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Liam Finn

There aren’t too many musicians who can claim great songcraft and the invention of a new word. But underestimating singer-songwriter Liam Finn would be a mistake on many levels.

FOMO (also the name of Finn’s new sophomore album) is a term my friends and family have been bouncing around the last year or two,” Finn explains. “It means Fear Of Missing Out. It’s for use when someone is feeling a bit sorry for themselves missing out on something – ‘stop being FOMO, you can go out and play with your friends when you’ve finished your homework!’ It seems that FOMO is becoming more of a global headspace now that we are so aware of what all of our friends are up to all the time through social media, and we know how much we’re missing out on every night of the week. You can’t do everything – but we hate missing out.”

Finn, who wrote FOMO (the album, not the word) while living on an isolated beach called Piha, says that the songs on the album were something of a reaction to going home again after spending the previous few years on tour with his first album.

“I suppose I was feeling FOMO after meeting so many new and lovely people, constantly moving around, and working really hard to earn a place in the music world outside of New Zealand (Finn’s homeland.) Retreating back to my country at the bottom of the world made me worry that maybe I was missing out on what I had created… or something. I’ve forgotten already now I’ve left again,” he chuckles.

Recorded with producer Burke Reid – as opposed to Finn’s first album, I’ll Be Lightning, which he recorded completely on his own – Finn calls FOMO “a far more collaborative experience.”

“I spent the better half of last year back in New Zealand writing, erasing, re-writing and freaking out before Burke got on board,” Finn says. “Once I had someone to bounce things off the process moved a whole lot faster. We then recorded the album quite quickly in Roundhead Studios in Auckland. We did a couple of three-week bursts – no days off, countless cups of white tea – and ended up with ten tracks. Burke had been doing really well at giving up cigs before we made this record.”

Finn’s new songs focus on his deft singer-songwriter talents and a little of his spiky side, too, which reveals itself in songs like “The Struggle.” Elsewhere, his playful pop skills, influenced in turns by ’60s music, ’80s pop, and even a little funk, are showcased in tracks like the wry, catchy “Cold Feet.” And if the timbre of his voice sounds a little familiar, then you might just be a fan of his father’s music – Neil Finn of solo and Split Enz/Crowded House fame, who’s a staggering talent in his own right.

“The music of my father and my uncle (Tim Finn, who was also in Split Enz)  has definitely rubbed off on me,” Finn says. “I always loved Split Enz growing up, and the songs of Crowded House are deeply ingrained in me. I think it’s played a big part in how I hear songs, my love for melody and lots of harmonies. Somewhere between that influence and growing up in the 90s listening to grunge and then alternative music  (I was obsessed with the Matador scene) is a good indication of where my musical heart lies.”

The rest of his musical self is lying in New York City for the time being, where Finn is putting on a residency at Brooklyn’s Rock Shop venue.

“I have been living in New York City for the past six months, and doing a residency seemed like a perfect way to introduce myself as the new neighbor,” he explains. “I also feel that at a residency I get to show the facets of what my live show is about. I’ll be playing my solo work, songs from my old bands’ records, and maybe the odd cover or two for good measure. I have done stuff as a one man band, spent the last year with a touring band of buddies I really love, and always welcome a good impromptu guest on stage, as perilous as that can be – so I think each show will prove to be very unique, and I’m hoping to create an involved spontaneous vibe that may teeter on the edge of disaster.”

“That’s what I enjoy, anyway,” he concludes. – Kristi Kates

Find out more about Liam Finn and his music at his official website.