His folk however aren’t the field hands and travelling minstrels of yore but the repressed middle managers and ennui-ridden urbanites of late stage capitalism. They populate tales of bad sex, half-drunk commutes and interpersonal claustrophobia delivered in Brennan’s cracked baritone, at times embarrassingly intimate, at times spuriously broad, peppered with pitch-black humour.
Brennan has performed in many guises on many stages and is known for a live show that takes the listener on a journey, turning the mirror from himself onto the audience, commanding dynamics as if conducting an orchestra not standing alone with an acoustic guitar.
Louis recounts the journey to making the album.
“I quit a job that was making me miserable and decided to make a record. After a self-enforced sabbatical from making music the proverbial muse was nipping at my ankles and inducing delusional flights of fancy during my nightly routine of libations on public transport home from work.
I handed in my notice and booked a flight to the tropics eager to reconstruct a self-image I had begun to hone as a suburban teen, a protagonist amongst the bit part actors, a fisher of men. Impossibly precocious, intolerably pretentious I’d be an off brand Hemingway taking full advantage of post-colonial economic imbalance to indulge my existential journey.
In reality, I returned to London a depressed 30-year-old, rudderless in a sea of ambition; unemployed and underqualified to do anything particularly remunerative. I sat in Victoria Park full of revulsion for myself and the ease for which it’s denizens navigated their days but beneath the uniform of the liberal bourgeoisie I saw a warren of contradictions and hypocrisy, behind the confidence I smelt the fear.
The dwindling ambitions and decommissioned hopes, radical politics and meaningful relationships all retired to the pit of the gut by quotidian compromise. Like a city within a city left abandoned there it all was, Dead Capital.
I cloistered myself in a box room, put pen to paper and worked tirelessly on demos. Rewriting and revising songs, warehousing my misanthropy and nihilism, making a safe space for my unsafe thoughts. I played to empty rooms and verbally abused the audience. They seemed to enjoy it nonetheless, I procrastinated further. The money was running out.
I was married in September. Candice Gordon and A.S. Fanning sang Dylan and Prine as forever afters were exchanged and later on at the buffet table the talk turned to recording. Candice had recently mixed her album ‘Garden of Beasts’ at Berlin’s CandyBomber Studios with Ingo Krauss (Swans, The Stooges, Einstürzende Neubauten) and was raving about this eccentric character. She suggested I get in touch.
In November I decamped to Berlin and into A.S. Fanning’s subterranean lair for rehearsals. Over the course of a week Fanning (bass), ‘Good Old Fred’ Sunesen (drums) and myself played late into the night, taking a subtractive approach to arrangement leaving only the essential components in service of the song. Myself and Fanning met with Ingo Krauss at his studio in Berlin’s old Templehof Airport, once one of the world’s largest commercial edifices; the last flight left in 2008. It’s now home to an emergency refugee centre, it seemed a fitting location to record Dead Capital. I contemplated the horror of war as I circumambulated the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.
I returned to London and worked 12 hours a day for six weeks straight serving burgers and champagne in plastic cups to upwardly mobile suburbanites on a jolly to the bright lights of Oxford St. Revelling in a frenzy of unfettered consumption like pups at a stray’s distended teat, they prepared for the arrival of their infant messiah. I bit my tongue and awaited the pay check.
Dead Capital was recorded over seven days in January 2017 at Berlin’s CandyBomber Studios. Alongside A.S. Fanning on bass and co-production duties, I was joined by Fredrik ‘Good Old Fred’ Sunesen on drums, Candice Gordon on vocals and ‘Downtown’ Dan Fitzpatrick on organ, piano and accordion. Ingo Krauss recorded us through a desk built for Herbert Van Karajan in the early 50s using a plethora of vintage microphones and pre-amps. We recorded live in a room dripping in Politburo chic and learned that sometimes the sound of failure is what you really want to hear.
We ate cheese rolls, smoked too many cigarettes and channelled the spirit of former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner. We set out not to create a product but to capture a moment in time. I like to think we did.”