New cool kids on the block Fontaines D.C. have caused quite a stir the last few months. Before we spoke to them, in a cozy corner of the artist village of Eurosonic Festival accompanied by some beer and Dutch greens, people were lining up outside the venue to get a chance to see them play. It was packed fully, one in, one out.
There seems to be something in the water in Fontaines D.C.’s hometown Dublin, spitting out one great (post)punk band after the other. And these guys might be one of the closest living to the source. Their poetic post-punk is imaginative but robust, and just rough enough to make their dreary laments very convincing. They feel real authentic, describing their rainy city in skillful verse. The fact that they met in this city while attending music college – where they quickly were drawn to each other because of their shared love of (discussing) poetry in class – is definitely audible. Connecting in pubs over beat generation writers and Guinness, they actually thought of creating a poetry book before they started making music. It’s good they picked the latter.
Their romantic inclination, both inspirational as finally lyrical, is a recurring theme for the band. As we were wondering how romantic and philosophical this group of young poets really is, we thought we’d put them to a little test. And not just the first one we could find.
The ‘Romantic or Realist’ test was made for graduate students at the most beautiful classic art museum in the Netherlands: Het Rijksmuseum. Housing the works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer, and some great works of ‘The Romantic period’ or Romanticism. An artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe and mainly took place there, toward the end of the 18th century. A movement that we also feel quite close to and even mention in our own Manifesto (which can be found our on website). Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism. Romanticism in English literature, late eighteenth century, had his key figures like the poets William Blake, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It continued into the nineteenth century with the second generation Romantic poets, most notably Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and Lord Byron. Among those are some names that Fontaines D.C have been citing as their direct influence writing.
Dutch philosopher Maarten Doorman even states that we still live in the time of Romance. So we put them through some statements. As the night (this little quiz resulted in a three-hour conversation) commenced, statement answers got more clouded but, as we feel, also more true-hearted. Philosophy on romanticism – a conversation timeline.
Groningen, January 17th , 23:39
Statement 1: I like ‘Fantasy movies and series’, such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
“Harry Potter definitely. Also the Brothers Grimm are amazing.”
Statement 2: I think it’s important to discover who I am.
“Do you care to elaborate?”, we asked the one that didn’t put up his hand. “No, I don’t want to talk about it.” “Good answer man,” says another. Forethoughtful faces, silent looks, but then one of them comes through anyway: “I think I stopped discovering who I was a while ago. Maybe I’ve already found who I am, I’m not sure but I’d rather be like water, like liquid. Flowing into situations, not thinking too much about what is going to happen. Is the definition of being yourself being the same person everywhere as you are when being on your own, in any situation? Is that defining who you are? It’s there a personality if there are no people to bounce your personality off? I definitely think I’ll be myself once I stop worrying about being myself.”
Statement 3: I can immerse myself completely in nature.
“What do you mean?”, one of them asks us. “How literally are we talking nature here?”
“Well uh, do you feel at ease when going outside? Do you look for it sometimes, for peace in nature?” we say. “Yes, but only sometimes.” Two of them say they agree. “There is a place in Dublin Called Phoenix Park, where a lot of deer live, we love it there. There’s a lot of young deers, and if you bring carrots, they’ll eat out of your hands.” A lot of laughter from the whole band commences. “Baby animals just bring so much joy, that is pure nature. A lot of them died of ticks or something, or was it lyme disease? I don’t know for sure but it was very sad. When they were sick you weren’t allowed to feed them anymore and it felt like I was denied love. At that point I thought of the band Deer Tick, because of the deers and the ticks…” Lots of laughing again. “Do you get it? He’s hilarious!” someone shouts.
Statement 4: I fall in love super fast.
Answer: 3/5 (by force in Tom’s case)
The group all look one way: “One of us fell in love super fast with his girlfriend…”
Tom: “Yeah, but it was a good love. And that only happened twice in my whole life, so not that much. Fast means a lot right in this?”
“Well… Put your fucking hand up in the count then,” another says. “Well, ok… If it’s not about how often you fall in love, but how fast, it’s the right thing to say yes for a lot of us. In that case we’re all very much real romantics.”
Statement 5: I believe in true love.
