Q&A With Neil Finn at Bigsound 2014

Neil Finn had a relaxed air about him. From joking about LSD-filled M n’ M’s to break the ice with the crowd, to the fact he spent the entire morning in a pool, Neil Finn captivated the crowd with the history of his life. Neil Finn grew up in a town of 700 where his dad was an accountant. He had what he calls: “a pretty idyllic childhood”. When Tim, Neil’s older brother, formed Split Enz, Neil was only 13. Neil recounted tales from his childhood, including the clothes he and his brother used to wear to parties and the time he managed to sleepwalk to his aunt’s house. Neil recalled having to sing a motorcycle song called Terry, and proceeded to sing a verse to the packed Q&A, enthralling the audience.

The first albums he had on record were Beatles For Sale, along with Get Off My Cloud from The Rolling Stones. Neil’s love for music was supported indirectly by his Mum, who often simplified songs into a single chord on the piano. Neil learnt to love performing music from an early age, harmonizing frequently with Tim in the halls of his childhood home. As the Q & A continued, it became quickly apparent that Neil Finn is extremely humble, and appreciative of his parents and the childhood they formed for him. When Neil joined Split Enz, they were popular, but hadn’t quite made their mark yet. He remembered jumping around on stage for the first time in the UK with a half spiked haircut, entertaining the crowd. Neil described his performances as zany, and he never really got told by his bandmates to tone it down.

At the start he collected food and ran errands for Split Enz in between gigs. It wasn’t until after about six months he felt he had started to learn and create something meaningful on the guitar. Neil felt the reason he joined the band was because they knew that he understood Split Enz and what it meant, the importance of being able to perform was secondary. Split Enz didn’t want to be known as a weird art band, so thankfully Neil brought the huge hit I See Red to a practice and it was jammed as a slow track, but Tim wanted it to be played faster. I See Red kept speeding up until Neil couldn’t hold his guitar pick, and then Tim was satisfied.

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