Split Enz were one of the most successful New Zealand musical acts of the 1980s. Formed in the early 1970s and variously featuring Phil Judd and brothers Tim Finn and Neil Finn, the band would go on to achieve chart success in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada ‒ most notably with their 1980 single "I Got You" - and build a cult following elsewhere. Their musical style was eclectic, incorporating influences from art rock, vaudeville, swing, punk, rock, new wave, and pop. Split Enz established a reputation for a highly distinctive visual style, thanks partly to their colourful, offbeat costumes and hairstyles.
The group's career falls into two phases. The first was rooted in folk and the progressive rock scene of the early 1970s. From 1977 onwards, with the departure of songwriter/guitarist Phil Judd and the arrival of Neil Finn, Split Enz' sound began to move from a progressive rock sound towards New Wave and pop. The early 1980s proved the group's most commercially successful period, with a string of popular albums. The videos for some of the songs from this period were among the first played on MTV. Since the band's breakup in 1984, the group has reunited several times, and its members have gone on to create varied musical groups with one another, including Neil Finn's band Crowded House, Schnell Fenster, Citizen Bandand the Finn Brothers.
History[edit source | edit]Edit
New Zealand – 1971–1974[edit source | edit]Edit
The origins of Split Enz lay in friendships that developed amongst a group of young students in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After finishing primary school, Brian Timothy Finn attended Sacred Heart high school boarding school, where he met Jonathan Michael Chunn. They wrote songs and played music together there over the next five years. In 1971 Finn and Chunn went to Auckland University. There they met and befriended a group of art students includingPhilip Judd, Geoffrey Noel Crombie and Rob Gillies (for a summary of the band's many line-up changes, scroll down to the graphical Band member timeline). The band originally called themselves Split Ends, but the spelling would be changed to Split Enz shortly before their first trip to Australia, to signify their New Zealand roots (NZ is a common abbreviation for New Zealand).
The close friendship between Finn and Judd would be core to the band until Judd's departure in 1977; initially the band wrote together with Judd working out the basic form and lyrics, and Finn (strongly influenced by classic British pop like the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Move) providing melodies. Judd however wrote most of the early material, melodies and lyrics.
As the partnership developed, the two began stockpiling songs and decided to form a group as an outlet for their compositions; the material they wrote together in this original burst of creativity provided the bulk of the Enz repertoire for several years. They approached classical trained violinist Miles Golding, reed player Mike Howard and, together with Chunn, formed a five-piece acoustic group called Split Ends in October 1972.
Early singles[edit source | edit]Edit
Golding's musical skills helped Finn and Judd to build complex neo-classical structures and arrangements for their material. After months of rehearsals, and with financial backing provided by their friend and fan Barry Coburn (who became their first manager), Split Ends issued their debut single, "For You/Split Ends", in April 1973. In March Golding left the group to study in London, and reed player Mike Howard quit soon after.
With Golding's departure Finn and Judd wanted to give up the band, but at Chunn's urging, the band "went electric" and expanded, adding drums, lead guitar, and brass. When the single was released in April, the band started a small tour of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, supporting John Mayall. Chunn's brother Geoff was called in for the tour, replacing original drummer Div Vercoe. The other new permanent members were lead guitarist Paul Wally Wilkinson and their university friend Robert Bruce Gillies who joined part-time on saxophone and trumpet. By this time, the band had become a full-time preoccupation for Tim Finn, and he dropped out of university.
In late 1973, Split Ends entered New Zealand's New Faces TV talent contest. In preparation for their performance, they recorded "129" and "Home Sweet Home" (the songs would be released in November as their second single). Soon after, they also recorded the retro-1930s sounding "Sweet Talking Spoon Song", which would become the second single. They finished second to last in the finals of the contest, but their performance secured them a 30-minute concert special for Television New Zealand, which was recorded soon after.
The next eighteen months saw Split Ends refining their material and performances. The TV special spawned a concert tour, albeit without Phil Judd, who decided he disliked performing live – he was discouraged by negative reactions to the band, and felt that their music was too complex for successful stage presentation. He initially opted to stay at home to write and record new material while the rest of the band toured, although he made occasional appearances and eventually rejoined full-time. The songs from both singles were later included on the compilation album The Beginning of the Enz.
