Finn Brothers reunite for rare collaboration on 'Everyone Is Here'
February 16, 2005 - By ALAN SCULLEY
For the Call
For some 30 years, brothers Tim and Neil Finn have been building separate bodies of work that have established them as two of the most talented and distinguished pop music songwriters in history.
Each has fronted a band that produced impressive music, with Tim forming Split Enz in 1972 and Neil fronting Crowded House from 1985 to 1996. When not in those bands, each has released fine solo albums as well.
Only on a few occasions have the siblings worked together. Neil joined Split Enz about halfway through that band's tenure.
Tim, meanwhile, did a three-year stint in Crowded House before departing and leaving Neil to front the band for a final album, "Together Alone."
The brothers also came together in 1995 and made a duo CD called "Finn" before reuniting once more to write and record their acclaimed current CD, "Everyone Is Here."
Listening to Tim Finn discuss his relationship with his brother, who is six years his junior, it's little wonder that their collaborations have been rather sporadic.
"The thing is with families, you get into horrific fights, and we have," Finn said. "During this album we had the worst fights we ever had in our lives, about music, about songs, about not believing in what the other guy believes in, the whole threatening, confronting nature of that. But because of all of it, I think we did come closer, and it's like you can have the most terrible fight, and then the next day, well he's your brother, so you might as well just get on with it."
Finn said he has come to realize that part of their conflicts may be a function of he and Neil sharing a unique relationship compared to other brothers in the music business.
"I think it's hard writing songs with other people unless you're with somebody who can't do what you can do," Finn said. "And Neil and me, in a general sense I'm talking about, we can both do what the other one does. We both write tunes and we both write words."
This lack of clearly defined separate roles, Finn said, makes the relationship tricky at times. Plus, as the cliché goes, elements of a sibling rivalry also come into play — although Finn noted that this rivalry isn't as pronounced as it once was.
Given the many factors that can create conflict between the Finns, it figures that the "Everyone Is Here" CD did not come together without encountering a few obstacles along the way.
The difficulties began at the outset of writing for the CD. The brothers had lost their mother four years ago, and this had helped Tim crystallize a lyrical theme for the album.
"I was keen to explore the nature of our relationship in song," he said. "I don't think it's that common for brothers to sing to each other about each other. So I found it really fresh. Initially Neil was reluctant and didn't think people would really be interested in that. I mean, there was a slight danger that we could have gone into too sentimental an area, and I guess that really was what he was getting at. But I don't think we did. I think that we ended up getting there."
Themes of family, loss and shared memories are indeed at the heart of "Everyone Is Here," so in a large sense, Tim's initial concept for the CD came to fruition.
Once the duo had finished songwriting for the CD, recording got off to a false start with the Finns scrapping an initial session with producer Tony Visconti, known for his work with David Bowie and T. Rex.
They then set up shop with engineer Adam Kasper in Hollywood, where they recorded live in the studio using three highly respected players, drummer Matt Chamberlain, bassist Sebastian Steinberg and guitarist/keyboardist Jon Brion, to bring more of a human, small-combo vibe to the performances.
Once those tracks were recorded, the Finn brothers brought in longtime associate Mitchell Froom, who helped complete production on the CD and also played a few additional instrumental parts on the finished tracks.
The finished CD is weighted somewhat toward a softer side of the Finn brothers' songwriting.
There are a few catchy first-rate rockers — "All God's Children," " Part of Me, Part of You" and "Anything Can Happen" — but songs like "Luckiest Man Alive," "All the Colours" and "Won't Give In" move at a relaxed pace, giving the songs the space needed to showcase their lovely melodies and impeccable vocal harmonies.
The Finn Brothers will play material from throughout their careers during their show Friday at the Pageant, but in a semi-acoustic format. They're joined by bassist Tim Smith, with Tim Finn adding drums on occasion in his own unique way.
"I'm sitting down playing guitar and a drum together because I have the snare side mounted and a foot pedal plays both the bass drum and the snare," he said. "I've done quite a few shows like that just on my own.
"We'll be like a little rocking combo, but we can also strip it right down to very acoustic if we want," he added.
The Finn Brothers play Feb. 18 at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show cost $22.50.