- 20 Nov 20
Described by Hot Press' Edwin McFee as "a genuine work of art", the debut album by Cork outfit We March – entitled Fight or Flight – represents the Darwinian struggle between aggression and defence, violence and peace, denial and acceptance.
The Ireland-based band have a real international edge, with the previous financial crash, grief and emigration providing the inspiration for the new album.
“Everything fell apart, we had to leave our home and people were dying,” remembers songwriter John Paul Fitzgerald. “Isolation, illness, loss of identity and death are never far away in these songs.”
For John Paul, “Songwriting is a means of confronting the uncomfortable challenges that life throws at you and a way to find an emotional release. I don’t find writing songs easy or enjoyable; it is more a need to get to the emotional core of what I am feeling. It takes a great deal of time and effort, but ultimately it is worth it to produce something beautiful and to have that burden lifted.”
Italian lead vocalist Debora Calzaccia plays a key role in We March's success, which they partially credit to their inclusivity at a time when borders are more closed as ever.
“The coming together of We March was really like capturing lighting in a bottle, with all these unique elements falling into place. It was more than luck to have Debora’s Italian vocals, Mo Siala’s Arabic violin, Gael Robillard’s French cello, and Cathal Dennehy's percussion and vibraphone playing all come together as a unit. This enabled the cinematic sound of the songs to be realised in ways far exceeding what I had envisaged”, recalls John Paul.
Fight or Flight was recorded in a burst of creativity over a three-day period, bringing a punk edge, and an emotional intensity, to the tracks.
“We were running on adrenaline. There was so much we wanted to achieve. Our ambition drove us, and I think you can hear that on the tracks,” John Paul adds.
The album’s eleven tracks dip variously into cabaret, jazz, folk, Italian opera, baroque, lieder, Arabic folk, and even 1960s pop – all with a decidedly Gothic tinge.
The use of numerous instruments adds to the album’s character: pianos, organ, Arabic violin, Indian harmonium, cello, acoustic guitar, vibraphone, tubular bells, drums and percussion are all present and correct.
“I am very influenced by albums like Hounds of Love and Rain Dogs which have very distinct sides to them," John Paul says. "The more I listened to these songs, the more apparent it became that they represented two sides of this personal struggle.”
Side 1, titled Fight, represents the more direct, harder and up-tempo side to the album.
“The title track ‘Fight or Flight’ references my obsession with old gothic horror movies," he explains. "It has a distinctly creepy overtones to the verse, with a physical assault for the chorus. This was a song that took me by surprise. It was only after I had completed the lyric and played it for the band that I realised that the tension, nightmares and horror expressed in the song were the physical manifestations of anxiety that I had felt at stressful times in my life.”
Side 2 - Flight - takes a distinctly sombre tone.
The tryptic of ‘Destitute and Dying’, ‘Laid to Rest’ and the lead single ‘Bones’ were all written in the aftermath of the chronic and terminal illness of loved ones.
“'Bones' is a song for the Covid-19 times we live in," he confesses, "where the population is dealing with similar themes of illness and distress. As a songwriter, I tried to find catharsis in dealing with these themes head on, and hopefully the listeners will find the same relief that I did.”
With their startlingly original music, We March will leave their mark.
Listen to We March's debut album below: