Music Features Writer
5:57 PM 19th November 2017
Interview With The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy formed in 1989. The band formed in Northern Ireland and are fronted by Neil Hannon who has been the only constant member of the group. Many remember the band for their top ten hit, National Express.
The band are about to start a tour which visits Leeds o2 Academy on Thursday 23 November. Neil Hannon is looking forward to coming back to Leeds as you will discover in the interview below.
THE BAND ARE COMING BACK TO LEEDS ON THIS TOUR, DO YOU HAVE GOOD MEMORIES OF THE CITY?
I love Leeds, there is something cosy about it compared to other cities as it is quite compact. I like to have a potter around the city. I remember playing a gig at the City Varieties which worked well for us, though I felt the audience were a little too comfortable in those plush seats, it all felt too velvety and at times it felt like we were trying to wake up the audience.
I watched an episode of The Good Old Days afterwards and it felt good to have trod the boards, so to speak.
HOW DO YOU COMPILE THE SET LIST?
We try to keep in a lot of the songs that cross over and also try to dig up some old stuff to keep it interesting both for the audience and also the musicians in the band. We keep the same set list every night so that there is a beginning, middle and ending.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT MUSIC SCENE?
I find it very confusing. I delve into the singles charts every so often and think, "Where are the songs?" It is weird and bizarre at the same time because most of the tracks are just noises, I'm beginning to sound like my grandmother now! I suppose what I was listening to when I was 15 sounded the same to older people.
With Autotune in the recording studio it can make anyone sound a good singer and that ends up with everyone sounding identical. It effects other artists to sound pitch perfect, I think it is good to allow the flaws in your voice, it is more genuine.
HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELLED WITH NATIONAL EXPRESS?
Oh yes, I was on it for most of the early 90's so I knew of what I spoke. I had a French girlfriend at the time and I took her on the National Express bus down to see my brother in Exeter, she saw it through new eyes.
ARE YOU TEMPTED TO GO OUT ON TOUR WITH OTHER ACTS FROM THE PERIOD WHEN THE BAND STARTED?
Not really, I have nothing against what they do, most of these acts have stopped making music so it makes sense for them to go out on a package tour, but I've never stopped making and recording new music. I have a wonderful fan base and I am amazed by how tenacious they are, so no I'm not ready to go out on one of these package tours just yet.
IS THERE ANY ARTIST YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH?
I have been fortunate to work with some great artists that I admire such as Michael Nyman and Tom Jones. Tom tells some amazing and brilliant stories which are hair raising! I did a track on his Reload album where we did a cover of the Portishead track, All Mine. It was hard to get the vocal just right so I ended up showing him how the vocal went.
Afterwards Tom said to me "that was the hardest song to sing since Burt Bacharach taught me how to sing What's New Pussycat".
DO YOU GET TO ANY GIGS YOURSELF THESE DAYS?
Not as many as I used to do, I went to more when living in Dublin but it is more difficult now living out in the countryside. I went to see Ennio Morricone on his last visit to Ireland, great stuff. The encores took up most of the night as it took him so long to shuffle on and off the stage each time.
THE TITLE OF YOUR LAST ALBUM IS FOREVERLAND, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Everyone has this ideal plan of where they want to get to and then stay there, it is what you attain for, what you are longing for but when you get there it might not be what you want.
The band play Leeds o2 Academy on Thursday 23 November 2017