Metaphorically speaking, the word "rubicon" means to cross a point of no return. For a while it seemed Gypsies on the Autobahn had hurdled over their personal river of no return. "In the lead up to writing Rubicon," the band says, "Niall [Mooney] and James [Smith] had come to blows and were not speaking to each other." Mooney came to the band with a bass line, and the silence broke. This internal conflict would eventually give way to one of the most musically triumphant singles the Dublin-based rock band have ever released.
"Rubicon" is the fourth single from Gypsies on the Autobahn's sophomore album Suspended. It's seductive and exquisitely layered, percussive and driving in direct juxtaposition to the finality of its lyrics.
The track's visual companion was written and directed by lead singer James Smith. He appears, confrontational and cocky, beneath a metronomic lightbulb. "Rubicon" is full of surrealist influence, telling the tale of how conflict can fester when left untouched. Onlookers follow a couple who cannot—or will not—speak, through a series of pointless action: they throw punches which don't land, hang monotonously in a children's playground, sunbathe in a cityscape (despite an apparent lack of sun). And all the time, there's Smith: presiding over the couple's meaningless activity, a Beetlejuicean spectre. It's a beautiful and eccentric video, echoing the musical ethos of the song itself. Furthermore, it positions its creators in the company of Fleetwood Mac, who refused to let their inner dynamic get in the way of an intensely good album.
Gypsies on the Autobahn will be performing a headline show on November 15th at The Button Factory in Dublin. Tickets here.
Feature photo by Anthony O'Connor.