Date: Fri, 16 Jan 1998 10:09:38 -0600
To: "Richie B"
Subject: Finn Brothers on KCRW 20/7/96
KCRW Transcripts - July 20, 1996
Finn Brothers Interview
"Morning Becomes Eclectic" With Host Chris Douridas
Copyrighted 1997 KCRW
"Angel's Heap" (Sound check)
Neil: How's that? Yeah? You cool?
Tim: Enough photos? (Laughter)...good.
Chris: Sounds great.
Booth: I taped a little bit of that. You wanna come and listen to it, or...?
Neil: Two guitars and two voices. Can't go wrong can we... ? (Laughter)
"Only Talking Sense"
Chris: "Only Talking Sense." Tim and Neil Finn in the studio. The Finn
brothers live on "Morning Becomes Eclectic." I'm Chris Douridas. It's so
good to have you guys back in the studio. Welcome.
Neil: Thank you very much.
Chris: This Finn Brothers album is available on Discovery Records and has been
available as an import for a good while. But the impetus for this album
goes back a couple of years. You guys thought about doing something as
Tim: Yeah, we were, we started writing songs about three, four years ago and
they got absorbed into the Woodface record. And that was real, a huge eye
opener for us, ya know, 'cause we had been in Split Enz together and we had
been brothers obviously all our lives (laugh). But we had never really
written a song together. Suddenly we opened the floodgates. So yeah,
that's when we thought we must do this again, let's do it just the two of
us and let's play all the instruments and yeah...
Chris: So that was really the first experience of writing songs together
exclusively, the two of you alone... is that what you're saying?
Neil: Yeah, but we really hadn't written in Split Enz for some strange
reason. I think cause I was perennially the younger brother and didn't
sort of feel that confident bearing myself to my older brother. But we
came back after a whole bunch of time apart with some stuff that interested
each other, ya know--what we had been doing and also more as equals, I
Chris: Just to catch people up. I mean, in a nutshell, Tim, you started
Split Enz in 1975. Neil, you joined sometime later, in '77. Neil is six
years your junior Tim, right? And then Tim, you had gone off to do some
solo albums. Neil started Crowded House and then for Woodface, Tim, you
came back into the fold with Neil.
Neil: Convoluted is the word, I think.
Chris: Yeah, but so then for Woodface you guys were together under the name
Crowded House and then Tim you went off to do more solo work. Your recent
work with ALT, which is Andy White, Liam O'Maonlai, and yourself.
Tim: That's right.
Chris: And Neil, you just said goodbye to Crowded House.
Neil: Yeah. We're really actively hitting for the most... The Guinness book
of records on the most entities here.
Chris: Well the constant magnet is the sibling pull here. That seems to
be the one constant here that you guys keep.
Neil: Sort of, yeah.
Tim: I think the constant is just the writing of songs. But obviously
we're brothers and there's a blood tie there and there's a lot of
fascination and interest about, like between us. Like when we get
together, we're brothers. We're also songwriters who like each others
work. And that's not going to go away. So, yeah, there's a common thread
of blood, I suppose you could say. But
music's the main fascination, I suppose for the both of us... well, our
relationship is extremely important. It's pivotal really for us, but
there's that musical thing that draws you on and we'll probably continue to
come together and then separate.
Chris: I see. So the different turns that your careers individually take is
just simply based on your own personal instincts.
Neil: Yeah. I mean, there's... we obviously want a life of our own, but we
enjoy being together and socially as much as anything, too. We have a good
laugh. We are a very close fam. I've got a couple of kids and you know,
he's got a revered status. Some kind of, I don't know, favorite uncle. But
more than that really.
Tim: I really like it because I don't have any kids, so I kind of like
hangin' out. The kids have been on tour with us now. And we've had some
amazing shows on this tour. Like the whole Finn tour has been the
highlight really. We finished up here in L.A. other night, two really
strong, really magical shows for us. We're flying on the wings of
something. You know. And so
it's a good life, can't complain.
Chris: Well, the project you've currently got going here--the Finn Brothers.
This is something you will continue to, keep alive, right?
Tim: Oh, yeah, it'll just be periodic... I'd like to think of us as sixty
years old, me sixty, Neil fifty-four, making another record. Why not?
Obviously we wanna do plenty of other things but, yeah, it'll be nice to do
it as a kind of... I don't know what you'd call it, really...
Tim: Recurring revelry.
Chris: Well then the obvious question, Neil, is then to you--since the Crowded
House thing is now behind you does this mean this will be your sole focus
for the time being?
Neil: Well it has been since the end, but it's only been four weeks ago,
so... I'm going back to New Zealand, tomorrow night in fact, and I start
working on a whole new thing which I may be working on until Christmas
thereabouts. I've got a lot of new material but I really want to try to
break some of my own personal barriers and come up with something that
sounds and feels really different and fresh, so...
Chris: I see, so it's probably too early to tell, but would it be a sole thing
or would it be another band thing?
Neil: Well there will be an element of collaboration as there always is.
"Solo" is a slightly misshapen wheel, I think, but it'll be more, it'll be
more something I'll be more centrally responsible for. I mean in a way
with Crowded House I was still the guy who was in there all the time
anyway, but, there were other characters who took roles and therefore you
became defined by those characters. I think in this case I would like to
be able to mix it up a bit. Do some of its purely my own and some other
people I would like to play with.
Chris: I see. Um...
Neil: Does that make sense?
Chris: Yeah it does. We definitely look forward to whatever's coming from the
two of you.
Tim: Thank you.
Chris: Let's hear another one. This one again comes from the Finn Brothers
album and it's called "Angel's Heap."
Neil: "Angel's Heap." Yeah.
Chris: Tim and Neil Finn in the studio. "Morning Becomes Eclectic."
Tim: (Counts off) It's too fast, isn't it, eh? He he..
Neil: Well I don't know because I often fill it faster than you...
Tim: Okay you count it...
Neil: (Counts off)
Chris: "Angel's Heap" from the Finn brothers live on KCRW's "Morning Becomes
Eclectic." Neil and Tim Finn in the studios with us and you can find that
on the new release on Discovery Records called Finn Brothers. You're both
really strong writers and when you come together for these sorts of things,
how does it work out? Do you each bring tidbits, little pieces into each
Tim: Some of them just kind of bubble up. Others might... one of us might
have a bit, it's like "Only Talking Sense." Um, Neil already had the
chorus and I kind of threw the verse idea at him--the opening line and the
chords, I think... And Neil kind of ran with it. Like "There's a wild
thing in the wool shed." Neil came back with "It's keeping me awake at
night." And it gave me, it gave both of us a whole atmosphere to play
with. The idea of being a rural
person and wanting to change a life, but just having too much fear and, you
know, that sort of thing of being stuck. So yeah, we throw ideas around
and every song has a slightly different, I guess formula... or not formula,
but different contributions. And there was one song on the record Neil had
written about two years prior. It's called "Last Day of June," a beautiful
song, and he'd forgotten it completely and one night he was playing in the
studio and he just kind of channeled it out. And we went "Oh that's
great--let's do that one as well." So that was a Neil Finn song through
and through. But everything else kind of has different bits and pieces to
Chris: Is there an element of compromise that you have to bring to the table
that you don't normally have to in other situations you work under?
Neil: I don't think its a compromise, really. I mean every collaboration
entails its certain amount of compromises or allowing other person to sort
of put themselves into it, yeah. But I don't think its a compromise so
much. And you get more than you lose, I think. A whole fresh perspective.
Sum being greater than the parts and all that.
Chris: I see. So its more like the nugget comes to you and you bring that to
the table and then find it together.
Neil: Yeah when you can be excited by what other person does to your
idea, you know, its...
Tim: That's right. Some idea you might have discarded if you were on your
own, the other person goes, "That sounds good" or "That's interesting" or
they even totally mishears what you did or said, or saying or whatever. It
kind of allows a lot of accidents and good moments to happen.
Chris: So it's almost like accessing the muse from two points of view.
Tim: Kind of, yeah. And because we're brothers...
Neil: Sleeping with the same woman....
Tim: Not telling the other one about it.
Chris: How do you sort out then who takes the lead vocal or I guess, listen to
the song and let the song tell you...?
Tim: We didn't even discuss it. On this record it was more of Neil singing
lead, but it wasn't like we decided that's--it's just the way it happened
and it felt good. I was thrilled to be on drums and to me, I kind of got
into the mode of being a drummer. I didn't wear wrist slips and ... what
else do drummers do? They kind of wear things on their wrists and they're
hyper usually. They annoy everybody. You've got to send them out for a
coffee or something. I wasn't quite that bad. But I felt like a drummer.
There's a few cool drummers out there. They're the princes of music
almost. But drummers get a bad rap generally.
Chris: You were doing the drumming on the ALT stuff too, weren't you?
