Irish post-punks Fontaines D.C. is comprised of Grian Chatten (vocals), Conor Deegan III (bass), Conor Curley (guitar), Tom Coll (drums), and Carlos O’Connell (guitar). Northern Transmissions spoke with O’Connell before the band’s poetic forthcoming release, Dogrel, drops on April 12th via Partisan Records. O’Connell describes the album as “deeply personal and vulnerable.” He and his bandmates sing about genuine issues and their surroundings, which, if you are alive and conscious, will touch you no matter where you live. The band is keying up for a healthy number of tour dates starting April 11th in Bristol, England. O’Connell was having the rare chance to relax at his home in Dublin.
Northern Transmissions: Dogrel is coming out in a couple of days. You guys have really put yourselves out there with a very honest and personal album. Are you a bit nervous about opening yourselves up and sharing so much?
Carlos O’Connell: Yes, the album is coming out in a few days. I am really excited for people to hear it. We accepted right away. The album was definitely personal, and we were very vulnerable when writing it. “Roy’s Tune” was written at a time that seems like ages ago but [was] really not that long ago. We all had part-time jobs. Our other guitar-player, Conor, was walking home from a job at a burrito joint in Dublin. He was walking by a club and heard someone shout, as he was being kicked out, “I’m gonna kill you stone dead.” This really struck a chord with him. That saying translates into the song, a song about Ireland’s lost innocence and depression.
NT: The band has a real fondness for poetry that helped you guys really form a strong bond during your college days and writing of the album.
CO’C: I think we have always had a strong interest in poetry. We have written a couple of books prior to the album, Vroom and Winding, the first strongly influenced by the beat poets, including Kerouac, Ginsberg, and more. Winding was influenced by some of the Irish greats: Kavanagh, Joyce. We became obsessed with Yates. Those writers also gave us immense drive and inspiration during the writing of the album. They really gave us a great medium of expression. I also think those writers gave our writing a real strong sense of freedom, of what we wanted to write.
NT: In previous years, the Irish government has invested a lot of money in the arts. How are things going these days?
CO’C: I think our band has really benefited from the support and generosity of the Irish Arts Council. They helped us with making the album and, most importantly, have given us a great deal of support to tour. We are truly grateful, as we probably wouldn’t have been able to play all the shows we’ve done. We are returning to some of those places and playing bigger gigs, with a number of them already sold out, which really makes us happy.
NT: A number of your songs deal with the financial issues. Why do you feel it’s important to sing about these things?
CO’C: Money is definitely a central theme on Dogrel. Some people in Ireland have really prospered in these times. Many people that work in technology or have been able to invest in real estate over the years have prospered. I think for the majority, it’s been quite difficult. Many families that have lived in Dublin for generations have been unfortunately priced out of the market. It’s also very difficult for artists to make a go of it in Dublin. Conor and Grian used to share a double-size bed in a converted office block. I think these are some of the reasons why we feel the need to write about it [money].
NT: Do you think social media and technology have demeaned the value of art?
CO’C: I think social media, really does create a big distraction for people, for many hours at a time, and that’s a problem. I really think people need to be conscious. I used to be a teacher. Getting kids away from their phones is almost like cutting off a limb. If I can speak for the band, I think, it has brought us closer to our fans that we might not have been able to interact with in years past. On occasions, fans have sent us messages that they couldn’t afford to come to the show. We were happy to get some folks on the guest list. It’s nice to see how grateful they are. Streaming has given people a chance to listen to our music. I don’t think we would have built an audience without it. Also with social media, like it or not, you need to use it to help promote your album.