Fontaines D.C.‘s Conor ‘Deego’ Deegan III caught up with NME backstage at Reading 2022, telling us that they might be heading in a “lighter” direction for new material and giving us the lowdown on hanging with Sam Fender and his McDonald’s preferences. Watch our video interview above.
Yesterday (Saturday August 27), the Irish post-punk heroes – and winners of The Best In The World at the 2022 BandLab NME Awards – made their Reading & Leeds debut on the main stage, inviting a fan on stage to play guitar on ‘Boys In The Better Land’.
Before they hit the stage, bassist Deego spoke to us about the evolution of the band.
Asked if the new textures and sounds of their acclaimed 2022 album ‘Skinty Fia’ had changed their chemistry as a live band, he replied: “I don’t really know about that. I think that we wanted to make that was very concrete and organised. We did it for the most part with the third album, moreso than the second one [‘A Hero’s Death‘].
“That really elevates our live show more, because the second one was a lot of slow songs and a lot of melancholy. Now we’ve finally got something that brings it up again like the first one [‘Dogrel’].”
And will that energy be having an impact on any new material?
“Yeah, I think we’re always looking forward and back,” Deego replied. “This one’s a bit slower tempo but kind of groovy and stuff like that. We want to move away from total darkness and obsession with cynicism and stuff like that – to try to move towards something a bit lighter. Not necessarily pop-y or anything, but lighter in spirit.
However, fans could be waiting a little while before the fourth album emerges.
“We’ve been trying not to write really, because we’re trying to take a break from it so we don’t end up making generic copies of the songs we had,” said Deego. “We’re inevitably writing in sound checks because we can’t resist. It’s probably the most enticing thing about being in a band with each other: how it feels when we bounce off each other. That moment of things clicking into place.
“We have a couple of songs that are like that, that we kind of jammed very freely. I think it’s starting to come together now, even though we wanted to take a little pause. We went hell-for-leather writing for the last three, you know.”
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Fontaines recently told NME that they “could probably throw away the guitars eventually“, but Deego doesn’t think they’re quite ready to do that just yet.
“I think we were trying to do a couple of different instruments here and there live,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to go full-on ‘80s synth or anything like that any time soon.
So we won’t be seeing them belting out power ballads in fingerless gloves?
“No, or any glitter or anything,” Deego replied. “Well, maybe Carlos [O’Connell, guitar]. But I think we’ll still be replicating broader influences like we were trying to do on ‘Skinty Fia’. We were getting influenced by Roni Size and ‘XTRMNTR’ by Primal Scream – recreating electronic sounds with guitars. There’s still more to be taken from that, and there’s still more different touchstones that haven’t been brought together in a unique mix that we still have ideas for before we abandon the guitars.”
During a busy summer festival schedule, the band were also invited to support their friend
Sam Fender at the Finsbury Park show he curated.
“It was nice, it was a really fun vibe,” said Deego. “Sam sorted out McDonald’s backstage for everyone. It felt like summer camp or something.”
And what would Deego’s go-to McDonald’s menu choice be?
“Oh, 20 chicken nuggets and a double cheeseburger,” he said. “In the UK it’s so cheap! You can get 20 chicken nuggets for £5. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. In Ireland that’s probably a tenner or more!”
Speaking to NME last year, Fender told NME that he was looking to “spend a little bit of time down in London, just because Fontaines D.C., Declan McKenna and loads of my mates are down here”. He revealed: “I’d just like to bounce off loads of my pals down here and just spend some time in the studios”.
Quizzed if they’d been spending much time with Fender in the capital, Deego told us: “He’s definitely hanging out with Carlos and Grian [Chatten, frontman] a lot. He’s a great guy. He came on tour with us one night. He was going out with Curley, he ended up on our bus, he ended up in Brighton and they had this big whole thing. Then we were looking for him. It was fun.”
So could we see a Sam Fender collab?
“I think that would be cool,” Deego replied. “It’s definitely worth trying. It’s just creativity at the end of the day. I could see an angle of that.
Speaking of collabs, has anything come from them voicing their dream of collaborating with Lana Del Rey and Megan Thee Stallion?
“I think we’ve just been left unseen!” said Deego. “Grian definitely wants to do something with that world, but I don’t think it’s started yet. Maybe soon.”
As for now, the band will be heading over to US for some shows, and to grab a cheap Maccies.
“It’s a silly amount of information I have on McDonald’s for some reason, but they do like two Big Macs for $5 – which is crazy, but amazing,” Deego added. “We were in Boston Airport for the first time because we went over to do KEXP. They have these egg muffin things and you could get two for $2 or one for $3. It was more expensive to get less.”
Should we expect Fontaines to return from the States a little heavier then?
“We usually do because the burgers are great,” the bassist replied. “It can a bit of a wasteland sometimes, especially when you’re in a band. You get parked up in an industrial estate where a venue is. You need a car to get anywhere and you don’t have a car. You end up just wondering around these places going, ‘What is this?’ Obviously it can be really fun as well. You learn a lot about different places, but it’s always very difficult to find a salad.”
But the McDonald’s salad is OK, right?
“Erm, yeah… if you’re a psychopath.”
Watch our full interview with Deego above, where he also tells us about catching up with Arctic Monkeys at festivals, and their upcoming winter UK tour. Check out full dates and ticket details here.
Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, photos, interviews and more from Reading & Leeds 2022.