April 18, 2007

The Veils' Finn Andrews: +Sixeyes Interview

Finn Andrews is The Veils. From the moment major labels execs started waving five album deals in his fifteen year old face, he was on the path to leading his own band. At sixteen he left school and home in New Zealand to head for London to make music. 2004 saw the release of The Veils' debut, The Runaway Found. An album teeming with promise, it slipped under the radar of many who should have heard it. The album boasted the magnificently dreamy balladry of "Lavinia", a song that has wound itself about my core like a wild vine. The talent of Andrews staggered me when I heard the rest of the album and further more when I learned he was but twenty years of age. The sweeping romance of the imagery countered with Andrews cracking rasp, which could, and often did, rise with a feral grace, seduced many of us who are romantics at heart. The seduction continues with the second effort by Andrews and the new members of The Veils, Sophia Burn, and Liam Gerrard... the album is called Nux Vomica. Not as polished as The Runaway Found, production-wise, the new recording shows a growing confidence in Andrews as a songwriter. The ferocity unveiled on the debut is even more on show here in songs like "Not Yet", "Pan", "Jesus For The Jugular", and the title track, "Nux Vomica". And worthy successors to the lovely "Lavinia" are here as well, namely "Under The Folding Branches" and "House Where We All Live", the former being as romantic a song as Andrews has yet written. The only thing holding The Veils back from stardom is time, time to be heard, time to build an audience, and time to do things one at a time.

Finn Andrews was kind enough to answer some questions from an imaginary hammock on an imaginary dusty porch (when he wasn't worrying about time and space).

Tour dates and mp3s can be found below.
Check out this post for some live versions of
Nux Vomica tracks.

Visit The Veils myspace and be their friend.
Download Nux Vomica with eMusic's free trial offer of 25 DRM-Free MP3s.

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+SIXEYES INTERVIEW: The Veils' Finn Andrews
Let's start at the beginning... what instrument did you first pick up, guitar? And is that first instrument the one that still gets the most attention today?

Finn Andrews: I played around on a lot of different instruments pretty early on - I learnt the didgeridoo when I was about 6, circular breathing and all. I’m currently trying to teach myself the Viola but I’m still pretty shit at it. I figured I’d at least be as good as John Cale within a few months but it really doesn’t seem to be working out like that.

+SE: I was wondering if anything you've read had inspired songs on the new album, or on the first album?

FA: I read an essay by Susan Sontag in the paper last week that made me want to build a fucking city. It had a line in it, I don’t know if it was one of hers or not but it went: “Time is so everything doesn’t happen all at once, and Space is so it doesn’t all happen to you.” That cheered me up immensely.

+SE: I've gotten the impression from some lyrics and older interviews that you may be a homebody, that you like the comforts of hearth and home. If that's true, or not, how do you handle the constant flux of life on the road?

FA: I’m really pretty perverse – I want whatever is furthest away from me most of the time it seems, so when we’re on the road all I really want to be doing is swaying in a hammock on some dusty porch, strumming a banjo and humming to myself.

It might have something to do with growing up between New Zealand and England that nothing ever seems like that far away.

+SE: In the performance videos I've seen of the band and in photos you've adopted an image that some have described as pseudo-Amish. Is this a deliberate look you've settled on, or just a happy result of your style choices? And if deliberate, why?

FA: It’s amazing the amount of attention a big hat gets you. I just like dressing up in weird shit from time to time - bands all look the fucking same and I just woke up one morning and thought “Fuck it, I’m putting on an enormous fucking hat.” I don’t wear it anymore though.

+SE: I want to know what drives you to create? And why did you decide to make another album? I mean it seems like such a hassle and all to get a record made unlike say a painter who only answers to himself and does all the work on his own.

FA: I think it depends entirely on how you look at it: I haven’t met many painters who are laughing it up at people in the music industry cause they’ve got it so much harder. Anyone that works in the arts kind of has to just accept pretty early on that it’s a fucking struggle getting anything of any real worth made and you better just get used to it.

+SE: Nick Launay, who produced Nux Vomica, had worked on your father's (XTC) albums in the past. Did you know Launay personally because of this connection?

FA: Yeah, sort of - I used to go round to his house a lot when I was a kid and I’d amuse myself in his living room while the adults were up stairs making loud noises in the studio. It’s kind of come full circle.

+SE: Did you always have the idea of making music as a way of life in the back of your mind because of your father's career as a musician?

FA: Oh God no! It looked like the most horrific fucking profession imaginable – I wanted to make films or be a fisherman or something.

+SE: How do you think his career affected your confidence towards music and making a living at it?

FA: It made me very aware very early on that nearly everyone in the record industry is a self-promoting chancer who will work you to death and try to steal your money. That’s proved pretty much spot on so far.

+SE: Is there an artist or musician whose work you hold aloft as a goal you're attempting to equal when you write? Someone you measure yourself against?

FA: I read an interview with Martin Sheen this morning and I kind of want to turn out like him in 40 years time. I love Devendra Banhart’s stuff. He’s so free in the music he’s making and he really excites me about the music that will be made tomorrow. I used to be very obsessed with musicians more of my father’s generation when I was in my teens, people like Patti Smith and Tom Waits, but now I feel a lot more towards those closer to my age, people whose work is blossoming all around us right now. People like Rufus Wainwright, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Antony & The Johnsons, Bill Callahan. They’re kind of all driving me nuts at the moment.

+SE: What does the rest of the year hold for you and the band?

FA: We’re actually moving to Oklahoma to squat in The Flaming Lips living room and rehearse a record. You know how it is. We’ll be there ‘til August and then hopefully there’ll be a new album out by the end of the year. I can’t wait.

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From Nux Vomica
advice for young mothers to be [mp3]

From The Runaway Found
the valley of new orleans [mp3]

BUY Nux Vomica and/or The Runaway Found.


When performing live the band line-up is:
Finn Andrews (vocals, guitar)
Sophia Burn (bass)
Liam Gerrard (piano and organ)
Henning Dietz (drums)
Dan Raishbrook (guitar)

25th: Islington Academy, London, UK

2nd: Mezz, Breda, The Netherlands
3rd: Doornrosje, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
4th: Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5th: Bevrijdingsfestival, Groningen, The Netherlands
6th: Rotown, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
14th: Anciennes Belgique, Brussels, Belgium

7th: Mercury Lounge, New York City, NY, USA
8th: Union Hall, Brooklyn, NY, USA
9th: Great Scott, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
11th: DC9, Washington DC, USA
12th: The Khyber, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
14th: El Mocambo, Toronto, Canada
15th: Shelter 16, Detroit, Michigan, USA
17th: Empty Bottle, Chicago, Illinois, USA
18th: 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
19th: Grand Emporium, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
21st: Larimer Lounge, Denver, Colorado, USA
24th: Plaza Club, Vancouver, Canada
25th: Crocodile Club, Seattle, Washington, USA
26th: Doug Fir, Portland, Oregon, USA
28th: Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, California, USA
29th: Spaceland, Los Angeles, California, USA


  1. LOVE the Veils. I'm a new subscriber, and going to be one for a while if you keep this glorious stuff up.


  2. hey Jen
    thanks for your comment. I'm very happy you like what you've seen.

  3. Thank you so much for this.
    The Veils are my favorite band.