At Home With...Dave Fanning

It’s hard to believe, we know, but occasionally Dave Fanning likes to put his feet up and switch off from the outside world. Who would have thought, though, that he’d have such an interest in kitchen renovation?

Dave Fanning’s illustrious career spans four decades and has seen him host The Movie Show, introduce U2 to an unsuspecting public, write for The Irish Times and Hot Press, present documentaries which have taken him around the world, and, most famously, DJ for 2FM since its inception in 1979. Surely such a legend doesn’t concern himself with kitchen extensions?

Well, it’s time to destroy any idea of Dave’s Blackrock abode being a rock’n’roll haven littered with thousands of CDs, partially obstructing the awards and accolades he’s amassed over the years.

Because though CDs are prevalent in his large family home, make no mistake: it’s a picture of domestic bliss. Were it not for said kitchen extension taking over the house.

“It’s an absolute tip at the moment,” he confesses. “But we’ve been meaning to renovate it for years so we thought we might as well bite the bullet.” It’s at such times that the neighbours show their true colours, and lucky for him that they’re a patient bunch.

“There’s a lot to put up with - it’s noisy, it’s dirty, there’s trucks, there’s skips and all sorts going on, and they’ve been extremely nice about it. The place is in an old part of Blackrock, so it has the people that you’d expect in such an area. Some people have been here for 30 or 40 years.”

Dave, his wife and children have chalked up but 10 years in the Co. Dublin abode, situated on a street where all the houses are listed buildings (“it’s amazing – every house was built in 1835 and they’ve all got their own character,” he enthuses). Surely, he's too busy to appreciate the joys of home? Definitely not, Fanning implores.

“In the ‘90s, I was working 24 hours a day. I had four TV shows, I was working for Virgin Radio, RTE, and something like The Movie Show could take me all over the world, plus there was the music side of things. But I never really felt I was away a lot, especially as a lot of the work was from home.

“I never felt that I wasn’t there when the kids were growing up to be 10 and seven as they are now. And I feel like I’m there even more since my radio show changed its slot four years ago. I now finish at half-seven, which means I can spend the whole evening at home. I’m actually there a lot of time, probably too much.”

So when he’s not busy being one of the most influential people in music, what does he spend his time doing?

It’s not indulging in the finest wines around (“I think I’ve had wine about six times in the last three years. When we have a meal, I like a nice glass of milk usually”). It’s not inviting famous guests over (“I’m sure the U2 boys have been around at some point, but otherwise we don’t really have celebrities around”). And though there’s an attempt at getting into boys’ toys (“I think I’m a real gadget person, but I’ve got one major problem: I don’t understand gadgets. It’s like being a footballer with no legs”), what he enjoys best is much more universal.

“I really like to watch TV in bed, it’s one of the joys of life,” he admits. “I watch much more TV these days. I was never really into it but now that I have evenings at home I’ve started watching programmes like Lost and Desperate Housewives.”

Though he similarly watches plenty of movies, his passion for film doesn’t show in his collection. Here’s a man who hosted nearly 400 episodes of Ireland’s premier film show, interviewed A-List Hollywood stars for a living, and how many DVDs do you think he owns? That’s right, four.

“I don’t collect them like I do CDs,” he justifies. “There’s only four per cent of films I’d want to see twice, and two per cent that I’d want to see more than that. Plus you can fill your house up with too much crap – sometimes it’s better to think of other places to store things, and my local XtraVision is the best place to keep my DVD collection.”

That’s not to say his new place is devoid of cultural goodness. A quick flick through his CD collection reveals early demos of U2 for which any fan would give their limbs. Hidden slightly from view are his collection of gold discs, the prestige of which he doesn’t take too seriously. “It’s just a laugh, really. I’ve got some from U2 and Smashing Pumpkins, and my newest one is from Super Stanley 800 but I haven’t had the chance to even take that out of its cardboard box yet.”

Instead, pride of place on the walls – apart from the paintings by Martin Mooney that adorn the house – are four prints of The Beatles. The Fab Four, he says, are his all-time favourite band, and also in his possession is an item for which any Beatles fan would give their limbs and bone marrow.

“My brother began ordering the NME in 1959 from a local shop. I took it over in 1972, but throughout his time instead of keeping the copies, he’d cut out the charts and keep them in a box, which he gave to me. One of these charts is from October 1962, and at number 17 is a new entry by The Beatles with ‘Love Me Do’. I brought it to London in 2003 for Paul McCartney to sign. He was absolutely amazed by it: the original NME cutting of The Beatles’ first appearance in the charts.”

Believe me, Dave, we’re as amazed. And worryingly tempted to steal it...

Photos Cathal Dawson


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