29 Jan 2022

Tim Finn on his new project Forenzics

From Music 101, 5:20 pm on 29 January 2022

FORENZICS is the new musical project by Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner, which reworks parts of early Split Enz songs to create whole new tracks.

Forenzics Eddie Rayner and Tim Finn

Tim Finn (r) with Eddie Rayner Photo: Supplied

Speaking to Charlotte Ryan on Music 101, Tim discussed the new album and how he's been handling life and recording amid lockdowns.

Despite the global pandemic, FORENZICS' new album Shades and Echoes will be the second album Tim Finn has released in the last year, following his 2021 album Caught by the Heart with Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera.

"I mean I'm lucky I suppose, I work at home anyway, I make music at home so nothing changes in that regard," he says, "I can send files around backwards and forwards as I did with Phil Manzanera and now with the FORENZICS project, and work with people in different parts of Auckland or different countries."

He began working with Eddie Rayner again in 2018 and slowly began building up tracks over 12 to 18 months after that.

"So with Eddie, it wasn't anything to do with pandemic or lockdown. Phil, it was, because in a weird sort of way Covid has led to a strong global feeling ... I think this sickness has in a weird way brought us closer together and I think with the artists as well we can reach out and try and express feelings that we're sharing across space and time.

"I said to Phil look do you have any Latin grooves lying around and next minute we were writing songs and they seemed to speak to and of what was happening in the world. He ended up getting I think around 20 musicians involved from different countries."

Sharing space and time was also a feature for the FORENZICS projects, as the duo dug into the Split Enz back catalogue for inspiration.

The first Split Enz publicity shot, Dec 1972 (Mike Chunn 2nd from left)

The first Split Enz publicity shot in December 1972. Photo: supplied

"Once we started using sections of old Split Enz songs, from Mental Notes and Second Thoughts, in particular, time itself became part of the team and there was this extra poignancy and pathos," Tim says.

"I mean Eddie and I haven't worked together for quite a long time, we wrote 'My Mistake' together back in the day and it really baffles me now why we didn't do it more often after that. But here we are and it's actually great that it's happening now."

However, despite being inspired by past work, Tim is insistent that the resulting tracks on FORENZICS are all new songs - and it might take even superfans a bit of investigating to find their roots.

"The main point overall is that these are new songs and that's why we call it FORENZICS, apart from the obvious pun, but we felt like we were digging around looking for clues and the clues would lead us to new songs."

The first track they produced for the new album, Walking, was inspired by the early Split Enz song 'Walking Down a Road' - in particular, a "lovely floating section" of the tune that was admired by Brian Eno when the band were recording in England with Phil Manzanera.

"There was this one section that had kind of beautiful, floating, transcendent sort of quality and he liked that - you could see the minimalist in him kind of emerging even then. We were maximalists though, it didn't go very deep his remark, but for some reason, it kind of stayed in the back of my head so 47 years later I said well now is the time Ed, let's see if we can write a new song over that.

Split Enz, 1980

Split Enz in 1980. Photo: supplied

"That song was written after Phil Judd and I had gone hitchhiking when we were about 19 and this new song, of course, was to do with Eddie and I now, it just seemed to relate somehow, it's a circular thing."

Tim says he hopes the FORENZICS project will also inspire people to go back and listen to some of the early Split Enz recordings, but there aren't plans for a reunion as yet.

"They are new songs, so if anyone wanted to hear Mental Notes or any of the early two or three albums, that's unlikely we'll ever do that," he says

"It's not a completely impossible thought. I think it would be quite fun actually to play Mental Notes, the whole way through and we do get bands doing that a lot these days, you know they'll do a concert where they feature a classic album.

"But yeah, there have been tensions, there have been. I mean there's no point beating around the bush, I mean things were difficult for all sorts of odd reasons and you never really leave a band. You break up and whatever, but it just stays with you forever, it's really deep in your psyche."