Back in February of 2020, Fontaines D.C. weren’t exactly a world-conquering indie rock band. They were less than a year removed from their solid debut LP Dogrel and were making waves as an exciting club act. They had progressed to headlining status in a relatively short amount of time, but they were still just one of the hundreds of indie rock bands floating around the music world.
Little did the general public know that Fontaines D.C. already had their next album in the bag. A Hero’s Death would be a major breakthrough, catapulting the Irish five-piece to the forefront of rock. In the UK, there was a very real chance that Fontaines D.C. could outsell Taylor Swift’s Folklore, something that would have seemed unimaginable just a year prior.
So when the band wandered into the BBC’s Radio One studios, they were at the point immediately before takeoff. After teasing that the sessions for A Hero’s Death had recently been completed, Fontaines D.C. elected to jump into a haunting and stripped-back version of alternative rock heroes Pixies’ 1989 Doolittle album cut ‘Gouge Away’.
Since the piercing shrieks of Black Francis aren’t exactly Grian Chatten’s vocal style of choice, the singer instead chooses to bring his signature detached iciness to the track. Covering the Pixies is a right of passage for pretty much every indie band that formed after 1990, but few bands manage to bring their own unique sound to alt-rock’s favourite foursome.
After the Radio One sessions, Fontaines D.C. put the official finishing touches on A Hero’s Death and prepared to drop it on the world. Unlike 2019, the band only toured sporadically throughout 2020, no doubt hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until 2021 that A Heroe’s Death saw an official tour, by which point the band were already beginning to record their follow-up, Skinty Fia.
Check out Fontaines D.C.’s cover of ‘Gouge Away’ down below.