For some, Irish trio Fangclub have been “ones to watch” for the best part of 12 months. Having delivered two impressive EP’s in ‘Bullet Head’ and ‘Coma Happy’ last year, along with playing shows with Pixies, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Twin Atlantic, the Dublin-based band are set to release their debut self-titled full-length this Friday.
‘Fangclub’ is a no-frills, driving alt-rock record that fulfills the potential, as it takes its cues from grunge and 90’s slacker rock. Songs such as ‘Bad Words’ and ‘Best Fake Friends’ infectiously weave their way into your ears, while ‘Role Models’ thrives in the riffs department.
Ahead of its release, we grabbed bassist Kevin Keane to give us a detailed track-by-track insight into ‘Fangclub’.
Steven (King – guitar/vocals) wrote this song when he was demoing lightning and didn’t realise he was tuned down to drop D. That small mistake turned into the main riff for ‘Bullet Head’. Thats the best thing when song writing; that mistakes can be a blessing in disguise. The song talks about paranoia and trying to blend in. ‘Bullet Head’ as our first ever single smashed down the door for us and screamed “we’re here!” Its short, sweet and kicks you in the teeth. We usually finish our sets with it, using it as a calling card.
‘Role Models’ is the first song I remember kids screaming back to us at live shows. Its an angsty sarcastic anthem of self-proclaimed destiny and pretty much saying “fuck you” to your peers, because more often than not they just let you down in some way or another. In a celebrity culture dominated world, I think its an important message to give out. I think the first iteration of this song had a working title of ‘James Dean’. I’m not entirely sure how it went from that to ‘Role Models’. It’s one of our favourites to play live cause towards the end, shit just hits the fan and you can go nuts screaming it.
Ah the song that technically birthed ‘Bullet Head’. This one is quite an emotional rollercoaster especially towards the end. It deals with a lot with childhood fears and fears of abandonment. It’s one of the first songs I really remember jamming and having the full song complete. It’s the type of where you get goosebumps and think “oh shit we’re on to something here,” so this song is very special to us. Most of our sets at the moment are about 30 minutes or so, so we don’t usually get to include it, so we’re looking forward to headline shows where we get a bit more time to include it in the sets.
This was technically a later a song from the first batch of recordings, but I think its from around the same time; it came out Steven’s head if that makes sense? After we got back from the first set of recordings, Steven was like “shit… I have this new song and I think it needs to go on the album.” After jamming and developing the song, it became quite apparent he was right. So a few months later, back to the studio we went to record it. Along with that we recorded ‘Coma Happy’ and ‘Inside Joke’, which can be found on our ‘Coma Happy’ EP. Like all of our songs, its mostly open to interpretation but I suppose an obsession or love of the idea of self-destruction would be a big theme in this song.
We always joked around about how we would describe our sound because it’s always a really weird question to answer. It’s always we’re a bit of this, mixed with a bit of that and some of this other thing vocally or whatever. We’d never take it too seriously, describing our sound because everyones got a different opinion on what it is.
One phrase we’d always end up using as a joke is “stadium garage rock” which out of everything we have on the album does actually lend itself to this song. It’s small garage rock with this big anthemic chorus. It was one we were confident was gonna be a single as soon we recorded it.
Best Fake Friends
Another nihilistic song. It’s about falling under the spell of certain people you meet growing up. It’s like an explosion of loving them but also being terrified of them.
This is a song we did a bit later than the rest of the tracks. It was one we had written just before our first UK tour and we were excited about it, so figured we’d test it out live in the sets as it was a short enough track. It ended up getting amazing responses every night. Even though the album was technically finished, we knew we had to record it and push it for the album. It’s too good not too. It was a very easy recording session too. We didn’t have to change anything or overthink parts.
This was one we thought may have been a single at first, but I’m kinda glad now its an album track now. I like the idea of people listening to the album, especially where its placed and think where did this come from? Musically, I’ve always thought of this as like a festival summer anthem. Thematically, it kinda deals with not wanting to people please and chasing that American dream. Fun Fact: It’s one of two songs we actually play in normal tuning (the other being ‘Lightning’).
‘Loner’ is a strange one because we were a bit apprehensive about not only releasing it as a single but putting it on the album too. It’s only when we saw the reaction that other people had to it and how much they connected to the song, that we were like “oh shit! Ok, maybe we misjudged this one.” I guess it’s kind of our love song on the album. I mean musically its optimistic, but then it has these kinda melancholy lyrics. Its a bit tongue in cheek and doesn’t take itself to seriously. We really wanted to portray that in the video too. You have all these totally mundane things and you try to make em look cool and it just looks ridiculous. Not knowing if you’re a miserable tortured poet or just obsessed with wanting to be.
Better to Forget
This is the climax to the album before we bring you back down with ‘Animal Skin’. I think it follows a theme of chasing your own oblivion and being ok with it. Steven is especially crazy about movies where the hero sacrifices themselves at the end to save the day. You know where he or she gives this look to say “I got this” with no regard for their own life, so that’s what I always regard ‘Better to Forget’ as. This bad ass hero that sacrifices his or herself and goes out in this blaze of glory.
We had a few ideas about what songs to close the album with, but during the session that we recorded ‘Best Fake Friends’, we had a bit of extra time and Steven suggested this, “it’s a bit different but lets record while we have this time and see where it goes” he said. When we had finished it, we had this song with all this different percusion we’d never used before. It was this vulnerable, emotional song that on the first listen back we got of it, we all just knew this had to end the album. It kinda of leaves you on a bit of a cliffhanger as to what comes next with us; it’s our Marvel after the credits scene.
‘Fangclub’ by Fangclub is released on 4th August on Vertigo.
Fangclub will be touring in the UK and Ireland throughout September:
2nd Bingley Music Festival
5th Stereo, Glasgow
6th The Mash House, Edinburgh
7th Think Tank, Newcastle
8th The Brudenell (Games Room), Leeds
9th Fallow Cafe, Manchester
11th Bodega, Nottingham
12th The Sunflower, Birmingham
13th The Cellar, Oxford
14th Purple Turtle, Reading
15th Thousand Island, London
16th The Joker, Brighton
19th Roisin Dubh Upstairs, Galway
20th Mike The Pies, Listowel
21st Cyprus Avenue, Cork
27th McHughs, Belfast
28th Kasbah Social Club, Limerick
29th Whelans, Dublin (Matinee All Ages)
29th Whelans, Dublin
Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana