Noise Annoys: The Murder Capital's Diarmuid on debut LP When I Have Fears and Irish gigs
Dublin's The Murder Capital unleash their powerful debut album When I Have Fears today. Drummer Diarmuid chats to Noise Annoys about the record and their imminent run of Irish record shop shows
THE debut LP by Dublin-based group The Murder Capital, When I Have Fears is one of the best, fully realised and wholly engrossing records I've heard in a long time, more than delivering on the promise of their singles More is Less, Feeling Fades and Green and Blue – all of which have made the cut for the album.
Released via their own Human Season label, the quintet – vocalist James McGovern, guitarists Damien Tuit and Cathal Roper, bassist Gabriel Blake and drummer Diarmuid Brennan – have delivered a hugely atmospheric and deceptively nuanced album (there's some serious songcraft and attention to sonic detail in play throughout the Flood-produced record which belies their 'punk' tag) with an often uncomfortably raw emotional edge to it which somehow manages to be an empowering, cathartic listen from front to back.
For a band apparently directly inspired by the sledgehammer effects of grief – the album title comes from the existential-angst ridden poem When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be by John Keats and their moniker is a pointed reference to the bleak relationship between Irish mental health services and Irish suicide rates (rather than a nod to The Lost Boys, as I'd suspected), of which they have direct and painful experience via the death by suicide of James's best friend last year – The Murder Capital are apparently already experts at mining their darkness for strength and light in a Nick Cave/Joy Division-esque manner.
People have been quick to compare them to Dublin friends/peers Fontaines DC, but compared to Dogrel, the Fontaines' arresting debut from earlier in the year which also fizzes with a similarly infectious 'kicking against the pricks' energy, When I Have Fears is an altogether more controlled and considered affair – and the songwriting is a cut above too.
In a years' time, the Fontaines will probably have jettisoned 50 per cent of Dogrel from their live set in favour of newer, better tunes, whereas you'll be hard pressed to spot a 'droppable' number on The Murder Capital record.
Of course, no doubt they will also be on to pastures new by then – which is why you should turn out to see them do this stuff live now while you can: the band celebrate the release of When I Have Fears with a set at Tower Records in Dublin this evening followed by a show at The Button Factory tonight, hitting Kilkenny and Limerick in quick succession tomorrow for performances at Rollercoaster Records and Steamboat Records respectively before heading north for shows at a Cool Discs staged show at Sandinos in Derry and a Strange Victory Records promoted gig at Voodoo in Belfast on Sunday afternoon/evening respectively.
According to drummer Diarmuid, the imminent Murder Capital instores won't be the usual 'three songs on the acoustic guitars and egg shakers' style affairs we've come to expect when our favourite bands rock up at record shops.
"Yeah, definitely no acoustics," he confirms. "I'll definitely be bringing my drumkit to every one, because that's just the way we want to do them – anything else wouldn't be us. We also want to do a full set or at least as much as we can in whatever time we're allotted."
Having recorded their debut at the start of the year, the band have been dying to get it out to the public for the past few months – in fact, they can hardly believe that the big day is finally upon them, as Diarmuid explains.
"We're really excited," the drummer tells me. "We finished it back in March and for the past couple of months it felt like this was still years away. As the release has got closer, it's seemed like time was expanding so every week has taken longer and longer.
"The whole process of making the album was a labour of love but as a result of that we've made something that all five of us really, really love. If other people get something off it, that's great, and it is nice to hear – but at the end of the day, that something that we like about the record is ours, y'know?"
As mentioned, When I Have Fears is an intense listening experience. The band have been candid about the emotional trauma from which they've drawn inspiration and Diarmuid's comments about the album being a 'labour of love' suggest that the writing and recording process was also a pretty raw affair for a band who operate as a five-way democracy.
"At times, it was intense," he confirms. "Among the five of us, writing the album we were going through some difficult times. It wasn't the easiest way to write, but at the same time it felt like the most natural way to do it.
"There were moments where it was quite a challenge to be able to express what you want to four of your best friends – especially when it's something which might not be agreed upon instantly by everyone.
"The thing going into it that I had in mind was that you really had to fight for these songs to make them sound as good as they can be and to stay as true to what the intent was when we were writing the album."
Diarmuid is also quick to praise the influence of Flood on how When I Have Fears.
"He was the person who was able to steer the ship," he enthuses of the veteran producer, who's worked with Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, New Order, Depeche Mode, U2 and many others.
"When we first met him he was just an absolute gentleman, just no ego at all and very much like 'this is your record'. He invested everything into that for us and that's what we felt, which gave us a lot of encouragement.
"He's so good at answering to the needs of the five of us as a band as well as individually. Our engineer Richie Kennedy was a great help as well."
While the band are now on the books of industry heavyweights Q-Prime Management and have been attracting record company interest almost from their inception, Diarmuid says The Murder Capital were determined to put their debut album out on their own label.
"We were wary that we wanted to make a record where we didn't have to answer to anybody," he explains.
"Also, as a relatively new band, it didn't feel right for us to just instantly get sucked into a world of answering to a label. Not that the companies who approached us were no good or anything, but we're happy with the record that we've made and if we'd gone with anyone else it could easily have gone the other way."
He adds: "And, if the the history of the music industry has told us anything, it's that it's important to have ownership of your own work."
:: The Murder Capital, Sunday August 18, Voodoo, Belfast, 6pm. Pre-order When I Have Fears at Belfast's Strange Victory Records in Berry Street to guarantee entry. See Themurdercapital.com for full tour dates and ticketing details.