Everything about The Veils' lead singer, Finn Andrews, suggests contradiction. He is the perfect example of never judging a book by its cover. Outwardly introspective, his voice quiet and wistful; yet on stage, a transformation occurs, and he becomes a verbal tornado, deftly whipping through tracks like 'More Heat Than Light' and 'Lavinia'. As The Veils conclude their sound check, Finn emerges into the overcast streets of St. Mary's ready to chat. He suggests retreating to the tour van to escape the distraction of fellow headliners Bell X1 as they commence their own sound check before doors open for the gig.
"It's been kind of on and off for the last two years," says Finn on the recording of The Veils' forthcoming Rough Trade album 'And One of Us Must Go'. With their new single 'Guiding Light' out now, The Veils are continuing an upward course that began with the single 'More Heat Than Light' a few months ago. Receiving early positive mentions in LOGO Magazine and The Fly, the impending debut album release will hopefully propel The Veils into the limelight for all to see and hear.
The album has been something of an intercontinental experience for Finn and the rest of the band, as over the last two months, The Veils have recorded songs in several countries. "We recorded all over the place... Scrubs Lane in London at Two Kilohertz... Liverpool. We did one song in New Zealand. It's been up and down, because it's been over such a long period [of time]. This album's been recorded over the last five years or so, and it's all been spread out."
Following a well-received live session on Virgin Radio, in which they performed two songs, the band conducted a nationwide tour of England, which included gigs at London's Barfly, Rock City in Nottingham, Southampton's Joiners, culminating in their final joint headlining appearance with Bell X1 at Soundhaus in Northampton at the end of July. "It's only started happening for us since we moved to Rough Trade that we've put a plan together," Finn says of the band's recent endeavours. "Before that, it was whatever came up, playing to the people, and seeing how the album transferred to the live environment."
Finn describes the experience of touring to have been a positive, if somewhat exhausting experience, having toured extensively since completing 'And One Of Us Must Go' several months ago. He cites several venues as personal favourites from the tour. "We played the Cherry Jam a lot, which is in London... the Barfly, the Monarch in Camden...it's always nice [to play there]." I point out the relatively confined performance space of Joiners, and wonder if Finn prefers the smaller venues from the tour, or whether larger venues such as Barfly offer a more conductive atmosphere to play in. "We did quite a few acoustic gigs...in smaller places. As long as [the venue's] full, I don't really mind."
Observing the sound-check earlier, I noticed that the group were set to play a more up-tempo set list than previous sessions, which suggests that the band are continuing to balance their material between slower, melodic tracks, like 'Dominoes' and 'Leaver's Dance, and faster, frenetic songs like 'Guiding Light' and 'Lavinia'. Which type of pace does Finn prefer? "When we played in clubs in New Zealand, it was all just acoustic guitars and suchlike. It's what we're more used to and comfortable with," he asserts. "That works, and it's really amazing."
The Veils have come a long way since they started out, from their initial touring sessions, filling the support slot at numerous gigs and venues, but their now-concluded tour with Bell X1 should propel them further into the spotlight, with future headlining gigs a definite possibility. Finn is self-depreciating about the change in the band's fortunes. "The first few tours, we were under an alias. We'd just got started, and we were really quite bad. We didn't want anyone to know about us, but we wanted to be playing. About a year ago, we started doing proper support things."
"The whole precursor to the album has been about half my life now," he says, grinning silently. Finn is sanguine about the pressures of recording the album, wistfully contemplating the toll that the project has taken on him over the last couple of years. "It's mainly been recording and writing," he notes. "Half the album's been recorded over the last five years, but the rest's been written in the last four months. There have been breaks where I couldn't do anything. It's become a thing where I experienced nothing more than playing, so there was nothing to write about. I'd just listen to the Stereophonics all the time."
The conversation turned to song writing, and Finn revealed his own 'method' for what is essentially an ambiguously fluid process. "I wrote really quickly, usually. I'd come up with a melody, or guitar line, or song lyric, but then I'd leave it for a couple of days, and then go back to it, and just kinda go with it, and then it comes. I'd keep everything on a little Dictaphone, 'cause I'd forget stuff." As we wrap up the interview, I ask Finn about future gig appearances, and whether a trip across the Atlantic to either the US or Canada is in the pipeline for The Veils. "Definitely," he says. "We're just sorting out a distributor for the States and Canada, for next year. We're hoping to carry our own once the album's out."
Writer: Steve Bromby