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Baker's Dozen

Batting Order: Neil Hannon's Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , July 4th, 2013 08:11

The Divine Comedy man picks out the gems in his record collection following the release of his second album with The Duckworth Lewis Method this week


Kraftwerk - The Man·Machine
I think I was definitely one of the people who saw an excerpt on Tomorrow's World on Kraftwerk in 1975, and they were saying this is the mental, extreme edge of music, where they're doing it all with electronics and Kraftwerk were just about the only band who did this. Before The Human League, you would have heard 'Autobahn' on the radio occasionally, and maybe 'The Model', but that's about it, if you were lucky. And it was looked upon as really out there. It's more naturally linked with classical music, synth-pop, whereas rock & roll came from a different branch of music.

I don't think I actually bought The Man Machine until I was 14 or 15, probably six or seven years after it was released. There's an awful lot of records that I love that I didn't really give a proper listen to until I was in my early twenties. I think there's a lot of fear in music, and listening to music, and a lot of people not wanting to go outside of their comfort zone. I remember when I was 12 or 13, my elder brother listening to some very strange music that he would have heard off John Peel or something, and I would half listen out of the corner of my ear and then run away, because it was so alien to me! It's only with time and with age and experience that you let yourself listen to things that would've sent you running in the old days.

I've seen them live twice. The first time, I think I almost wet myself, it was at Tribal Gathering in 1997. It was the first time they'd performed in years and it was like a whole generation had come through absolutely worshipping Kraftwerk and suddenly they were back on the scene. The five minutes in that steaming tent were just the most exciting moments - the whole crowd was just feeling and waiting that this is finally going to happen after years and years. Then the curtains finally opened with the vocoder'ed voice and everybody just completely wet themselves - brilliant! They really give it some on stage, don't they - show men! It's all pretty static, but you wouldn't want it any other way.

Did your love of the album help you write the music for Fathers Tiernan, Rafter, Cafferty and Leonard's Kraftwerk tribute in Father Ted?

Yes, definitely! Any opportunity I get to make synth music, I jump at the chance. To be honest, when I've tried, for The Divine Comedy, it doesn't ever really work. I need to stick to the framework in which my voice works best, the orchestral sort of thing, but yeah if get the chance on TV shows to do crazy synthesiser music, then I'm always happy. Like the theme music to The IT Crowd, which is me giving it my Gary Numan.

Did Graham Linehan ask for Kraftwerk in particular?

Yes, and then he put me through hell [laughs]! With Father Ted, it was so random that nobody knew what they were doing - I literally gave them two pieces of music and they chose one of them. When it came to The IT Crowd, Graham was far too successful to let me get away with that - I think I did about 13 or 14 different versions. But, you know, it's not that I don't enjoy it or anything, and they even give me some money at the end!