Finn Andrews tells BRANNAVAN GNANALINGAM about the making of The Veils’ third album, Sun Gangs.



PART-NEW ZEALAND, part-British, and good doses of Southern Gothic, sonic explosiveness and melodrama, The Veils have been making a name for themselves around the world on the back of two strong albums. Now Finn Andrews, and his seemingly ad hoc collection of supporting musicians, are back with their third album, Sun Gangs. Sun Gangs demonstrates a sound which is familiar to Veils’ fans: moody imagery, winning melodies, unpredictable bursts of noise and Andrews’s barely contained voice. While it’s not ground-breaking, and occasionally a little too clinical, Sun Gangs is another solid release from the highly talented Andrews.

Andrews says Sun Gangs wasn’t too difficult to record. “We did it quick, three weeks, in London, in a wooden hovel in Acton. It felt like we knew these songs so well we could just record them without tinkering on anything too much.” The album was produced by Graham Sutton and Bernard Butler, and has been released through influential British label Rough Trade.

Nux Vomica, the band’s second album, had won some American and British critical praise. The band weren’t however, conscious of any raised expectations for Sun Gangs. “Whatever we make seems to take about two years for it to filter through and for people to become aware of it. It’s only recently we’ve heard people talking about how great they thought Nux was – I imagine it’ll be the same story with this one.”

The Veils are traditionally seen as solo project for Andrews, and the frequent band line-up changes hasn’t done much to change this reputation. However, Andrews seems to suggest that whoever he has in the band will always be contributing to the Veils. “The Veils for me is just like a sheet of tarpaulin to keep the neighbours from seeing what you’re making in your yard. People are going to come and go underneath it and there’s all kinds of weird deals going on, but it’ll never be just me under there. It’ll always be a community.”

“Gothic is a word that I think often needs clarifying to people – there’s a lot of great stuff you could describe as Gothic, like Flannery O’Connor, or Tennessee Williams, or Nick Cave, but mostly that word just reminds people of that girl in biology class who crucified a frog and wrote ‘ANARKEY’ in black eye liner on the wall, and that’s not really our thing at all.”


Sun Gangs is a sonically intense album. The album is constructed around loud/soft dynamics, walls of sounds and unpredictable bursts. It also feels more unified than the Veils’ other work, and tighter. Andrews says “every song on there knew exactly what it wanted to be the second it was written and it was pretty straight forward really, getting them down. I think my writing’s getting stronger, and this group of musicians was really immense together.”

His music is constantly compared to Nick Cave for its dark, metaphor rich tone, and the music has often been likened to Southern Gothic. I ask if the constant references to Cave and “gothic” sounds get frustrating. “Gothic is a word that I think often needs clarifying to people – there’s a lot of great stuff you could describe as Gothic, like Flannery O’Connor, or Tennessee Williams, or Nick Cave, but mostly that word just reminds people of that girl in biology class who crucified a frog and wrote ‘ANARKEY’ in black eye liner on the wall, and that’s not really our thing at all.”

Andrews grew up in a musical family. His father was a founding member of the seminal English punk/post-punk band XTC, and he’s frequently mentioned in interviews the influence his mother’s musical taste had on him. However, watching his father in the musical business might have been off-putting too. “I think it just made me not want a career. I like taking things at my own pace and I don’t like being told what to do. If I am fortunate enough to be able to do this the rest of my life I’ll be very happy, but I don’t want to do it my whole life just so I can have a career in it if you know what I mean. I think it’s important to always be prepared to throw it all in if your songs aren’t good enough. It keeps you on your toes.”

Andrews got his break early, and by sixteen he was touring the world and recording albums. While being precocious is frequently a good marketing point, it’s also something that’s difficult for the artists themselves – it must be difficult growing up personally while also developing one’s musical style, and putting oneself out there in the public when most teenagers are awkward and self-conscious. Andrews says “in some ways yeah, it was pretty terrifying. I was touring Europe while all my friends were still at high school and I felt pretty cool being able to do that, but I also felt like a massive fraud who was about to be found out and exposed. It’s taken me a while to get over that and really feel like there's something really worthwhile in what I’m doing.”

He’s travelled a bit between England and New Zealand throughout his childhood. A constant nomadic lifestyle is something could give someone a bit of an outsider’s perspective on things. “I think just growing up in New Zealand gives you an outsider’s perspective in many ways. I’m always content to be in my own little world, and trying to fit in just seems like such a pointless thing to do, and it’ll have a bad effect on your music too, if you’re trying to adhere to whatever happens to be making money that week. Plus I’d hate to be popular ‘cause I watched Heathers too much as a kid.” Having played considerably in both New Zealand and London, I ask Andrews for differences between the two places as musical environments. “I really have no idea how the Auckland scene is, it seems to me bands still want to get out of there pretty quickly. There are bands in London that can make a career just by playing in London and that's something you’d never get in New Zealand, though I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.”

There are rumours that ‘Killed by the Boom’, a Dismemberment Plan-esque freakout is about Omar Little, the cult figure from The Wire. Given he’s a fan of The Wire (he says seasons four and five are his favourite) it’s not a bad interpretation. Andrews says however, “it’s not about Omar, some guy just came up to me after a show and said he thought it was about him and I thought it was funny. He’s unidentifiable and that’s kinda the point of the song.”

Sun Gangs is getting some decent reviews at the moment in England, and will hopefully throw some more people onto the band. The Veils’ latest release demonstrates the still-young Andrews has plenty in him in terms of his musical development, but what’s there already is not too shabby to listen to.