Bianca meets Dave Fanning; “I can’t even think about the possibility of one day having to give up work. I panic at the thought.”

Dave Fanning
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

It’s been 20 odd years since Dave and I, worked together, presenting the Sunday morning music tv show, 2tv. I’ve seen him a handful of times since but it’s been a long time since we’ve sat down for a chat. I climb the steps of his handsome Georgian home in south county Dublin where he lives with his wife Ursula and three adult children and put my finger to the buzzer. Though the intercom he answers, that croaky voice crackling back. Hello he says quizzically. I say, ‘Dave it’s Bianca’. There’s a pauses, ‘Bianca, f*** I totally forgot!’ I roar laughing, not in the least bit surprised!

Dave, 2tv ended 20 years ago, bizarre, isn’t it?
And you haven’t changed a bit!

I have! Jesus! I feel like a different person.
20 years would do that! For me it all feels like a continuation.

People still ask me about the show all the time. Do they you?
Absolutely. It was a show of it’s time. But it wouldn’t work now. There was no mobile phones, no internet, no computers. You couldn’t push a button on your phone and watch the latest music video, so if it was on, you watched and you listened, simple as that. We were lucky to be there at that time. It was an easy programme to do.

And it was a lot of fun. You were nearly always late for the on air!
I got in trouble for that!

Dave Fanning
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Now, you never didn’t make it on air, you just pushed it…!
And I did no work! It was all flying by the seat of your pants stuff! I remember once in about the fourth year I had to come in to the offices of 2tv but I didn’t know where they were! I went up the corridor and walked into another office and I saw Ray D’Arcy and I said, ‘Ray, where is the 2tv office?’ He roared laughing! He realised I had never been in, not once! Dreadful!

You were so busy at the time with all your shows that you just spent your time running…
Yeah, I was always doing a thousand things. I was mostly away. Between 1990 and 2001, there wasn’t one week that I didn’t fly to London, LA or New York doing interviews. I was suffering from overhead bin syndrome! You know, like, waking up and thinking I should be putting my bag in the overhead bin!

Was it too much or was it an amazing time?
It was amazing! And I had plenty of time with my kids as well, which always surprises me. I really felt like I didn’t miss out on family time at all…but I loved every second of it. There hasn’t been one second ever working in 2fm, or on television, that I haven’t loved. I was also doing stuff for Channel 4, and Virgin Radio, that was between ‘94 and ’96. So I was doing a lot, an awful lot. But it was all easy to do. The more work you do, the more productive you are.

But then it all went a bit quiet. What happened?
I lost the gigs! And The Movie Show went. I was doing things like the Last Broadcast, which I did for eight years, it was a small nighttime music programme and also a show called The 11th Hour. I worked on American television for about two years doing The Dave Fanning Interview on Rave TV out of New York. So while it went quiet here I was always doing something somewhere.

Dave Fanning
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Now we can catch you on Saturday and Sunday on 2fm and also on Virgin Media One and Two presenting Fanning at Whelan’s. Tell us about that show.
We partnered with music venue Whelan’s and Guinness and we recorded up to thirty live performances from up-and-coming and established acts, from a pool of Irish talent – from Inhaler to Nealo, Allie Sherlock to Thumper. With many bands relying on social media to showcase their performances, this gives many artists their very first opportunity to appear on national TV. All those bands in the b and c division will go back to work in the office or the factory soon because you can’t survive on music sales nowadays. Live gigs is the only way you make money. And there have been no live gigs. So we have 30 acts playing on the famous stage of Whelan’s and they’re all thrilled to be there, delighted to be doing it. We couldn’t have done it without Guinness who are such great supporters of Irish music.

That’s very cool. Your beautiful home here is filled with really cool rock memorabilia while the walls are adorned with photos from Bono to Billie Eilish. When you look back on your life why do you think?
What do I think? I think I have been so damn lucky, There hasn’t been on day that I’ve gone into work when I haven’t wanted to go in. I’ve loved every minute and the only thing I want to do is keep it going. I will do anything to keep it going?

