Tim Finn’s good hair day

23:38, Oct 27 2009

Iconic New Zealand band Split Enz made a hair-raising contribution to global warming, Tim Finn muses as he recaps his long and celebrated music career.

Finn has just released a collection of his best known songs from 35 years in the business, which encapsulates Split Enz, Crowded House, his solo career, and The Finn Brothers.

In the 1970s, Split Enz were famed for their zany outfits, quirky lyrics, off-beat melodies and wacky hairstyles.

Even as Split Enz set out to conquer the world with albums such as True Colours and Waiata, and catchy singles like I See Red, Six Months in a Leaky Boat and I Got You, their hairspray was knocking the ozone layer around.

While he has never thought about it before, Finn readily admits Split Enz's hair contributed to global warming.

"It's definitely played a part in releasing dangerous flurocarbons into the atmosphere," he says.


"It might have done something towards the ozone depletion."

Finn, who is working on new material for an album and looking to release yet another next year, is keen to dispel any idea that the anthology means retirement.

"Some people do them (anthologies) still in their 20s, anthologies, compilations, collections, best ofs – they're all around us and I've never done one, so I think after 35 years it was probably time."

But while the release of a retrospective doesn't mean he's through with music, Finn says hair-tinkering is well and truly a thing of the past.

He tours less these days, and never, ever styles his hair like he did as a member of Split Enz.

"There was certain shaving of areas required and geometric shapes on the skull and it was all a bit much and a bit tough on the old skin and a bit of a pain in some ways.

"I shudder to think how much cheap and very sort of unreconstructed hairspray we must have sucked into our lungs.

"Literally, Noel (Crombie) would have to stand there and give it about a 15-20 second blast, that stuff was full of all the bad stuff."

Each disc of North, South, East, West – Anthology concludes with a new song.

Disc one ends with Nothing Unusual, a song written about reworking memories so "over time they become perhaps not literally true".

Light Years Away, co-written with late Australian poet Dorothy Porter, is near the close of the second disc, just ahead of an instrumental version of the Split Enz classic Poor Boy.

Finn and Porter were working together on a rock musical last year until, to Finn's shock, Porter died of cancer on December 10. She was 54 and he'd had no idea she was so sick.

"We'd got about nine or 10 songs that we wrote together," Finn says.

"After her death, her partner Andrea Goldsmith, who's also a writer, sent me these lyrics to Light Years Away, and I suppose I wrote it as a kind of dedication, so it gave Dorothy the last word, in a way, on the album."

• Tim Finn's Anthology is out now