Tim Finn, on playing his first Woodford Folk Festival

By Mariam Digges

Tim Finn, on playing his first Woodford Folk Festival
Tim Finn makes his Woodford Folk Festival debut this year. We speak to the former Split Enz founder about what fans can expect from him at the iconic music festival.

This is your first appearance at Woodford Folk Festival! I was a bit surprised to read that.

I only started doing festivals over the last seven or eight years. I did Byron Bay Bluesfest, Splendour with Neil [Finn], Port Fairy, Falls Festival… I’m not sure why I haven’t done them before but they’re great – I guess partly because festivals themselves have developed a lot in that period.

How did you come to be on the Woodford Folk Festival bill this year?

I was told about Woodford by a friend of mine called Michael Barker – a percussionist from New Zealand who used to play drums with The John Butler Trio. He always said to me, ‘Woodford – you’ve got to do Woodford Tim.’ So I’m very excited to be coming. I’m bringing the family and kids – I’ve got a son who’s 15 and a daughter whose 10 and they’ll be with us. I’ve also been told it’s a great hang for kids, so I’m looking forward to it.

How does performing at a festival differ from performing at a regular show for you?

There’s always a fraught aspect to playing at festival – you get no soundchecks, but you just have to plough ahead and not worry at all. It’s all about he crowd – they’ve been there all day and have been riding these different waves, and they’re ready for another one.

What are some of the ‘favourite hits’ arsenal you like to pull out during a set?

The ones that have been successful over the years, like I See Red and Weather Was You – quite a few actually. I sort of build the set around those.

You’ve been part of numerous bands throughout your career – in the 70s-‘80s with Split Enz, then with Crowded House and more recently part of ALT and The Finn Brothers. Do any standout as being the most memorable or enjoyable?

Split Enz was my band – I formed that band in 1972 and nothing will ever take the place of your first band. We achieved a lot of what we set out to try and do: bring our music to the world, become well-known in places like Australia and England, and to a lesser extent but still a healthy amount, in the US. Nothing is ever going to be the same as that, but there’s been highlights along the way. Looking back, I realise that what I cherish the most is songwriting. I just love writing songs – no matter what the vehicle.

You have obviously worked quite closely with your brother Neil throughout your career and more recently with your son. How is it working so closely with family?

It’s great – something special always happens. We don’t do it that ofte,n so it always feels exciting when we get together and try and write something. Things tend to fall into place really well. I’ve got two kids coming through – both talented, both can sing and play – so there’s a lot of music in the house. It just goes on through the generations, it’s fantastic.

Do formalities ever come into play when working with family? Do you ever have to switch on the ‘work’ button?

Neil and I are good at sort of in a way challenging each other, but sometimes we have to back off for a while. That’s different to playing with my kids where there’s no ego involved – I’m just delighted and amazed at what they do. Occasionally, they’ll overdo it and I’ll tell them. It’s nice to be able to go at them a little bit.

Is there any new musical terrain you’d like to explore in the future?

I’m quite interested in developing theatre work. I’ve got a musical that’s looking to be quite promising – we’ve been work-shopping that. I quite like working with actors and writers on fictional narratives – I find that exciting. In terms of playing music with people, I tend to let it happen rather than seek it out.

What can fans expect from your show at Woodford Folk Festival?

Well, it’ll be a sort of semi-acoustic performance from me and two guys I’ve been playing with for a while. I’ll be playing acoustic guitar and a little bit of drums. If I can get my son up – he plays piano very nicely – I will, and there’s also a violin player we know in New Zealand – he’s going to play few songs with us on the fiddle. It will be quite eclectic – we’ll be playing songs from all over the last 40 years.

Tickets for the 2013/14 festival are on sale now. For more information on the festival ticket pricing and camping options visit www.woodfordfolkfestival.com


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