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"If people donít get it, thatís OK"

Mr. Divine Comedy, Neil Hannon, ponders the Millennium Bug. And wormsí spermÖ

By Danny Leigh

 

Neon, October 1998

 

Musically, how out of place do you feel in the late 90ís?

I suppose I am in something of a vacuum, thereís not much out there which Iíd call unmissable at the moment. Having said that, the album does have that epic quality thatís so popular these days. Well, stupidly epic. I canít see myself striding down the street pushing people out of the way in a video. Iím sure the first person I met would give me a good kicking.

 

Was the album really intended as a grand millennial statement?

Itís more about observing people who may be feeling that kind of millennial angst. Even ĎHere Comes The Floodí, which is the big, apocalyptic number, is more about Hollywoodís idea of an apocalypse than any sane personís. Iím not terribly alarmed about the millennium. Iím going to go to a cottage on the west coast of Ireland with a log fire and no electricity, because more than anything Iím nervous about all the computers shutting down. The idea is just to get as far away from anybody as possible.

 

Thereís a very cinematic edge to the album- is that somewhere you want to go?

I think Iím already there. If I ever found a film that I thought I could add something to, Iíd probably do it. The problem is I write film music as it is. Itís just the films arenítí there. When I listen to ĎSwedení, I already see huge Viking longboats before me, you know?

 

Do you worry about going over peopleís heads?

Thereís a layer of what I do where, you know, if people donít get it, thatís OK. I wouldnít think any less of anyone who didnít get it, or didnít want to.

 

But if you were more obvious, more people might put posters of you on their wallsÖ

Yeah, but theyíd only take them down again in no time. Iím in it for the long haul. And Iíve always like the idea of subterfuge Ė the thought of housewives in their forties humming ĎGeneration Sexí, standing by the sink singing along to "the sperm of worms" or whatever. Actually, I donít even know if worms have sperm.

 

No, they reproduce by splitting in two.

So they do. But no, you look for fame and fortune because theyíre symptoms of success, and you always want to be successful. The stardom bit itself is largely incidental. Iím not sure if Iíll know what to do with myself when Iím as big as Madonna or Prince.

 

You said Ďwhení not Ďif.í

Well, Iíve never been short of confidence.


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