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'We Hit A Brick Wall With Radio'
When epic rockers CODES signed to EMI, it was widely expected they would sweep all before them. But the young Dubliners found Irish daytime radio impossible to crack. Their manager explains how a bright young group with global prospects were hamstrung by what he sees as the conservative culture of the Irish music business.
Peter Murphy, 22 Nov 2010
“If I was on my own in this war I’d probably say there’s something wrong with me, but I’m not the only voice saying this, so there clearly is a problem.”
Bergin has a point. ‘This Is Goodbye’ had surefire hit written all over it, a Manics/Radiohead/Muse sized three-minute beauty. The idea of such a tune being arbitrarily passed over in favour of more X Factor pap sounds bells of doom for all Irish musicians. So what happened once the album was released?
“Well, we went with two subsequent singles, the album received massive press for the Choice Music Prize, and then I was building towards a very big summer season of festivals, and we couldn’t have asked for any more. We were festivaled out by the time September came around. But we had only signed certain terms of contract with EMI, and that expired at a time when we had been massively exposed to the Irish market. And I felt that was the time the label should be going, ‘Now we need to push this’. We were going, ‘All this work has been done over this summer, and you’re walking?’ It was a strange one.
“The term had finished,” he adds, “there was no stab in the back or any of that. What I suggested to them was, ‘All this work has been done, we signed 14 months ago, that’s the length of the agreement, but right now more than ever is when we need you to step in and go: Let’s drive this. This band has been massively exposed in this country’. And they chose not to. Which is their prerogative. But it didn’t make sense.”
Were there any factors cited for not extending the contract?
“There was no falling out, we never rowed once. We might have had one or two differences over artwork, but if that was the biggest problem we had, fine. But I think CODES were very much mis-marketed. They’re not a poppy chart band, and I think at times because of the way the industry is, particularly now, major labels want to cling onto that dream: we want to make them into the biggest thing in the world. That’s everybody’s dream, and you’re allowed have that, but there’s a reality with it as well. Niche marketing and underground stuff is what’s needed more than ever now. Sticking up a few Facebook ads – you’ve gotta be cleverer than that.