Before his upcoming show at Northcote Social Club in support of his debut solo album.
In the autumn of 2004, The Veils made their presence felt on the national indie-rock scene with the release of The Runaway Found, their all-important debut. With the blessing of Suede’s Bernard Butler and praise from the likes of Pitchfork and The Guardian, the Auckland-via-London band arrived in a major way, only to have the whole thing implode on them a matter of months later when the band split acrimoniously.
This left its frontman, Finn Andrews, to pick up the pieces and carry on the name, which he would do for another decade-plus and an additional four studio albums.
“I’ve been thinking back to my younger self quite a bit lately,” says Andrews, 15 years on from the first album he ever made at the ripe old age of 20. “There was a lot of anxiety surrounding the way I wrote and made music at the time – I definitely don’t feel like I was old enough to be properly dealing with that sort of stuff. I’ve never really had much of a plan beyond writing things, and trying to give them the best chance of existence that I can. The one thing that was holding me back, really, was this sense of fraudulence about myself.”
After some 18 years at the helm of The Veils, Andrews has now turned in earnest to a solo career for the very first time. His debut album is One Piece at a Time, released this past March, which sees Andrews reflecting on the passage of his life and the lessons learned along the way – “So much so,” he says, “that I put my childhood self on the cover.”
When questioned about the timing of transitioning out of The Veils – for now, at least – and into Finn Andrews the solo artist, the singer-songwriter felt that it was a matter of little differences.
“It was sometime after we’d finished the last Veils record,” says Andrews, alluding to 2016’s Total Depravity. “There was a point where I found myself waking up and going to the piano to write – almost always, in the past, I went straight to the guitar.
“Even something as subtle as that felt like a hint of sorts to me that this new music was going to send me down a different path. It was a gradual realisation that these songs didn’t fit in the world of The Veils. I was haunted by them – they were just sitting around my house, unrealised. I felt as though I had to do something about it, or I wouldn’t be able to get on with my day.”
With this, Andrews went back to the lab – literally, in this case. The Lab is a studio in Auckland, where One Piece at a Time was put together by Andrews and his producer, former Jen Cloher/current Tiny Ruins guitarist Tom Healy.
Having spent a large amount of time in London over the years, recording in Auckland was a real homecoming of sorts for Andrews. “I could feel that my time in London was coming to an end,” he recalls. “I think that these songs provided a way out of there. They helped me along. All I had to do was follow the scent of them, so to speak.”
With this, Andrews now turns his attention to his upcoming tour in support of One Piece at a Time. It comes through Australia over the coming weeks, before making its way through Europe – and, true to the fluid nature of the songs’ creation, the performances too will be shifting from place to place.
“It all depends on what we can afford, really,” says Andrews with a laugh. “Some will be just me, some will be with a band, some just with strings and double bass. You’ll get some variation of that in Australia, so just come down and see what we’ve got for you.”
Check out Finn Andrews’ new album One Piece at a Time on streaming services. The Veils frontman comes to the Northcote Social Club on Saturday May 4. Tickets available via the venue website.