Tim: Yeah. That was my first kind of studio. I jammed at soundchecks and
rehearsals, but ALT was the first time where I thought I'm just going to do
it. And I bashed it down with them. We crafted this one more carefully,
but even so it was a nice loose feeling.
Chris: Well speaking of the drums, drums are prominent on this next track.
This one being "Suffer Never."
Neil: Yeah, but not today though.
Tim: This would be the acoustic version.
Chris: We'll hear the drums in our heads.
Neil: We actually wrote this one on acoustic and harmonium. But it made much
for a transition in the studio to being...
Tim: Slightly hallucinatory...
Neil: Solid grove, groove, I should say. I gotta tune up for this one so
bear with me.
Chris: It's Tim and Neil Finn in the studio on "Morning Becomes Eclectic,"
on KCRW. And the album, by the way, is called Finn Brothers. It's out now
from Discovery Records. This one's called "Suffer Never."
Neil: Can we start again? Sorry I got onto the wrong flow there. You can
beat it this time or not...
Chris: Tim and Neil Finn. The Finn brothers live on "Morning Becomes
Eclectic." It's KCRW. I'm Chris Douridas. And you can find that one,
"Suffer Never," in its full on production on the album Finn Brothers from
Discovery. It's been a few weeks now since the Finn brothers swung through
Los Angeles and performed live, couple of shows at the John Henson Ford
Theatre. And as this interview airs both have gone back to New Zealand.
Tim: New Zealand Neil, Sydney me.
Chris: Sydney you, Tim. You know I was thinking about other rock entities
that featured sibling situations, you know, brothers or sisters. Generally
when they break up though its because the siblings somehow can't work it
out. And somehow it doesn't seem like its been the case with you guys.
Tim: We've gone the opposite in a way, in a funny sort of way. We sang
together as kids. A lot of the ones your talking about they only work
together and they go through late adolescence and early twenties,
mid-twenties when things are pretty volatile and it just blows apart
because you don't want to be around your brother or sister all the time.
But we're kind of, even though we were in Split Enz together... I don't
know, that somehow we didn't rub each other up the wrong way in that kind
of line up because we were both true to this iconic myth of a band that
Split Enz felt like to us, you know. It was bigger than all of us. And
now years have gone by and now we're kind of just starting to work
together. And we've got a lot of stuff out of the way, I think, a lot of
rubbish and emotional baggage, but not that there was a huge amount anyway.
We always got on really well and there's six years between us so there
wasn't any really intense competition. I was obviously superior...
Neil: In age alone...
Chris: I was thinking that the difference in age probably had a lot to do with
it because you weren't on top of each other...
Neil and Tim: Yeah...
Neil: It's less acute when its... I got two boys exactly same age apart. I
can see it in them although they're a little bit testy with each other but
it's not really a...
Chris: There's enough distance for a mutual respect.
Tim: I think so yeah.
Neil: Well, I mean, I was just envious, really, of what Tim was doing at the
age of... when I was ten, he was 16. He was going to parties and hanging
out with girls, actually not that many girls and drinking and it all seemed
very glamorous to me as a ten year old. I had to wait for so long.
Tim: Was it disappointing? When it finally came?
Neil: It wasn't the same, which is good...
Neil: I went to boarding school, the same one that Tim went to, left after a
year because I realized he had a legacy there and I was just going to be
the younger brother. So I went to back my hometown, to states school.
Tim: Yeah, and girls.
Chris: And your vision of your younger brother, Tim, was it protective and
Tim: I think so, yeah, it always felt like... yeah, he was special to me and
we got on and we shared a lot of interest and we sang together. I think
the singing together as really young kids, like Neil would have been four,
I would be ten and we would naturally harmonize together. And so
there was an unspoken bond, singing. Music does that anyway for people.
You see it in a crowd of people, suddenly become one. So that kind of
bonded us and also our personalities merged really well.
Chris: There are some nice pictures inside the liner notes, too, of you guys
as kids and teenagers.
Tim: (Laughs) Yeah, They were the best we could find. Actually some people
have been quite snide about that, as if we should be embarrassed.
Tim: We kind of like it.
Neil: They're very of daggy. Well "daggy" is not a word that's understood
Chris: Nerdy, but they're so charming.
Tim: Thank you.
Neil: We dig them, we stand by them...
Neil: We're nerds till the end. We just don't have a computer.
Chris: Now it's just the two of you--you don't have any brothers or sisters?
