Tuesday 20 March 2018

Q&A: Hercules and love affair's Andy Butler

Ed Power

Ed Power

On his new album 'heartache' and Paddy's Day terror

Andy, you're playing Dublin on St Patrick's Day, aka the night of obligatory drunkenness and a thousand chip-shop fist fights.

I'm scared -- I'll be honest with you. When I was young, because I'm the only ginger in the family, my mother would say we had Celtic heritage.

We have Irish blood and Scotch blood. She would buy me books on Ireland. I had a little bit of a love affair with the whole idea.

Then I went and saw how Scottish boys act when they get drunk at night. I thought to myself, 'I would stay in most of the time'. They are really rowdy.

Antony Hegarty sang on nearly half your first album. This time he is prominently absent. Was he sick of playing the disco diva?

Antony had been so generous with the first record. He is on literally six songs, whether that's front or back vocals. He had gone through a period of collaboration, with everyone from Coco Rosie to Lou Reed to Yoko Ono to Rufus Wainwright.

He was really clear about returning to his solo career. I just knew he was going to be focused on his book, the movie he has coming out, things like that. He has a lot on his plate.

Your new record is a dance album but a very melancholy one. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the success of your first LP was at a price.

It definitely turned my life upside-down. I went from having a very static life in which relationships with other people were easy to manage, to a very mobile, nomadic life where relationships became much more of a challenge to maintain and to stay true to.

Whether it be with a friend or a partner or whatever. I had a fair amount of change in my personal life. I was away from my friends in New York. In and of itself, that was a slog.

It has become clear when you are touring, I'm not particularly available for a romantic relationship ... whatsoever.

Unless I want to bring some serious heartache into my life. I'm not that social. I don't run around that much.

You can really hear that -- there's a lot of sadness on the record.

The songs talk a bit about my childhood. The subject was similarly addressed on my first record.

If you look at Blind, which was the biggest song on the first album, it's about when I was a child and all I was doing was dreaming that maybe one day I could escape.

It was a particularly stressful situation, with a lot of machismo. Being a young, gay man with so much testosterone around ... That's what Blind was about.

Is that why you invited Kele Okereke of Bloc Party to sing on the record? You're both gay men from conservative backgrounds.

My family is very supportive. I have a younger gay brother who is a singer in a metal band. My parents are very open-minded and supportive of us.

We had a break from the church at a certain point. It was around the boys' sexuality. And the fact my parents divorced pushed them out as well.

We're progressive. With Kele's family it's a different situation. He comes from a completely different continent. A different culture, where it means something totally different to be gay.

The album Blue Songs is out now. Hercules and Love Affair play The Button Factory, Dublin, on Thursday

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