Interview The Murder Capital preview new album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ at intimate London gig

Speaking to DIY earlier in the day, frontman James McGovern discusses the band’s follow-up to 2019 debut ‘When I Have Fears’.

“Forget the boys you used to know,” The Murder Capital frontman James McGovern tells the crowd at London’s Lafayette last night, a few hours after the Dublin band announced their second album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’, set for release on 20th January via Human Season.

Alongside raucous cuts from the band’s impeccable 2019 debut ‘When I Have Fears’, the gig sees them preview a sonic shift on the second album, with the new tracks debuted veering from widescreen maximalism to wonky, ‘Kid A’-like electronic detours.

A few hours before the show, McGovern tells DIY about the long road to creating their second album. After finishing the ‘When I Have Fears’ tour and separating for the start of lockdown, the band regrouped in Dublin in May 2020 for a writing period that stretched two years. After initial Dublin sessions, they moved to the Donegal countryside for a month before settling in a remote house in Wexford for nearly a year for a period of intense soul-searching and creative breakthroughs.

“We had to face a lot of different characters and whatever we’d left to the side when we were on tour,” the frontman says. “It could have been some sort of psychological study to watch us there!” After the music made was reflected upon as “a little depressing,” they decamped to London in mid-2021 in search of a “new energy”. The album was then recorded with John Congleton at Paris’ famous La Frette studio.

“We had a tongue-in-cheek mantra: ‘The evolution will not be compromised’.”

— James McGovern

‘When I Have Fears’, featuring the band’s earliest songs, was written in a period of intense grief and carried with it a strong narrative that defined the band’s first years. For ‘Gigi’s Recovery’, McGovern says he struggled with no constant themes immediately coming to him. “Coming out of that was strange, because there was no inciting incident at the time. There was nothing to say like, ‘Okay, well, it’s all going to be about this’. It seems ridiculous to write about anything. I felt like an impostor writing about love, because I wasn’t experiencing it. I felt like my memory blurred to my past, so trying to pull from the early years felt jaded.” In the end, life was happening to and around the band, whether they consciously noticed it or not, with the “malaise” of the pandemic and “being torn away from each other and put back together” making them “do this very introspective work on ourselves,” with avenues beginning to open up for new music.

“At the beginning of writing the album, we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do other than we were going to evolve,” McGovern adds. “We had a tongue-in-cheek mantra: ‘The evolution will not be compromised’. There was a silent promise that it was met.”

At last night’s London gig, the first hints at this evolution were shared, with new single ‘A Thousand Lives’ an atmospheric highlight that tones down the band’s signature rage to reveal layers of greater texture and depth. Elsewhere, ‘The Stars Will Leave Their Stage’ was the most striking newbie, an off-kilter track hinting at a more electronic direction and driven by huge stabs of piano, while closer ‘Ethel’ sent the show off in a searing blast of noise.

In creating ‘Gigi’s Recovery’, McGovern says, the band saw the record as a house. “Each room would be built and remain stable, and then we could begin to furnish it and decorate it, and really understand the layout of the halls. We want people to explore all the rooms and still feel like they’re in the same home.” From the first few doors opened, it looks like a peek into a fascinating new era.

‘Gigi’s Recovery’ is out 20th January via Human Season.


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