There are happier things to come. Wonka’s release next year is expected to introduce Hannon to a much wider audience than ever before, though he’s declined the choice of composing his score in addition to writing his songs. “I suggest [to the director] which I shouldn’t score, because it’s a real Hollywood movie with so much money behind it. I was perfectly sure that I could write songs in this style, but I was not at all sure that I could write a score like that, which I would leave to the professionals. But I hope with the songs, I’m fully prepared to say I didn’t mess it up.
He speaks fondly of film composers such as John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Maurice Jarre. “The soundtracks that I love are the ones from yesteryear with the big, chunky bits, and they’re not so wanted or needed. It’s things like Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia that I would love to try.
Hannon expresses his optimistic enthusiasm for this year’s tour (“I don’t care about Covid, I can’t wait! I’m willing to risk everything just to get out and do a few shows”) and, although he admits that “J ‘had gotten to the point with contemporary music that “it just didn’t feel like it anymore”, he’s now enthusiastic about young indie guitar bands again, recommending newer tastes of Dry Cleaning, Wet Leg and the duo of Brighton Barbara.
When he’s not writing music, he’s a voracious reader of everything from history to the complete works of PG Wodehouse (“Some of them are now deeply not politically correct, but they come from another era”) and helps Davey with the animals. When I ask him if he is still in contact with his former collaborator and admirer Robbie Williams, Hannon laughs and says “we move in very different circles… him in Hollywood, me in shit in Kildare!”
When asked how he would sum up his work, Hannon smiles. “Tenacious, because I refuse to go away!” But on the new single, The Best Mistakes, I sing that I’m a poet, a preacher, a fool and a rake, and that pretty much sums it all up. A poet – to the best of my ability; a preacher, because I will never get rid of my father’s moralizing influence sometimes; a jerk – well, so often, because I wore the wrong clothes and said the wrong thing and made massive missteps towards important people in the music industry; and a rake – well, that’s obvious.
Charmed Life – The Best Of The Divine Comedy will be released on February 4