When I Have Fears

When I Have Fears

Making a debut album was a bruising experience for Dublin post-punk quintet The Murder Capital. “I didn’t know you could experience such a range of emotions in a day, every day,” singer James McGovern tells Apple Music. “I could feel utter despair, thinking that it was just not going to happen, it’s completely run ruin and it’s gone. Then, 20 minutes later, it’s genius and some new thing comes in and it’s just an overwhelming experience.” Recorded in London with storied producer Flood, When I Have Fears is as stirring to listen to as it was to make. Twisting through emotions that run from throbbing-temple rage to tender reflection, it’s an absorbing account of, among other things, isolation, grief, and a fading sense of community. Here, in a track-by-track guide, McGovern recalls the sleepy boat trips, stunned silences, and angry farmers that helped create the album. “For Everything” “This ended up being the opener because it feels very cinematic and we are all cinephiles. Also, the opening lyric seems, for me, like the right initial imprint on the floor. I wanted to go away on my own, so I looked for the cheapest flight I could find and went to Oslo—without looking at the price of stuff in Oslo. So I got this hostel for five nights and ate very rarely. I went around writing. I deleted everything off my phone and left. I left the world for five days, which was unbelievable. I went on a boat trip with some fjords and wrote it on that—there are a lot of little references to things I saw. I wrote a quick poem and then fell asleep for the entire boat trip that I paid 40 quid on.” “More Is Less” “In that incubation period in the very beginning [of the band], everything was just getting thrown in so quickly. If we played two shows a month, there might have been three or four new tracks in each show. I think ‘More Is Less’ was the first time we were like, ‘Oh, we’ll keep this.’ It sounds like it was written in a time of urgency, like I was fed up with something. I think your environment, politically and socially, naturally bleeds into you. It affects your mood and your view of yourself and the world. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, I feel like it was really naive at the time—but in a beautiful way.” “Green & Blue” “We were going through a pretty heavy drought in the writing room. I saw an article about [American photographer] Francesca Woodman and showed it to the boys. Everyone was hit in the chest by it, maybe even moist at the eye. There was something so alive about the way she depicted isolation. And something going through the record is this idea of isolation within a community, or the absence of fear giving love and the absence of love giving fear. We watched her documentary and the next day ‘Green & Blue’ just fell out.” “Slowdance I” “We got this cheap Airbnb in Mayo to finish writing. We actually had to move because a farmer threatened to shoot us for the noise. But in that first house, we wrote ‘Slowdance I,’ ‘Slowdance II,’ ‘Don’t Cling to Life,’ and something else. We were going in to record on March 2 and we went into that house on January 2, so that’s how up against the ropes we were. ‘Slowdance I’ came together over that bassline. We were fighting against keeping it at that tempo, going, ‘Don’t speed up, don't speed up.’ It was like pulling a rope at a mooring—it’s not giving way. We thought, ‘Maybe this is the way it should stay.’” “Slowdance II” “Part II was being written as a different idea. I named it that day, and then it very much became its own thing. Giving it that name became a visualization thing for us, imagining people moving to this track, that flow of the body. We love the idea of having something that just flows into the next thing. It just became this lotus flower or this opus. Lyrically, it became about disassociation somehow.” “On Twisted Ground” “My best friend took his own life and I couldn’t write about it for ages. When you’re writing about something so overtly personal, you can’t let anything go. It just has to be perfect. It was one of the hardest nuts to crack in the studio. Eventually, Cathal, our guitarist, just said, ‘Fuck everything: James and Gabriel [bassist] go in that room and play it alone.’ Immediately after we played it back, there was this crazy five minutes of silence. It was just so intense, like it was vibrating through you. Flood said he had never experienced anything like it in the studio before. Then we had this chat about how personal grief feels, and how hard done by you feel by it because your love for that person and their love for you is specific to you. No one else had that. It’s not a thing that gets better or worse or this bullshit of ‘it gets easier after time.’ You’re just like, ’I’m trying to fill my space with more positive things around that hole that will be there forever.’” “Feeling Fades” “We played the Sound House in Dublin. I came off the stage, went for a cigarette in the smoking area, and just started writing this poem to occupy the mind, because the feeling you get after getting offstage is weird. That’s reflected somewhat in the lyrics. It was also wondering if our generation is being robbed of a sense of community by whatever this natural evolution of technology and society is. I don’t want to be stuck in the past, but it feels like that sense of togetherness, that knocking over to a friend’s house, you have to talk about it now for it to exist. Humans still love each other just as much and are trying to understand each other better than ever, but something about the disassociative nature of technology is sort of harrowing. I just wanna hang out with people, you know?” “Don’t Cling to Life” “Gabriel’s mum became severely unwell, and she actually passed away within the first two weeks of recording. While this was going on, we discussed that idea of songs like ‘Perfect Day’ or ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart,’ where it sounds happy but it’s completely not. Gabriel came into the house [in Mayo] and he was like, ‘Let’s just write something we can dance to.’ It was quite a tough nut to crack because it was veering more to the pop side of things than to anything we had written before. I like the possibility it gives you for juxtaposition: It doesn’t have to be really dark, it can be really hopeful as well—it just depends which way you play the words in your mind. You can go to it for anything.” “How the Streets Adore Me Now” “That was one that wasn’t written [before going into the studio]. Cathal had this droning, repeated piano idea. He was playing it on an old upright, and I remember just flicking through my journal and finding this poem. I sat in next to him and we figured it out and had it recorded within an hour. When we listened back, we were all like, ‘Holy fucking shit.’ Flood was like, ‘You’re not going to touch that.’ I think it is my favorite song.” “Love, Love, Love” “We decided, pretty quickly, that this was going to close the record. It was very important for us to have that. It was imperative that there was a narrative, there was a feeling of where do we bring you now and where do we go next and how are you left and are you being challenged? We look to people like Alexander McQueen, who said, ‘If you aren't affected by my show, then I haven't done my job.’ Sometimes music or art or theater should be making you uncomfortable. It should be confronting you with something, then almost immediately comforting you and all those things. ‘Love, Love, Love,’ I find, does that. It’s also satisfying to finish an album saying, ‘Goodbye, goodbye.’”

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