a short site about The Divine Comedy

Webchat

Divine Comedy are back with a new album called 'Regeneration' and a new single 'Love What You Do'. Neil & Miggy joined us for some pop gossip.

Here's the first question.

Question from Frances: Hello Neil! Which do you prefer most - recording, performing or promoting?

Neil: I prefer one after the other! The great thing about this job is that it's multifaceted, and if - when - you get bored with one, you go on and do the next. I don't hate promotion, but it is the least creative aspect of the job. But webchats are the new rock'n'roll!

Question from Neil R: Do you use the Internet much yourselves? Do you ever visit any Divine Comedy websites?

Neil: I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. I love it when my wife is operating it because she's very good with computers - I just point at things and say can we look at that now? I've been on webchats before, but never one with a camera pointing at me!! I check out our website all the time. The bulletin board is a feast of information. Sometimes I put a note on it when someone says something particularly stupid, e.g. that I have not plagiarised such a song, and they don't believe it's me!

Question from Cathers Cox: Neil, if you were to meet Scott Walker, your idol (still I hope!) what would you ask him?

Neil: I would ask him what I asked him when I met him! I met Scott when we were making an album with Ute Lemper, and he was very polite and very nice. But strangely enough I wasn't as awe-struck as I thought I might be, probably because he's not a very awesome person! All I remember about Scott is that I had a paper cup in my hand when I started the conversation, and when I finished, it was lying in a pool of water beside me!

Question from Gary Clark: I've got a ticket for your Shepherds Bush concert in 3 weeks. Will there be a mix of old favourites and new songs performed?

Neil: We've been trying to integrate the old stuff into the new way of playing. It works better for some songs than others !

Miggy: Certainly.

Question from Kamilla: How long did it take you to write this album?

Miggy: It took quite a while really. N eil came in with the songs in an acoustic guitar. It didn't take too long for my parts.

Neil: A lot of the arrangements really only came together in the studio under the guidance of our producer Nigel Godrich.

Question from Toby: Your lyrics are far more sophisticated and literary than 99.9% of music. Has poetry been an inspiration to you?

Neil: I hate to say it but I don't really like poetry that much!

Miggy: I'm not a great fan either. But I like your lyrics!.

Neil: It annoys me when people say that pop lyrics are the new poetry. I think if they were, we wouldn't need to make lots of music to cover them up with.

Miggy: I would liken most pop lyrics to nursery rhymes rather than poetry!

Question from BigDiv: Apart from yours, what's the perfect love song?

Neil: One of the best is 'God Only Knows' by the Beach Boys. I like it when he says 'I may not always love you'! 'Perfect Love Song' was written ten years ago, but I've only just found the right words.

Question from Steve: On a scale of one to ten, how much do you hate 'My Lovely Horse'?

Neil: I like it! Ten out of ten!. I mean 0 out of 10! I really like it, but that doesn't mean you have to keep shouting for it at gigs.

Question from James E: Do you have a favourite track on the new album?

Miggy: I've got three. 'Bad Ambassador', 'Eye of the Needle' and 'Beauty Regime', but that's in no particular order. I like 'Beauty Regime' because it's got a lovely rhythm - it's got a Percy Sledge style backing track. 'Bad Ambassador' is great fun to play, and 'Eye of the Needle', because the lyrics are cool. And I quite dig Rob's drum playing on that.

Neil: Mine are - 'Mastermind', because there are so many words in it and they all make sense. I also like 'Love What You Do', because it's the strangest song on the album, and we released it as the first single. We did that because sonically it sounded like the album the most, and we didn't want to give people a false impression of what the album would sound like.It was also a bit of a challenge to the public, really. Can you dig it?

Question from Cassandra Broughton: You recently said that most music in the charts was s***. Do any of the bands around take your fancy or is your disliking universal?

Neil: Chart acts? I can't think of anything in particular. One of the few recognised acts that I liked in the last few years was All Saints, and they are no more. The charts are dominated by rubbish techno. Miggy: And a lot of manufactured bands too, but you've got people like Travis and Coldplay, whose albums I quite like. Neil: There's a lot of stuff happening outside the chart.

Question from Christina: What was the inspiration for writing 'In Pursuit of Happiness' - isn't that also the theme to Tomorrow's World? I love your music!

Miggy: Not any more!

Neil: They pulled it from the programme! Basically, I wrote the chord, but they used Joby's bit of it for Tomorrow's World. We wrote the song because I was in Keith's flat in Camberwell, and me and Brian were in the front room and I said writing songs is easy. He said it's really hard, so to prove it was easy, I wrote 'In Pursuit of Happiness'.

Question from Jeff: Who was the best Doctor Who?

Miggy: Tom Baker without a doubt!.

Neil: Is this a 'Regeneration' question? I think he wins every time. He was the zenith of both the cerebral and the more populist aspects of Dr Who.

Miggy: He was a bit scatty too, and I don't feel Jon Pertwee had that edge.

Question from Zoid1: Do you have any plans for other collaborations? Your stuff with Michael Nyman and Tom Jones was much appreciated

Neil: Thank you! No! We did so many collaborations over the last three or four years, that we felt it was taking away from the job in hand. There is now a moratorium on all collaborations.

Question from Billy Boy: I've heard that you speak fluent French. Is this true? And did you really banter with the audience in French one time? If so...respect!

