On a sticky wicket with stars who don't care what you think
"Were you running?" asks Thomas Walsh, as we take a seat at Brooks Hotel on Drury Street. Yes, I was running. In near-20C heat, might I add, so as to make it on time for our interview.
Neil Hannon, Walsh's batting partner, so to speak, looks bemused. Nothing is worth running for, he explains, as I wipe the sweat from my forehead. The last time these gents talked 'cricket pop', they were the ones that were exhausted. Back then, the conversation turned to wasabi. And chicken sandwiches.
"Yes, of course. I remember," nods Hannon. "How jolly. I do love wasabi. Shall we talk about it again?"
If you like. Or, we could talk about the Irish pop duo's second album as The Duckworth Lewis Method – the marvellous Sticky Wickets. Pugwash's main man (Walsh) and the bloke otherwise known as The Divine Comedy (Hannon) had promised me that there'd be a follow-up to their 2009 debut.
"What? Ah, we were taking the p*ss, were we?" asks Walsh, as a waitress arrives with tea and scones.
Hannon chips in. "Basically, what could be funnier than a cricket about album? Two cricket albums." Walsh lets out a laugh. "Cricket about album?"
"I haven't quite woken up yet. We just liked making the first one so much we wanted to do another, really ... " Walsh reckons that's all I need for the piece. I beg to differ. Besides, I haven't even gotten around to the songs yet. Boom Boom Afridi, Judd's Paradox, Nudging and Nurdling – I'm not gonna lie, lads, my cricket knowledge is pretty slim. I had to Google a few things.
"What did you get on Judd's Paradox?" asks Hannon. Arthur Judd, who made 64 first-class appearances for Hampshire between 1925 and 1935 ... right? Hannon shakes his head. As it turns out, it's based on a line from a film (1984's Another Country, starring Rupert Everett).
"The things I write songs about are so crazy in the first place, that writing songs about cricket doesn't seem to be much crazier," explains Hannon. "The overriding sort of motivation is 'we don't care what people think'." Walsh reckons that should be the headline. Hannon's not done. "You just have to do your thing. If you enjoy it, then somebody else is bound to."
Listen closely, and you'll hear a few famous voices on Sticky Wickets, including Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter loves The Divine Comedy) and Stephen Fry. "We're just cashing in on all our star friends," says Hannon, smiling. "What a lovely, down-to-earth guy," says Walsh of Radcliffe. "He's a huge fan of the darts. Stephen Fry is as well. That could be a team! A darts album!"
Hannon isn't pleased. "I don't like darts," he admits. "I love darts," says his buddy. I'm sensing some tension. "Well you can go off with Fry and Radcliffe and make your f**king darts album!" Laughter ensues.
Sticky Wickets is released tomorrow