Fontaines D.C. are the surrealist punks soundtracking an anxious generation

The Irish punks are leading a pack of exciting, agitated new guitar bands

There’s something brewing in the Irish capital – and it’s not just Guinness. Fuelled by the country’s long storied music and drinking cultures, a new crop of bands are harnessing noise and discontent, and fashioning it into some of the most gripping underground guitar music the world has seen in years. At the forefront of that pack are Fontaines D.C.

It’s live that Fontaines D.C. really come into their own. A driving rhythm section charges forwards, as the band’s dual, duelling guitarists stabs of noise atop the melee, the group’s hypnotic, looping approach. It’s all topped off by vocalist Grian Chatten – a man whose thick Irish accent sits heavy on his barked tales of disillusionment and mental dissolution. Gripping his microphone stand like a crutch, he’s the wide-eyed ringleader of it all; an agitated, fidgety master of ceremonies.

Unsurprisingly, given the word-of-mouth fervour those live shows have garnered over the last few months, dates alongside fellow noiseniks Shame and IDLES have begun racking up. “The reaction’s been amazing,” says Grian, “but in the group it’s probably been particularly so. We’re ecstatic. There’s something very special about sharing so many stages, in such quick succession, with people that you look up to like that.” It’s fellow Dubliners Girl Band, and their own deconstructionist approach to punk, who are most “inspirational and influential” on the way Fontaines D.C. operate, though: “Their influence is perhaps more metaphysical than others’ – they’ve opened up people’s minds and eyes, and gave people the gift of self-belief.”

That ever-growing pack of musical agitators is something that Grian holds very close to his heart. “The world is in disarray in a way that it hasn’t been before,” he says. “It’s more confusing than it was before – there’s just a huge lack of trust in any form of media or narrative voice. No one really believes anything, and what we’re having to do is form some kind of truth for ourselves. I think that anger [in modern guitar music] is just confusion, in a way.” Grian’s walked off stage in the past, when it hasn’t felt right – his bandmates were all supportive of that. “There is a truth there,” he says of the live show. “It’s an invisible truth, between us and the crowd.”

For Fontaines, perhaps surprisingly, their music starts with rathermore classical ideals. Keeping things focussed on that lyrical core, the band decamp to pubs and bars around Dublin, sharing personal poetry with each other around the table. “We’d bounce them round the table, whether they were good or bad, but once they were written you’d put the pen down – you don’t edit anything,” Grian reveals. “That’s the spirit of the band, and through that we learned to let go.” That poetry-first approach has opened them up to “some strange depths in each other’s minds,” he admits.

Grian often wakes up with lyrics on the page that he doesn’t remember writing – not necessarily through copious pints of Guinness, but through sleep-writing. It’s that state of “the dream consciousness” that the band seek out through their music. “That reveals some truths, y’know? In a very disturbed way…” The band’s hypnotic approach helps, too, the rest of the band thrashing away at their instruments until they hit that same state of semi-consciousness.

New single ‘Too Real’ is the best encapsulation yet of that surrealist, lyrical approach to noisy punk. A captivating, brutalist take on the mentally dilapidating nature of repetition, inspired in part by T.S. Eliot’s Preludes, it’s evidence of Fontaines’ fusion of brains and brawn, in their ongoing pursuit of the truth of the human condition. “Is this too real for ya?” Grian snarls, over and over again. He’s no idea who the question is posed to, he admits.

Despite the worldwide dates that are swiftly filling Fontaines’ collective diary, Dublin remains at the heart of everything they do. Nodding to bands like Just Mustard and The Murder Capital, they’re keen to see their home city’s warped music seen spew forth – with those fast-approaching tours the perfect chance to get the word out. “We’re all from the back-arse of nowhere in Ireland,” Grian says, “and next thing you know we’re playing places like fuckin’ San Francisco. That’s mental.”

Above all else, though, it’s authenticity that drives Fontaines D.C. forward. “The whole thing is essentially an experiment in authenticity,” says Grian, emphasising that despite their rising stature, he and his band mates keep the realness of their work on a pedestal. “If it ever falls short of being authentic, that’s it – we’ll kill it dead.”

