Six Questions for ... Liam Finn

And you wonder why they filmed "Lord of the Rings" in New Zealand.

Quickly: Yes, Liam Finn is the son of rock royalty. (At least other hemisphere rock royalty.) Yes, this undoubtedly gave him a foot up in the music world. No, it doesn't change the fact that his solo debut, "I'll Be Lightning" is an off-kilter delight, with plenty of pop charm and loop-based madness. After a few tours as an opening act - including a pair with Eddie Vedder - he heads out on his first American headlining tour, which hits the Rock and Roll Hotel on Saturday. We chatted about that Vedder tour, differences between Australia and New Zealand and his curious cooking specialty.

What's more annoying - questions about your dad or Eddie Vedder's most obnoxious fans?
Well, they don't bother me since they aren't yelling stuff in the middle of my show. So I guess questions about my dad would have to win that one.

Is it difficult being an opening act for someone so popular?
I guess we're used to playing to any type of crowd, really. We've done two of those Eddie Vedder tours now, we just did the East Coast and got to play in the most amazing theaters and met wonderful people. It was kind of like our luxury holiday tour before we have our driving-around-in-a-van and doing all that kind of dingy club kind of tour. But depending on the night and on the mood of the crowd you can win them over from the first song or sometimes it can take you half the set to get them to take notice of who you are. But I guess I sort of thrive on that challenge and I think the kind of show that we do is pretty spontaneous and kind of wild, so people are either going to get it or really not get it. So it sorts out your fans from the people who aren't into it. I don't know, I kind of liked it.

Are you looking forward to your first headlining tour in America?
It's really exciting. We've done a lot of touring this year supporting and stuff. And that's been fantastic and it feels like we've made enough ground and made enough new fans that hopefully this will take hold in some way. It is really different to play to people that are there purely to see you because you don't feel like you're being judged in the first 10 seconds. You can let the show unfold, take it wherever you want. It's a nice freedom.

You can talk with some authority on both Australia and New Zealand. What would you say are the main differences between the music that comes out of those two places?
They're completely different countries and cultures. They are so drastically different. If anyone looked into it they would immediately notice the difference but it's pretty normal for people to lump us in together. I guess I identify with New Zealand because I spent more of my childhood there and grew up mostly in New Zealand. Musically, Australia is a very traditional rock-and-roll kind of place. They're big into their pub rock. AC/DC being the biggest band to come out of Australia very much represents what that country is into.

Whereas New Zealand has got a little more of that dark, brooding, arty kind of thing, which definitely shows through the Flying Nun stuff. I guess that sound is more indie, more shoegazery, more psychedelic but I think maybe that's because we are even more isolated. People weren't making music with even the thought that it was going to get heard by anyone in any other country so they were doing it purely for their own artistic visions, which makes something more unique and interesting. But some Australians will read that and probably be offended.

What's a simple thing that becomes a nice luxury when you get off the road?
Definitely cooking. I really like making food. It's a nice, slightly-zen thing to do after all the traveling. I don't think too much when I'm cooking. That's the first thing we always do when we have some time off. We find a kitchen and make a big dinner for anyone that's around and willing to eat our food. And I think we do a good job!

What's your go-to meal?
I always seem to make my chili bacon pasta. It's a winner. I always make quite a lot of it and no matter how many people are there and how full everyone gets it just keeps on going out of the pot when the dinner's long gone. People just keep going back for more until it's completely gone. If that means they've eaten so much that they'll make themselves sick, they still do it. I don't know. It's kind of weird. It's almost like it's got MSG in it, but it doesn't, I swear.

By David Malitz |  September 4, 2008; 5:05 PM ET Interviews
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Chili bacon pasta sounds tasty

Posted by: Hemisphire | September 5, 2008 11:58 AM

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