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The Veils

The Veils

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Wednesday 3rd April, 2013 10:12AM

London-via-New Zealand band, The Veils, are due to release their elegant, Sun Gangs follow-up, Time Stays, We Go, at the end of this month. Under The Radar caught up with songwriter Finn Andrews - his first interview in over 18 months - to discuss why it's easier to write in London than in New Zealand and the fact that, just like everybody else, he's pretty obsessed with the passage of time.

Hey Finn, what are you up to at the moment?

I just got home. We were just rehearsing so I’m a little bit hoarse as a result. I will try to annunciate.

Are you about to go on tour?

Yeah, we’ve got some festivals booked and we’re going to the States in April, around the time the record comes out. After that we’ve got a European tour.

Are you looking forward to getting a new album, Time Stays, We Go, on the road: it’s been a while since your last full length.

We’re all very excited...I’m just going to sit down on my chair – how’s New Zealand by the way?

It’s good, it’s hot. When was the last time you were here?

It’s been over two years now.

Do you miss it?

Yeah I miss my family a lot because I haven’t seen them in all of that time. I’ve got some lovely friends over here too. In London you’re kind of sick all the time. My friend just went over there and he looks like a completely different person: he’s been getting sun. Some magic happens when you’re in New Zealand.

So you do most of your songwriting in London, right?

Yeah, except for when we’re on tour or when I come back to New Zealand I’m based in London.

Do you think the aforementioned London environment has an impact on the kind of songs you write?

I mean I guess London’s not a dreary place insomuch that it makes you feel like you’re possibly dying in some way. But I find the cold helps. In New Zealand it’s too tempting to go out and have a nice time. Being somewhere cold you tend to be indoors more which suits writing better. I think this environment has probably influenced me more and more over time.

What was your writing process for Times Stay, We Go. When did you write the songs on the album and what were you influenced by at the time?

As a disclaimer I should mention this is the first interview I’ve done in about a year and a half so I apologize in advance, but I promise I’ll warm up. What was the question again? Oh yeah, what were the songs about…

I think it’s important that you have to prove to yourself that you want to make another album just by the fact that you’ve written songs that you love. So by the time I make a decision to write another record I’ve already written most of said record.

I wrote the album after we'd stopped touring Sun Gangs, which was probably the end of eight years of touring with little breaks - it was really relentless. That album (Sun Gangs) was written while we were touring and while we were in London in-between tours, and I think you should really only have to do one album like that. I felt like it was time to spend time on a record. So I’ve been writing every day for the last couple of years and there were a disgusting number of songs written because of that. I know I haven’t really answered the question yet but I will get there...

I don’t think the songs are about anything in particular: because I was writing every day they’re just reflections of whatever I was thinking about on that particular day, which I guess is the same stuff I’ve always thought about and liked writing about. I suppose time is a big feature of the record overall, that crops up a lot.

The fact that you wrote these while taking time out versus on tour must have impacted the subject matter somewhat?

Yeah, but I mean even the records I wrote when we were touring I wasn’t writing about boring tour anecdotes. It was still drawing on my imagination which can be ignited by anything.

Speaking of igniting the imagination: where do you find your inspiration? Is it in books? Is it in completely random day-to-day things?

I enjoy lots of things like books and music and I write things down that I want to remember for myself so I guess I pick random things up that way.

You returned to Laurel Canyon to record the album: what made you want to go there again and what the place inspired in the recording process?

It was partly for the same reasons we went there for the second record. Nick Launay part-owns a studio there and he’d help us a lot in the early days of getting this record together in terms of editing the songs. He has this place so this time he said we needed to go out there again.

We found that when we were doing Nux Vomica there we found it a beautiful place to be. I’m trying to think of an interesting answer to this question ... there’s an incredible history there. There's a boulevard that goes up to Mulholland Drive and you pass all these houses – five or six incredible houses on that route that had incredible records written in them. Mulholland Drive itself is inspiring but I don’t know what it is exactly, it just is.

You chose Bill Price to mix it and I understand that he put a particularly analog sound across the record?

Yeah. He’s done a lot of seminal records over the years. He’s in his late sixties / early seventies now and celebrated his fiftieth year of working in the record industry while we were working with him. He has incredible stories from the early days making records in London with The Beatles and all that lot. He’s this amazing character really and he mixed Nux Vomica as well. We knew that was the sound we wanted again and hadn’t made any records since and so we had to kind of lure him out to mix this one and we were very glad that he agreed to do it.

The album is pretty vast, sonically: how did you want it to sound?

With all of our albums I don’t think they end necessarily where you think they will. With all the albums I listened to growing up they were these unpredictable little journeys. So sonically it had to match that as well.

We used horns a lot on this record as well and I really think that’s added a lot to it and that’s a sound we’d never had involved before: we’d always done strings instead.

Aside from the brass section, when you decided to make this album, was there anything that you purposely wanted to do differently from previous records?

I would hope it’s the most focused. I think I’ve always tried to do the same thing which is just to articulate exactly what I’d like to say at the time in the best way I possibly can: I’ve always tried to do that for better or worse effect. This time I gave it as much time as I could give it to do that again and I suppose the way it turned out is just an organic reflection of that: there were no decisions made beyond that.

The artwork for the album is amazing too: where did that come from?

Yeah she’s a Californian photographer called Alex Prager and we just sent an email to her. She’d been a fan of the band and so she let us use the artwork and it’s got those nice Californian colours in it. I think it kind of looks like a kiwi house as well.

While you haven't said it directly, there seems to be this indirect fascination with time and place: is that a fair statement?

Yep I don’t know if I wrestle with those things any more than anyone else. But I’ve had a lot of things happen over the last couple of years in regards to the older generation who have all left, so I guess there was a real feeling of that strange conveyor belt moving along one more step. It’s stuff I think about a lot and I guess everyone is kind of freaked out by - meteorites and ticking clocks. I think we always have been. I find it the most fascinating thing to think about and write about: I spend a lot of time thinking about dark matter and space and time.