A Hero’s Death album cover
Guitarist Carlos O’Connell joins Taylor Wallace for our latest At Home session. ‘A Hero’s Death’, the sophomore album from Dublin’s Fontaines D.C., is out now on Partisan Records.
The last three “At Home” sessions have been with musicians all across the world (London’s Arlo Parks and Australia’s Tkay Maidza), and this one landed me with Dublin’s Fontaines D.C.. Guitarist Carlos O’Connell came to us from Paris (where bassist Conor Deegan currently lives) awaiting the arrival of his other bandmates later this week. The quintet haven’t been together for months; the longest they’ve gone since they met at the Dublin’s British and Irish Modern Music Institute in 2013. Pre-Fontaines they wrote two collections of poetry, one evoking the Beat poets and the other Irish poets like W.B. Yeats and James Joyce.
Fontaines D.C. released their debut album Dogrel in 2019 to international acclaim. It was named Album of the Year by Rough Trade and BBC Music 6 and was nominated the Mercury Prize and the Choice Music Prize. Support from the Irish Arts Council allowed them to tour behind the album internationally, selling-out shows all over. Showing no sophomore slump, A Hero’s Death (Partisan Records) was released this July, but were unable to tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic (including playing the 50th anniversary of the Glastonbury Festival). O’Connell laments the reality of all of this and the oddity of writing a new album without the catharsis of touring the last. After being reunited in Paris, they’ll all be quarantining together for two weeks bringing together the music they’ve been individually writing in the last months.
The lyrical content of Fontaines D.C. has been largely consistent through the band’s short discography (and by that I mean rich, complex, and incredible), but, sonically, the tone has changed and evolved. Their first singles are more straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, Dogrel is inarguably a punk album, and A Hero’s Death takes on a much darker, post-punk sound. In the new album, the musicality is more sparse, allowing each part to breathe and fill the room and give space to each instrument. O’Connell attributes this to not only writing better together as a group, but he and fellow guitarist Conor Curley becoming better and more confident guitarists in their own right. “Silence requires confidence,” says O’Connell.
Talking to Carlos was a thrill. Thorough and fascinating, he talked about everything from the album, to the logistics of touring in Europe, what it’s like to have a government who supports the careers of its creatives, and more. -Taylor Wallace, KUTX Morning Host