With the release of the Divine Comedy‘s 10th studio LP Bang Goes The Knighthood, Neil Hannon has gone independent, putting the album out on his own label. Between that and promotional duties he hasn’t a second these days, and although he’s not familiar with State.ie (-I don’t know about anything so don’t worry!’ he quips), he’s willing to stretch our time on the blower provided I’m -interesting enough’. If you read a lot of exclamation marks here, understand that most of the man’s utterances would end with a dry punchline and a chuckle. So without further ado, gentlemen, start you clocks…
In an interview back in the mid to late nineties, you said you wanted to be remembered as a -pop genius’…
Ha! Humble as always!
…but if I asked you today, would you want to be remembered any differently?
I stand by my former comment! Well to be honest, I’ve always fancied the idea of people singing my songs, like songs being attached to occasions, like -happy birthday’ or -happy Christmas’, and nobody really knows who wrote them. In a way that’s a kind of immortality. Immortality and the seeking of it is a major frailty of human existence. But you still have the yearning for your effect on the world to outlive you. So how do I want to be remembered? Basically, as a reasonably decent fellow who wrote some good tunes! Or pop genius depending, I don’t mind!
You’re prolific, and it seems lots of people admire that about you even if they don’t happen to necessarily like your music per se.
I always thought though if they hated my music they’d be really annoyed that I was so prolific! Go on, sorry.
In the four years of writing songs since 2006’s Victory For The Comic Muse, how did you decide which songs were for The Divine Comedy and which for Duckworth Lewis Method? Or is it less black and white?
It’s true, you’ve got a good handle on it in one way in that when I’m in writing mode I’m just sort of working on anything that comes to mind really. For a large portion of the time I was writing the musical [Swallows and Amazons] which is finally hitting the stage in November in Bristol. I just sort of make stuff, bits and pieces, it’s almost like they attract further stuff and they form themselves very gradually. And once they have lyrics attached to them they tend to become a song-type-thing and I would write the name of it into my notebook so I don’t forget that I wrote it! But there was a lot of gubbins that I had on computer, odd bits of experimental dance music and what have you, and that was generally the stuff that turned up on DLM, even if it was de-technoed beforehand. You’d be surprised how many of my tunes started out as dodgy eurodisco. I’ve always had a penchant for that kind of nonsense, and sometimes you accidentally get good tunes emerging from them.