SXSW Music Interview: Fontaines D.C.

How frontman Grian Chatten worked his childhood in Dublin into debut album Dogrel


Photo by Richard Dumas

Grian Chatten studied songwriting in college, but doesn't much agree with cramming the art form into a classroom. Higher education instead allowed the frontman to connect with the rest of Dublin post-punk crew Fontaines D.C. A sold-out local date at Barracuda in May with Idles follows the group's first time in Austin.

"I view my writing as a child that I want to let grow up in the wilderness," details Chatten. "I don't want to send it to a particular school."

Reading in the park and sharing poetry over pints supplemented music school for the five ex-student bandmates. Chatten, the only native Dubliner, says he fell for the city's scene through the eyes of his new friends following a "footloose" childhood moving around the area. The storied literary hub now determines the group's cunningly gritty debut, Dogrel, out April 12 via Partisan Records.

Dogrel isn’t necessarily about being from Dublin. It’s about being a product of a particular place,” says the darkly intense Chatten.

"We painted each other's glasses to be rose-tinted through just conversation," recalls the darkly intense performer. "We christened parts of Dublin with wonderful nights and memories. The city was refreshing itself by way of colloquialisms and a deeper sort of poetry than just the physical aesthetic of it."

Chatten maintains his writing through daily practice, oft undefined as lyrical or prosaic, and purposeful dives into reading around certain themes. Lyrics like "Dublin in the rain is mine/ A pregnant city with a Catholic mind" off the spoken-word "Big" ring heavily localized. Still, the singer holds the door open to new scenery on the band's second U.S. visit.

"Dogrel isn't necessarily about being from Dublin. It's about being a product of a particular place," says Chatten. "It's an attempt to comprehend the psyche of other people. Now that we're traveling, we'll be seeing more effects of more environments on more people."

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Local songwriter rises through the fire

Doug Freeman, March 29, 2019

Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the <i>Chronicle</i> in New Video
Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the Chronicle in New Video
“They had it everywhere. My momma was loving it.”

Kevin Curtin, March 26, 2019

More by Rachel Rascoe
Texas Platters
Xetas
The Cypher (Record Review)

Feb. 21, 2020

Pop Oddity Caroline Rose Explores Ambition's Seedy Underbelly
Pop Oddity Caroline Rose Explores Ambition's Seedy Underbelly
Her first Austin album follows a character moving to L.A.

Feb. 21, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SXSW Music 2019, Fontaines D.C.

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle