Liam Finn

Biography

It's not easy to hit a target when you aren't sure what exactly your quarry looks-or sounds-like. Don't misunderstand: Liam Finn knew what he and co-producer Burke Reid wanted to accomplish with FOMO, the follow-up to the New Zealand dynamo's 2008 breakout I'll Be Lightning. But they also recognised that capturing that je ne nais sais quoi that makes or breaks one-of-a-kind songs wouldn't be a cakewalk.

"We wanted to create an atmosphere that was immediate." Finn explains. "Nothing over-intellectualized or technically flashy. Songs that connected with everyday listeners who simply appreciate tunes that trigger tapping feet-or a lump in the throat. "We wanted to create music that, once you got into it, you could appreciate was good... but when you first heard a song, there was just something about it that made you respond, instantly." That trigger might be as rudimentary as a specific timbre or style of production, but whatever the case, Finn knew all those cues had to come from his gut, and be carried along by songs ripe with integrity.

Liam Finn already knows plenty about what audiences respond to. He toured with his father's band at the age of 14, and cut two e.p's and two albums with his first band, Betchadupa while still in his teens. In the three years since his solo debut I'll Be Lightning and Champagne in Seashells (his 2009 collaborative EP with tour-mate Eliza-Jane Barnes), Finn has crisscrossed the globe as a headline artist and support act with Pearl Jam, Black Keys, and Wilco and even cut a record with side project BARB he shares with fellow kiwi's Connan Mockasin and Lawrence Arabia. He returned to New Zealand and his little beach cottage (or 'Bach' as they say in NZ) to write and polish the songs for his sophomore full-length, yet found himself a bit stymied by being out of the spotlight-where anyone who has seen him live will attest he's quite comfortable-and back in the small pond from whence he sprang.

That friction is at the heart of the album title, an acronym for "fear of missing out." "My family and most of my good friends are all musicians, so they're always traveling, too." Catching up via mobile phone or e-mail, looking at Facebook photos of fun in faraway places, "FOMO" peppers their exchanges. "It's a very natural way to be, but it's also a slightly tragic term, because you should never wish you were somewhere else." And since Finn made the record at the tail end of 2010, at the height of summer in New Zealand, it often lived up to its title. "Every day that I went into the studio was gorgeous outside. Friends would be calling, saying 'Come to this great party... come out and play!'" Sorry gang, there's a record to finish first.

Finn enlisted Burke Reid (formerly of Australian combo Gerling) to produce the record with him. The Canadian-born guitarist and songwriter didn't boast a résumé as long and storied as other candidates for the post, but Finn recognized him as a kindred spirit. What he didn't anticipate was that his right-hand man held very different ideas about what constitutes a great record, and how to go about making one. When presented with myriad songs in various stages of readiness, Reid was most enthusiastic about the ones furthest from completion. "He didn't respond to the finished songs as much as he did to the little snippets of ideas, things as simple as just a beat, a melody, or a little keyboard riff. He picked up on those and said, 'Let's try to expand on these!'"

It was an ideal strategy to capture that elusive spark Finn was after. It was also a potential recipe for hurt feelings. "It was quite confrontational at first," he says of their collaborative process. "But that's why I wanted to work with Burke. I didn't want it to be easy process. I wanted someone who pushed me to perfect something different." FOMO couldn't be an obvious, logical progression, or merely I'll Be Lightning, Part 2. "Solo artists are pretty easy to peg," Finn demurs. Unless they forge into unfamiliar territory. Given its dynamic range of sound and instrumentation, you'd never guess FOMO was the written and played by one man-unless you've witnessed one of Finn's solo gigs, which feature him bouncing between instruments, piling on loops and layers, and working up the sweat of several men with his head-shaking, body-quaking performance style.

Clocking in at 36 minutes, FOMO teems with seemingly off-the-cuff performances, and raw exuberance. The cavernous echo and angelic backing vocals of "Neurotic World" hint at '60s girl groups, but spiraling keyboards, vapor-trail guitars and the convoluted emotions of its lyric propel that album opener in unexpected directions. Irrepressible sing-along "Cold Feet" marries a sunny '60s guitar riff to the timeless sentiment of wondering what will become of a summer romance as autumn approaches. "The Struggle" bristles with distorted guitars and vocals, anchored by a bass riff straight out of a vintage TV action show, then quickly gives way to the cheeky bounce and sweet harmonies of "Little Words." On the crackling closer, "Jump Your Bones," Finn sounds almost tongue-tied with jubilation; it's the perfect send-off for a record that sounds incapable of keeping the artist's emotions in check-not that he'd bother to try.

"I made I'll Be Lightning completely on my own, engineered and produced it, and that was quite a cathartic process at the time. This time I wanted to make a record that was truly reflective of where I'm at now." Whereas the primary feeling that inspired Finn's debut was heartbreak, FOMO encompasses a wider spectrum of sentiments: the artist's struggle to grow and evolve; the international nomad versus the small town New Zealand boy; and, happily, newfound love. "Making this record, I got to rediscover myself," he concludes. And that person is on full display throughout these ten songs. Fear of change holds some artists back. Not Liam Finn: FOMO is a great leap forward.

Official Bio
Read More

Stream Liam Finn's New Track 'Burn Up The Road' Ahead Of The Release Of The Nihilist [Listen]

24th April 2014 -

 Press

'Burn Up The Road' is a fuzz-pop gem inspired by Liam Finn's night-time bike rides through New York, which chimes both with the deranged brilliance of Civil Civic and the anthemic qualities of The War...

Any Day Now

5th September 2013 -

 Movie Review

There's a subtle blast of righteous anger in this pointed drama, which finds present-day relevance in a true story that's more than 30 years old. The focus is on normal people who are caught up...

Liam Finn - FOMO

18th July 2011 -

 Review

At the age of 27 Liam Finn has certainly built up an impressive musical CV. Aside from fronting the now defunct New Zealand outfit Betchadupa, he's supported the likes of Eddie Vedder, The Black...

Liam Finn - Champagne In Seashells

2nd November 2009 -

 Review

Review of Liam Finn’s EP Champagne In SeashellsThe eldest son of Crowded House’s Neil Finn, Liam Finn releases this as the follow up to his debut album, 2007’s ‘I’ll be Lightning’. Currently on a...

Back to top

Liam Finn Images

More Liam Finn Pictures

Back to top

Liam Finn Interviews

Liam Finn - Interview

2nd June 2014

With the release of his third studio album 'The Nihilist' via Yep Roc Records, Liam...

Back to top

Liam Finn Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Liam Finn

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

The Riot Club, formerly known as 'Posh' and based on Laura Wade's 2010 play...

Dark Drama 'The Riot Club' Is Never Dull, But Lacks Bite

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

If you're even remotely into electronic music, then you are more than likely to know who Aphex Twin is. After becoming...

Aphex Twin - Syro Album Review

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Maisie Williams, best known for playing Arya Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones...

Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams Set for Channel 4 'Cyber Bullying' Drama

Reaper - Trailer

The Reaper (Mike Michaels) was formerly an ordained minister before embarking on a rampant killing spree with...

Reaper Trailer

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Counting Crows have delighted us with their first album release since...

Adam Duritz Of Counting Crows Talks Of Liberation, Fun And Childhood Fascinations

Ringo Deathstarr - Live Review

The Sabotage Club in Lisboa has all the trappings of the typical toilet circuit venue, if you were to disregard a decade...

Ringo Deathstarr supported by The Telescopes, NAAM,  11th September 2014, Lisboa Sabotage Club Live Review
Advertisement

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

X-Men: Deadpool, a project that has long been in development for Twentieth...

'X-Men: Deadpool' Set For 2016, Ryan Reynolds Likely to Star

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Ben Whishaw, the British actor who played Q in Skyfall and who portray the...

Ben Whishaw Lands Starring Role in BBC Thriller 'London Spy'

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review

Dolly Parton is an international treasure - and a rare breed, at that. She is a...

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke: The Best of Dolly Parton Album Review


More recommendations

Comments