James Dignan Interview and Reverse Quiz

I recently had the pleasure of some questions and answers with fegMANIAC James Dignan.  Here's what he had to say.

1. how would you describe yourself?

5'11", long brown hair, glasses, knees, 35. English born, New Zealander by attitude and residence. Slow right-arm off-break bowler. I am to the world of music what Wayne Gretzky is to the world of basketball. I put the eland into New Zealand. I sing, I play guitar, I paint, and I study why people can't judge angles properly. I do NOT pass the dutchie to the left hand side.

2. how would you describe your music?

Somewhere between Joan Baez and Trent Reznor. It's within the vein of the bands I've grown up with here in Dunedin (the Chills, the Bats, the Clean), but, being a soloist, quieter. Influenced by folkier rock (the likes of the Byrds, Beatles, and of course Robyn Hitchcock), but also some of the more introspective moments of Brian Eno (his songs, not his ambient stuff), and solo singer/guitarists like Billy Bragg. I like rocking out, but I rarely do - it seems out of place when it's just me and a guitar (although I do acknowledge the influence of Bob Mould). The lyrics are important to me, and I like them to be the sort of lyrics that can reveal lots of different things to different people at different times. Having said that, I did once write a punk rock song that had the lyric "why learn to swim when you can rent a fish?". I've also, for want of anything serious to do, written numerous parody (filk) songs, although thankfully I've never recorded or released them.

3. how has robyn hitchcock influenced your music?

Well, I sense his music is coming from the same roots as mine - lots of Byrds and Beatles influences. And, along with Eno, Robyn's music has shown me that your lyrics can be bizarre and surreal yet still carry meaning.

4. what are your goals/ambitions/dreams?

I'd like to record a CD sometime (at the moment I have a cassette out, "Partial Rapture Theory"). I want to finish my PhD (in Psychology - visual perception of angles). I'd like to get some of my paintings exhibited. And then there's lotto... As to dreams? Well, there was the one about cycling a tandem through a small west coast fishing village with an ex-New Zealand Prime Minister (we were on our way to appear as extras in a Star Trek movie). I think it was the cheese that caused that one.

5. what do you do for work?

PhD student, plus tutoring of first year Psych students. I also do voluntary work at the local student radio station

5b. what do you do for play?

watch sport (soccer, cricket, rugby). I sed to play soccer and cricket, but my knee won't let me now. I paint. I go for walks. I listen to music. I collect flags (yes, I'm a vexillologist!). I read Edward Gorey books. And science fiction.

6. if your could be any sort of a fish, what sort of fish would you be?

I've always liked those huge eel-like things with the paddle-like fins that live thousands of feet down in the water. Oarsman fish, I think they're called. Personally, I prefer turtles.

What pets do you have?
A: I have a pet cat - Jennifer Jane McSquiggle Angstrom O'Pusscat. Ginger tabby.

What is the population of Fiji? A: A little over half a million

What is a williewaught? A: a Scottish toast - a goodwill drink. Robbie Burns mentions it in Auld Lang Syne.

What is the stupidest name you've ever heard for a band? A: 'Quasimodo Sock', or possibly 'Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos'

Who is your favourite teletubby? A: Shane Warne

What's mine? A: Well, what is?

Complete the following list: - feldspar, latch, sludgegulper, labile, troglodyte, merganser, putty... A: wayzgoose

what are you working on?

well, I've been out of action with an injured finger for a couple of months, but will be back performing at Otago University's orientation week in late February, and hopefully that'll be the start of an active year. My hopes are to complete a second cassette release (or maybe...), tentatively titled "Shoebill", sometime late in the year. Several new songs are ready for a run through recording (The outside, She's the one, and When the night comes, to name but three). I've also become involved with a bit of work with a Wellington-based folk band called Bonsai Jungle - they perform several of my songs and are hopefully putting out a CD during the next year which will contain a couple of them.

And of course, the anti-quiz...
1. flags!
2. the 'glory hole'
3. chris atkinson
4. under the brow
5. roguelike
6. the ship trapped in the ice
7. a hundred
8. bilge

1. flags! Q: What items belonging to Spain were the Stranglers under, according to the lyrics of their song "Spain"?

2. the 'glory hole' Q: (first suggestion deleted as being unseemly) Q2: arrange the letters of "Ye hog roll" to form two words

3. chris atkinson Q3: Who was goalkeeper for Bradford Park Avenue for three games in the 1947-48 season?

4. under the brow Q: whereabouts on a hill do rabbits usually burrow?

5. roguelike Q: What word precedes the Robyn Hitchcock lyric "do I have to spell it backwards that's Ekileugor"?

6. the ship trapped in the ice Q:Which of the following is the odd one out: cornflakes, a llama, Courtney Love, the CNN tower, and a ship trapped in ice?

7. a hundred Q: If it takes seven me three eight-hour days to dig a hole using one spade each, allowing half an hour for lunch and ten minutes for a tea break (during which they do crosswords), and given that one of the men has an itchy back which he scratches for five seconds every ten minutes, then how many women would it take to lift a 1/3 scale model of the Concorde in 3/4 gravity and carry it for seven hundred metres at an average speed of three miles per hour, with a headwind of three knots, given that one of the women is an olympic long-jump champion and another is suffering from sunburn?

8. bilge Q: what five letter word can be used to start the following words: "...water", "...festival", "...traffic", "...wombat", "...-and-chips"

jd2.gif (36406 bytes)
the inimitable Mr Dignan.
Contact him at  digja611@student.otago.ac.nz