What do you mean ‘anything’?
I’ll just do anything within my field.

Do you panic at the idea of not working?
Jesus Christ, f***** right I do. Absolutely hate the thought. I can’t even think about the possibility of one day having to give it up. People have no idea how lucky I’ve been. It’s all luck. Right time, right place. U2 are brilliant at what they do, but don’t tell me 80 per cent of it is not luck, it is. I’ve been so lucky.

Dave Fanning
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

You’ve been lucky family too.You are all so close (Jack is 28, Robert is 25 and Hayley is 18).
Yeah, the five of us still do things together. Like we all went to concerts together before Christmas. The best example is Billie Eilish. About five years ago when Billie Eilish was 14 and when nobody had ever heard of her, Kaia Gerber (American model and daughter of Cindy Crawford) put up a thing up on social about Billie and Hayley just heard it and listened to this one song by Billie and thought it was pretty good. Then we heard another and another and as a family we got a bit obsessed. It’s a bit sad maybe that we’d all listen to it together but we just thought it was really good!

Then we saw she was playing a gig in Europe. Now we never usually go to gigs in Europe because we never really can afford to but in this case we said, ‘let’s just go’. So we all went to see her play in Amsterdam. There was about 85 people at the gig, we even met her mother, and then we met Billie in a toilet backstage! About six months later when she was still a nobody we went to see her in Milan. There were about 120 people at that gig. We met the mother again and the brother Phineas and movie director Alfonso Cuaron who was making the movie Roma at the time which he then went on to win loads of Oscars for! Anyway, the following year we went to see her again in Stockholm and by then she was being played on radio. Four weeks later she released her debut album, the biggest selling album of the last five years. It was all just mad.

There’s a framed picture in the hallway of Billie and Hayley together…
There is. I don’t know where it was taken. They still stay in touch.

What’s Hayley up to now?
She did her Leaving Cert last year and is in Trinity now, but college nowadays is all b*******. Why? When I went to college 20 per cent of people went, now 91 per cent of people got to college so it’s all been cheapened. It’s just like music, if there’s so much music out there for free and two generations of people are now expecting it to be free, don’t tell me music hasn’t been devalued.

Dave Fanning
Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

So what do you believe? That kids should just go out into the world and work?
All these college that have been built up around the M50, who’s actually monitoring them? What are they? What do they give at the end? A certificate? A degree? What does it even mean anymore? Trinity have just put up their fees. UCD have 27,000 students and they’re going to go to 35,000. Don’t tell me it’s not about money.

You’re so cynical.
I know I am! I think a lot of education is very good and I think a lot of it isn’t.

Life makes us cynical…
I think cynicism is underrated! Look at the world we’re living in where the President of America tells us to drink Toilet Duck to get rid go Covid! Another 200,000 people and it will be a million dead in the States and there’s about 30 per cent of people that don’t believe it’s true. It’s mad. Some of the things that happen in America are completely insane. We used to look up to America and now its just turning into a facist state. You have to laugh.

Bet you loved lockdown?!
I did! At home doing things I want to do….

Like what?
I listen to music all day long. I watch a lot of box sets and a lot of movies and live football; I love football. And then I go to gigs if I have to. That’s all I need and Ursula and the kids, of course. Jack has moved out very recently, the other two are home, why wouldn’t they be? There’s plenty of room.

You got a plan for 2022?
Keep working, maybe do different things in radio, hopefully doing another Fanning at Whelan’s and maybe get into documentary stuff as well. I love podcasts too but it’s how to do it right. I have so much content sitting here, about 400 interviews with the biggest rockstars in the world and about 200 with movie stars. I might try to do something with that.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Lili Forberg; missili.net

Tune to Fanning at Whelan’s sponsored by Guinness on Saturday 10pm on Virgin Media Two and on Thursday’s at 11.30pm on Virgin Media One.

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