London-by-the-way-of-Auckland five-piece The Veils have been darlings of the alternative music scene since unveiling their debut long player The Runaway Found in 2004. Now four albums deep, the band are masters of dynamic, combining delicate moments of beauty with full blown possessed chaos.
The band now has their fifth album Total Depravity in sight. The lion's share of the release was written using mutilated loops and sounds as a starting point - a notable point of difference from previous releases. With producer Adam Greenspan at the helm and collaboration from Run The Jewels member El-P, the album was recorded over a two-year period in Portugal, London, Los Angeles and New York.
On the verge of releasing Total Depravity on August 26 we caught up with enigmatic frontman Finn Andrews to find out the band's collaboration with El-P, the process of songwriting, spirituality and what he's doing in the credits for the forthcoming Twin Peaks reboot.
Hi Finn, how are you?
I'm well, thank you.
Can you please give us an idea of your songwriting process. How do you typically begin? And how do you translate that initial idea to a fully formed song?
It's a solitary thing in the beginning, just tinkering away every day until something grabs your attention. I've become more at ease with the fact that you're walking in the dark all of the time with no real idea where you're going, and I just try and write every day and let it lead the way rather than the other way around.
Are there any particular songs on the album that developed easier than others?
Yes definitely, some songs came in an afternoon, others over months or even years. They all have their own particular patterns and timings that are a total mystery to me until they're finished.
What's the most important part of songwriting to you?
I suppose it's capturing time, like a moth in a net. Ultimately, they just help me to make sense of things.
How do you go about keeping your musical output feeling fresh?
I don't really think of it like that, I really have no idea how this stuff sounds to anyone else but me and I've given up trying to figure it out. If it excites me then I run with it and that's that.
How did the collaboration with El-P from Run The Jewels come about? How big was his influence on the sound of the record? Did Adam Greenspan and El-P focus on different production elements?
We just met up one night in Los Angeles and became good friends quite quickly, it just seemed obvious we should try and make something together. It was a very rare opportunity to work with someone from a very different background in music that also had a sincere appreciation of what we were about. Both he and Adam just really helped shepherd the record along and they both brought different sides out of us during the recordings.
Tell us about the David Lynch connection…
We recorded a song in his house with Dean Hurley who works on all of David's solo records and soundtracks. It was incredible to get any words of encouragement from David, we've obviously admired him for years, like everyone else.
You're also credited as featuring in the Twin Peaks reboot. Can you please give us some insight to what your role is?
I'm not permitted to talk about it yet unfortunately.
Were there interesting techniques used in the recording process?
Watching El-P work was incredibly interesting, the way he builds up these vicious textures and manipulates instruments to within an inch of their lives. The process was all about taking the organic instruments of the band and then fucking them up which really was tremendous fun.
Who mixed the album? There's an incredible amount of depth and space!
It was mixed by Joey Raia in Brooklyn and by Adam Greenspan and Michael Patterson in LA. They were both mixing tracks at the same time so it was pretty chaotic but yes, they did an amazing job. There are parts of the album that were recorded very strangely, like the vocal on 'Axolotl' was just sung into the built-in laptop microphone, so they ran everything through lots of valves and analogue desks to warm everything up again.
There seems to be an overarching theme of spirituality running through the lyrics? Are you a spiritual man?
Spirituality is a cagey word, I don't know how I feel about it really. Writing songs helps me find meaning in all kinds of things, so I suppose in that way it is somewhat of a spiritual process. It's also just about the love of making an ungodly racket.
Will you be touring the album in New Zealand?
Oh yes of course, we'll be announcing shows for January very shortly.
Are there any new songs you're particularly looking forward to performing live?
I'm particularly looking forward to hearing 'King of Chrome' through an enormous PA, but they'll all be fun in different ways I'm sure.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I'm listening to a lot of Sharon Van Etten, catching up I guess. Emmy Lou Harris and Lucinda Williams, too. Various country music, for whatever reason.