- 13 Jun 08
The 24-year-old son of Crowded House's Neil, singer-songwriter Liam Finn adopts a sanguine approach to carrying on the family business.
"It’s funny,” Liam Finn says with a wry smile, “Ireland’s actually been the one place that doesn’t ask about him as much. I guess everyone here just accepts it.”
The young, bushy-bearded, twinkle-eyed troubadour knows just as well as Jakob Dylan, Sean Lennon and Teddy Thompson what it’s like to be accused of riding on parental coattails: as the eldest son of Crowded House’s Neil Finn, he’s resigned to the fact that his lineage will always be topical.
“It doesn’t bother me, because I’m really proud of where I come from,” he declares. “Obviously, it does get frustrating when sometimes you end up spending 50% of an interview talking about it – but at the end of the day, I guess you’ve just gotta prove yourself.”
Having spent the period before his debut album’s release touring with the reformed Crowded House, Finn admits it was strange playing with a band he’d literally grown up with.
“It was surreal, yeah,” he smiles. “It worked out perfectly, really. I had a gap in my touring schedule, they needed someone else, and I guess I was the obvious choice. My job was to play acoustic like Dad, which was easy, as it just came naturally to me. Our voices work really well together too.”
Familial support notwithstanding, Finn chose a fiercely independent route when crafting his very fine Elliott Smith/Beatles-influenced debut album, I’ll Be Lightning, last year. Largely written, recorded and produced by himself, it’s an affirmation of skill acquired over a lifetime.
“It was just the way it kind of happened,“ he shrugs. “When you’re on your own and engineering it yourself, you get more inspired ideas – especially when it’s the first time you’ve ever heard your song back. The first ideas are usually the freshest. I didn’t necessarily think that I wasn’t going to work with an engineer or any other musicians, though. I’d have people come in and do stuff, but I eventually realised that I’d get a lot more done on my own.”
The solo route may be a relatively new venture of Finn’s, but the musician one isn’t; he formed the (now disbanded) New Zealand rockers Betchadupa in his teens, but after the quartet moved to London to ‘make it big’, they found themselves drifting apart.
“I thought for years and years that Betchadupa was the band I was gonna be in forever, ‘cos they’re all my best friends and we grew up with this dream,” he admits. “But I think what you want to be when you’re 15, 16-years-old isn’t necessarily what you want to be when you’re 24. When I realised what I naturally did as a musician and a songwriter was a bit different, I wanted to, y’know, just test it out.”
Finally, was a name-change ever on the cards for his solo project?
“I’m happy being a Finn. I’m sure that my Dad and uncle are glad that I’m not doing some really terrible heavy metal thing and bringing shame on the family, and I’m happy that they’re not bringing shame on my name. If I was embarrassed by them, then maybe I would change it!”