On weekdays, working at a posh Sydney law firm, Bede Kennedy imagined himself a Walter Mitty-ish singer-songwriter, bound for stardom and world stages such as Wembley Auditorium and Madison Square Garden. His attire began to reflect his vision.
“Slowly, over time, my hair got more ridiculous, until I had a huge mohawk topknot and shaved sides, and my co-workers had already started to think, ‘Who is this idiot with the stupid haircut and the raggedy suits?’” says the rocker, who was simultaneously anchoring Castlecomer, a punky power pop combo appearing in The City this week.
Kennedy’s boss accepted his inevitable resignation with a chuckle. “He said, ‘I’ve been waiting for this for over a year, mate. What took you so long?’” he says. “He was really supportive in the end.”
Even though he’s confident today — Castlecomer signed a deal with classy American imprint Concord, moved to Nashville and released three jangling singles (“Fire Alarm,” “Move,” “All of the Noise”) from its forthcoming debut disc — it took a harsh dose of reality to get Kennedy out the corporate door.
His initial Australian label warned him not give up his day job and refused to release his first EP submission.
“Back then, I wasn’t writing songs as regularly, or professionally, as I should have been. I was only doing one a month,” says Kennedy. “And when the record company said my material just wasn’t good enough, I thought, ‘I’m working this bum job, wearing the suit, and all along I’ve been kidding myself, thinking my songs were actually any good. Now what am I going to do?’”
Determined to take his craft seriously, he meticulously penned “Fire Alarm,” a track he was so proud of he quit the firm the next morning.
Then the real hard labor began.
To polish his group’s sound, Kennedy, for a year straight, rose every morning by 8:30 and started chiseling out new music, stopping only for lunch (Top Ramen and coffee was all he could afford) and punching out around 5 p.m.
He soon discovered that “Fire Alarm” was no fluke. “And I got a lot of good songs out of it,” he says. Roughly 275.
Kennedy, who came across the unwieldy moniker Castlecomer on a plaque mounted outside his grandfather’s house, did his best not to scrutinize the Concord contract as the band was in the process of signing to the label. He says, “I didn’t want the boys to hate me forever if I held up the process. I didn’t trust myself, so we got a proper lawyer to do it instead.”
IF YOU GO
Drax Project, Castlecomer
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. July 13
Tickets: $10 to $14
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com