Kilkenny Cats - Hands Down (2023 Remastered Expanded Edition)

Propeller Sound

Kilkenny Cats formed in early 1983 in Athens, GA, a new project from members of the art-rock band Is/Ought Gap. Its founding members were Tom Cheek (vocals), Haynes Collins (bass), Sean O’Brien (guitar), and Allen Wagner (drums).  Since late 1984, however, the long-standing recording and touring band has consisted of present members Tom Cheek (Vocals) Keith Landers (Guitar) Sean O’Brien (Bass), and Allen Wagner (Drums).

“Moody Southern goth,” “hard-driving college rock,” “pop-ish hypnotic indie dance rock,” ‘haunting melodies and blazing guitar,” and “dark, but pop”: are all phrases from reviews of the band attempting to classify their propulsive sound and style. Kilkenny Cats are featured in the seminal rock documentary Athens Inside/Out, a film that chronicles the influential Athens, GA musician and artist scene that had become a major force in the formation of the newly minted underground college/alternative rock movement in the US and beyond, thanks to Athens stalwarts the B-52’sPylonLove Tractor and R.E.M.  Live recordings of two of their songs “Nightfall” and “Room 101” appear on its soundtrack, remastered and re-released in 2014.

Kilkenny Cats origin story begins in the unlikely pages of a national magazine: dotted among the faces of People Magazine’s 1983 photograph of the artist/musician community of Athens GA are Tom Cheek and Haynes Collins, two of the founding members of Kilkenny Cats. At that time, they were the guitarist and bass player of Is/Ought Gap, but would soon form Kilkenny Cats with fellow Gap member, drummer Allen Wagner, and a friend of Collins, guitarist Sean O’BrienThe Cats coalesced around the mutual agreement that they wanted to further pursue the atypically dark and moody style of a Gap song sung by Cheek, “It’ll Never Be the Same Again” -and it never was.

The Cat’s first gig was at a party thrown by Pylon bassist Michael Lachowski and they would soon perform one of their first public gigs at Atlanta’s legendary Agora Ballroom opening for beloved Athens pioneers, PylonKilkenny Cats, usually dressed all in black, began adorning their stage with candles, skulls, and dead flowers. Their signature moody, dirge-like style was new to the danceable indie pop landscape of the Athens alternative rock scene that had exploded a few years prior into a fully realized arts and music scene. Their early songs “Knell Song,” “Crawl” and the moody “Walk the Streets” (available on Soundcloud) would inspire a group of fans to form another fan-favorite Athens band, Bar-B-Q Killers. (continue reading full bio on DISCO)