Neil: I'm afraid nothing could be further from the truth! I'm extremely monolingual.

Question from Ricky: Be honest - would you love to have a No.1 single or do chart positions really not matter?

Miggy: It would be nice! I think everyone would like a No.1 but I don't think it's that important. I'd prefer a No.1 album.

Neil: We've had numerous Top 20 songs, but just one top ten.

Question from Lynn Walsh: Why does Neil always get the limelight?

Miggy: Cos he's so lovely - look at him!. He's got a great voice, and he's the frontman! Plus he's a talented musician. I don't think anyone in the band minds.

Neil: We've made an attempt to change people's perceptions with this album. I wrote the songs, but there's an awful lots of bands where one person writes the songs.

Miggy: With any band, the singer will get the limelight, whether they write the music or not. It's difficult to think of exceptions.

Question from Rachael: What is your new album called? I can't find it anywhere?

Neil: It's called 'Regeneration'.

Miggy: You should find it at your local record store from Monday 12th March 2001.

Question from Cath: What was 'Sweden' all about, then? And don't say it was about Sweden?

Neil: It was about Sweden. Hahaha.Well, it was.

Miggy: We'd just been to Sweden. We did a festival, and we thought, wow, this place is wonderful.

Neil: It's just one of those places that I've always been a bit fixated on. The REAL reason... Sweden in the song, is a metaphor for the perfect life. It's a grass is always greener on the other side type of song. And saunas are cool! Not literally!

Question from Lorna Hutchison: Which other artists from Ireland do you admire?

Miggy: I listened to that Paddy Casey album the other day, and thought it was really nice. And I like the David Gray album.

Neil: He's Welsh!

Cassandra: No he's not! David Gray is from Manchester.

Neil: Ash. U2. Daniel O'Donnell.

Question from Ross: Who would you rather be: Noel Coward or Evelyn Waugh? Or are you happiest being a combination of the two?

Neil: I'm happier being Neil Hannon, believe it or not! Both of the above are actually in the grave, and I'm happily still alive.

Question from Lorna Huchison: Can I just mention that Neil is drop dead gorgeous! And the accent! Oh my god.

Neil: Oh my God!

Question from Dante: What do you think of Eminem?

Neil: I personally like him quite a lot. I probably don't listen quite hard enough to get the non-PC bits.

Miggy: But they're always bleeped out aren't they?!

Neil: Not on the album! He's very lucid, and probably very clever.

Question from The future Mrs Hannon: Are you enjoying this chat so far?

Miggy: It's just got a bit dodgy now...

Neil: So, the future Mrs Hannon...are you intending to marry my brother or my father?!

Question from Rosey: Did you write "You" about Órla? (hope I've spelt her name right). And will you ever grow back the beard?

Neil: I wrote 'You' about Órla and about Leia, but it wasn't quite well written enough to go on the album. As for the beard, I will grow it back over my wife's dead body!

Question from Faye: What WAS in the woodshed? Was it a cheeky lil' metaphor?

Miggy: Lots of wood!

Neil: For once in my life, it wasn't a metaphor for anything. It was just funny!

Question from Kris: Have you had any recent gigs you'd like to do over again?

Miggy: Belfast.

Neil: That was really good, it was the Empire in Belfast.

Miggy: I liked the Royal Festival Hall, with the orchestra.

Question from Cathers Cox: Will you ever come back to St Mary In the Castle in Hastings?

Neil: That was a once in a lifetime gig! It was really just a warm-up show, but it was a very interesting building. I'd like to go back in a tourist capacity!

Question from Cathers Cox: Then come back! I'll put you up for the night and bring you breakfast in bed!

Neil: This is all making me a little nervous...

Question from Clare: Do you think they should cull Westlife cos of the foot-and-mouth?!

Miggy: Absolutely, yes! It doesn't matter about foot-and-mouth - just cull 'em anyway!

Neil: But save the cows.

Question from Don: Just wondering whether you are ever coming to Leicester to do a show?

Neil: Rob, our percussionist, was very disappointed when we told him the Leicester show had been cancelled..We couldn't fit it into the schedule. He is a Leicester boy - blue through and through! Born in the shadow of Philbert Street!

Question from Chris Jones: When will people learn that you are better than all the other s*** in the charts?

Neil: Probably when hell freezes over, and when Órla allows me to grow a beard!

Question from Steve Hulse: What books are you reading at the moment?

Miggy: Ancient Mysteries - a big hardback book I got for Christmas.

Neil: 'What a Carve Up' by Jonathan Coe!

Question from Kirsty Passfield: If you weren't in this job, what job would you be in?

Neil: I'll give my usual answer - I'd probably be making wicker baskets in the local craft shop in Enniskillen.

Miggy: I used to be a graphic designer, so I'd probably be doing the same. But that's a scary thought!

Neil: Not as scary as making wicker baskets!

Miggy: True!

BBC Host: Here are Divine Comedy with their final words...

Neil: Beloved fans, it has been a pleasure to communicate with you through the super technological wonder that is the Internet. Remember to visit our website and all those people who want my body, be patient little ones! Órla, I'll be back for tea!

Miggy: Nice to speak to you all. Hope to see you at the gigs.


BBC 08/03/2001