Fontaines D.C. guitarist Carlos O’Connell chats with Atwood Magazine about stereotypes, works of art, and the band’s third album, ‘Skinty Fia.’
Stream: ‘Skinty Fia’ – Fontaines D.C.
It is quite a complex experience to live in a country where you were not born, especially if you are very fond of your place of origin. You want to keep the traditions you grew up with but it is not always easy. There are just a few people apart of your family who may get how you feel. You are afraid of losing the cultural heritage of your country but you also want to feel part of the community in which you live. They ask you if you prefer one country or the other, which people you feel you belong to more.
Then there are those comforting moments when you meet someone else in the same situation as you and you feel understood, you are no longer alone. Finally, you have someone else to share your traditions with, that keeps you attached to your roots and lets you be yourself. It is definitely one of the most special and magical feelings you can have in situations like this.
With their music, Fontaines D.C. manage to do something like this.
They keep alive the roots of Ireland and its traditions, which are often forgotten for one reason or another due to gentrification and emigration.
The band is back in the limelight with a third, great album, Skinty Fia (an Irish sentence that can be translated as “the damnation of the deer”). It’s a record about inevitable change, doom, and the way Irish culture is perceived abroad – especially in England. The album represents pain and alienation very well, especially in the track “in ár gCroíthe go deo” (“In our hearts forever”). The song, in fact, tells the story of an elderly Irish woman on whose tombstone the relatives wanted to dedicate this phrase.
This, however, was prevented by the Church of England, which considered such a simple act of love a political gesture that should be blocked. An episode like this can only mean one thing: Records like Skinty Fia are tremendously needed now more than ever, because a present generation without well-founded roots can only lead to a population without cultural identity, points of reference, that no longer knows what to believe in or fight for.
Atwood Magazine had the pleasure of chatting with Fontaines D.C. guitarist Carlos O’Connell about Skinty Fia, works of art and stereotypes.
Listen: ‘The Couple Across The Way’ – Fontaines D.C.
A CONVERSATION WITH FONTAINES D.C.
Atwood Magazine: WHAT'S A STEREOTYPE ABOUT IRISH PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO STOP TO BELIEVE IN?
Carlos O’Connell: I feel like if I had an answer I would feed into the stereotype, you know? I think people should never look into stereotypes in any way. If there’s any opportunity to make assumptions you should question them.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AN IDEAL TRACKLIST FOR YOUR CONCERTS?
O’Connell: I think it’s already perfect, I wouldn’t change it at all. I wouldn’t wanna prioritize one song over the other one, to be honest.
HOW ABOUT A SONG THAT'S PARTICULARLY GREAT IN LIVE, MAYE EVEN BETTER THAN THE STUDIO VERSION?
O’Connell: I don’t think that any of the songs can be better or worse, I’m happy with the albums the way they are and I’m happy with the shows the way they are.
SPEAKING OF SHOWS, YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE CHANCE TO PERFORM 'A HERO'S DEATH' WHEN IT CAME OUT BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FEEL IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IF YOU COULD HAVE PERFORMED IT AT THAT TIME?
O’Connell: I don’t think it would have been different, honestly. It would have been pretty much the same.
I READ IN AN INTERVIEW THAT YOUR MUSIC IS SLOWLY GOING TOWARDS A LIGHTER DIRECTION, WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT MAIN INSPIRATIONS?
O’Connell: I’m not entirely sure that it’s going into a lighter direction. It’s hard to say it now, but I feel like I’m pretty fascinated by the band Smashing Pumpkins at the moment. I’m fascinated by their big sound and the beauty, the strings and all the different dynamic changes. The way they use a broad instrumentation, I’m quite interested in that myself.
We’ve already done two albums pretty quickly, I think it’s too early to properly speak about our next record. I wouldn’t want to put any expectation on our listeners, also because we don’t have much actual product.
WHAT'S SOMETHING YOU REALLY ENJOY ABOUT BEING IN THIS BAND?
O’Connell: I enjoy being in a band with people I love, I have a life that allows me to carry my personal life every second of the day and that’s probably my favorite thing. The most exhausting thing, though, is that there’s no separation.
IF FONTAINES D.C. WERE A WORK OF ART OF ANY KIND, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
O’Connell: The Neverending Story.
YOU'RE GETTING MORE AND MORE RECOGNITION, AS YOU DESERVE. IS IT SOMETHING THAT PUSHES YOU OR DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL PRESSURED?
O’Connell: I don’t think any of what the media say about me should really concern me. It’s not like I owe anything to anyone I don’t know, and they don’t owe me anything. We should all understand the value of real human connection, and that goes to two ends. My connection to others comes from my family and those who are dear to me. They make me want to feel better, and that’s beautiful. I love music and the fact that it can be a way to create connections and that’s why I make it, it’s powerful. But how people perceive my music doesn’t have an impact on me.
Watch: “I Love You” – Fontaines D.C.
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