t really that important that the anniversary is marked, and more about getting Heartworm released on vinyl again, because it hasn’t been available on that format for many years.  The whole anniversary thing doesn’t really excite me – we didn’t do anything to mark previous milestone years for that very reason.  We are hopefully going to be able to make ‘Submarine’ and the third album available in some format if this goes well – the band own those recordings,  so we have freedom to do what we want with them.

Are there any further plans outside of the rerelease?  Presumably touring is out?

I get asked a lot about gigs and touring.  It isn’t something that really interests me at the moment. We have had some very good offers to play in the last few years.  But I felt the only reason we would have been doing those shows was for the money.  And I care too much about this band to do anything just for the money.

I know the others in the band feel the same way to varying degrees & care about the legacy of the band just as much as I do.  Even though we had our differences, our falling outs, I love Myles (McDonnell), Fearghal and Colm (Hassett).  I speak to Myles regularly but haven’t spoken to the other two in a long time.

We shared something incredible for 13 years.  We were almost closer than brothers.  And we created something special, or that is regarded as special by some people.

I watched some old live footage of us recently and the memories of the bond between us came flooding back.  We were so young, had so much belief in each other, and the music we were making.

Even when we were barely able to play our instruments, the fire we had, that unshakeable belief.  It makes me smile when I think about it.  And do you know what?  It turns out that belief we had in each other when very few others gave us the time of day, was proven correct.  ‘Heartworm’ is the result of blind belief, that bond.  And I am just immensely proud to have been part of creating that album.

Heartworm is due for reissue on vinyl in late January.

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