Liam Finn - Fear of Standing Still
Author: Lydia Jenkin
Author: Lydia Jenkin
Being his sophomore solo outing, Liam naturally felt a certain amount of pressure to come up with an album equal to, if not better than his highly regarded first, but says he was wary of making it ‘I’ll Be Lightning Mark II’.
“I think everyone around me, between management and the record company, were very understanding and kind’a like, ‘Oh no pressure, no pressure’. But my self-imposed pressure was overwhelming… I’m not really interested in replicating what I’ve already done. There was probably a perversity in me that wanted to make something that fought against everything that I’d done.
“I guess also I wanted to find a way to capture that live persona, because that’s something that’s really hard to get in the studio. I still don’t know if I got it, or how to get it, but I think it was something that I was far more aware of. Because the live adrenalin really does something to me, and I love it, it makes me feel great.”
It seems he did figure out how to walk that line between the manic energy of his live shows and the more gentle refined aspect of his lyricism and melodic lines, with the new album nicely combining the two approaches. First single The Struggle is an ad-libbed rant about a dream where Liam sold his soul and had to have sex with Julian Assange on his birthday (which he later realised was probably drawing on his own struggle to make the album). Reckless is about how attractive danger and self-destructiveness can be, and includes an “… awesomely ’90s guitar solo”, and Jump Your Bones sees Liam in full blown celebratory mode, with all three tracks showcasing the gutsy, more experimental live sound he has developed. Even the more nostalgic ’60s-sounding Cold Feet, or the lilting Little Words have an edge, and the more precarious sense of Liam’s solo live performances, like he’s only just hanging on, but somehow pulling it together.
There are also tracks (Neurotic World and Real Late) that seem to confront the theme of how crazy and confused the world is, and figuring out your place within it.
“Whether it was a conscious or sub-conscious thing I’m not sure, because I didn’t go into writing the songs with those ideas, but I think that they naturally reflect where your heart is and where your mind is.
“It was quite an amazing time to be travelling a lot in different countries. I was in the States for the whole American election, with Obama getting into power, and even the pre-election stuff was really full on. It felt like there was so much strange energy, people learning and also realising how much they didn’t know, and that kind of affected me.”
Results of a few days spent working on some unusual drum recording techniques with Glenn Kotche, the renowned drummer of Wilco, can also be heard on Real Late and Jump Your Bones.
“They were some of the coolest days of my life I think. It was just after the Wilco tour and Glenn had planned a holiday in NZ and he came and stayed at my parents’ place, so I went and had dinner with him one night and sort’a said to him, ‘Hey if you’ve got a day when you feel like playing some drums I’d love to have a jam’.
“He’s so up for jamming, he loves it when he gets to play with new people, and a lot of his background is improvised stuff and quite experimental music and that was something that I’d really been a fan of in terms of what he did. He kind of knew that, and probably saw it as quite a fun way to get to do some of those things, something that’s maybe a little bit different from Wilco as well.
“So it was really exciting and we kind’a just mucked around for a couple of days in the studio, not at Roundhead per se, but just in mum and dad’s house which is up in the top floor. I kind’a just asked him to do a bunch of stuff, like we did a few songs but then I just asked him to do a bunch of recording with these contact mics and gave him a pretty abstract brief of what I was looking for beat-wise and he just did these wild, and yet relatively groovy and classic beats to my description. I used two or three of them on the record.”