Analogue Music | Finn Andrews

Finn Andrews

By Matt Conner

Asking about The Veils isn't as simple as it sounds.

Finn Andrews isn't sure of a lot of things these days, and the state of his longtime band is one of them. The required lockdown in the face of a global pandemic has forced a lot of uncertainty upon us all and Andrews just isn't quite sure what to make of his present, let alone his future.

The Veils have a nice following on a global level and Andrews himself is just one year removed from releasing his first solo record. That sort of longevity and catalog should yield some predictable path forward, but as Andrews explains things, The Veils has always lived in this rare space between famous and not quite famous enough.

For now, Andrews is just trying to write as much as he can to stay focused on what he can control. The rest will sort itself out. Like most artists in these quarantined days, he knows he's going to have to get creative, which means he won't be moving out of that unsettling space any time soon—whether solo or with his bandmates.

Analogue: You just played a few shows, your first since this whole COVID-19 pandemic. How was that for you and did you hear from the audience how it was for them to be back out?

Finn Andrews: It was a very special couple of days. I'd written a lot of songs throughout the lockdown. It was a mercifully productive time. I don't know what I would have done with myself otherwise. After a year of not writing anything, as soon as the lockdown began, I had a really productive period. So I had all these songs. It was quite surreal to be playing these songs written very recently. I guess we're always having a shared experience in the world, but over the months, we'd had a very shared experience. [Laughs] There was just a strange mania with everyone being together and ordering drinks again. Everyone seemed in a very similar headspace. They were the easiest shows I'd ever done, I suppose, because everyone wanted to have a really nice time and I felt the same way.

"God knows what it will be like after all of this. But I suppose you just have to get clever. That's usually what it means is that artists have to think of new ways to go about things."

Analogue: Some artists have told me these quarantined days have felt way too heavy to write but not you?

Finn: No and I feel rather guilty about it. I've read things like that. It may have just been coincidental since, as I said, I had this very dry period. I try to write every day and keep a good routine, but I'd had a long, dry spell. I don't know if it was coincidence or something to do with all of this but I wrote a lot in that time. I had the usual cabin fever like anyone else, but it also focused the mind. I don't know if the songs will stick around or whether they were of their time and I'll move on to something else. But I did focus the mind for me.

Analogue: What was the issue behind not writing over the previous year? Did you figure that out?

Finn: I wish I knew. If I knew what it was, I'd change it. It was a very strange period. It's a part of never really being in control of this thing. I guess it's good to be presented with the fact that you're not really in charge.

Analogue: How much discipline is there to your method during these lockdown days?

Finn: It's a kind of slack determination. I don't keep a 9 to 5 thing completely, but it is around those hours. I'll start around 8 or 9 in the morning, I suppose, and I'll finish around 5 or 6 or 7. I'm trying to get a little healthier with it. For years, I've been like that without trying really. It's just what I like doing with my time during the day, but I'll often forget to eat or do things like go for a walk. I'm trying to look after myself a little bit as well. I do tend to go into a bit of tunnel vision and then forget I haven't shaved or eaten. I'm trying to do that just for my own mental health or otherwise I tend to lose myself for a long period of time.

Credit: Matt Holyoak
Credit: Matt Holyoak

Analogue: How much has been cancelled for you in all of this?

Finn: Some tours were cancelled but compared to others, it hasn't been so bad. I was fortunate to have my record come out last year. I have a lot of friends with records due to come out and they've all been scrapped or people are waiting. It would be such a difficult situation. Really I feel nothing but gratitude for where I'm at, especially as other members of The Veils are scattered all around the planet at the moment. I got to hear their experiences. Ubi [Rapisardi] is in Florence and Henning [Dietz] has been in Paris and Sophia's [Burn] in London, so I've had a cross-section of opinion in all of this. I've felt so grateful to be where I am and not be really struggling in the same ways as other people.

Analogue: I'd love to hear about being on this side of your solo release from last year. From everything I read, you were waiting a while to even release it, so now that you're on the other side, did it go as you hoped?

Finn: It was originally, I suppose, intended as a brief meander down a different path and then I'd return to The Veils and carry on as normal. It ended up with me moving countries, spending two years on it and then all of this mess kicking in. [Laughs] It became a life-changing moment in my life, really. It was just because I'd written a bunch of songs and wanted to get them off my desk and the only way to do it was to make a record and move on. But it's led me down a completely different path now.

