By Nisa Sherifi
The Murder Capital is a powerful and insistently Irish post-punk band determined to better the society they live in. They started in 2015, set up their own label in 2018, and were already touring across Europe and the UK by 2019. They could have been labelled as just another punk band. But their talent and strong bond, forged through a common disenchantment with the prevalence of homelessness and mental health crisis in Ireland, have given an added depth and substance to their music.
“The conversations we have with each other, it’s like family, to experience them grow and watch yourself through them” is what the vocalist James McGovern declared in an interview for Loud and Quiet. What unites Diarmuid Brennan (drums), James McGovern (vocals), Gabriel Paschal Blake (bass), Cathal Roper (guitar) and Damien Tuit (guitar), is the merging of raw emotion to social unrest and dark, string-heavy music. Through the quick strumming of two guitars, and the dark and deep sound of the base, the music switches from anger, to melancholy and sadness to frustration. The wide emotional range is evocative of difficult times, instability. Their songs are odes to the spirals and challenges people experience; “failing this, let’s dance and cry” sings the full and loud voice of James McGovern in the song ‘Don’t Cling to Life’.
Their performances are a testament to the band’s compassion, honesty, and care. James McGovern, for example, doesn’t simply engage with the crowd at concerts. He makes a conscious effort to follow the mood of his audience in all the different corners of the concert hall. “How’s everybody up there? On this side? On this side?” he eagerly asks, as I could see through my computer screen on a rediffusion of a concert they held in 2019. The atmosphere is electric. Beyond the playful interaction, it is as if the exchange with the audience is in itself a way of creating a sense of community and oneness. The band instils hope, a light in the darkness. Their stage presence, lyrics and style resonate with their attention to mental health and are raw with vulnerability. The third verse of ‘On Twisted Ground’, for example, approaches depression and suicide viscerally:
“Oh, my dearest friend – How it came to this – With your searing end – Into the abyss”
Their reality is the anger of the young Dublin man, fully aware of the state’s failures to respond to crises humanely. It is not a rage fueled by hatred and generalised despair, but rather a rage that grows with every moment of state inaction on the issues of mental health and homelessness. “It just feels like there are loads of fuckin’ hotels going up over Dublin, where there could be new housing” they exclaim in an interview for DIY. The themes they sing about are, sadly, endemic across Europe, and so are the inadequate responses of states. These crises are exacerbated by the increasingly corroding sense of community in many European cities, whether that be in Dublin, Budapest or Sofia. “We want to allow our generation to express themselves again and regain the community that’s being lost” is how Damien Tuit described it in the interview for Loud and Quiet. In the interview for DIY, they insist that they want to talk about these topics as much as possible, or “more, more, more” as the chorus of one of their most famous songs ‘More is Less’ goes. The Murder Capital sends a much needed and crucial message to expose how easy it is for vulnerable people to fall through the cracks, especially when neither states nor communities are able to provide safety nets.
The Murder Capital takes despair head-on, battles it with dynamic music meant to fill people with anger, excitement and a sense of justice. When done well, as is the case with The Murder Capital, anger and excitement are feelings that can spark hope to inspire the disenchanted European youth to dance to their music and lead change. Perhaps, the eclectic style of The Murder Capital and the topics it targets are just what is needed to rebuild our failing societies and systems. By exposing the problems that are shared across different realities in different European countries, The Murder Capital empowers people to act.
This article was published with the support of Liveurope.
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