'The Prof': Eddie Rayner[edit source | edit]Edit
In early 1974, Tim Finn acquired a prized Mellotron keyboard. In February the band members made a vital addition to the lineup, recruiting Anthony Edward "Eddie" Rayner on keyboards. Rayner was impressed by Split Enz' performance on New Faces and thought that they were good enough to join.
Rayner, nicknamed "The Prof", remained with the band for the rest of its existence, and he was crucial to the development of the band's sound. A prodigiously talented self-taught musician, his ability to realise and enhance the band's arrangements added depth and polish to the bands material, and in many respects his playing became one of the defining elements of the band's sound. Combined with Tim Finn's own ability on piano, the two guitars, bass, drums, percussion, and assorted other instruments including trumpet and saxophone, the band members were able to encompass a wide range of styles and sounds.
Theatrical sets[edit source | edit]Edit
In February 1974 the band altered its original name to "Split Enz". Phil Judd and Tim Finn decided that, rather than slogging it out on the traditional pub circuit, they would play only in theatres and concert halls, which enabled them to stage a full theatrical presentation. They began to develop elaborate sets, costumes, hairstyles and makeup. After seeing one of these live performances, Judd decided to return to the band, and began making occasional live appearances. In June 1974 Geoff Chunn and Rob Gillies both left the band. Paul Emlyn Crowther joined on drums in July; Gillies was not replaced.
The band's music at this time was in a broadly similar vein to British progressive bands of the time, albeit rather "poppier" and more melodic than many such bands. Family and Traffic were almost certainly important influences, and though they always balked at the frequent comparisons to Genesis, there was an 'English-ness', and an eccentricity common to both groups, and which set the Enz apart from almost every other local act.
The band might have made considerably less impact had it not been for the unique visual identity they developed. In the autumn of 1974, their old university friend Geoffrey Noel Crombie became a full-time member. He performed on percussion – and spoons – and sang occasionally, but his primary role soon proved to be as Art Director for the band. His wide-ranging talents enabled Split Enz to present a complete audio-visual experience, showcasing their accomplished performances of the intricate Judd-Finn compositions in a unique live show, complete with wild, colourful matching costumes, bizarre hairstyles and makeup, sets and special effects. Their "look" – a mixture of the weird and the whimsical – drew on influences like the circus, music hall, gothic horror, Expressionist cinema, pantomime, psychedelia, surrealism and modern art – all filtered through the band's bizarre demeanour and crazed on-stage antics.
Like Rayner, Noel Crombie was a crucial addition to the band, and in many ways he became the heart and soul of Split Enz. His designs crystallised the band's image, and spanned the entire range of their visual material – stage costumes, hair styles, sets and stage designs, posters, buttons, badges, handbills, promotional photos, tour programmes, and album and single covers. He also directed almost all of their music videos, (some co-directed with Rob Gillies). Some of Noel Crombie's finest costumes are now part of the collection of the Victorian Museum of Performing Arts.
Noel Crombie's lugubrious stage presence endeared him to audiences, and his trademark spoon solos became a favourite feature of Enz shows. His regular spot grew out of one of the typical random events that marked the band's early shows – they brought Rayner's aunt on stage to perform an impromptu tap dance during one of the songs. It was a roaring success, but they quickly realised that they could not take her on tour with them. Noel Crombie's spoon playing routine was substituted and soon became an essential part of each show.
In concert, the band's live performances marked them out from the more down the line concerts of most of their colleagues. An early NZ TV performance had a desert-island theme; the band members brought in a load of sand and created a miniature indoor beach, complete with palm trees and a wading pool; band members dressed as hankie-hatted tourists, reclining on deck chairs and sipping drinks. For one live performance of their song "Stranger Than Fiction", a woman friend was recruited to crawl across the stage, under pulsing strobe lights, with a bloodied axe apparently embedded in her skull.
Australia 1975–1976[edit source | edit]Edit
By the end of 1974, the band's following in New Zealand was strong and dedicated, but the chances of large-scale commercial success there were limited. Australia, close by, was an obvious next step. In March 1975, the band issued its third single, "No Bother To Me", on the independent White Cloud label, and a few weeks later, Split Enz left for Sydney.
