The trailblazing art-rock band opens up about love, loss, and their new album.

Sprouted from the underbelly of Dublin, the five piece art-rock outfit The Murder Capital has come back to bite, following up their heralded debut album When I Have Fears, with the profoundly layered Gigi’s Recovery.

When I Have Fears was unleashed in 2019 – within a mere nine months of the group coming across each others’ existence. Yet, something clicked – and When I Have Fears debuted to a chorus of critical acclaim. Melancholic to its core, listeners were swept up by the sheer grief that oozes from the tracks. The Murder Capital’s sophomore effort is a continuation of these emotional landscapes – but more evolved, an upwards movement towards peace and healing.

Gigi’s Recovery is a feat of vulnerability and growth; the project meanders between themes of desire, existentialism, and introspection. Laid out over intricate textures, reverb, and an almost shoegaze-esque cacophony of sound – the group enlisted the production chops of Grammy-winner John Congleton. Before The Murder Capital take to the road to impart their latest offering to fans, we had the pleasure of sitting down with frontman James McGovern. Breaking down the album, in terms of conceptualism and the mental space the group were at during the album’s genesis – we were provided an in-depth insight into the inner workings of The Murder Capital.

Head below to read the interview…

How are you? Where are we talking to you today?

I’m good today. A little bit stuck inside last night’s dreams, but that’s ok. I’m in London this morning.

Firstly, where did the name ‘The Murder Capital’ come from?

When exactly The Murder Capital came to me as the band name I don’t remember. But at the beginning we used to play under my name – James McGovern – and as the project became more collaborative it felt like we were becoming a band. I had the name, and it was around this time that my friend, the poet and artist Paul Curran passed away. It felt like that gave weight to the name, as if his death had been murder, due to the lack of support for mental illness in Ireland.

How did the writing and recording process for Gigi’s Recovery differ from When I Have Fears

WIHF was written at warp speed, in relation to the final formation of the band. The 5 of us got together in the Summer of ’18 and we were in the studio the following February. We didn’t know each other but we had already been through a lot together so it was an incredibly chaotic and emotion-driven time. Flood, the producer of WIHF, is a deeply searching creative. Would pull at and be drawn into whatever energies and feelings we brought with us into the studio on that day, which at the time, were often unpredictable and painful. It was the immediate stranglehold of griefs through and through.

The writing of Gigi’s Recovery was spent mostly in lockdown in rural Ireland. So we had a lot of time to iron out any of the bullshit between us that needed to be ironed out, a lot of time to look inward, to confront our shadow, and this filtered through into the narrative of the record itself. To take ownership of one’s past, to be able to look to the future. A huge amount of the writing of Gigi had to do with the world building of our new sound, to evolve and to move forward. Life and the music demanded more colour, more textures and the imagination, at times, was the only place to be.

The recording of Gigi took place in La Frette Studios, Paris. With John Congleton as producer, we were whipped into shape in some regard. It quickly became an exercise in learning what it really means to trust each other in a creative capacity. John showed us how creative decisions can be made in minutes, rather than months. And furthermore, everything got done. It sounds pragmatic, and mostly, especially in the first week, it was. But as we got a deeper understanding of how to work with each other we were able to focus more prominently on the narrative and the soul of Gigi’s Recovery.

Can you describe the concept behind the album’s title, ‘Gigi’s Recovery’?

The concept itself is something that revealed itself to us slowly over the two years. At the beginning there was nothing but the name. Something that sounded intriguing and felt like greater meaning could be applied to it. As time went on and I realised more and more that the record was a reflection of life around us at the time, and a process of looking inward, to make fundamental changes within oneself, I was able to take the wheel, on what felt like someone else’s drive for a certain period. In order to recover, to change, to take ownership, as I understand it, one must surrender to the need for that change. The story of Gigi’s Recovery is about returning to a place of strength. To a place better than you could have expected. Better than you were at your best, before.

How did the band’s identity as individuals and as a group shape the making of Gigi’s Recovery do you think?

