- 25 Sep 16
On September 25, 1976, a bunch of young Dublin teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 16, gathered in a house in Artane to see if they could make a decent noise. Among those present on the day were Larry Mullen – who had made the call for like-minded souls by pinning a note pinned to the notice-board in Mount Temple Comprehensive – Paul Hewson, Adam Clayton and Dave Evans. Also there was Ivan McCormick, an aspiring guitar player, who wanted in on the action…
Ivan McCormick, who lived in Howth with his family, was one of those plucky souls who answered the call from Larry Mullen looking for people interested in forming a band on that historic September day in 1976. The family was a musical one. Ivan’s older brother Neil, who was also in Mount Temple, went on to form bands, as well as working in Hot Press. His sister Stella was also an excellent singer.
“I still have a very clear recollection of that first day we all got together and practiced in Larry’s house,” McCormick recalls. “I used to keep a diary and fill in every single event that happened back then. The entry for Saturday, September 25 simply reads: ‘Joined a pop group with friends and we rehearsed’. My dad had dropped me and my guitar down to Larry’s place, from Howth, where we lived.”
Ivan was younger not just than Paul Hewson and Adam Clayton, both of whom had been born in 1960, but also than David Evans and Larry Mullen – who entered the world, like Neil in 1961. “I remember being very excited to be hanging out with these older boys and forming a band,” Ivan reflects. “The only reason I think I was in the band was the fact that I had the best instrument. I was only thirteen at the time, so they were mostly a few years older, and ahead of me in school.”
The rehearsal took place, naturally, in the kitchen of the Artane house where Larry lived.
“We didn’t really have a clue what we were doing,” Ivan muses. “I remember Larry’s red drum kit took up most of the space in the kitchen. They were bandying around names like Led Zeppelin and that, but these bands hadn’t yet clocked yet on my register. There were some good songs that we – or at least some of us – knew. We might even have tried ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights In White Satin’. And there was an Eagles song.”
His name might not mean a whole lot to rock 'n' roll fans now, but Peter Frampton was a huge star at the time. He was deemed uncool by the rock cognoscenti, but his Frampton Live album, released in January 1976, had become a huge hit across the Atlantic, zooming past all-comers as it leapt to No.1. By September of that year, it was well on its way to selling over 6 million copies in the US alone and was ubiquitous on mainstream radio in the UK and Ireland too.
“They definitely played Peter Frampton’s ‘Show Me The Way’,” Ivan says. “And I know we did a Bay City Rollers song at one point. But for kids in a Dublin suburb, punk was a long way around the corner at the time – and it wasn’t on the agenda at all that day. The hardest-hitting thing I remember trying out was Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’. I clearly remember Bono trying to teach me the intro to that.”
Ivan wasn’t the first to fall by the wayside – a guy called Peter Martin wears that badge – but it became clear pretty quickly that Ivan wasn’t going to make the cut. But before he was given his marching orders, he had the opportunity to experience the unique magnanimity of the regime in Mount Temple at the time, who – in a city that was notorious for having little or no rehearsal space for bands – allowed the fledgling band to rehearse on the school premises over the weekend.
“A couple of weeks after that first get together, we rehearsed at school in Mount Temple. I have another entry in my diary: Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of October: ‘Rehearsed all day in the music room at school’. We wanted to get this band off the ground. I think we had a hi-fi amp from an old stereo and Bono had this little pencil microphone thing that you see in old Top of The Pops videos.
“Even at that early stage, I remember Bono being very much the man in charge and trying to get Dave [Edge] to play what he wanted him to play. He was saying ‘Give us more of this’ and ‘Give us more of that’. It’s funny, I think by then pop music was out and they’d got some idea that we could or would be a proper rock band. But of course everyone had a different sense of what ‘rock’ was. I think we would have done ‘Smoke On The Water’ at one stage.
“I don’t remember having any band name discussions back then, so I don’t know how the name Feedback came about. I assume that it happened after I was given my marching orders!
"I was kicked out of the band before the first gig. They told me that it was in a pub and that I was too young. But I think they were letting me down gently. I was very upset – for about an hour.
"After they kicked me out of the band they came to a party in my house, I think it was for my sister Stella’s birthday. She sang backing vocals with them on occasion. I remember Bono and myself sat in my room facing each other and played ‘Johnny B. Goode’ again together – I think he felt a bit sorry for me. I still play in covers bands and I play that song a lot. I often think about the fact that it was Bono who taught me the intro – even though the way he showed me wasn’t actually the correct way to play it (laughs).
“I was never really close friends with them, because they were all above me in school. Bono was in the same class as Neil, so they’d have known one another well.
“Howth, where I grew up, was a really great, happening place for music in those days and we were all in bands. Shortly afterwards, I formed another band, Frankie Corpse & The Undertakers. We used to share equipment and share stages with the lads. Then, when we became The Modulators, and they became U-2, we were all on the same bills at places like McGonagles.
“U2 were always a little bit ahead of us, but nobody thought it was really going to amount to anything. Of course, once U2 started gaining traction, we all thought it was going to happen for all of us. But of course, that’s not the way things work, is it?”
Hot Press will continue it's U2 40th Anniversary coverage all week long on hotpress.com, and in a special commemorative issue out Thursday 29th September.
You can preorder Hot Press 40-17, our U2 40th Anniversary Special direct from hotpress.com
Or it will be available to download from the iOS app for iPad/iPhone
Or download from the Android App upon release