By Laura Turnbull | Cover Image: Piran Aston
COVID-19 is one colossal killjoy. The virus has replaced a summer of live music with living room live streams and there’ll definitely be no mud at this year’s Glatshomebury. These new virtual gatherings have given us one thing we never got at gigs, though. More used to seeing bands rip through a set on stage then disappear, we’ve been treated these past weeks to some special homegrown scenes. Cue musicians manoeuvring awkwardly around kitchen tables and wielding guitars against a bedroom-backdrop of stuffed toys and dirty laundry. Amongst all these home videos, though, it was a Fontaines D.C. offering for Radio X’s Phone Covers that got us right in the guts and had us swaying on our sofas. The Dublin punks brought us their version of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Darklands’ (spot the beer and boardgames, cornerstones of any quality quarantine). ‘I wanna move, I wanna go,’ the Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian murmurs, far from his usual blunt holler. We never felt a sound and sentiment so keenly. While Deegan and Chatten get comfy in their living rooms, Conor Curley seems to have lucked out and landed on the windowsill of a waterside retreat. Watch the video right here:
Earlier this month Fontaines D.C. announced a new album due out in July following on from their Mercury Prize-nominated debut ‘Dogrel’ last year, and if the lyrical masterstrokes of the band’s first release are anything to go by, ‘A Hero’s Death’ promises to stun. Mashing up punk and poetry is what Fontaines D.C. do best. Wordsmith with a swagger and fuelled by the romance and dirty realism of the beat poets, frontman Chatten has blessed us with such lines as ‘money is the sandpit of the soul‘ and ‘drunk as love is lethal, I spun a lady ‘round‘. Fontaines D.C. have the four-pints-in philosophy down to a fine and ferociously noisy art. Theirs is the kind of advice you get from an old man in a pub who’s been leaning against the bar since midday and whose half-slurred words of wisdom you laugh off at the time. A few bad decisions later you’re staring his life alive in the face wishing you’d taken him more seriously. ‘Never let a clock tell you what you got time for‘, Chatten barks in the band’s newest single from the upcoming album. It’s a message that feels particularly significant in these long, socially-distanced days where the hours have turned slippy and the people you didn’t realise you needed most are far away. This current crisis has left us all figuring out what’s really important, and Fontaines D.C. are pointing us in the right direction. Listen to the lead single from their upcoming album here:
For a taster of the new album before it’s July release date, the Dublin band have put together a playlist of songs which inspired the tracks on ‘A Hero’s Death’. Rolling from a deep and dirgey Sonic Youth number to Cowboy Junkies‘ drowsy ‘Sweet Jane’, the Spotify playlist even stops off for a summer-camp splash of rock and roll courtesy of The Beach Boys. Inspired by the vocal harmonies of those sixties surfers, Chatten describes how the band’s tour bus became host to singing practices. “I think subconsciously we were reaching out to each other while we were practicing and writing little harmony parts in the back of the van,” the singer said in a BBC interview. Everyone loves a road-trip sing-along, right? These backseat band practices did more than boost morale though, as the Fontaines’ frontman describes the toll touring had on the band’s mental health and how harmonising vocally gave them a chance to reconnect emotionally.
Swinging between high energy and dark cynicism, it’s not difficult to align a Fontaines D.C. track with a turbulent state of mind. Music has always given people a means to share feelings without having to resort to awkward conversations and messy explanations, and at a time when the industry is in troubling and uncertain territory, it’s become increasingly important to support creative spaces and musicians. In a plea to fans to avoid buying bootleg merch, Fontaines D.C. highlight how we can keep helping bands to bring those good, soul-healing sounds into our lives. ‘The only truth is music’ veteran roadie Jack Kerouac once decided, and surrounded by spineless politicians and news reels of rumours, we gotta agree. Fontaines D.C. at Primavera 2021, anyone?
Enough merch, info and music news on the Fontaines D.C site to send your isolated mind into sonic bliss. Find it here: