Andrew O’Neill, the comedic wizard, musical master of the dark arts, and all-round creature of the night, like all of us, is finding quarantine a little bit of an adjustment.
Andrew’s face is well known in most metal and magical circles here in London and further afield, being a veteran of the alternative comedy circuits, a regular of metal and rock festival lineups and the frontman of the steampunk rock group, and titular mouthful, “The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing”. His curriculum extends to the T.V. and the radio, like the live performances which are the bread and butter of so many comedians, performers and musicians, have almost entirely ground to halt since stepping into a crowded, sweaty radio/tv studio or venue would be a one-way ticket to Pflugerville. However this hasn’t slowed him down and like us, freaky, stuck-inside-because-of-the-pandemic kids, he’s redirecting his energy to the internet, to create some darkly hilarious content.
Find his video for your viewing pleasure here:
We had a brief catch up over email.
How are you these days? How is life and lockdown treating you?
Life is an intersecting pattern of waves of strangeness. Without gigs, I’ve been like a junky in withdrawal. Now I’m not craving them as much, as I get used to this mode of life, but I still have a huge hole in the middle of my identity. If a comic doesn’t perform, are they a comic? Lockdown was the third major plot-twist to hit my life since September, so I feel like a storm-tossed ship trying desperately to find a bearing. Still, I’m alive, which is more than can be said for 30,000 other people in this country.
Your video is hilarious. Were you trying to make light of the cabin-fever and low-key anxiety everyone is feeling? I cannot help but think dressing in animal skulls and painting our faces black before embarking on a series of chaotic tasks would actually make us feel a lot better.
I don’t fully understand the question. My video is a deadly serious account of the Very Many Achievements I have realized during this period. I feel more normal than ever. (Incidentally, someone entirely missed the point in the comments section and unsubscribed saying I was up to myself!)
Are these tough times for creatives? I noticed that after the initial settling period you have been quite busy. Can you tell us about some of the projects (aside from the ones you already listed in the video) that you have been involved in during lockdown?
It took a while to adjust, for sure. I got COVID early on in lockdown and that knocked me out for two weeks, then I was like a zombie wandering about the house looking for some sort of validation. Despite the romantic notion of hardship producing great art, it’s still necessary to OVERCOME or move beyond the hardship before the creative juices are allowed to really flow. My stuff is ideally three degrees of separation from a direct account of life so there’s a necessary period of synthesis before proper art comes out the other side. I’ve finally jumped on board with Patreon, which is fucking GREAT. It’s giving me a kick up the arse to produce stuff on a regular basis. I’m building towards doing a regular fucked-up-history podcast, recording readings of Lovecraft stories, making videos and putting up entire stand-up shows. It’s the place to be!
I recently attended one of your virtual comedy nights – it was an incredibly fun and heart-warming experience. I have heard you say many times that doing comedy is especially important for a comedian’s mental health. Did the virtual version of your regular night at Aces and Eights do it for you? Did you feel the connection despite us being an absentee audience?
Methodone, man. It’s not the full hit, but it stops me shivering and vomiting from withdrawal. The big problem is that the complex matrix of different things that comedy provides me with was operating on maximum efficiency. I’ve been working hard at improving my ability as a stand-up for 18 years. That work is mainly about calibrating my material, approach, tone, timing, appearance to match the needs (not the wants…) of the live audience. Comedy is a dance with a crowd, and without the crowd, you look very silly dancing alone. Now I have to get used to ‘dancing like no-one is watching’. Which is a wholly different skill. I’ll get there. But it might take another eighteen years.
There is definitely a connection. But it’s like having sex and getting all the feedback in an email. ‘Thank you for the notes on my performance. Next time I’ll get better, for sure.’
Your Patreon is quickly filling with amazing content. I am particularly excited about your plans to teach ritual magic. Are you hoping to educate the masses on this mysterious craft and create a legion of practical magicians?
Fuck that. My motivation for writing a Beginners Guide To Magic was the barrage of questions about how to start. I’ve been doing ritual magic a long time but with no consistency and sporadic application. I’m still in the baby pool. But I’m a good communicator and I know enough to set people on their way. Beyond that, I have no interest whatsoever in guiding people’s journeys. And I’m not qualified. My magic is personal and private and it’s only the by-product (the shows) that are for public consumption.
You’re well known here on the Independent Voice not only because of the popularity in the rock/metal scene but also because of your band The Men Who Will not be Blamed for Nothing. Did corona hinder your gigging and musical process? Any plans for when this whole thing blows over?
It has definitely hindered our gigging, yes. We’ve got a few plans for online stuff, and we’re all hankering for the time when we can get back into a room with each other and write the next album. Plus fucking Facebook is currently showing us ‘memories’ of all our amazing American tours and stuff like that. Which is tantamount to showing cooking programmes to the starving poor. We will return.
Any recommendations, plugs, shout outs, or closing statements?
Interview by Annalisa Orlando
The Troy Club, Andrew’s regular comedy night, has moved online and is a pay-what-you-like show, so check it out even if you are skint. All the details can be found on the Facebook event. Next show is on the 19th of June!
Andrew’s past shows are available through his Bandcamp and you can support him by signing up to his Patreon and checking out his merch on his Website. He’s also written a book: The History of Heavy Metal. The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing also have their records available for download on Bandcamp.