Looking back at the anger and sadness in Fontaines DC Ireland

LR: Conor Deegan III, Carlos O’Connell, Grin Chayton, Tom Cole, Connor Curley

Just before moving from Dublin to London a few years ago, members of the Irish rock band Fontaine’s DC received a newspaper story about Margaret Keane, who was born in Ireland but lived in Coventry, England, for most of her Life before her death in 2018. Keane’s family wanted his gravestone to carry the Gaelic inscription “In ár gCroíthe go deo” (“Forever in our hearts”). However, the Church of England declined the request, arguing that the phrase could be seen as political.

For Fontaine DC singer and songwriter Grin Chetton, the incident was like staring at the barrel of a gun at centuries of tension between the Irish and the British. “We were just about to move to a country that treated Irishness as a political statement in itself,” he tells WebMD. Greeley Tribune. “There is no distinction between an expression of Irish culture and being linked to terrorism or perceived as terrorism. It was a bit shocking and disturbing.”

The story prompted Fontaine DC to record the six-minute dramatic opening track of the band’s new album, “In Are Gkroethe Go Dio”, skinny fia, Payable April 22 via Partisan Records. Their remarkable debut, a continuation of the band’s thoughtful yet explosive post-punk music since 2019 Dogrell, Skinty Fia Contains the sentiments of five of the band’s members—Chaeton, guitarists Carlos O’Connell and Connor Curley, bassist Connor Deegan III and drummer Tom Call—what it means to be Irish due to the high cost of rent in London. Dublin.

“There’s a soul or spirit to the record more than a connecting theme,” says Cheeton. skinny fia, “What happened is we all moved to London, and during that time we all experienced a kind of shocking prejudice against Irish people. I think those things certainly greatly influenced the record, but so did The quietness and stillness that came with the lockdown and living somewhere and not traveling – truly knowing a place for the first time in years.”

skinny fia (an Irish expression that translates as “deer destruction”), Fontaines refers to an extension of DC’s guitar-driven rock sound while maintaining the band’s energetic playing and Cheeton’s moody vocal delivery. There’s a bit more of a breakbeat/drummer-based/jungle thing that was explored a bit on the second record [2020’s A Hero’s Death] With songs like A Lucid Dream. I think we do it a little more [Skinty Fia] With “In Are Gkroethe Go Deo”. He also cites the contemplative “The Couple Across the Way”, in which only his vocals and an accordion are divided musically, as another example of the group. “It’s probably my most enduring favorite of the album. I’m getting quite comfortable and confident. [with] The initial idea of ​​a tune and not feeling pressured in any way to anchor it with the physical baggage of being in a guitar band – maintaining this kind of upbeat, free-rhythm structure as just one voice and one accord For.”

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Grian Chaiton of Fontaine DC performs on stage at La Riviera on March 20, 2022 in Madrid, Spain.
Mariano Rezidor / Getty

The band’s attitudes about Ireland and Irish identity while in London (as in the rhythmic “Roman Holiday”), along with personal matters, all find their way onto many. Skinty Fia’s Heartfelt lyrics, such as “How Cold Love Is” (“It’s just that classic kind of double-edged sword: love is the kind of way for you to let go and get hurt,” Chetton explains). Another standout is “Jackie Down the Line”, the album’s first single. “I find it useful to build bridges between ourselves and people we feel inclined to demonize,” he says. “I think there’s information and truth to be had by relating to the people we consider to be the worst people in society, as opposed to just drawing a big thick line.”

Then there’s the simmering “Bloomsday”, which refers to the annual 16 June commemoration in Dublin of James Joyce. Ulysses, But instead of it being a celebration, the song signals the end of something. “I wrote that when I was in a state of mind ‘I’m about to leave Dublin’ and move on from this chapter in my life where I romanticize the deserted, rainy, beautiful historic streets of Dublin. On Bloomsday, They followed in the footsteps of the characters in Ulysses, and I felt like this was something we’d been doing almost as a band for years—as friends, really—we live with the ghosts of Dublin’s literary past. I think I wanted to do one last of them and say goodbye to it.”

The album’s centerpiece is the banging “I love you”. Despite its title, the track is a turbulent and vivid expression of Chetton’s feelings about the current social and political issues affecting Ireland; The song mentions the political parties Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, and references a recent scandal involving the mass graves of children buried at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in the city of Tumm. “My own songs reveal themselves well after I’ve written them too many times,” says Chetton. “It seems like there are different problems that I’m talking about. It’s just an expression or just an acknowledgment of these different issues in general that are affecting me and people like me.”

