With a troubadour's charm and a baroque sense of song craft, The Veils' Finn Andrews has virtually created his own amendment to the singer-songwriter rulebook at the ripe age of 24. Using preciousness and a gift for gab and guitar—not to mention familial rock royalty (his dad Barry is both an XTC and Shriekback alum)— Andrews has survived band member defections, stark solo acoustic gigs in front of rowdy crowds, and the pressures of claim and fame.
Known for the intensity of their live performances, Andrews and The Veils recently finished a three month tour of America and are headed back across the Atlantic to play for fans in their double homeland of England and New Zealand.
While the promise of the last record could have been easily squandered by member defections, Andrews soldiered on, leaving some of the polished balladry and Britpop leanings of previous release The Runaway Found behind. Now, with a full band including original members Liam Gerrard (keys) and Sophia Burn, as well as the Bad Seeds-styled sound of last year's Nux Vomica, the affable Andrews professes his delight at the reformed Veils and ponders how weird his recent relations with The Flaming Lips have been.
Junkmedia: Before we talk about the record, what was the impetus for Sophia and Liam leaving and then rejoining the band?
Finn Andrews: Sophia never left, but Liam had to quit for various reasons. All is well in the house now.
I saw you perform solo acoustic in New York a few years back, and the sound was stark and haunting. Would you have considered taking the Veils solo for the long-term, or was there a need to have the full-band sound again?
Unless it's going to be just me and an acoustic guitar I need to be in a band. I think your relationships with the people you're playing really effect the music you make and it's way more fun this way.
Is the songwriting process fairly democratic with the band, or are you the main catalyst? How does it work?
I write the songs, but then we work them through together. It's within the group that the songs really come to life, I think.
What was the overall inspiration for the more raw-sounding tunes on Nux Vomica? They are more fleshed-out yet somewhat grittier.
All of Nux was recorded live so they're all pretty raw sounding. Some are a little more unsettling than others though I suppose.
Was it premeditated to hook up with (producer) Nick Launay or was he perhaps suggested by your dad? What did he bring differently to the table, and what was the recording process like with him?
It was just good timing really. Nick got in touch with our label just as we were starting to think about Producers. Our families have been friends for years so when his name first came up it just seemed natural to proceed.
Are there any songs on the record that stand out on a more emotional or personal level, or is it all part of the same stew?
"Under the Folding Branches" took the longest to get and I think turned out as one of the most affecting. I'd been drinking gin all day and it was driving me crazy how long it was taking to play it right, then it just sort of happened. I don't remember a thing about that evening to be honest.
You're still young. Is there any other profession you'd see yourself in besides being a musician, or something you'd like to explore if you get tired of writing songs?
This is enough for me, I think. That's not to say I might just throw it all up in the air someday and become a dot com millionaire or something.
So what's next for The Veils? I hear something about holing up in Oklahoma with the Flaming Lips?
Not so much holed up, just detained against our will. We're working on the new record and touring all over the US. It's been the weirdest fucking three months of our lives.
By Kiran Aditham.
September 18, 2007