Brotherhood of Finn

They may have had their differences, but, as brother Neil tells Lynette Alcock, the celebrated Kiwi boys are back on the road.

For two small town New Zealand boys you might say the Finn Brothers had done good.

From humble beginnings in a dairy farming community to international pop stars in Crowded House, the last 30 years have left a massive back catalogue of solo, band and duo work behind them the pair of Kiwis.

But speaking to Neil Finn at home in Auckland, sitting making a montage of home movies for his son's 21st birthday, somehow you feel there is something much deeper and more wholesome to this man than just being a pop star.

“It is just about playing music,” he says in his soft twangy Kiwi accent. “In the end you are not so attracted to the extravagances of the music business, it is just that your music can get into a lot of homes and colour people's lives.


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“I mean, music is just as vital to someone at 80 as someone at 15. My father is a great example, at 82 he listens to his jazz every night and it fills his world.”

And it really is as simple as that. No great master plan. No massive desires. Just a 46-year-old husband and father who enjoys playing his guitar and writing music.

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Now his focus is firmly set on his latest album with his older brother Tim, Everyone is Here.

Since childhood, Tim and Neil have made music together, whether it was performing at parties in front of friends, or meeting up in the studio for a side project while putting band projects on hold.

In 1972 Tim Finn formed Split Enz, and after a shake-up in the band enlisted his younger brother Neil to play guitar, despite the fact he had never played an electric guitar in his life.

After the Enz split in 1984, Neil, formed Crowded House, but unable to stay away, Tim appeared back on the scene and began working on a side project with Neil.

Instead of releasing the work as a side venture, it was incorporated into Crowded House, and Tim joined the band.

The fruits of the brothers' efforts was the extremely successful album Woodface with its track Weather With You which broke the band internationally.

But Tim's life in Crowded House was short-lived. Within the year he had left the group and by 1996 the band had split up.

In 1995 the brothers joined again, this time for their first-ever jointly published album, Finn, but it had a mixed response.

Over the last nine years Neil has worked on two solo projects, Try Whistling This and One Nil, as well as undertaking collaborations with Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Radiohead's Ed O'Brien.

“I think collaborations are at the root of all good music,” muses Neil. “It's like with the Beatles and John Lennon and Paul McCartney; alone they were both talented musicians but writing together they were exceptional.

“Tim and I are family so we see each other both inside and outside of music. We still have to struggle and work at writing together but half the time we are trying to out-do and impress each other so it brings out the best in both of us.”

He explains: “We had talked about doing a collaboration for years so when we finally got working on this album we were just trying it its due at every stage.

“We wanted to give a lot of time to the writing so we had a strong selection of songs, but then it is pretty basic stuff in some ways.

“We are typical brothers. There are certain flash points between us, but when it comes down to it we share a lot of the same aesthetic. We have different attitudes and aspirations but there is something quite deep between us.”

Now the pair are preparing to embark on a UK tour.

“I am really, really looking forward to the tour,” says Neil.

“The run of venues is fantastic and the audiences in the UK tend to be very responsive and switched on to what we are doing.

“We just want to enjoy every night of this tour. We want to step out and play these songs and really connect with the people in the room in the same way as we did when we played at parties when we were kids.”

But as with every time the two Finns join forces, no one knows what the future will hold.

“We are going to wait until we have made it through the next year and then see how we feel,” says Neil.

“Success and ambition are certainly still there but they are tempered with being of service.

“I don't think I'll ever hang my guitar,” ponders Neil. “There may be a time when some aspects of the music industry stop being so appealing but playing music is lifetime pursuit.”

t The Finn Brothers UK tour comes to Cambridge Corn Exchange on Thursday October 21 (returns only, on 01223 357851) and the Regent Theatre, Ipswich, on Friday October 29 (tickets £26.50, 01473 433100).

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