The past two years have actually been utterly electrifying for Dublin group Fontaines D.C.
An intense, stark, overwhelming live proposal, their debut album ‘Dogrel’ broke out far beyond the post-punk underground, winning enormous acclaims while doing so.
It remains an emphatic listen: powerful and poetic, it’s immersed in the grit and soil of Dublin, while reaching ever-outwards.
Touring nearly non-stop – Clash saw them move from should-be-shut-down sweatpits through to the spacious Kentish Town Forum – Fontaines D.C. then surprised fans by going straight back into the studio.
Brand-new album ‘A Hero’s Death’ follows hot on the heels of their debut, re-uniting the Irish band with South London producer Dan Carey.
Out on July 31 st, it’s led by that careering, anthemic title track, with that strong guarantee: ” Life ain’t always empty …”
Clash organized a Zoom call with Fontaines D.C. set Grian Chatten and Carlos O’Connell to check out the making of the new album.
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You people have a hell of a work principles, the speed feels relentless. Is ‘A Hero’s Death’ really a new chapter, or does it stem from the same energy that sustained ‘Dogrel’?
Grian: I think the album’s written with kind of … due lack of knowledge to ‘Dogrel’ y’ know? In the sense that I thought was healthy.
I didn’t wish to engage with the fact that there had actually been an album prior to in any sense – I didn’t wish to consciously compose anything that was ‘various’, or additionally compose anything that was comparable in order to calm anybody. It’s quite easy to get lured by those choices, I think, when it concerns a second album.
The important things we wished to do, and we understood after a bit of thought, is that we just wanted to express ourselves in the very same method we did when we began the very first album. It was conceived as a separate chapter but I think because it originates from the exact same place and the place has ideally stayed honest there is an unavoidable sort of inescapable inherent continuation.
Were you men able to write on the road? Or do you feel that part of the energy of this record is that everything is kept up within, up until it began blowing up outwards?
Grian: I mean there was definitely a little that. I believe it was needed to start a great deal of those ideas on the roadway, to not be held back by the constraints of being on tour. Simply in order for them to blow up outwards whenever we did have the chance to sit in a room and just put our heads down. A lot of it absolutely came straight from being on the roadway.
Carlos: I believe as well that a lot of the record was written out of requirement, to balance out of how we were feeling, to offer ourselves a sense of meaning.
It’s quite simple to feel absolutely nothing when you come house on a trip break, after a long trip, I feel absolutely numb for a while.
How do you find some type of balance there in between the fantastic success that whatever has had and the real physical and psychological pressures it must exert on you?
Grian: Mark Bowen from IDLES practices meditation. I reckon that’s probably the closest thing you can feel to revitalizing yourself. I have actually tried exercise and opting for walks and things however it has a sense of being contrived, being forced. I think reading is good for me, composing was most likely the best thing we did over the entire duration for our heads. Carlos, what do you reckon?
Carlos: Writing was absolutely … often it’s tough to bring yourself to do that since you can feel so disconnected from everything, from yourself.
Do you feel like the album in a sense is a response to that, and to the impact that touring had? Or do you seem like what you performed in the studio with Dan exists on its own terms?
Grian: I certainly believe it’s a response, yeah.
When you’re type of feeling up in the air all of the time you start to seem like your character has been bled out and you’re ending up being everybody else. All of a sudden you realise there’s one joke in the room and it’s great when everyone hears it and everybody chuckles, or does not laugh, whatever, that everybody’s on the exact same frequency all the time. You do not truly have too much opportunity for autonomy.
Writing is a terrific way to see yourself in presence, like see yourself on a piece of paper or hear yourself in a recording. That’s where a lot of the incentive for writing the second album came from.
You’ve explained these tunes as ‘imaginary universes’, what do you mean by that? Is it about getting beyond yourself to observe things as an accessory to your own life?
Grian: I believe lyrically our first album was very much a commentary. The 2nd album was made from the world we had to construct ourselves, a refuge.
Just how much of the album was totally composed by the time you entered into the studio?
Grian: I ‘d say about 90%of it was composed by the time we went into the studio. There was a number of things that occurred in the studio, things we left unfinished, we weren’t sure we wished to utilize them or not, it felt right to finish them there.
Carlos: We tried to approach it as close as possible to ‘Dogrel’ – we had it entirely prepared to put it down on tape.
Grian: ‘Dogrel’ was an album where by the time we entered into the studio we ‘d been touring it loads with small shows, prior to we put it out we had been playing it. We weren’t visiting in any way like we were in 2015 but we had actually been playing all of those songs a lot so we knew precisely how they worked. Whereas even though the tunes are completely written for this album you don’t necessarily know precisely how they work when they’re performed. In that sense, there was a bit that took place in the studio however we mostly had whatever all set.
It should be rejuvenating in some sense to eliminate yourself from that external relationship with an audience each and every single night and simply look at each other, and focus once again on what that chemistry is.
Grian: For sure, in a sense that was part of why we required to compose that album.
Inevitably when you put it out I don’t necessarily seem like it does belong to us any more, they’re their own thing. In a sense there’s heartbreak in that and there’s also an actually nice feeling about it. It was terrific going back to being 5 lads that own all of these tunes and are thrilled about them – I really attempted to cherish that. I listened to this new album a lot before it’s release since I wished to feel the music as our own prior to it’s out worldwide, which I think I didn’t do enough with ‘Dogrel’.
Dan Carey is renowned for his capability to really get bands operating in a natural and organic way. Did this wind up being rather a fast process then?
Carlos: We knocked it out fast. The important things is, possibly individuals might not comprehend that some things sound rather synthetic from time to time however they’re all pedals that the lads have actually worked out truly well – in ‘Lucid Dream’ for instance that introduction is a guitar pedal. It’s not like we had much to rub up in the studio, a great deal of it was currently done.
We ‘d get stuck two times possibly, during the whole album, and figured out what it was and then move on.
Grian: Many of the tunes tracked were just one take, or 2 takes.
Carlos: That’s the thing that’s most crucial about the method Dan records.
Was the studio process quite pressurised?
Grian: I think we just like cats with a ball of string.
Carlos: If we all had time off and we were all in London and Dan had time off we would probably be doing that anyways. We would all wind up in a studio and simply play music and record it genuine quick to be able to listen back to it. The way he produces the environment, you simply seem like you’re doing what you love for the sake of it. I think that, to me, that takes off any pressure. This is the album we’re going to put out, it feels so great.
It’s a record that is being released into a truly amazing moment in time.
Grian: I do believe the conception of the album as a reflective journey would match the environment of individuals in lockdown. I agree with that. But then specific tunes, it feels weird, like ‘Televised Minds’ … I do not know how well that song is going to work if you can’t dance! I constantly thought that song was going to be blasted in those small, confined clubs in Dublin where we utilized to play. Then, that’s the nice thing – I would love for more people to have more time to sit down and internalise, if they wanted to, the slow, more speculative tracks on the album.
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‘ A Hero’s Death’ will be released on July 31 st.
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