It was a difficult experience because you're going back to the beginning but you're not. You're starting a new thing and you've got some of the expectation or weight of your past but not as much as when we make a Veils record. It was freeing in some ways and disappointing in others. It's trying to negotiate your way through the music industry now from a beginning point again.

The most negative impact is likely yet to come and it's more to do with trying to make another record and put another record out and tour another record. I don't know really how that will work. We've never had the success where we're guaranteed to make another record. We've always had our cap in hand and you're like, 'Please we've written these songs and they're actually quite good.' You've got to do that for a couple years and convince people to give you some money. [Laughs]

I worry what the industry will be like in that manner given that they've hardly been risk-averse before all of that. God knows what it will be like after all of this. But I suppose you just have to get clever. That's usually what it means is that artists have to think of new ways to go about things.

Analogue: How was it making music under our own name in that way versus being in the band? More vulnerable? More exciting?

Finn: Yes, it's more vulnerable. You don't have your gang behind you in the same way. I felt very nervous, very apprehensive, about how it would come across. I'm just this guy on the piano with these songs. I don't even necessarily have a cool name. I wish I was... Lucius Magnificence. I don't know. [Laughs] Lucius the Magnificent.

Analogue: There you go.

Finn: Yeah I should have used that. But there's nothing more boring than your own name. You've had that your whole life. Oh god. But it was nice to sort of take away the veil—that's the obvious thing, isn't it?—it did feel like I wasn't hiding anymore behind this name I just came up with when I was 17 and I can't even really remember why I called the band that. It's just a name to put on the marquee really. Then suddenly it's you.

The nicest part was to be free. Obviously I made all of my mistakes in public when I was signed at the age of 16. There's a lot of stuff in the early days that I probably wouldn't have done, stuff that comes up when you Google 'The Veils' that's still the first things to come up. That's a drag. But now I just do stuff that I love and is really representative of who I am now. So it's the starting again that's freeing but also scary.

Analogue: You said the solo record was intended to be this quick thing to get the songs off your desk. If it turns into something so much bigger than that, if I put myself in your bandmates' shoes, I'm assuming I'd be pretty concerned or upset. Was there some communication there? Did it turn into a much bigger break than expected?

Finn: It's a complicated question, Matt. The Veils have been in a strange state for quite a while. I certainly didn't envisage leaving it or anything when I started this. But it's been such an uphill battle for us. As I said, every album we have to find someone and some money to make it. I don't really know anyone else, even a band, who has functioned in quite the same way. We've done quite well and had some good things happen. We've played to good size people all over the place, but it's never made money. It's never really been anything that made any sense, really, in any kind of grown-up way. Our accounts just look horrendous. That's why labels stick with us for a while before they say, 'This makes no sense.' Then we have to fool someone else that we might be a profitable enterprise at some point. [Laughs]

"Our accounts just look horrendous. That's why labels stick with us for a while before they say, 'This makes no sense.' Then we have to fool someone else that we might be a profitable enterprise at some point."

Because of that, it's been a hard thing to keep everyone doing it all of the time. Our bass player got a proper job a few years ago. People have all had to have other things on the side. Our drummer is also our manager. Everyone has their cheats to get by doing this thing. We've just never been able to make complete sense, so everyone is also understanding of me needing to do something else—not just for financial reasons but just to have other outlets as well. Not everyone from The Veils is always available. I'm writing songs and I'm the only one who has nothing but this, I guess. I'm sorry for the convoluted answer but it's a fairly convoluted situation. [Laughs]

We're in this position where it's this strange dysfunctional family that is spread out all over the world that would still like to keep making music together. But right now, we'd have to find the money to make another record and currently we're all isolated in different parts of the world. For my own sake really, I just keep writing songs and now it's becoming a way for me to keep going in an easy manner. It's more flexible with me where I can get people around me to play and do shows on my own as well. It's a new things just turning up in places and playing piano. The others are very understanding of that. It's all been very open and discussed at great length.

Analogue: If I'm reading the tea leaves, it sounds as if you might need a second solo release if the desk is just going to have even more songs piled on top.

Finn: It's certainly on my mind. I don't know. It's hard. The Veils have been with me for as long as I can remember. It's been this banner heading. The lineups have shifted quite a lot over the years and styles have shifted as well. It's gone through all kinds of permutations. I feel like I could do that again. It could just become the same thing in some ways but without these other wonderful people there that definitely do something different to these songs. But I don't know. I'm wrestling with it all the time if it's something that can keep coming with me that doesn't feel restrictive, I suppose.

VISIT: Finn Andrews/The Veils