The initial response from Australian audiences was mixed, and their music and image was at first simply too "out there" for many Australians. Australia had several bands with an overt and theatrical glam rock style, including Skyhooks, Hush, The Ted Mulry Gang, Supernaut, Sherbet. Split Enz were in a league of their own however, and most Australian audiences had seen nothing like them before. They got a frosty reception in Sydney, although they had a slightly warmer welcome in Melbourne, where local bands and other performing groups had more of a history of blending experimental and theatrical elements with rock music. It was around about this time that all members of the band except Phil Judd adopted the use of their middle names.
Mental Notes[edit source | edit]EditMental Notes Album cover 1975
In two weeks during May/June 1975 Split Enz recorded their debut album Mental Notes at Festival's Studio 24 in Sydney. It was produced by David Russell, who was also their tour manager in 1975 – 76. The engineer was Festival staffer Richard Batchens.
It was a moderate success on its release in July, selling a respectable 12,000 copies in Australia, reaching No. 35 on the album chart for one week, and peaking at No. 7 in New Zealand. It was also a critical breakthrough. Much of the material derived from Tim Finn's and Phil Judd's fascination with the work of English writer and artist Mervyn Peake – notably Spellbound, track "Stranger Than Fiction" (their concert centrepiece) and "Titus", named after the hero of Peake's Gormenghast trilogy.
The album cover was painted by Phil Judd in 1973-74, before the band even had a record deal. The painting won best album cover in 1975 (it is now part of the collection of New Zealand's main museum 'Te Papa' in Wellington.).
In September, the band members released their first Australian single, "Maybe", but by this time plans were being made to relocate to the UK. In November 1975, Wally Wilkinson was sacked and Rob Gillies was brought back in on saxophone and trumpet as a permanent member. The band returned to New Zealand briefly before embarking on their "Enz of the Earth" national Australian tour, which wound up in February 1976. In March, Explosion issued the band's second Mushroom single, "Late Last Night", accompanied by a promotional video (directed by Crombie) which gave them their first major Australian TV exposure.
Britain 1976–1980[edit source | edit]Edit
Second Thoughts in London[edit source | edit]Edit
The decision to move to England stemmed from their support slot on Roxy Music's first Australian tour in 1974. The Enz caught the attention of the visiting band, who were only just becoming known in Australia but were already one of the most successful 'art rock' bands in the UK. Roxy Music's guitarist Phil Manzanera was particularly impressed, and offered to produce their next album for them in London. They managed to secure a UK record deal with Chrysalis Records, and in April 1976 they flew to the UK to cut their second album.
Recorded at the Basing Street Studios in London, Second Thoughts was issued in Australia in July 1976, and issued in the UK as Mental Notes in September. It consisted of "Late Last Night", four re-arranged and re-recorded tracks from the New Zealand/Australian Mental Notes LP, three new songs, and a new version of one of the earliest Judd – Finn compositions, "129", retitled "Matinee Idyll (129)". This song was released, backed by "Lovey Dovey", as a single in December 1976.
The band's bizarre appearance and crazed onstage antics initially baffled the UK press and audiences, and critical reactions were far from favourable. As in New Zealand and Australia, their musical excellence, originality and enthusiasm again won them a cult following, from which the fan-club Frenz of the Enz began to develop. But even with the patronage of Manzanera, it proved to be hard going, and pressures mounted within the formerly close-knit group. In November, Emlyn Crowther was sacked and replaced by their first non-Kiwi member, English drummer Malcolm Green (ex-Love Affair, The Honeycombs, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, Octopus), who answered an advertisement in Melody Maker, and began rehearsing with the Enz in December 1976.
Judd's departure during American tour[edit source | edit]Edit
The Enz kicked off 1977 with a new (non-album) single "Another Great Divide", coinciding with their return to Australia/New Zealand in January 1977 for the "Courting the Act" tour. Chrysalis issued Mental Notes (the American title forSecond Thoughts) in the USA, and at the end of February they set off for the US to support the album. The 23 day, 40 show tour was a hopeful first attempt to establish themselves in America but it marked the end of an era in the band, and proved to be the last tour with founding members Phil Judd and Mike Chunn.
Chunn decided to leave at the end of the US tour, partly because he wanted to spend more time with his family, but also because he suffered from agoraphobia. Tensions were also running high between Phil and Tim and although they received a standing ovation in San Francisco, audience reactions in more remote areas ranged from bemusement to outright hostility. Unfortunately, Phil was extremely sensitive to such negative feedback. Like Mike, he had a young family back in New Zealand and was tired of the endless grind of touring. Things came to a head after one infamous concert when Phil had trouble with an out-of-tune guitar; he stormed off before the end of the set and when Tim challenged him backstage about what had happened, blows were exchanged. The tour ended in April, and Phil left the band.
The new lineup[edit source | edit]Edit
The Enz were due to begin their third English tour later that month, so Tim now took charge and hastily reorganised the group. On 4 April English bassist Nigel Griggs (ex-Octopus) replaced the departing Mike Chunn. Before leaving, however, Chunn gave a crucial piece of parting advice, suggesting that the replacement for Phil Judd should be Tim Finn's younger brother Neil, who officially joined on 7 April 1977.
Although Neil did not contribute much during his first six months with the band (he was still mastering the electric guitar), he made up for his lack of musical skill with plenty of onstage enthusiasm. Although fresh out of high school and lacking extensive experience as a performer, he adapted quickly, and he began to develop a strong presence within the group. It was also fortuitous that Neil was not an accomplished player and this effectively forced the group to simplify the music and the arrangements and helped steer them in a new direction.
The line-up changes created renewed drive and enthusiasm in a band that was by then teetering on the brink of collapse. They had been touring for years on the same basic repertoire, most of it written or co-written by the departed Phil Judd, and much of it dating back to the band's formative days. The pressure was on, but Tim rose to the challenge and began turning out new material that would form the basis of the next two albums.
Neil soon began contributing his own material; he also became the second lead vocalist, thus taking some of the performing and writing pressure off Tim as well as broadening their repertoire. Neil proved to be a strong singer, whose voice was the perfect complement to his brother's. Most importantly, he was totally immersed in the spirit of the band, having watched it begin and grow from its earliest days. Over the next three years his singing, playing and especially his writing skills increased exponentially, and although Tim remained the leader, by 1980 Neil was playing a vital role in the band.
The Enz were at first scorned by the fashion-fixated UK music press, owing partly to the polarising effect of punk on the English music scene. The Enz' theatrical trappings and complex music were suspiciously reminiscent of the "dinosaur" progressive rock bands so reviled by the new wave of music critics. Gradually though, as the Enz fine-tuned their image, and the punk scene gave way to the less strident, more stylish and more musically complex 'New Wave' scene, Split Enz began to draw larger crowds in the UK.
Dizrythmia[edit source | edit]Edit
For their band's next album, they chose to record at London's prestigious AIR Studios with producer (and former Beatles engineer) Geoff Emerick. Dizrythmia (from the medical term for jet-lag, circadian disrhythmia and meaning 'upset body rhythm') made no appreciable impact in the UK, but was very successful in Australasia, and gave them their first simultaneous hits on the Australian and New Zealand singles and album charts. They returned to Australia in August, coinciding with the release of the album, and began a 28-date tour of Australasia in October/November. The album reached No. 18 in Australia. The first single, the quirky "My Mistake" (August), peaked at No. 15 during October, bolstered by the national tour and aided by another great promotional video. In New Zealand, Dizrythmia reached No. 3, and "My Mistake" peaked at No. 21. The song's introduction bears a close resemblance to Jack Clement's novelty single "My Voice Keeps Changing On Me", a song that Noel Crombie later covered in 1983.
The second single, Tim Finn's jaunty "Bold as Brass" (December) was laden with hooks, with a strong backbeat by the Green – Griggs rhythm section. It failed to chart. The single was accompanied by another specially-made video, co-directed by Noel Crombie and Rob Gillies.
