Whereabouts are you at the moment?
I’m in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s just like The Wire.
You’re coming to Oz in November?
I am, I am really excited about it, I’m coming over for the Nick Drake tribute concert. I was actually over in Melbourne last year for the comedy festival. My boyfriend is a comedian, so I was over seeing him, it was great.
Your new album, how is it different from your first album?
Well it was written in a relatively short time frame, unlike the first album and most of these songs were written on the road. I think it sort of hangs together a little better. Also it was recorded live which lends a sort of edginess to the recording. And we all recorded it together, which adds to the sound too.
What is the map of on your album? It’s sort of a map of the record really, they are the three main places where I wrote the album. Dublin where I live, then Brooklyn where I went for a little bit and Baltimore, although not this Baltimore, funnily enough, Baltimore in Cork.
So I am sensing travel is a theme?
Yeah it certainly is, it’s not so much travel but the kind of feeling you have when travelling. You have that kind of nostalgic sense of home and when you’re away you think of things in a kind of sharper focus than you get when you’re at home, just getting on with it.
What do you miss about Ireland?
Well I miss my family and my friends but there’s also a sense of humour that Irish people have that I miss. Like laughing at things that you probably shouldn’t laugh at.
Your song “Safe Travels (Don’t Die)” made me laugh. Is this advice?
Well, yeah, certainly. It’s meant to be funny but my friend actually sent me a text saying “safe travels, don’t die,” which I thought was a bit of a funny phrase, but also such a beautiful sentence. Such a pure and yet universal sentence about how you feel about people you love and care about.
You say not to bungy jump. Have you done that before?
No! Never. I’ve skydived, which was stupid. But I feel that bungy jumping is much more frightening. I’ve never done it and I hope no one ever makes me do it. I’d rather swim in shark-infested waters.
So, Damien Rice. Why did you split?
Well… it just kind of got to the point after being together for ages where we decided to move on. We’d come to the end of our time.
Do you still talk?
Um, well, you know…
Who is the best musician to come out of Ireland?
There’s so many, for such a small country. I think that Cathy Davey is an incredible singer. The Ambiance Affair, there’s just so many.
You said your boyfriend is a comedian. Anyone we know?
Well, no, I’d rather not say…
Okay then, who’s you celebrity crush?
What do you think of Chris O’Dowd?
Oh, he’s great. Yeah, he’s doing really well in the US and I remember him from years ago, he was in this medical programme called The Clinic and I remember him being really good, he was so young. And I said to my friends, “that guy is really great”. And then of course he went on to The IT Crowd, I think he’s brilliant.
Is it true you collect typewriters?
Oh well, I just started, I don’t have many yet but my dream is to have a room of them, like a wall of them and each one of them to have a half-written song on them. It’s a pretty far out dream as I’m kind of living out of a suitcase right now. They’re not really the type of thing you can just pick up on the road… It’s a bit of a frustrating hobby. It will be nice when it happens one day.
How about the story that you grew up doing musical theatre?
You may have read that on my Wikipedia page and it’s actually wrong. It’s something that someone else has written. And apparently I’m not allowed to change my page in any way, it’s a conflict of interest. I asked them and they said no. It feels like David and Goliath but I am going to get it changed. I think it might have something to do with something I did as a kid in a school play but I wasn’t involved in musical theatre. You know, I like listening to Les Mis, but that’s about it. Can you put a headline on this article that says, “I hate Wikipedia”?
Did you watch much of the Rugby World Cup? Oh yes! I have! We were doing so well and it was such a shame we got knocked out. We went to watch it after one of my gigs and our tiny little hearts were crushed.
Lisa Hannigan’s second solo album, Passenger, is out this week. She’s playing Way to Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake in Sydney (Nov 11) and Melbourne (Nov 13, 14 & 15). www.lisahannigan.ie