"A Hero's Death" finds frontman Grian Chatten delivering some life advice for himself. "They are principles for self-prescribed happiness that can often hang by a thread," he explained in a press release.
Chatten wrote the post-punk anthem because of his anxiety over following up Fontaines D.C.'s successful debut album Dogrels. He penned the lyrics to allay his fears of not being able to do the same again.
Chatten barks his list of rules in the verses ("When you speak, speak sincere. And believe me friend, everyone will hear.") On the chorus he repeats the mantra, "Life ain't always empty," inspired by the repetition of advertising slogans.
"It's ostensibly a positive message," he explained, "but with repetition comes different meanings, that's what happens to mantras when you test them over and over."
Asked by the BBC whether he's repeating "Life ain't always empty" as a statement of fact or as an attempt to convince himself of its truth, Chatten admitted he's unsure. "I purposefully keep the things I write open to interpretation, even to myself," he explained.
The video co-stars Aiden Gillen (Game Of Thrones' Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelis) as a chat show host. Chatten told the BBC, "I'd heard he was a fan. He'd come to see us once or twice, so we asked him to do it. We didn't have much of a budget, but he just said we could buy him a pint."
This is the title track of Fontaines D.C's second album. The record's name comes from Brendan Behan's 1958 play An Giall (The Hostage), a satirical critique of Irish nationalism.
Chatten explained to Mojo magazine: "The original Behan line is 'You're all in the running for a hero's death.' The Hostage does that beautiful thing that a lot of good writing does where it takes a principal, and has a bunch of characters who believe in the principal really strongly, and then abstracts it and refills it for something that might be a farce or a fallacy. It calls into question the validity of a principal. The song A Hero's Death sort of does that to, the way it goes from minor key to major, and repeating the lyric 'Life ain't always empty,' calls into question whether it's sincere or sarcastic. I like that ambiguity."