For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to THE DIVINE COMEDY’S NEIL HANNON.
The creator and founding member of The Divine Comedy, Neil has released ten studio albums with the band. He achieved his greatest commercial success in the late 1990s, with nine hit singles including ‘National Express’. He also composed the theme tunes for ‘Father Ted’ and ‘The IT Crowd’.
With an eleventh album on release this month, Neil talks to HuffPostUK about the people who keep his feet on the ground, and why he’s found it works to ignore any advice he’s been given...
What do you do to switch off from the world?
This is a terrible admission for a man who’s meant to be all literary and stuff, but I generally play computer games! Not blood-soaked shoot’em’ups, mind. I like strategy games like Civilization and various Napoleonic War era things. Oh, and Super Stickman Golf!
How do you deal with negativity?
I think I tend to run away from it. I certainly run away from horrific news stories. I simply can’t bear to think about it. That any human beings could perpetrate such horrors. So I refuse to talk about it. Probably something to do with growing up in Northern Ireland, I guess.
Regarding negativity being aimed towards me or my work, it’s all water off a duck’s back. I couldn’t care less what other people think. It’s the only way to exist as an artist.
When and where are you happiest?
I think I am truly happiest when I’m throwing the ball for Molly in our back garden. Molly’s my favourite of our four dogs. I know you’re not meant to have favourites, but she’s just the best (and she knows it).
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
This is terrible, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I’d taken most of the advice I’ve ever been given. I just didn’t believe that anyone really knew any better than I did. And I think I’ve been vindicated in this assumption.
Having said that, my mother made many common sense suggestions about personal hygiene, that I have since found out to be spot on!
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Don’t place limitless trust in accountants.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Don’t worry that you can’t talk to girls yet (or anyone really). You are entirely on the right track. And one day you really will have four dogs. Four!
What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
- Pay the gardener.
- Pay the cleaner.
- Find a plumber (then pay them).
What do you think happens when we die?
Um… we die…
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
When standing next to a horse.
What do you try to bring to your relationships?
Honesty. Loyalty. Humour.
What keeps you grounded?
My daughter, my girlfriend, and my animals. Especially when cleaning up their vomit. The animal’s vomit, that is!
What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
The pilot of the aircraft that took me to London last night decided most graciously not to plunge us all into a mountain. For this I am most tremendously grateful. I sincerely hope whoever flies me home tonight is as kind!
NB, I am not what you’d call a ‘good flyer’.
The Divine Comedy’s ‘Foreverland’ will be on release from 2 September, with a European tour to follow from October to February. Click here for tickets and info.