January 19, 2008 / 1:20 PM / 10 years ago

Crowded House progeny set for solo American strike

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Liam Finn will be a 24-year-old unknown to most Americans when his debut solo album is released in the United States on Tuesday, but Crowded House fans have already heard his work -- nearly two decades ago.

The son of Crowded House frontman Neil Finn wrote the line “And here comes Mrs. Hairy Legs” and an accompanying melody in the hit Australian/New Zealand pop band’s 1991 song “Chocolate Cake,” and then last year toured America with them.

“He totally ripped me off,” Finn joked of his father during an interview with Reuters from Auckland, where he says he is happy living with his parents when needed rather than hit up Crowded House for royalties.

Neil Finn has repaid the musical favor by playing bass guitar for a track on his son’s album “I’ll Be Lightning.”

Billboard magazine likened Finn’s music as “closer to the work of home-studio eccentrics like Beck than to the classically minded pop of his father,” while Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper said, “This Kiwi is fresh, and does not fall far from the tree.”

Billboard adds: “Each of these 14 tunes harbors handsome hooks that point to a childhood spent obsessing over Dad’s Beatles and Beach Boys (and Crowded House) records.”

‘GUT FEELING’

Finn, named one of 10 artists to watch in 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine, said he was determined not to live in his father’s musical shadow.

“I realized I can’t really avoid who I am, and where I come from. I have to really embrace it because I love my dad’s music,” said Finn. “He’s had a lot of experience so I definitely end up taking a lot of what he says on board. But sometimes you have just got to go with your own gut feeling.”

The Australian-born New Zealander recorded his album almost entirely solo, having played nearly every instrument and then looped them together -- something he also does on stage bit by bit until an entire song is created in front of the audience.

“Growing up with a lot of music around you, if you have got a musical bone in your body it’s pretty natural to be able to make something work,” he said. “I haven’t really had traditional lessons in any of the instruments except for piano, but then piano is probably the thing I am least good at.”

The Boston Globe newspaper, which also has named Finn as an artist to watch in 2008, said of his album: “He chops, blends, and twists his keyboards, guitars, electronics, and melodies into a shiny new beast that is both gentle and subtly feral.”

Finn wrote most of the songs while he was in London with his band Betchadupa, which had a following in New Zealand and Australia but struggled to find its feet in Britain and broke up.

To promote his album Finn will play 13 U.S. shows in February and March -- a long way from offering songwriting suggestions as a 5-year-old.

“As long as there’s good music being made it doesn’t really matter how it’s being made -- as long as it’s good,” he said.

Editing by Xavier Briand

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