Between November 1977 and February 1978, Split Enz toured throughout the UK and Europe. At the turn of the year Gillies left and Phil Judd returned, briefly, in early 1978 after Tim and Eddie heard some of his new material. Apparently Judd found himself out of step with their changing direction, and left the band for good after about a month.
After the tour, from March to May 1978, Tim, Neil and Eddie returned a favour and contributed to Phil Manzanera's solo album, K-Scope. Tim sang lead vocals and Neil added backup vocals to the songs "Remote Control", "Cuban Crisis", "Hot Spot", and "Slow Motion TV". Eddie played various keyboards on each of these (except for "Remote Control"), plus the cuts "K-Scope", "Gone Flying", and "Walking Through Heaven's Door".
From Luton to Nambassa (Frenzy)[edit source | edit]EditSplit Enz at the Nambassa festival New Zealand, January 1979
1978 was arguably the band's toughest year. They lost their Chrysalis contract and spent most of the year without a record deal, a booking agent or a manager. Debts mounted and, unable to get gigs, they were forced to go on the dole. But they continued writing new material at a frantic pace and rehearsing constantly.
It was at this point that the New Zealand Arts Council came to the rescue with an NZ five thousand dollar grant. They immediately booked a tiny 8-track studio in Lutonand with the help of 18-year-old English engineer David Tickle, created demo recordings of around 28 new songs in less than five days. These legendary sessions, (theRootin' Tootin' Luton Tapes), displayed both a newfound edge and considerable commercial potential. Around the same time, they recorded a new single with Tickle, a frenetic new song by Tim called "I See Red".
Having overcome personal issues and "writer's block", Split Enz entered Manor Studios in November 1978, where Elton John had recorded recent albums, to begin a new album with producer Mallory Earl. Even the cover of Frenzy marked the change in the group, the crazy costumes and makeup of Dizrythmia were gone, and the painting depicted them in casual clothes, standing in front of a farm shed in a bucolic New Zealand landscape. The album included re-recordings of some songs from the Luton tapes, but the band felt that Earl had failed to capture the raw energy of the demos. That same month, Mushroom issued "I See Red" as a single in Australia. It was a frantic chunk of power pop with buzzsaw guitar and manic Farfisa organ, bearing the clear influence of English New Wave acts like XTC and Buzzcocks, and marking a significant change in their musical style, away from the ethereal, densely arranged epics of yore, and back to Tim's first love: simple, concise, accessible, high-energy guitar pop. Though it didn't chart in England, "I See Red" got a lot of attention and considerable airplay, and is credited as being the song that began the turn-around in their critical reputation in the UK. Many of the other Luton songs were never re-recorded, and were left as demos, although some eventually surfaced on A&M's American version of Frenzy, which was released in North America in 1981.
Although the group's status was beginning to be restored, Split Enz was still facing some difficulties in this period. Having gained enough financial support from their music again, the group returned to Australia in late 1978 to see family and friends and also performed in various Australasian locations. At the beginning of 1978, the band had agreed to appear at the 1979 Nambassa Festival to be staged in Waihi, New Zealand. Split Enz returned to New Zealand in January 1979, but two days before their scheduled appearance, all of the group's equipment – valued at $30,000 at the time – was destroyed in a fire in Waimata Hall in Waihi, only three hours after finishing rehearsals at midnight. Despite this setback, the group decided to honour their agreement and performed the festival on 28 January 1979. This proved to be a pivotal show for the group's history, impressing audiences with their "towering performance" at the festival.
"I See Red" eventually peaked at No. 15 in Australia in February 1979 while Frenzy reached No. 24. In New Zealand "I See Red" was only a minor hit (No. 43) but the album reached No. 13. A second single, "Give It A Whirl" (co-written by Neil and Tim Finn), was released in May but failed to chart. (One album track, "She Got Body, She Got Soul", was later covered for the soundtrack of musical feature film Starstruck.) A self-produced, non-album single, Neil Finn's "Things", featuring the B-side "Semi-Detached", was released in October 1979, but also failed to chart.
The combination of dramatic changes in the English music scene, the commercial performance of Frenzy and their precarious financial state forced the Enz to re-assess their music and image. The Luton tapes and the Nambassa show had proved to the band that the more melodic "power-pop" side of their music was a winner, so they worked hard on making the songs for their fifth album much more commercial, melodic and accessible, while reining in the more outre aspects of their image. The wild makeup and hairstyles were also toned down; Tim's performance persona (a demented cross between Harold Lloyd and an escaped lunatic) was shelved, and Neil began to emerge from behind the horn-rimmed glasses and painted-on freckles of his original "nerdy schoolboy" image. Neil's generally optimistic, upbeat songs provided a perfect counterpoint to Tim's edgier and more melancholic pieces.
The evolution of streamlining and consolidating core melodic elements of Enz music bonded with a less harried visual approach, although the trademark Enz weirdness was never far from the surface. Noel Crombie's contribution in design and manufacture of band clothing, art design, film clip production are arguably another reason why at this point in time Split Enz 'engaged' with the public in commercially popular terms. They were performing (more or less) as themselves, and Noel's emblematic new costume, album and stage designs were stripped back to simple, striking geometric patterns.
Critical acclaim 1980–1984[edit source | edit]Edit
The album that allowed Split Enz to taste international success for the first time was 1980s True Colours, produced by David Tickle. Mushroom Records were not supportive of this choice of producer. Tickle in his early 20s had a special relationship with the Enz as a result of working with them on "I See Red" at Ringo Starr's Starling studios in the UK. Neil wrote and sang lead on single "I Got You." Assisted by a catchy, Beatlesque chorus, and a simple but effective video produced by the ABC, "I Got You" took the Enz to the top of the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian charts, to No. 12 in Britain, and even got them onto the US charts, where the song reached No. 53, while the album peaked at No. 40. The song reached No. 1 in Australia on 14 April and remained there for eight weeks, going on to become the second highest-selling single for the year after Joe Dolce's "Shaddup You Face". The album peaked at No. 1 in Australia on the same day and stayed at the top for 10 weeks, charting in the Top 40 for almost a year. This success and subsequent media focus on the band helped to push all of their albums (except for Second Thoughts) back into the New Zealand charts at the same time. True Colours had now become Mushroom's biggest selling band album ever and would remain so.The laser etched True Colours album
When the album was released on A&M it featured multi-coloured shapes cut into the vinyl by a laser. The process allowed the vinyl to throw out astrobe-like stream of colours under certain lighting conditions. True Colours was one of only three albums (the others being Paradise Theatre byStyx, also on A&M and the soundtrack to the Superman Movie) on which this effect was ever used.True Colours Tour, Commodore Ballroom.
The band's next LP, 1981's Waiata (or Corroboree as it was called in Australia) also sold well. Record company pressure to have the cover of the LP changed from brown to pink for the American market failed to increase sales in that country. Even so, the band received attention in the U.S. from the startup cable television channel MTV. "History Never Repeats" and "One Step Ahead", two songs from the album, were among the first music videosto be played on the network, when it launched in 1981.
Following Waiata, drummer Malcolm Green was sacked from the group (he and Tim Finn wanted to pursue different musical directions) and Noel Crombie's percussive duties were expanded to include the drum kit. While the split was played out to be amicable, it actually was not – although it is now regarded by all as 'water under the bridge'.
The band's next release Time & Tide (1982) maintained their newfound commercial strength. However, the single "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" engendered some controversy when some thought the song was a veiled attack on the British acting against the invasion by the Argentines of the Falkland Islands and was removed from radio play lists in the UK. The band denied these allegations: it had actually been recorded in January 1982, months before the Falklands conflict. The album, while not a definitive concept album, did have a recurring nautical theme. Due to Tim Finn's input, particularly with lyrics reflecting personal situations ("Haul Away" was Tim Finn's life story in song), a number of critics jokingly referred to the album as "Tim & Tide". Time and Tide would go on to top the album charts in New Zealand, Canada and Australia.
Tim's Escapade[edit source | edit]Edit
Early in 1983, after Split Enz decided to take a well earned break from their 3 years of recording and touring, Tim recorded a solo album with an all-star session group including producers Mark Moffatt (Divinyls, Ross Wilson), former Beach Boy Ricky Fataar and legendary session singer Venetta Fields. Escapade, released in June 1983, was a major success in Australia, spawning several hits singles including "Fraction Too Much Friction" and the gospel-styled "Made My Day". Tim won the Best Songwriter gong at the TV Week/Countdown Awards, and Split Enz won Best Album (for Time & Tide) and the Most Popular Group award.
