It's hard to reduce legendary band Split Enz down to a single sound or image. Soon after forming in 1973, they began dressing like oddball circus performers, and their music straddled folk, vaudeville and art rock. Later the songs got shorter, poppier and — some say —better, and the visuals were toned down...but you could never accuse the Enz of looking biege. With Split Enz co-founder Tim Finn turning 65 in June 2017, this collection looks back at one of Aotearoa's most successful and eclectic bands. Writer Michael Higgins unravels the evolution of the Enz here.
This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles looks at the long and distinguished musical careers of Kiwi music icons Tim and Neil Finn. The programme covers the early days of Split Enz, Neil joining the band at the age of 18, and Tim leaving in 1984; plus Neil forming Crowded House, Tim's short stint in his brother's band, the Finn's solo careers, and their two albums recording as the Finn Brothers. Jane Yee's interview with the brothers is revealing and fascinating, and includes great early Split Enz footage.
This simple but very effectively choreographed clip is one of the few pieces of music footage shot for 70s rock show The Grunt Machine that has been preserved. The extended instrumental intro allows Phil Judd nearly two minutes of pacing and hovering in the Avalon Studio shadows before he confronts the camera at his malevolent best. The soon to depart Wally Wilkinson is on guitar; time in Australia has cemented the band's stage personas, Noel Crombie's black and white costumes are a visual treat, and the result is a perfect document of Mental Notes-era Enz.
In 1983, Split Enz, NZ's most successful rock group to date, celebrated 10 years together. TVNZ's flagship arts show Kaleidoscope marked the occasion by following the band on their 'Enz of an Era' tour as they reunited with former members (including Mike Chunn) for a concert at Auckland's His Majesty's Theatre (where they first made a major impact) and played the Sweetwaters Festival. Members talk frankly to reporter Ian Fraser about a decade of highs and lows, and there's priceless Dylan Taite-filmed tomfoolery from the band's early days in England.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
‘Message to My Girl’ finds Split Enz in a time of transition — foreshadowed here when the Finn brothers walk past each other in opposite directions. Tim has just completed his solo album and will shortly leave, while Neil is coming into his own as the band’s new leader. The track is an unabashed love song to his wife. The accompanying video was shot in two extended takes, with the only edit obscured halfway through — and staged in what looks like a theatre set storage area. New drummer Paul Hester makes his debut but no Noel Crombie suits this time, just civvies.
Homegrown Profiles was a spin-off from music channel C4's local music series Homegrown. Screened in 2005, the interview-based show featured episodes devoted to the Finn Brothers, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, Anika Moa, Shihad and Che Fu. The hour-long programmes were based around an extended interview with each artist, intercut with music videos and other performance material— all held together with a well-scripted narration by researcher/ interviewer/ director Jane Yee. Yee writes about making the show here.
Evoking nostalgia for summer holidays, Crowded House lark around at the beach with partners, kids and Lester the dog. Shot in the Bellarine Peninsula near Melbourne, the music video features bassist Nick Seymour's 1961 T-Bird convertible, plus a brief shot of the police who pulled him over for driving it unregistered, then took it around the carpark. American record executives were unimpressed with the video, which won more favour in the UK. The first fruit of a writing session by Neil and Tim Finn, the song was one of eight Finn brothers compositions on third Crowded House album Woodface.
Although not the final Split Enz single, 'I Walk Away' is the song where the band say their goodbyes. Last album See 'Ya Round (1984) featured compositions by every member aside from the recently-departed Tim Finn. On this track brother Neil addresses the challenge of letting go of what you know. The opening shot echoes the image on the album cover, which features Split Enz poking their heads through a cutout illustration. The sun sets more than once, but the band play on; Noel Crombie and Paul Hester double up on drums, and the cathartic finale speaks of joy as much as sadness.
Tim Finn is a New Zealand pop music icon. A founding member of legendary band Split Enz in the early 70s, he hasn't stopped writing, recording and performing since. Though they broke up in the 80s, Split Enz still do the occasional reunion concert. Since his 1983 hit Escapade, Finn has recorded an eclectic range of albums as a solo artist. He has also recorded two Finn albums alongside his younger brother Neil, and was briefly a member of Crowded House, co-writing a number of hits for their 1991 album Woodface.