It’s everything. It’s all in that question. I would say that Gigi’s Recovery is shaped by the band’s identity as individuals, and as a group.

Can you discuss the significance of the opening mantra, “Existence fading Existence fading Existence Exist Existence fading Existence fading Existence…”? And then how it ties to the finish on a track called “Exist”?

The record starts off in an existential crisis, burdened heavily by the need for control. I think we are looking to control so many things that we simply can’t. “Exist” is the outcome of the record, the desired place of momentum where one can simply exist, and no longer needs to constantly question what it’s all about.

How did the first single, “Only Good Things,” fit into the overall narrative of the album? It was a significant shift in sound from before, taking a few people by surprise, perhaps dividing a previous audience. Was it a deliberate decision to surprise people?

It’s a love song, written from a place of isolation, a love imagined. It’s a true feeling that came through the room when writing this record. We felt it was a re-opening statement that said “you can’t be sure of what to expect from us, ever.”

Can you discuss the development and meaning of “A Thousand Lives”?

“A Thousand Lives” began as a poem I wrote, it’s meaning to me is that of heartache within the space of love. “A thousand lives with you and I won’t be enough”. I find it can be heartbreaking to look at the person you truly love. Knowing that one day this will all come to an end. It invigorates the fragility of the present moment for me.

How does the song “The Stars Will Leave Their Stage” relate to the overall theme of Gigi’s Recovery?

The Stars is looking at some of the working parts of deceit and mortality. It’s a what if scenario, what if everything was taken away? What if life ceased to be? Within the story of Gigi it’s a moment of existential reflection to me.

Can you describe the evolution of the album’s songs and the writing process over the two-year period? How much did it change? Was there material that didn’t make the cut or songs you’ll return to?

At the beginning the majority of the process was focused on the new instruments and pedals that Irv and Pump had brought into the room. There were endless conversations about texture, colour and atmosphere. We were pulling in very different directions at the beginning, which caused some intense arguing and fallouts, but we quickly realised that even though we were pulling in different directions we were actually working toward a common goal, and that was to evolve, and to change.

After three months in Dublin, we then spent around 10 months writing in rural Ireland, just trying to survive the process in many ways. It was mostly lockdown and the only other person we saw was the girl in the nearby town that made us a coffee. Her name was Hope. You couldn’t write it.
After this period we moved to London for 6 more months writing, and that environment injected a large amount of pulse and energy into the record. The last bit of writing took place in Slane Castle, that’s where we dug “Ethel” back up (previously got the chop), so it was a very fruitful couple of weeks we had there. Everything came together over three weeks of magic in La Frette Studios, Paris.

How does the album’s nonlinear narrative reflect the writing process and the band’s personal experiences?

That’s life. It throws you around, it gives you gold while it nicks your best friend. The unexpected is the human experience.

How does the track “Return My Head” fit into the concept of Gigi’s Recovery? When in the writing process did this one land out of interest?

This was the last track we wrote. It was born from frustration and isolation. I wanted to reclaim my sanity, and more than anything I wanted to be back on the road. Feeling the energy that only the live show can bring.

Can you discuss the theme of desire in the album, particularly in the track “Only Good Things”?

Romantic desire and desire for personal change is a constant thread throughout the narrative. Imagining love and self-assuredness was the only way to move forward within the isolation we all found ourselves.

How does it feel to be getting over to America for the first time this year, especially in the light of the last dates being cut cruelly short in the wake of the debut?

This is the beginning of The Murder Capital shows as you’ve never seen them before. America is a touchstone for all of us, and we have not only unfinished business, but the beginnings of a long and loving relationship with all corners of that giant landscape to get underway. Cannot fucking wait!

Lastly, what’s next for you?

Now, it’s us and the road. Bringing the best show, night after night is the sole focus. Writing album 3 is about to begin. Enjoying being in love, more than ever.

To listen to The Murder Capital’s new album “Gigi’s Recovery”, head below…


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