Birmingham Mail: There’s A Method To Their Madness

A 2009 interview with Neil from the Birmingham Mail.

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Cricket Album’s Going Down A Storm.

There’s A Method To Their Madness.

THE Ashes bandwagon rolls into Birmingham next Thursday, with England squaring up against Australia at Edgbaston.

To coincide with the series, The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon has teamed up with fellow Irishman Thomas Walsh of power-pop outfit Pugwash to form The Duckworth Lewis Method and release a cricket-themed album.

The band and album are named after a scoring system used in limited-overs cricket when play is affected by bad weather.

We caught up with Neil to talk about the project.

You must be a big fan of cricket?

Yes, I love it. And there is a strong concept to the album – it’s not one I thought anyone would care very much for, but it seems to have struck a chord. I thought it might be a little too niche, but it’s a niche that tickles people. And maybe, more simply, it’s never been done before.

Are you surprised by how many people enjoy cricket?

Yes, it’s funny. People I’ve known for donkey’s years have come out of the woodwork when I’ve mentioned this album and said things like, ‘Well, did I ever tell you I played under-15s for Surrey?’, and I had no idea they were interested in the game. Certainly in Ireland, where I’m from, it’s like the love that dare not speak its name, which we’re trying to change. We’ve got a good team at the moment, so it’s important they’re not constantly relegated to the back of the newspapers.

Is your love of cricket a lifelong one?

Not really, to be honest. I was totally disinterested by most sport until I left school. I couldn’t possibly have done anything to make my peers like me! I was only obsessed with music until that stage, but I had a lot of time on my hands when I left school, for quite some time, and there’s nothing that fills time like Test cricket.

Do you like 10CC’S Dreadlock Holiday, which is probably the most famous cricket song there is?

No, I’ve never really liked that song. It’s a shame there aren’t many cricket songs around. We’ll have some gigs coming up later in the year, so we’re thinking of covering some other cricket songs as we only have one album’s worth of material to play. It’s hard finding decent ones to cover.

What is it you like about the game so much?

I think it’s the things that other people hate about it – the silly, arcane rules and the contrariness of it all. Test cricket for me is a microcosm of life itself – it’s very long, mostly pointless, has a lot of silly rules that you don’t understand and can often end with no resolution.

You’ve written a lot of other specific music – you did the Father Ted theme tune and other songs used in the series. Do you like challenges like that?

I do, I love a challenge. I see it like a musical Sudoku. The song Jiggery Pokery (referring to an infamous ball bowled by Shane Warne to Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes series, dubbed ‘The Ball Of The Century’) on the album was a big test. I wanted to see if you could write a song about one delivery, and it turns out you can.

Do you play cricket?

No, I don’t. I don’t play any sport, which is why I’m so horrendously unfit. I have a feeling I might have to play some cricket while we’re promoting this album. I’ll try anything for a good photo opportunity, and I’d look dapper in a nice cricket jumper. Just a shame I won’t be able to hit the ball. How humiliating that will be.

Birmingham Mail - Unknown