FONTAINES DC are arguably already the biggest breakout success of 2019. In just a year, the Dublin outfit have gone from playing pub shows to signing to the label home of Cigarettes After Sex and IDLES aswell as denting the UK Top 10 with their explosive debut album ‘Dogrel’. In the midst of a head-spinning few months which has taken them all over the world, they returned to Glasgow last week to make their TRNSMT debut on the King Tut’s Stage on a very sunny Saturday afternoon and TTV were lucky enough to catch up with guitarist Conor Curley and bassist Conor Deegan in the hours leading up to the show.
“It’s really good to be back, we always love coming to Scotland. The shows are really good and we always have a really good time. The people here are really nice. We never have lacked for a bottle of buckfast. If anyone wants to bring us buckfast to our shows, let us know…”
Tasked with playing one of the most eagerly anticipated sets of the day, the pair don’t give anything away. Curley says drily: “We’ll play a peaceful few songs from the album, nothing special”
It’s a far cry from what actually ensues. Attracting one of the most fervent crowds of the day, their live show certainly lives up to all expectations. Raw, relentless and full of swagger, it’s a pulsating affair that builds and builds to a sucker punch of huge tunes; intense and anthemic in equal measure. The songs from ‘Dogrel’ that have resonated so well prove even more breath-taking in real life when delivered with the added treat of seeing Grian Chatten prowl the stage, his Irish voice bellowing over an onslaught of menacing basslines and sharp guitars.
Though you wouldn’t know it from the crowd reaction, the band find the festival experience quite different from their headline sets. Curley says: “Festivals are strange compared to touring in that it’s very immediate and you just arrive in the van and suddenly your en this commune of people backstage and then you’re shipped out to play and then it’s over.” Deegan adds: “It’s like a one night stand”
The reason the band receive such a rousing reception a TRNSMT is largely down to the success of their debut record. A boisterous, insightful and poetic documentation of life in Dublin, it was released to widespread acclaim back in April. But it’s not something they have paid close attention to as Curley says: “We didn’t have many expectations for the album. When we finished recording it ended with the five of us being happy with what we had done and satisfied with how the songs turned out and what we envisioned for them. That was the main thing. And then it was released.. the reviews went over my head, those reviews are for people to find the music and to spread it around. Those words don’t really do anything for me, it’s not why we make music”
The band’s hometown is rooted in their DNA and if there is any justice in the world, ‘Dogrel’ will enter the canon of classic depictions of the city in the same way as James Joyce or Yeats. The album is brimming with references to specific areas, pubs and landmarks, plus a fantastic cast of characters. But it’s more than that; it’s distinctly rough and ready production, their menacing punk licks and Chatten’s rugged, snarling and distinctively Irish narration lend a vitality and authenticity to this unvarnished yet romantic worldview.
“Dublin was where we were living when we wrote it. We wrote about what we saw ..almost like a reaction against playing music to get signed or trying to sound like your favourite band. We tried to make it as real as we could and to just try to be ourselves.”
“It makes you think about the trappings of life in Dublin. When you’re drinking in bars and walking through streets you see a lot of the same kind of cycles that people go through. It makes you really conscious about those things and that can be good and bad”
The band have distanced themselves from any genres or scenes. Instead it’s the words and sounds that brings their worldview to life. Having previously discussed how they were brought together by a love of poetry, it’s clear that their music is influenced by literary figures just as much as musical ones. “It’s a bit of both”. Deegan says. “It can be intertextual in that we’re influenced by circular things like Joyce for example in the Dubliners and then we’ve got the circular riffs in Too Real. That’s an example of poets influencing the music. It’s a bit of both really”
The band’s live reputation now precedes them wherever they go which is why it became very important to capture this raw energy on record. Curley said: “We recorded all the songs live. It was really important for us to do that as our live show is what really excites us….we didn’t want to make an album that didn’t sound like what we played live so that’s how all the songs developed. We wrote them through gigging and gigging. And we would have done the album a disservice if we didn’t capture that live sound so that was one of the main things we wanted when we went into record it”
It’s an approach that will hopefully serve them well as they delve into creating more material. Resisting the temptation to bask in the glory of their debut for the next two years, a path followed by many of their contemporaries, fans will be pleased to know that they are diving headfirst into another record. They said: “That’s the dream, trying to find time to write it all. We’ve been working on bits and pieces, we’ve got about four songs and then we’re just trying to get the rest of it. It’s pretty tricky but we’re getting there”
“We played one of the songs at SXSW and New York and then we dropped it out as we realised it wasn’t finished… we’ll work them in as they come.”
Conor Curley adds: “We’re fairly impatient people which is why I can’t understand why bands can go and tour the same first album for two years, I would literally lose my mind. It’s good because it gives us a kick up the hole and gives us an excuse to relieve the itch and get writing more tunes.”
Its news that will undoubtedly please their ever expanding fanbase and with just a teaser of what’s to come, we’re fairly sure there will be a whole load of newly impatient people waiting on these new tunes.
Fontaines DC return to Glasgow to play SWG3 on 21st November.