Updated: Mar 12, 2022
Two years ago Fontaine's D.C. released their debut album Dogrel. I heard them for the first time on my way back from a birthday party in Wellingtonbridge. Driving through Enniscorthy my phone died, forcing me to listen to the radio rather than my earphones. I was recovering from my highbrow music phase; I would listen to whatever was playing if I had to, but not out of choice.
I cannot recount the radio DJ or even the station that played 'Roy's Tune' but I remember exactly where I was; the backroad into Monageer. Whenever someone tells me a story about a country road I envision this exact one. Rows of trees, no houses except a derelict cottage and acres of green fields. Enough scenery and not quite dilapidated enough to know you are still in Wexford.
'Roy's Tune' rang around my head for hours that night. Not necessarily the tune or the lyrics but how the song made me feel. I called a friend to tell him about it, the time didn't even occur to me. Luckily he was still awake. I'm conscious when it comes to sharing songs after years of misogynistic dismissal and judgemental peers. I'll admit to the protection I already felt towards this song I had only heard for the first time two hours prior, but I didn't want to lock it away from the rest of the world (a characteristic I developed with my favourite artist's that I eventually recovered from).
Sure enough, everyone loved Fontaine's D.C. and anyone who didn't simply did not 'get it' in my mind. This album gradually became the soundtrack of my life once it was released that April. I came home from a voyage in Enniskerry to the album waiting for me on vinyl; signed, translucent yellow. The most prepossessing record I had ever laid eyes on. Each song had a personality for me like siblings in a large family.
On a holiday to Mullingar, I spent the entire weekend listening to their single 'Too Real'. The song is a musical embodiment of an acid trip. I still can't listen to it without picturing the bookshop I visited in Mullingar where I discussed Anne Griffin's incredible debut novel that had just been published. I wanted to buy something in this bookshop but I didn't have my debit card. I was so angry at myself that I couldn't give back to this place that made me feel so welcomed.
There was a record shop in Mullingar too but it had closed a year beforehand. I looked through the window and took a photograph. The shop was no bigger than my bedroom, it had four CD stands and eight-inch singles still stuck to the ceiling. I wanted to break in and summon someone, anyone, to work there for the day just so I could experience this minuscule record shop as if it were fully functioning. I was a year too late.
That night in my empty hotel room I played their song 'Sha Sha Sha' while eating Peking duck flavoured 'Pringles'. An empty hotel room in an empty hotel was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Except I knew no one in Mullingar apart from three girls I met at the Gaeltacht and one guy I met at a college open-day, none of which I stayed in contact with.
Two weeks later I sang Fontaine's D.C.'s song 'Big' at a house party in Wexford town. I was standing on a bench in the middle of a cul de sac. "My childhood was small but I'm gonna be big," I sang. My fists raised to the air, accompanied by sullen guitar. I wasn't wrong. I was going to be big. Big enough to recover from my God complex and cop on to myself.
That weekend there was a record fair in town. An event I regularly had to go to no matter where I was. The routine was always the same; buy one CD (has to be obscure enough to impress the facilitator of the fair), coffees in the only café that is open past midday on a Sunday, then laze around the rest of the afternoon in Redmond Park. That afternoon I played their song 'Television Screens' as we made daisy chains and discussed each other's love lives (always had been and more than likely always will be my favourite topic of conversation with anyone). I had recently watched an interview with Fontaine's D.C.'s lead singer Grian Chatten where he explained the root of his love for poetry. His father, an admirer of the great Irish poets, would buy him trading cards if he recited a few lines. I witnessed his poetic lyric writing in 'Television Screens' and even recited this verse at poetry readings.
"You're a cluster of nothing
You are beauty for the sake
How dare you go about living
As a relic from a dream
As the sky shutters down
On the antiquated scene
On the room full of mirrors
On the television screen"
'Liberty Belle' which ended up being a very successful song of theirs about a pub reminded me of the pubs I spent too much time in for someone who prides themselves in not drinking. Old country pubs that never checked for ID and had far too many Grindr accounts within one kilometre to be considered the middle of nowhere, or contemporary bars with beer gardens that played French new-wave and acclaimed up-and-coming bands.
Having said that, no night compared to walking along the quay sharing a pair of earphones listening to their song 'Dublin City Sky' while taking in the Wexford town sky which seemed so vast and alluring that night, even though I had been thrown out of a nightclub for the third time in my short life. Enough times for it to be a rare occurrence but not for me to be onto something.
I daydreamed of the night I could glance up at the Dublin City sky while this song played. Preferably them playing live and me being there to experience that. That day was about to come. Fourth of 2020 in Iveagh Gardens (ironic as we listened to 'Dogrel' on the way back from the Mac DeMarco gig in Iveagh Gardens the previous summer). Until that July fourth date was cancelled and the date reset for July 2021, but that date was cancelled again.
Those moments spent listening to that album were strange ones. Namely because even when I was living in the moment and living through each song, I was always focusing on the next time. The next time I would sit in those bars, the next time I would belt those choruses, the next time I would buy an album that compared half as much to this one. I never sat back and realised that there might not be a next time, or even if there was it would be two years coming and very different indeed.