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he Divine Comedy is Neil Hannon, timeless dude, snappy dresser, clever wordsmith, humourist and gifted musician. He’s been

making music for 30 years - you may know him from his theme tune to the IT Crowd, perennial favourite My Lovely Horse, or even spotted him singing at the recent Bowie Prom. Or how ‘bout that great song, National Express? So many bangers. Anyway. Te Divine Comedy have got a brand new album out this month and it’s chuffing brilliant. Tey’re also playing at Open, so I grabbed the opportunity to speak to Neil himself about Te Jungle Book, donkeys and buses.

12 / October 2016/

You were born in Northern Ireland back in the 70’s, and your dad was a Bishop. Were hymns your first experience of music, and did you grow up in a musical household? I did grow up with church music but it wasn’t rammed down my throat – we just went to church on Sundays. I was in the choir eventually, and it was a good way of working out harmonies, and how the different parts weave in and out of each other. But really my first experience of music was listening to Te Jungle Book. I think Te Bare Necessities has had a large influence on my work! Can you remember back to when you wrote your very first songs? Kind of, it’s all a bit blurry now but I started trying to write things when I was 12 or 13. It only took about five or six years for them to be listenable! It’s hard, writing songs, and I think people these days warble a bit and pretend they’ve written a song. You’ve got to put a bit more work in than that, and I think I’ve done my time. Tirty years, man and boy! Your new album Foreverland has just come out – why that title? God, I have no idea why! Tat’s funny isn’t it! I have no memory of that occasion. Usually I can pinpoint where things come from but not that one. Perhaps it happened in a dream and assigned itself to the album when I wasn’t looking! Tere are a lot of titles out that end in ‘land’… Wonderland, Adventureland, things like that…so I was a bit dubious but when we’d finished the artwork no other title felt appropriate. It does kind of sum up the idea of the album. You wrote, arranged and produced this album yourself. Do you have some choice people that you trust to run the songs past whilst you’re working on them other than the band? Oh I never play them to those guys! Ha Ha! Tey can just bloody play them! I trust my own ears more than anyone else’s, I have to say that. It’s not ego, it’s just it’s my record and I know what I like, so if it’s not fulfilling the criteria of making me happy then it’s not right. I occasionally play them to my girlfriend who’s also a singer, but she’s just ridiculously harsh! It’s slightly dispiriting. And I also play them to my manager Natalie, who’s more a voice of the people and of radio, saying “you can’t say that in a song’!. But I ignore most people. It’s been six years since the last Te Divine Comedy album – how long have you been working on these songs?

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