'We know we're not a punk band at all': In conversation with The Murder Capital

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By Guy Marcham, Deputy Music Editor

“I just think that there is always something more interesting if you go for darker sounds”, declares drummer Diarmuid Brennan. When it comes to The Murder Capital – it’s certainly hard to disagree. Epigram Music speak to the band fresh from an explosive festival season and now resting at home in the Irish capital of Dublin.

From the cut throat driving punk riffs of ‘More is Less’ to the hauntingly poignant Nick Cave inspired ‘How The Streets Adore Me Now’, Dublin based post-punk outfit The Murder Capital have just released one of the finest albums of 2019. A raw, uncaged and ruthless record that bursts with stark intensity.

The album, ‘When I Have Fears’, has been winning plaudits ever since its release in August, helping the independent band soar to astonishing new heights including a five-star guardian review and a spot in the UK Top 20 charts.

The Murder Capital/ Gavin Ovoca

Yet for all their commercial and critical success the band don’t seem to be getting too ahead of themselves. ‘We didn’t really overthink it (getting in the top 20) at all. We were just concentrating on making our first record something which we really really love.’

The band instead found the personal interactions and relationships formed with fans during their in store live performances to celebrate the album’s release much more fulfilling. ‘It gives us the bigger buzz (…) better feeling than managing to get a number in the charts.’

These are fitting words from a band who pride themselves on their emotional integrity and brutal sense of honesty. The band speak openly about their own self-doubt and vulnerability in a world so engulfed in fatalities. Life’s more harrowing and dark undercurrents are etched into every corner of the album, mainly influenced by a friend of the band’s recent suicide.

Yet for all their more urgent and aggressive offerings – a subtle glimmer of hope still shines through the release. A binding sense of unity that makes their work more fulfilling. ‘There’s a lot of hope in between. That’s something we always wanted to strive for. We want to have light and the darkness’.

A side to the band best illustrated by their screeching yet brutally tender ‘Love, Love, Love’. A song to confide in during the darkness life throws at you, as lead singer James McGovern euphorically offers to ‘wrap myself around your cold shoulder’.

It’s this – the band’s more tender moments that have gone wildly unnoticed during their recent surge in popularity. The band are often described as punk. Yet, their use of poetic prose and atmospheric violins paint a different and more complex picture. ‘We know we’re not a punk band at all.’

‘We know that some of our songs are under that umbrella – post punk. But that’s probably the broadest post punk can go (…) You can tell if someone just slaps punk on us then they’ve only listen to ‘More Is Less’ maybe.’

The band have already been forever linked with a new explosion in ferocious post punk fuelled abandon. The Irish quintet are often spoken in the same breath as fellow the Dublin rockers Fontaines D.C and Bristol’s punk unifiers, IDLES.

A link that the band are quick to expel. ‘I think people just like being able to put things in boxes which make sense even though they may be somewhat skipping a step. It’s out of your control what people say about you.’

The band also hail from a city that is at the moment brimming with musical creativity and growing excitement. The likes of Fontaines D.C, Girl Band, Just Mustard and now The Murder Capital all releasing impeccable music out of the Irish capital of Dublin. It’s especially easy to see why such a buzz is being created around the city with devoted 6 music listeners casting the happening city as a mecca for no holds barred and sweat inducing post punk throttle.

However, Diarmuid and the band aren’t so quick to get drawn into conversation surrounding Dublin’s new title as ‘the home of punk’ and its apparent ‘sudden’ new role as an exciting host of burgeoning indie talent.

‘The way it is in Dublin is that there have always been really great bands. That’s the reason why I thought I’d love to be in a band. It’s not that I saw someone further afield, it was always a band from Dublin or from Ireland.

Definitely the microscope is now fixed on the Irish music scene at the moment which stems from all those great bands. But, I think there is some amount of coincidence involved. It’s nice when you hear ‘there are lot of great bands coming out of Dublin now’ but there always has been you know. I don’t know if the UK have only just started paying attention.’

For now, however, the band are certainly enjoying life with the microscope firmly on them. Diarmuid speaks excitedly of a totally sold out UK tour soon on the horizon and the raucous scenes to expect. ‘Already a lot of the dates are sold out. In our minds that is absolutely wild. It will probably get raucous alright! I wouldn’t be happy if I come off stage bone dry’. Their emotional tenacity and razor-sharp ruthlessness sure to fire up audiences into a catapulting frenzy inside packed out sweatboxes. ‘If people are interested and giving us their energy… it literally is the lifeblood of the show.’

For all the excitement of their upcoming tour of the UK including a night at Bristol’s The Exchange – the band are by no means straying from their distinct Irish heritage and patriotism. When asked whether they could see themselves leaving Dublin anytime soon and perhaps suffering from James Joyce’s sense of emotional and physical paralysis experienced in Dubliners – the idea is firmly shot down. ‘For now, it is definitely Dublin. Dublin is home.’ With their own rehearsal space in the city too fans can certainly look forward to further deeply rooted Irish indebted post punk.

The band aren’t getting too distracted by future plans just yet. The quintet are still thriving off ‘When We Have Fears’ and bringing their surging jagged guitars and Irish poetry to new audiences. ‘You can’t look at the mountain… you got to look at what is ahead of you. I feel like the album just being released was our new beginning, so I feel like we are only at the start of what the band are going to do.’

Listen to 'When I Have Fears' now

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