It stays silent for a bit after they put up their hands for the count. They all have a gloomy look in their eyes by now. I might be the question, or it might be the pile of beer cans on the table that has grown exponentially. It could also be the rolled Dutch greens we’ve been passing around since the start, twenty minutes before. Silence is broken by Tom, who we suspect has woken up since the last question. “I think it more interesting to ask the people hat don’t believe in true love to elaborate on that. Maybe I wouldn’t call it true love but I do believe in people coming together and being really good together for a long while. What I don’t believe in, is in love at first sight. If that is what you mean by true love.”
Grian adds: “What I think of true love is… What I have with the lads from the band.” He looks around him affectionately. “What I have with my brother, that is true love. Love is two people recognizing the fact that they are traveling through life at the same angle. It’s about acceptance for each other, and walking the same path. That they will not change you but grow and travel with you through life. It doesn’t have to be boyfriend-girlfriend style to be true love.”
Statement 6: I can not be my real self because there are too many rules in society.
A discussion of at least five minutes begins. “What do you mean with that question?” They all discuss it with each other before answering, mixed feelings come up. The word society itself falls prey to a little pre-discussion amongst them.
”Who knows what will happen if there were no rules in society…” Conor starts. ”Would we all just be killing each other? I think morals are a set of rules pushed to you by society. I think I can’t be myself right now, and that is probably partly because of society, but that is my own fault. I have a level of anxiety that is being caused by the expectations of society. Which, again, is my fault. I refuse to put that on society because that’d be too easy. It’s my job to be myself, nobody else can do that for me.”Grian adds: ”Some of the rules are starting to make more sense though, when you get older, we’ve discussed that amongst us as well. Recognized it. Structure is something that calms your nerves. But then there is the problem of me not really wanting that… Why don’t I want that? I’m not sure, maybe it’s a restlessness. Knowing that if I’d agree with everything in the world, there’s nothing to work on, to want to change anymore. Wouldn’t that be boring?”
”Did you guys put anything in this beer?” Conor asks softly while the rest sits philosophizing about our question. ”It tastes sugary… Is there something in it?” We assure him that it’s just our national product and no drugs have been put in. Heineken just tastes like shit. They all nod in agreement… The Irish, they make real beer. “It’s also up to you to decide the worth of all those ‘rules’ in society. If you don’t see them as something of a life goal from the start, they don’t weight down on you as much anyway.”
Statement 7: I strive to have intense emotional experiences.
Answer: 3/4 (Carlos had fallen asleep by then, it’s 01:30 AM)
“Is this about loving myself emotionally, right? Because then yes, we all allow ourselves to feel things. That’s the only way to survive and also make anything that resembles good music,” they all acknowledge.
Statement 8: I would want to live in a different time.
“Yeah, for sure. I get really depressed by social media, and just technology and digital media in general. All the people addicted to their phones. I use mine, but I’m not addicted to it. At this point with all these media, I wouldn’t even like to have kids in this world. You might as well give birth to a fucking Facebook status. These so called influencers are really just marketeers, but given another name, it’s very clever. Clever and scary because young kids don’t notice. Photography, because of smartphones and social media, has turned into something very different. Now the use is born out of fear of not being able to really experience the moment that you’re in, unless you film it or take a photo. I am very happy that I am not like that. My phone battery died two days ago and I still haven’t charged it. People taking photos at gigs, I just don’t get it… I worry about things being real or not, how real is the world if you experience it through a lens the whole night. Making memories is the only thing that is happening there so why don’t you just do it with your mind? I don’t get why you need a phone for that. I think you need to just memorize this, if it’s special, you will. People now take photos as a part of really feeling a gig, why would you need to use a machine to trigger a feeling. I get that you want to capture something but it’s a very passive way of doing so. It’s not the same as, for example, writing down how your day went. When you write you also process, you don’t do that when taking a photo with your smartphone. That is what I love about making music, it’s capturing a moment too, but more thoughtful.”
With a final count of 24 out of 38 we can conclude Fontaines D.C. are doubtful but hopeful romantics. They definitely passed the test if we look at them emphasizing on emotions and individuality. And maybe they are right that that means sometimes not agreeing with the statements above. Because we can conclude that individuality, something that the band has despite their music being ‘hip’ right now, is something they understand and do right. They are no pretend band and know their shit. If you ever get the change to chat one of them up, we highly recommend to engage in a good convo.