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."

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SXSW Music 2019, Fontaines D.C.

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