Live4ever Interview: Fontaines D.C. talk debut album, poetry and our track of the year

By Live4ever - Posted on 10 Dec 2018 at 8:26am

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Fontaines D.C. post-show at the Kentish Town Forum, London (Sam Huddleston / Live4ever)

“The whole tour has been great. There has been so many surprises along the way, we weren’t expecting such a big reception in places like Birmingham, but that was mad and Glasgow was nearly as mad as Dublin.”

Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten, guitarist Conor Deegan, bassist Carlos O’Connell, guitarist Conor Curley and drummer Tom Coll have just enjoyed another enthusiastic response as they chat with Live4ever at the Kentish Forum in London, in turn completing another successful UK tour with Shame. A secret show at the Good Mixer would soon follow, and once a handful of dates in Ireland have been played, the band will enjoy a well-earned festive break before they head back out on tour from mid-January.

A US visit with Partisan Records label-mates Idles is coming up too, and with a debut album expected around May also on the horizon, 2019 looks set to be even bigger. “The hardest thing when you are on tour can be to get quality time together,” Conor C tells Live4ever. “We write all the time – whenever you have that kind of creativity in the room and it’s really easy, when we are all facing each other, it’s really good, that’s the ideal moment for us as a band.”

“It does vary a bit with the stuff we have been writing on tour,” Grian explains. “But for most of it, it has not been worth trying to trace who started one idea because it’s more whoever is excited about a tune immediately deserves a writing credit. If all five of us are on stage, it doesn’t matter who came up with what. It’s about the fact that all of us are completely believing in it.”

Fontaines’ overriding focus on quality-led writing delivered Live4ever’s number one single of 2018, February’s double A-side Boys In The Better Land/Chequeless Reckless. Fully developed and realised, they’re mesmeric examples of some of the themes Grian and the band feel strongly about. “Boys in the Better Land was written subconsciously, as a kind of reaction to the buying and selling of culture across the seas,” they tell us.

“It is the sort of buying and selling of anything and of marketing in more general terms. It’s the idea that you can buy a life that is more desirable so it’s a bit of a tirade against people who go over those parts of society.”

“Chequeless Reckless is inspired by people who go on diatribes about the world, talk about the problems of the world and what the solutions are, but they are hypocritical and have all of these principles that they don’t necessarily live off,” Grian says. “They tend to expel them in bars and put them across there. I have met so many characters like that, so neither of the songs is really from me as such but they are just kind of internalisation of what it’s like for me, how I see it.”

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Fontaines D.C. live at London’s Kentish Town Forum (Sam Huddleston / Live4ever)

Fontaines D.C. met at college in Dublin, a city ‘about encouraging everyone to be themselves’, their interest in poetry both connecting and inspiring them through regular exchanges of titles and names. “It was such a beautiful time in Ireland when we were all getting into poetry,” Conor C remembers. “We would go around drinking in bars around Dublin, and we would discover poets together and say things like, ‘Have you read Walt Whitman?’, and we would lend each other books.”

Dublin is ‘definitely a lot more open’, with ‘a lot more opportunity for the kind of band that they are’, Grian contends. “There is a lot more cooperation and people are helping each other out. The only band who did this before were Girl Band, they came back and were bigger and that is the reason why it’s cool to get out for a bit. You can’t make a career if you only stay here.”

As the bandmates all come from very different backgrounds, and parts of Ireland, poetry provided a mutual, but equally personal platform. “Poetry may have given us the idea that it was a kind of like a clean slate,” Conor C continues. “It was a place where we could talk about these kind of phrases of poetry. There were no ties to where we come from and we got to know each other a bit more.”

That same connection will come in handy as they look towards what inevitably is going to be an extremely busy year. Already working on what’s going to be their second album, their debut LP has been recorded in London, produced by Dan Carey and due out on Partisan Records, whose boss Tim Putnam they describe as ‘an insanely beautiful soul’. It loosely attaches the themes of Dubliners by James Joyce, and ‘deals with a sense of inertia and entrapment’, according to Grian:

“A lot of it is very much about being stuck in a rut, in your life and having grand romantic ideas about what you want, and what you want to achieve in life. It’s an element of hope, which kind of ruins you because you are still stuck, and that is what a lot of the album is about.”

But above and beyond everything else, it’s about being as true as possible. “Poetry is such a revealing habit to have,” says Grian. “You can’t be a poet and hide anything about yourself if you are truly into poetry, and we all reveal who we really are as people through it.”

“Because poetry inspired us to live as well as write genuinely,” he concludes, “we are basically on a mission to not do anything that is beyond our personalities.”

(Susan Hansen)

Check out Live4ever’s Tracks Of 2018 in full right here

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