Tim: Two sisters.
Chris: Two sisters?
Neil: Two sisters, yeah.
Chris: Are they... how do they fit into the scheme? Are they in the middle?
Tim: One's elder... it goes girl, boy, girl, boy. So its my older sister,
then me, than a younger sister, and then Neil's the baby.
Chris: And are they musical?
Tim: Well they love music but they don't sing or perform it, particularly.
Except they do one song called "Sad Movies" which was an old fifties song.
Somehow that's become their song.
Chris: And when you say they do it, what, at like Christmas parties and
things or (laughs)...
Tim: Woolshed parties and Christmas.
Neil: Yeah, when they're called upon to perform. Everyone's got a party, or
when we grew up, we had lots of singing parties at our house and at other
people's houses. They had an item that they always did.
Chris: Did your parents have any interest in music?
Tim: Loved it. Dad is particularly big on swing band music. He's got a
very, not a huge collection, but extremely high quality collection of
thirties and forties kind of dance music. If he was around, if he was a
young man now, he would probably be full onto general and techno and that.
Like he's a body music man, he likes to move his body. And mum is more
like into tunes and emotion and the Irishness of music.
Chris: But they're both of Irish descent then right?
Tim: No, dad's not. Finn is arguably an Irish name. But as far back as we
can tell, his family came from Kent in England. But we reckon they might
have been Irish before that.
Chris: I see.
Tim: But mum was born there.
Chris: Now, Tim, we already said you don't have kids, but Neil, do you see
your kids coming up musical?
Neil: I'm not sure, I mean, my oldest is pretty, pretty handy with the guitar
and the drumkit, and stuff, but... he's hugely into it, but I don't know,
I've not put any pressure on them.
Chris: Would you feel good about them going into the music business?
Neil: Yeah, in some ways I would and in some ways I would be kind of weary.
You know, having seen what can transpire. But it's a good life. Hell, you
could do a lot worse than play music for a living.
Chris: Absolutely. We do have Tim and Neil Finn in the studio. We are
hearing a live performance. This one actually goes back to the seed behind
the Finn Brothers project, you're coming together for the Crowded House
album Woodface. Woodface, which came out in '91. This is an album that is
essentially you guys writing to... this is one you guys wrote together.
Tim: Yeah, this song, yeah.
Neil: We wrote this as part of that bunch of songs. We wrote them all in one
session, really. This song...
Tim: The Woodface sessions, I think.
Neil: This song, together with "World Where You Live," and I think "How Will
You Go" popped up as third or fourth. And it was actually written at the
time when we were kind of mentally dedicating it to a friend of Tim's in
particular, who we both knew who actually just passed away in America,
Tim: He was a recording engineer. He worked a lot with Robert Palmer. I
also did, I did one record with him as well. And yeah, he kid of checked
out early . He was a good man.
Chris: And this one's for him?
Tim and Neil: Yep.
Chris: Finn brothers on KCRW.
"How Will You Go"
Chris: "How Will You Go." That 's Tim and Neil Finn performing live in the
studio. "Morning Become Eclectic" on KCRW. That's from Woodface, the 1991
release from Crowded House, a song written together by Tim and Neil Finn.
I understand that recently when you went in to mix the Finn Brothers album,
that you did some remixing of the Woodface sessions. Is that right?
Neil: No, we actually remixed some demos that Tim and I did, the original
demos we did when we wrote the songs for Woodface.
Chris: I see.
Neil: There were some really nice takes we made up at my workspace. We
thought it to be a really nice addition. In fact I don't know if they'll
come out here or if they have or a b-sides of a single. I'm not sure.
Tim: In England they were.
Neil: They were b-sides in England, yeah.
Chris: So they're floating around as we speak.
Tim: They're really great, its like a whole other record almost, of
Chris: So they're songs actually that turned up on Woodface.
Neil: Some of them in slightly different forms and quite interesting for
those that care.
Chris: So its simply the demos of the songs that ended up on Woodface remixed.
And maybe b-sides.
Tim and Neil: Yeah.
Tim: Just mixed.
Neil: Actually never mixed, never really mixed properly, just like demos.
Chris: (Laughs.) That's interesting. What led you to take that step?
Neil: It's like those tapes, they had a real spirit and verve about them and
we thought that they deserved to be out there at some point.
Tim: We were actually approaching Don Was at one point to produce the
brother's record that was going to be and he said that he liked the demos
so much that he said that he thought we should just release them as the
album, you know. So that was kind of interesting.