Now living away from Ireland for almost two years, Chetton says he still loves the Emerald Isle, where he first went to an English mother and Irish father shortly after his birth in Britain. But he also feels conflicted about Ireland – which it is part of, he says, has to do with the country’s long pandemic lockdown and its accompanying restrictions. “In my last few visits there have been allegations of people anger, aggression, people attacking each other, looking at each other and tracking each other’s movements. It had a panopticon vibe about it. People Were very, very angry. I saw some conversations on the streets that I haven’t seen for a few years. I need to go there, now that it’s back open, I can see it in a happy state again. “

“It is full of political and social problems at the moment,” he says. “It’s a tax haven for multi-national corporations—Facebook, Apple, Google and everyone else are going there. And it’s a government that’s not popular with young people. Huge, beautiful culturally significant buildings are being built.” Every other day is being dropped and replaced by hotels to host corporate conferences and that is changing rapidly, and that’s quite sad.”

Both the Irish origins of Fontaine DC and their shared love of poetry can be traced to the first meeting of the members as students at the Institute of British and Irish Modern Music in Dublin. “I had no friends who were into poetry until I met them,” Chetton says. “I was probably 20. It’s like [loving poetry] There was a dirty little secret for me growing up and I think for them too. But when I went to college and met those guys, I thought we were finally able to talk about things like this. I don’t think I ever said the word ‘beautiful’ until I met Carlos. I used to be too afraid to say the word ‘beautiful’, which is a crazy thing for me to think about now. I think it was at our first rehearsal like we were saying, ‘We’re the best band in the world.’ It was half-hearted, half-deadly-serious fun.”

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – Episode 1060 – Photo: Musical guest Fontaines performs on DC May 1, 2019
Andrew Lipowski / NBC Universal / Getty

in the last three years dogrellFontaine DC (the name is a reference to the character Johnny Fontaine Saint and Dublin City) are on a whirlwind climb. In addition to the major tour as well as glowing reviews with each new album release, the group had previously received nominations for the Mercury Award and Grammy Award. In early March, Fontaines DC launched the BandLab . Won the award for “Best Band in the World” NME Awards in London.

“I couldn’t handle it the first year, maybe two years, at all,” Chetten says of meditation. “I had developed insomnia really badly while on tour. Just the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of people knew my name, knew my face or knew of my existence, and the idea that there was something about me in another part of the world.” I would be talking to people at a party—all of this sort of thing really pissed me off. It’s completely unnatural and I wasn’t ready for it. I’m glad people are listening, though, because I Enjoying the freedom to make more. Now I feel like I’ve developed a lot of thick skin… I’ve grown into a slightly more rounded person.”

Chetten says that the band members are closer than ever. “We’re still mostly with each other before and after, and between rehearsals or whatever. You can just walk in and say, ‘Okay, let’s do a tune in an hour,’ and By the end of the hour, we wish we had given ourselves more time because we’re enjoying it so much. It’s a very healthy relationship.”

Fontaines DC will tour the US, Europe and Ireland this year.

When asked what the highlights of the band’s career so far have been, Chayton surprisingly did not mention acclaim or the tour, but rather the Margaret Keane incident that inspired the track “In Are Gkroethe Go Dio”. Did. Last year, Keane’s family won an appeal that the phrase finally be inscribed on his tombstone. “When they saw a tracklist published for this album, they were hooked,” says Chetton, “and asked for the song.” He said that he likes to sing. And they actually played it on his gravestone. It was probably the heaviest, valid. , and what has happened to me so far is just lovely.”

David Chiu is @newbeats newsweekis an associate editor of the U.S. and writes frequently about popular music.

further hearing

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partisan record 2; Agility

Idogrell, Partisan Records, 2019

Fontaine DC’s first album dogrell He made an impression on fans and critics with his passionate, guitar-charged rock and harsh lyrics about life in Dublin. For example, the cab driver in “Boys in the Better Land”: “He spits ‘brits out,’ only smokes carols” or “Big,” “Dublin in the Rain Is My / A Pregnant City with a Catholic mind.” In addition to rave reviews, the LP earned Fontaine DC a nomination for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize.

death of a hero Partisan Records, 2020

The band avoided sophomore jinx with death of a hero Which was mostly written on tour. A sense of disorganization pervades the opening track, “I Don’t Belong” with its chorus “I belong to nobody / I don’t want to be anybody.” Other standouts include the title song and the compelling and sly “Televised Mind”. In an interview with the Guardian, Chetten distinguished the album from Dogrell: “We wrote about places that were unlike places without.”

From “The Black Angels Death Song” I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground and Nico (Various Artists), Verve, 2021

For covering one of the most complex and experimental songs from the iconic debut Velvet Underground album, Velvet Underground and Nico, would have been a tough task for any youth band. Fontaines DC’s inspired performance echoes not only the avant-garde leanings of the original version but also Lou Reed’s talk-sung vocals.

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