This wasn't our first encounter with Finn Andrews of the dramatic, cathartic rock band The Veils. Way back in 2007, we filmed one of the band's many shows at The Bowery Ballroom over the years. Though our production is a bit primitive, Andrews' semi-possessed presence at the helm of the band is still a thing to behold. With the band swinging through NYC in support of their recently released fifth album Total Depravity (which features slightly unexpected production work from Run the Jewels' El-P), we thought it was a time for a catch-up, inviting Finn by our place for a short but captivating solo session.
Finn is an interesting fellow to talk to. His father is Barry Andrews; a founding member of the 80s cult band, XTC. He was born in London, spent his teenage years in New Zealand, moved back to London to start the band, and even spent a stint living with the band in Oklahoma of all places; a central location that made getting to either coast a little more manageable. In addition to taking us through his world travels, he talked of his affinity for crocodiles, playing "Swimming with the Crocodiles", from Total Depravity, along the way. He also dusted off an ancient number titled "The Tide That Left And Never Came Back"; a song off The Veils' very first album about missing home. Both are songs capable of painting vivid images in the mind of the listener, which it turns out is all Finn is ever really going for with his music. When asked what he hopes his fans find in his music, Finn answered. "I'd hope we are contributing something to the world that is exciting to see and listen to and ignites the imagination a little bit". Well, in our newest session at least, mission accomplished.
Hi, I am Finn from The Veils. We're playing a show tonight. Did it just come out today? We played a show in Bowery Ballroom, it was great. It was great. I was really tired but I pulled it together at the last minute. America, in general, is pretty exciting for us. We went for a long time just playing in Europe really, going round and round and round. And suddenly America kind of waved. It certainly bled into my songwriting a lot over the years. We had this sort of weird period where we were living in Oklahoma and touring. So, like, I don't now who's bright idea it was, but to sort of live in Oklahoma and then drive to the coasts and sort of do shows and then drive back to Oklahoma. So there's quite a few songs that came out of that sort of surreal period. Sort of right in the Bible Belt. Take the bandage off his eyes Take the bandage off and then go down Swimming with the crocodiles Spinning round and round and round Only I know I'm better off this way The water's still the safest place to stay They're sinking in their teeth tonight I can feel them move beneath me with no sound Swimming with the crocodiles And spinning round and round and round Only I know I'm better off this way The water's still the safest place to stay You're all I've ever wanted And there's no remedy I feel you when there's no one else around Hold me like a child, you swollen crocodiles Hold me under until I drown Then pull me down. Well, tell me what you came for Won't you tell me what you can and what you can't Because honey I might need a while Honey I might need a while longer And only I know I'm better off this way The water is still the safest place to stay You're all I ever wanted And you're no remedy I feel you when there's no one else around Come hold me like a child, You swollen crocodiles Hold me under until I drown Then pull me down. It's nice, occasionally, to sort of strip these ones back and just sort of just see, just to see what they're like, really. Sort of shave them back a bit and see. It's kind of interesting, but it's not their natural state anymore, I think. Certainly with the whole band, and it's a very different beast. Swimming with the Crocodiles is a new one, off the new record, and yeah, that was the only one I could sort of imagine working in any way, sort of stripped back in that way. It's quite common. Most people have this sort of thing, I suppose, an affinity with a creature. I don't know, the crocodile's, just, as I was saying, I don't really have much of an interest in the real world. Yeah, I've had dreams about them and they're always sort of, whenever I'm writing songs they always seem to end up sort of doodling them in the margins. I really don't know what it's about...I really don't know what that represents. This next song is called The Tide That Left and Never Came Back and this was a song that I wrote when I moved back to London from New Zealand when I was about 17 and...this is a song about missing the sea I suppose, or missing home, I guess, probably. I'm sick from this city It burns in my side The ships that are leaving They shine so bright in the nighttime Though the memory's faded It's still you that I find If only you could stay and Not leave me behind The tide that left and never came back Is on my mind tonight Oh, it's a small town Until it misses you, my love Don't fall into all Those sad stories you write Your voice is so pretty When it gets caught in the right rhyme Though the memories fade It's still you that I find If only you could stay and Not leave me behind The tide that left and never came back Is on my mind tonight Oh, it's a small town Until it misses you, my love It's a small town Until it misses you, my love It's a small, dead, broken little town Until it misses you, my love It's called Total Depravity. I'd hope we're contributing something to the world that is... that it's exciting to see and listen to, and you know, ignites the imagination a little. That would be the best I could hope for, I suppose. All our records, I think, they start in one place and end up somewhere different and I always want them to feel like a little journey through the night of a city or something and you don't know where you're going to end up. I love records that are like that and I think this has been the most sort of successful in that area, for me. It's a really unpredictable, I hope, a little journey for people.
As the son of keyboardist Barry Andrews (XTC, Shriekback), the Veils' Finn Andrews knew nothing else except a world full of music and art. He had plans to become a painter as a young lad; however, a move to his grandmother's abode in Devonport, New Zealand (near Auckland) with his mother pointed Andrews in a different direction during his teenage years. He frequented the local folk scene to escape the ho-hum of country living. Once consumed with his father's electronic work from the 1980s, Andrews was now interested in Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits.
In 2001, Andrews (vocals/guitar), then 18, returned to London. He befriended Ben Woollacott (drums), Adam Kinsella (bass), and Oliver Drake (guitar), and in a few months time the Veils were born. By fall, Rough Trade's Geoff Travis signed the foursome to the Blanco y Negro imprint, and immediately the Veils began working on their first album. They issued the single "Guiding Light" in 2002; however, contractual disparities and artistic differences with Blanco y Negro turned into a two-year battle until Travis signed the Veils to Rough Trade proper in mid-2003. Luckily, the Veils were able to keep songs recorded during that time. A second single, the lovelorn "Lavinia," was well received at indie rock radio in the U.K.. Shared dates with the Raveonettes, Beth Orton, and British Sea Power preceded the spring 2004 release of the Veils' debut, The Runaway Found.
The album had only been out two months when Andrews announced the departure of Woollacott, Kinsella, and Drake. In late June 2004, Andrews explained via the Veils' website (www.theveils.com) that a second album was already in the works, but that the original members would not be involved. Instead, he had returned to New Zealand, where he met up with former high-school classmates Sophia Burn (bass) and Liam Gerard (piano, organ), who then went back with him to London to begin Nux Vomica, the Veils' sophomore release, an album that then came out in the winter of 2006 (and the spring of 2007 in the U.S.). For the accompanying tour Andrews added drummer Henning Dietz and guitarist Dan Raishbrook to the band.