Fontaines D.C.’s new single ‘Too Real’ is out 21 December via Partisan Records – pre-order the 7″ here. Their upcoming tour dates are as follows:

15 NOV 2018 / UK / Bristol / SWX (w/ Shame)
16 NOV 2018 / UK / Portsmouth / Pyramids (w/ Shame)
17 NOV 2018 / UK / Leicester / Academy 1 (w/ Shame)
18 NOV 2018 / UK / Sheffield / The Leadmill (w/ Shame)
20 NOV 2018 / UK / Leeds / LUU – Stylus (w/ Shame)
21 NOV 2018 / IE / Dublin / Tivoli Variety Theatre (w/ Shame)
22 NOV 2018 / FR / Paris / Les Inrocks Festival @ La Gaîté Lyrique
23 NOV 2018 / UK / Newcastle / Newcastle University Union (w/ Shame)
24 NOV 2018 / UK / Glasgow / SWG3 (w/ Shame)
26 NOV 2018 / UK / Norwich / The Waterfront (w/ Shame)
27 NOV 2018 / UK / Oxford / Academy 1 (w/ Shame)
28 NOV 2018 / UK / Birmingham / O2 Institute (w/ Shame)
29 NOV 2019 / UK / London / The Macbeth
30 NOV 2018 / UK / London / O2 Forum Kentish Town (w/ Shame)
05 DEC 2018 / UK / London / The Lexington – SOLD OUT
06 DEC 2018 / UK / Brighton / The Prince Albert – SOLD OUT
07 DEC 2018 / UK / Manchester / Night People – SOLD OUT
09 DEC 2018 / UK / Cardiff / The Moon Club
14 DEC 2018 / IE / Listowel / Mike the Pies
15 DEC 2018 / IE / Galway / Roisin Dubh
21 DEC 2018 / IE / Dublin / The Button Factory – SOLD OUT
12 JAN 2019 / UK / Coventry / Coventry Central Library
13 JAN 2019 / UK / Milton Keynes / The Craufurd Arms
14 JAN 2019 / UK / Southampton / The Joiners
16 JAN 2019 / LU / Luxembourg / De Gudde Wellen
17 JAN 2019 / NL / Groningen / Eurosonic @ Vera
18 JAN 2019 / NL / Amsterdam / Cinetol
19 JAN 2019 / DE / Dresden / Ostpol
22 JAN 2019 / PL / Kraków / Klub RE
23 JAN 2019 / PL / Warsaw / Poglos
24 JAN 2019 / DE / Berlin / Schokoladen
25 JAN 2019 / DE / Cologne / Privat
26 JAN 2019 / DE / Hamburg / Molotow
29 JAN 2019 / SE / Stockholm / Obaren
31 JAN 2019 / NO / Oslo / Revolver
01 FEB 2019 / DK / Copenhagen / Ideal Bar
02 FEB 2019 / DK / Aarhus / Tape
05 FEB 2019 / CH / Basel / Kaserne
07 FEB 2019 / FR / Besancon / Generiq Festival 
08 FEB 2019 / FR / Grenoble / La Bobine 
10 FEB 2019 / FR / Dijon / Generiq Festival 
11 APR 2019 / UK / Bristol / Thekla
12 APR 2019 / UK / Leeds / Brudenell Social Club
13 APR 2019 / UK / Manchester / Gorilla
14 APR 2019 / UK / Glasgow / King Tuts
16 APR 2019 / UK / Nottingham / Bodega
17 APR 2019 / UK / London / The Garage
18 APR 2019 / UK / Brighton / The Haunt
19 APR 2019 / BE / Diksmuide / 4AD
05 May 2019 / US / Raleigh, NC / Kings Barcade(w/ IDLES)
06 May 2019 / US / Richmond, VA / Strange Matter (w/ IDLES)
08 May 2019 / US / Albany, NY / The Hollow (w/ IDLES)
10 May 2019 / US / Brooklyn, NY / Brooklyn Steel (w/ IDLES)
11 May 2019 / US / Washington, DC / Rock & Roll Hotel (w/ IDLES)
12 May 2019 / US / Washington, DC / Rock & Roll Hotel (w/ IDLES)
14 May 2019 / US / Cleveland, OH / Beachland Ballroom (w/ IDLES)
16 May 2019 / US / Kansas City, MO / recordBar (w/ IDLES)
17 May 2019 / US / Dallas, TX / The Curtain Club (w/ IDLES)
18 May 2019 / US / Austin, TX / Barracuda (w/ IDLES)
20 May 2019 / US / Phoenix, AZ / Valley Bar (w/ IDLES)
21 May 2019 / US / San Diego, CA / Belly Up (w/ IDLES)
22 May 2019 / US / Los Angeles, CA / The Fonda (w/ IDLES)
25 May 2019 / US / San Francisco, CA / Great American Music Hall (w/ IDLES)
27 May 2019 / US / Portland, OR / Wonder Ballroom (w/ IDLES)
28 May 2019 / US / Seattle, WA / Neumo’s (w/ IDLES)