FONDA Interview: “I’ve been writing the FONDA album. I’m getting there.”

FONDA

FONDA’s latest EP No Begonias is out now.

Irish garage rock outfit FONDA have been one of the shining lights of the Irish rock scene for a while now. Capable of crafting honest and heartfelt but extremely hooky garage rock, the band, led by vocalist/guitarist Liam O’Connor, released a succession of extremely impressive singles, the highlight of which was the lilting ‘Dreaming’, and an EP titled Social Services before a bit of a hiatus. This year, the group returned and raised the bar even higher with their three song EP No Begonias.

We wanted to know what caused the delay between releases and what the band’s plans for the future are so we had a bit of a chat with Liam all about it. Have a listen and read below.

Overblown: The new EP is called ‘No Begonias’. What’s your beef with begonias? 🙂

Liam: No beef with begonias, the opposite in fact; I love them. There was a crop at the back of my old house that unfortunately failed to bloom last summer and I guess that coincided with other failures to bloom.

Overblown: It has been quite a while since your last release. Why the delay?

Liam: Well the FONDA path has never run smoothly. The original three-piece ended in early 2017 when Laura and Patrick set sail to find fortune at the far side of the Atlantic. I subsequently joined Limerick outfit Slow Riot until it’s unfortunate demise in 2018. At that point, I felt like I could restart FONDA as a vehicle for my own songwriting. I’ve been blessed to have many musicians play under the banner in the meantime, but I did have one very consistent line up last year and I got that group into the studio last summer. The songs are a couple of years old at this point so it has been good to get them out.

Overblown: What inspired this new set of songs musically?

Liam: This particular EP owes a lot sonically to the musicians that played as FONDA last year. They are John Ahern (Hey Rusty) on lead guitar, Sean O’Mahony (Inner City Radio) on Bass and Paul Cosgrave (formerly of Slow Riot) on drums. All the lads contributed hugely to the music from a writing perspective throughout. John wrote those particularly tasty guitar lines on ‘The Way Out’ and I think they are the makings of it. I really only brought the songs to the rehearsal room in a basic format and we thrashed them out as a band. Chris Quigley (Cruiser) who produced and Micheal Keating (Bleeding Heart Pigeons) who mixed the EP also played a huge part. The next record will again sound slightly different as a new set of players will be on board.

Overblown: What inspired this new set of songs lyrically?

Liam: I always write based on the space and time that I’m in, so it’s tricky to answer this given that two of the songs are almost three years old. I’m also not too keen on the idea of revealing exact meaning. People can derive what they wish from them. Generally, themes are based around letting go and being brave enough not to waste the time we have. 2020 has helped us all on that front anyway.

Overblown: What inspires you outside of music?

Liam: I’ve fallen completely in love with the poetry of Paul Durcan, he has a way of being wry and honest and blunt and hilarious all in one line. I think he’s a national treasure. My close friend Eamon O’Riordan has recently had some brilliant short fiction writing published and to watch somebody go from the slog of kitchen table writing to recognition by the respected peers is hugely inspirational.

Overblown: How have you been occupying your time during the lockdown?

Liam: I’ve been slowly working my way through the entire filmographies of Liam Neeson and Nicolas Cage in an attempt to define the moment when they became the same human. I plan to reveal my findings on an EP in the distant future.

That has taken up much of my time but I’ve also been writing the FONDA album, it’s a slow process but I am getting there.

Overblown: At this point, you have released a number of excellent EPs and singles. Are there any plans for a full-length album?

Liam: Yes is the answer here. In the short term, however, you can expect a new single in late October featuring a whole new FONDA line up. I think it might be my favourite release thus far.

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