Their new album ‘A Hero’s Death’ is on course to top the UK album chart
Date published: 5th Aug 2020
The new album by Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death, is on course to top the UK album chart this weekend, on the back of a deluge of critical acclaim in the music press.
The Mercury Prize-nominated band have been hailed as “post-punk saviours ” and “rock’s next young hopefuls” (though they won't thank you for either), and described as a marriage between James Joyce and Joy Division.
But who are they, how did they get here, and why should you care?
Who are they? Formed in 2017, Fontaines D.C. are a five-piece Irish punk band consisting of frontman Grian Chatten, guitarists Carlos O'Connell, Conor Curley and Conor Deegan III, and drummer Tom Coll.
Where are they from? Based in Dublin, the band met while attending music college in the historic Liberties area of the city, known for producing a wealth of “storytellers, master musicians, street characters and thespians”.
What do they sound like? Dark, jagged, snarling, heavy and eloquent with an unapologetic Irish accent. Something like a ‘Joycean take on Joy Division’ according to Rolling Stone. Poetry is certainly an integral part of their schtick; before becoming a band, they produced two small collections of poems: Vroom (inspired by the Beat poets) and Winding (inspired by Irish poets).
Releases: On the back of three self-released singles (the first, ‘Liberty Belle’, appeared in May 2017), their much-hyped debut album, Dogrel, arrived on 12 April 2019 and was subsequently nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize and voted BBC 6 Music’s Album of the Year. Their follow up, A Hero’s Death, released on 31 July 2020, is on track to top the official UK album chart this weekend.
What’s that name all about? The name was inspired by Johnny Fontane, a kind of Frank Sinatra type character from The Godfather. The D.C. (Dublin City) bit was added later to avoid confusion with an American band of the same name.
Their best song is… In terms of popularity, ‘Boys In The Better Land’ (Dogrel), starring a taxi driver from a multicultural background asserting his own sense of Irishness by shouting “Brits out” and only “smoking Carroll’s”, is the one that’ll get the pints flying (it’s also racked up more than 8.2 million Spotify plays). But it's on ‘Televised Mind’ (A Hero’s Death), reportedly inspired by The Prodigy and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, where you'll find the band at their noisy, droning, hypnotic best.
Here you can watch Sold For Parts - a 24-minute documentary about the band by Collective films, charting the writing, recording and release of Dogrel.
What are they like live?Covering the band for Skiddle in November 2019, Sam Kershaw wrote: “As live bands go, they are a force to be reckoned with, amalgamating This Is It era Strokes, the driving psych of The Horrors' debut LP and a sprinkling of The Pogues’ alcohol-soaked heartbreak for good measure."
He added: "Chatten’s manic persona stalked the stage like a kid with ADHD who doesn’t know what to do with his hands, alongside his band members' driving bass lines and big walls of sound. The show is dark and gloomy but juxtaposed with subtle hints of melody and a pop sensibility underpinning some of their more accessible songs. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it performance, which leaves the crowd gasping for air.”
Where can you see them? Well, much like everyone else their plans have been scuppered by the Coronavirus outbreak, with the band cancelling a number of festival slots including Reading/Leeds Festival. They are due to play Levitation Festival in France this October, and a bunch of record stores across the UK in November (all sold out of course). Their sixteen date 2021 UK tour begins in Manchester on May 7th and ends in London on May 27th.
In their own words: "It’s so important for me to feel everything we’re doing when we’re onstage. I’d rather have thoughts that make me suffer, or think about things I wouldn’t like to think about in order to give a good performance.” (Grian Chatten, NME, June 2020)