The Veils' Finn Andrews and Shriekback's Barry Andrews: When Rock Stardom Runs In The Family Barry Andrews leads the band Shriekback and played keyboards for XTC. His son, Finn, has just released his third album fronting London rockers The Veils. But the family history is complicated: The two are friends, but the father didn't necessarily inspire the son.
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When Rock Stardom Runs In The Family

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When Rock Stardom Runs In The Family

When Rock Stardom Runs In The Family

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We'll end this holiday weekend show with a family tale.

Dad Barry Andrews leads a band called Shriekback and used to be in XTC. Son Finn fronts The Veils with a new album out now and a new tour coming next month.

As Christian Bordal discovered, father and son don't exactly agree on family history.

CHRISTIAN BORDAL: Two things stand out right away about Finn Andrews: his reticence in person and the strength and self-assurance of his singing voice.

(Soundbite of song "Sit down by the Fire")

Mr. FINN ANDREWS (Musician): (Singing) Born from the night in the roaring wind, cast out of the shadows by an unknown hand, warmed by the light of these falling limbs, drunk on the sadness of a universe unmanned.

BORDAL: When The Veils launched their European tour recently with a show in London, the place was packed with displaced Kiwis.

Finn Andrews was born in England but spent many of his formative years growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, and he has an apparently requited fondness for that other land down under.

Mr. F. ANDREWS: The culture there is quite young, so there's a real creative spirit there. No ideas are particularly tied down, you know? The place is still making it up. And there's certainly a lot more going on than Hobbits.

BORDAL: He doesn't remember his early childhood in London quite so fondly. His father, Barry Andrews, was a working rock musician. But Finn says those early years were not really the source of his professional inspiration.

Mr. F. ANDREWS: I think people assume I had a more musical upbringing than I remember it being. My dad wasn't around an awful lot when I was a kid, and when he was, it wasn't this particularly kind of bohemian childhood surrounded by music every day.

BORDAL: Barry Andrews, Finn's dad, remembers that time a little differently.

Mr. BARRY ANDREWS (Musician): Oh, blimey, yeah, yeah, a great deal of music in the household. I actually met Viv, his mum, through Dave Allen, the Gang of Four guy that I was in Shriekback with. Vivian was working as our cook at the studio, so she was there exposed to this groove every day with the baby Finn inside her, and then I would come home in the evening and listen to the mixes back obsessively. And when Finn was born, he did seem to recognize a tune and he used to buck like a wild thing against the stereo.

BORDAL: Finn says he didn't even start getting interested in music until after his parents split, and his mother moved the family to the other side of the world when he was 11.

Mr. F. ANDREWS: My mum's boyfriend at the time had an acoustic guitar, which I found under his bed, and she taught me how to play "Gloria," and I just kept playing it. And it's been one of the few things I didn't give up when I was crap at it. I was kind of crap at everything at school, and it was somewhere to go that made sense. It's kind of the same to me now, I guess.

(Soundbite of song "The Letter")

Mr. F. ANDREWS: (Singing) All the night her dream passes by my bed. Undeniable, and all she said she wrote the letter.

BORDAL: He might have been crap at everything else, but he matured very quickly as a musician and songwriter.

When he was only 17, Finn moved back to London and wound up living with his dad, and Barry put him in touch with Sarah Partridge, a former background singer for Shriekback. She became The Veils' manager.

Mr. B. ANDREWS: When he first came over, everyone was gobsmacked. You know, a 17-year-old boy had this amazing voice, and blimey, he's quite good looking as well. And suddenly, Sarah Partridge was getting calls from London record companies saying, we'll give you a grand just to be the first people to hear the demos, sort of thing. So it was kind of all a bit nuts really. He just went from high school to getting signed within literally a few weeks of getting off the plane.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. F. ANDREWS: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

BORDAL: There can be drawbacks to everything happening so quickly for an artist and at such a young age.

Mr. F. ANDREWS: When I started, I was pretty insecure in a lot of it, and I think because I was signed at 17, that first album was all made up of amongst the first songs I'd ever written, you know? I felt quite kind of strangled by it for a while, and I didn't really know if I deserved where I was, but I think with this record, I feel a lot more worth in what I'm doing, I guess.

(Soundbite of music)

(Singing) (Unintelligible).

BORDAL: With his voice mixed out front, Finn's lyrics become a focus of the music. He identifies Leonard Cohen as an influence, and the two do share a heavy, heart-worn quality, but where Cohen's lyrics have a simple directness, Finn's are opaque and hard to penetrate. He calls them personal, but he draws the veil and won't let us in to see the source. Maybe it's too personal.

Barry Andrews recorded his side of our interview in his studio outside London. But when he sent me the recording he had made, he left out his last answer, which I'd recorded on the phone as a backup.

Mr. B. ANDREWS: I think Finn's always found it painful that his mother and I are on different sides of the world, and there's a sense that you can hear it in his music, this sense of a kind of yearning and loss that - yeah, I must say, I don't feel great about. Beyond that, I don't know. It's sort of - it's a veil of tears whatever you do, isn't it, really?

BORDAL: But Finn tells me he and his dad have developed a nice little ritual for the last two Veils albums.

Mr. F. ANDREWS: We go for a little drive out to the country, and I put on the record, and we sit in a paddock and listen to it on the stereo in his car, and he gives me notes. It's quite nice.

BORDAL: Finn says he finds his dad's notes pretty useful. But like most kids, he sometimes has the urge to do exactly the opposite of what his father says.

For NPR News, this is Christian Bordal.

LYDEN: And that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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