“Spontaneity and danger” — that’s what attracts singer/songwriter Liam Finn to doing a club residency.
Finn should be able to satisfy that performance jones during Murmation, his Monday-night residency throughout January at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y. His basic strategy will be to mix a casual attitude and anything-goes approach with craft and creativity. That said, it’s quite possible he’ll perform material from his acclaimed Yep Roc solo albums I’ll Be Lightning and FOMO, a few songs by his former band Betchadupa, a choice cover or two and maybe something brand new — all in the same night.
Finn checked in a few days prior to his first scheduled Rock Shop show to talk about Murmation, as well as his plans for a follow-up to FOMO and more.
Medleyville.us: Aside from developing a comfort level with the acoustics — and maybe the minimal travel involved — what appeals to you most about doing a residency?
Liam Finn: “I like the idea of creating a happening. I would like it to feel more like an informal show at a house party than a big statement: ‘This is me, and these are my songs I am trying to sell you.’ It gives me a chance to try stuff out that I’ve only touched on in previous years touring my records but something that has played a huge part in my shows. … something that holds a bit of mystery, but you can be sure it will entertain.
“By doing a residency, I can try things out, see what works, see what doesn’t — and it also gives me the chance to involve some friends old and new to collaborate, whether it be rehearsed or unrehearsed. I feel like that rawness is missing a lot in today’s live music, and I think people still enjoy not knowing where the hell they’re being taken.”
With a residency, even one that’s weekly like yours, it’s as though the artist is taking over a venue for a while. What kind of personal touches do you have in store for the stage and lighting at the Rock Shop?
Finn: “I guess I’ll see what it needs. It’s not like I have a huge budget to make this a Flaming Lips show or anything —one day, maybe. To be honest, I have so much gear to just do my one-man band system that I’m hoping that will decorate the stage sufficiently.”
Will you be playing solo at the Rock Shop, or will you have a backing band with you at any of the four shows? And are the special guests already lined up, or will they be determined closer to each show?
Finn: “I will be breaking it into two sets. I’ll start with a bit of ‘one man’ action — some stuff I’ve worked out, old Betchadupa songs, sneaky covers, improvised fuzz jams. And in the second half, [I’ll] introduce some band members. This is the part where things should get interesting and different, but if you’re a wuss and too tired on a Monday night, you can go home after the first set and be left wondering who got up to play the spoons on my backside later in the evening.”
FOMO is still relatively new, but what’s your timetable for making your third album? And how much unreleased or in-progress material do you expect to play at the Rock Shop?
Finn: “I have already [started] the process of writing the new record. I am still figuring out what exactly that will be, but I am excited to have my band here in New York that I have been touring FOMO with for the past year. I’ll be trying the odd new thing out, but I’m also hoping to gain a lot of new material and inspiration from what happens at these shows.”
What are you touring plans for the rest of 2012?
Finn: “No touring plans as of yet. I am more interested in hunkering down in my new environment and making as much new music as I can. I have exciting plans of podcasts and a few different recording projects to embark on. I feel it’s going to be a very creative year. Ultimately, I’d love to be able to do a residency the whole time — I need my fix!”
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior