Fontaines DC on taking pride in its Irish roots and how it feels to perform live again
INDIE ROCK OUTFIT Fontaines DC was formed in Dublin in 2017. From then until now, the five-member band has made two studio albums, Dogrel and A Hero’s Death, and even earned a Grammy nomination for the latter. The band’s music, especially the earlier work, is inspired by Irish poetry and heritage. With Jim Beam Welcome Sessions, the group takes to the stage once again after their tour got cancelled last year. The sessions are a series of recorded concerts that invite international artistes to iconic independent venues that gave them their first break. The band members tell us more:
How was it performing at The Lexington in London, a place where you first performed outside Ireland?
Grian Chatten (vocalist): The Jim Beam Welcome Sessions are a pretty cool idea — to return to an important venue which was a milestone in our life as a band. The Lexington is special to us for many reasons. When we performed there, I had just met the girl who is now my fiance and that show was when I introduced her to the band. That was also the gig where we realised that things were about to go well for us. Being young and ambitious, we were really excited and full of energy. That’s what The Lexington represents to me — youthful energy.
Your first album was a tribute to Doggerel poetry. Can you tell us more about the artform?
Carlos O‘Connell (guitarist): Our bassist (Conor Deegan III) introduced us to it first. It is a very simple form of verse that is never written, just spoken. And it is a type of poetry that is ‘of the people.’ It doesn’t require an education to write, and doesn’t require an education to enjoy. At that time, we were obsessed with poetry. And we thought that the music that we were making had a certain similarity to it. Because it may be rock and roll, but it’s still simple.
Would you say the same about your music today? Does it carry that essence?
Grian: Yes, I think so. But maybe less obviously. We live in London now and we still feel people’s perception of Irish people is not up to date. So we have that message in our music. As long as we have that in our hearts, we will always be ‘of the people.’
Is your upcoming album similarly steeped in Irish culture and history?
Grian: There are elements of it, probably in the same way as there were in our first album Dogrel. In A Hero’s Death we kind of let go, to some extent, of that Irish heritage. I think, in some way, I felt afraid in assuming that I could represent Ireland. But I feel a lot more comfortable with that idea now, personally. We are Irish and we belong to a long history and tradition of music, and it’s okay to be proud of that. Maybe part of it is because we live in London and our sense of Irishness is highlighted against the backdrop of Englishness here.
What more can you tell us about the album? When can we expect it to be out?
Carlos: We can’t say too much about it now. We plan to tour A Hero’s Death some more, and after that we’ll start talking about this third record. Let’s get back to touring first!
Available on Jim Beam’s official YouTube channel