a short site about The Divine Comedy

My Bizarre Life

Cool crooner Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy writes songs about Michael Caine, frog princesses and, on A Short Album About Love, sings about the pleasures of cleaning out horses’ stables. Now he waxes lyrical for our Bizarre questionaire.

Mr Divine Comedy, which comedian would you like to hang around in purgatory with, and why?
Eddie Izzard, of course. He’d make purgatory seem quite beautifully silly and keep amusing me with his outfits and make-up. I would sing him epic songs about how nice life was – which he would love!

What’s your favourite ‘urban myth’?
The one about me being a Casanova.

What or who would you like to see appearing in a freak show?
Lilley and Portillo in various Mapplethorpian poses – y’know, with full whips and PVC.

Musically, what is the weirdest lyric you have written, and what inspired it?
‘I love you’ – I lied.

What is the oddest thing that has ever happened to you when performing?
A young Frenchman dropped his trousers and wiggled his thing around behind a cellist’s head during a show of ours in Nice.

Ever had any strange sexual propositions?
A woman once suggested I have sex with her. That was weird. I proposed a nice cup of tea instead.

The Tanna – a tribe of reformed cannibals in the South Pacific – eat Spam because the taste is the nearest thing to eating people. What do you think you taste like?
All you’d get is a mouthful of bone and sinew if you tried chewing me. Not nice at all.

Tell us about your strange personal habits.
If I told you they wouldn’t be very personal any more, now would they?

Would you ever clone yourself?
Gladly. There could be one of me for gigs, one for press, one for writing, one for recording and one the real one – could fuck off and have a life.

Who or what else would you clone?
Cloning is immoral, evil, pointless, sick and wholly wrong.

What is the strangest thing you have ever spent money on?
I once forked out £600 pounds for a video camera in Nantes in France, only to find it all came out in black and white when played in the UK. Doh!

Has anyone thrown their knickers at you on stage?
Yeah. Her name was Caroline: it was written in bold print across the red undies with two different phone numbers – work and home. I didn’t actually phone either of them. I am going to frame them, though: my first pair of undies thrown on stage, they’ve got to be framed. They’ll go on my bog wall with my first Melody Maker cover.

Were you tempted to ring the numbers?
Not at all. I was just very tired and I wanted to go back to my coffin in the bus. The tour bus is sixteen ‘coffins’ all in a row. I fit quite cosily into them because I’m not a big guy. But it can be a bit tricky if you do feel a bit flirty one night – it’s just logistically difficult.

You must have had some strange brief encounters.
I had to meet Keith [the boss of Neil’s record company, Setanta Records] somewhere on Oxford Street, and I was waiting in what I though was some perfectly reasonable attire. I happened to have a sleeping bag under my arm - because I was in between people’s floors, as I usually was – and this kind lady came up to me and said “Here you are, go and buy yourself a meal.” I went, “No, no, I’m not on the streets.” She said “Go on, take it.” “No, honestly,” I said, “Give it to someone who really deserves it” – because I’m that sort of a guy.

You should have taken it.
It was only a quid. I was waiting for the tenners to come along.

Sometimes you’re clean-shaven, sometimes you have a beard. What is better?
It’s funny. Kissing people is odd with a beard. It’s not different for me but other people certainly react peculiarly. Some of them go “Uurrgh!” and never touch me again, whereas others seem to find it quite comforting and like a small furry animal.
It gets better. To begin with it is unbearable, it’s so itchy, but at the time I was so pissed off with everything that I didn’t care. And then it grew out; it was like growing pains. There’s a period after about three or four weeks where you can feel it sort of getting to know its region, and then it’s fine after that.

Do you see yourself as a beardy weirdy?
No, although I suppose I must be getting more and more like a Seventies geography teacher by the second.

With a beard, do you see yourself more as Judas or Jesus?
I think I’d rather have the moral high ground and be Jesus; just so I could feel kind of self righteous.

But he died aged 33.
Well I’m a rock ’n’ roller you know, I’m obviously going to die before 33. Pah! 33 – that’s ancient!

Seen any bizarre films?
In The Realm Of The Senses. It’s Japanese. It consists mostly of this wealthy geezer shoving lychees up his concubine’s thingy. I was watching it with my then-girlfriend in Montpellier and it was on French national television at about 9pm. That’s what the French are like – “It’s art; it must be good.” Who cares if a six-year-old is watching? I was there going, “Hmmm, interesting.”

What three things sum up the word ‘bizarre’ for you?

Claire Coakley
Bizarre Magazine 2, 05-06/1997