Chris: So you said it sounds like another album to you, Tim, so do you think
there is a chance it may come together as one?
Tim: I think we should one day, throw it out there as a kind of a bootleg,
yeah. Just something. 'Cause I think the fans would really like it. It's
stripped down with strong singing and just really simple and yeah.
Chris: Very cool idea. So you had talked to Don Was about maybe doing what
would become the Finn Brothers album, but you ended up working with Tchad
Tim: Well this was years ago, many years ago.
Neil: This was many years ago, before we did Woodface. This was when it was
going to be a Finn Brothers record.
Chris: I see. Well nonetheless, the album that did become the Finn Brothers
record was produced by Tchad Blake, who is an excellent engineer, who
produced it with you guys. And this came right after, I guess, on the
heels of attendance at the Rarotonga Music Festival.
Neil: Yeah, it did. It set us up with a really good vibe and some
inspiration. It didn't really... We had written most of the songs before
that so it didn't so much influence the actual songs themselves, but
certainly in the treatment and the character of what we put on them. The
tea chest bass, some ukuleles, just the general sway and swagger that we
sensed up there.
Chris: So its the sway and swagger. Was there any spiritualness and
soulfulness that you took back from the Rarotonga festival?
Tim: Well its a funny mixture of extreme kitsch and extreme, you know,
ancient choral calling. I mean we went to Church there with the Christian
church lyrics but you wouldn't have known because it sounded very old and
powerful and full of Eros and spirit you know. The missionaries didn't
crush them, they sort of diverted them lyrically. But then we'd hear these
types of show bands, really playing plastic, sort of Gospel and stuff. So
there was this whole mixture in the Pacific. And some of it's amazing,
like the log drumming and the dancing. So there's a lot of incredible
stuff. We're going to San Maori (??) in September for.. This is like the
Pan-Pacific Arts Festival. They only have it every four years, its like
the Olympic Games of Polynesian Music. And that's going to be incredible.
You can't help but soak it up. They're such great people.
Chris: Well the reason I asked that question is because the treatment of
"Where is My Soul?" on this is so there. It's stunning.
Neil: Does it sound Polynesian to you?
Chris: It doesn't sound Polynesian. It's the search, the longing...
Tim: The yearning.
Chris: Yeah, the yearning.
Tim: Gotta have a bit of that yearning.
Chris and Tim: (Laugh.)
Tim: That's all you can say is where is it? 'Cause I mean nobody
knows what soul is. I mean you can hear it in music and you can see it in
your friend's face or you lover or your wife or your child, whatever. Or
in the flowers or the trees or you can see it in the gutter and all that.
Soul is everywhere, I suppose, if you look for it. But to define it and
say exactly what it is or where it is impossible. We were skirting around
that idea and we started falling into some chords. Neil started playing F
minor, which was very brave.
Neil: Its a shit of a key for the guitar. Makes veins bulge on the neck.
Tim: Bulge on the neck. (Laughs.)
Chris: It makes veins bulge because of the reach of it?
Neil: It's just really hard to hold a bar chord on an F minor for a long
period of time.
Chris: Can you play it for us?
[Neil plays and F minor while Tim laughs.]
Neil: It's the first key, first fret and it takes a bit of strength. I
had to have a rest the other night on stage.
Chris: So you gotta really want to play it.
Tim: That's right, you gotta really want to.
Neil: You gotta really want to. It's a difficult search isn't it?
Chris: But it works well for that yearning.
Tim: But its the yearning, the whole metaphor, its all there.
Neil: yeah, nothings worth anything without a struggle.
Tim: That's right.
Chris: So it could have been "Where is That Chord?" "Where is My Chord?"
Tim: Exactly. "Where is That Chord?" "How Do I Play That Chord?" and
Chris: (Laughs.) Well this will be our close and as we head into it, I want
to thank you guys for coming to see us.
Neil: It's been a pleasure.
Tim: Thank you.
Chris: We'll hopefully see you guys next time around. It's Tim and Neil Finn,
the Finn brothers. Live on KCRW.
Tim: Are we ready for me at the piano? We are ready, okay...
"Where Is My Soul?"
Chris: (Laughs) Thank you so much.
Tim: Okay. Thank you.
Chris: I love that piano element in there...
Tim: (Laughs.) Liberace ...
Chris: It's just so ...
Neil: It comes from Liberace, yeah.
Tim: It was done ...
[Recording cuts off at this point.]
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