Despite its success, Tim's solo album distracted him from the Enz. Michael Gudinski, boss of record company Mushroom, later said in hindsight without ever mentioning this to the band or their then management that he would have prevented it if he had still been managing them at the time. The album meant a delay in the recording of a timely follow-up to Time & Tide, effectively stalling the momentum they had built over the previous three albums, and making the chances of a lasting American breakthrough even slimmer.
Paul Hester joins[edit source | edit]Edit
One more album was released with Tim - (Conflicting Emotions) - but he wrote only four of the songs on the album. At the end of 1983, a new band member, Australian Paul Hester, was brought in on drums. With their new drummer the band toured once more. Though some members of the band felt it was like a new beginning, ultimately this was not to be the case.
After the successful tour, the Enz were back in the studio for another album. The creativity of the earlier years had diminished and Tim was becoming less and less happy with his Enz work. He left the band shortly after.
Enz of an era, then back for more[edit source | edit]Edit
With his brother gone, Neil Finn became the de facto leader of Split Enz. Crombie, Griggs, Hester and Rayner stayed and the group soldiered on, albeit now without any of its original members. This incarnation of the band released only one album, and even its title (See Ya 'Round) indicated that it was meant as a farewell offering. See Ya Round was not a strong commercial success (in fact, it was released only in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada), and Split Enz finally broke up in December 1984. Tim rejoined the band for farewell tour Enz with a Bang.
Split Enz have reformed several times for reunion tours. In December 1989 they toured Australia to headline the Concert Of The Decade tour, while New Zealand was given the 20th Anniversary tour with a one-off performance at the Wynyard Tavern (the place of Split Enz' first gig) on 10 December 1992. In December 1999, they performed at the Millennium Concert on New Year's Eve. In 2005, Split Enz were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and in June of the following year, the Enz embarked on a series of capital city performances in Australia (the first time since 1989). On reunion tours, the group was usually in its Finn/Finn/Rayner/Crombie/Griggs/Hester lineup. After the death of Paul Hester in March 2005, Malcolm Green, the drummer from their most successful lineup (late 1976–1981), toured with them for the first time in 25 years.
After Split Enz – 1984–current[edit source | edit]Edit
Following his time with Split Enz, Phil Judd formed The Swingers with drummer Buster Stiggs and bassist Bones Hillman (who later joined Midnight Oil) and they scored an Australian/New Zealand No. 1 hit with the single "Counting The Beat" in 1981; although the band's success proved short-lived, the song became a radio staple and has been widely used in advertising. In 1983 Judd released his first solo album Private Lives and in the late 1980s led a new band,Schnell Fenster (with former Enz members Noel Crombie and Nigel Griggs), who recorded two albums.
Over the following years Judd established himself as a successful film and TV composer, and his output included his award-winning score for the movie Death in Brunswick. In 2006 Judd released his second solo album Mr Phudd & His Novelty Act exclusively through the Split Enz fan club and his own website. In December 2008 he released a third solo album, Love Is A Moron. He also created artwork and portraits. Unfortunately Judd's fortunes have declined dramatically in recent years - he is reported to be struggling with mental illness, chronic heart disease and alcohol problems, and in 2009-2010 his reputation was shattered by a series of widely publicized scandals which culminated in a short prison sentence.
Geoff and Mike Chunn returned to New Zealand and formed Citizen Band. Mike Chunn later became the head of the Australasian Performing Right Association and also published Stranger Than Fiction, a memoir of his time in Split Enz.
Following the split of the group in 1984, Eddie Rayner played keyboards on Paul McCartney's album Press to Play in 1985 and The Angels album Howling in 1986. Phil Judd, Noel Crombie and Nigel Griggs reunited in a new band, calledSchnell Fenster, who released two albums. The albums were moderately successful. Rayner joined Schnell Fenster, but soon after decided to form his own band called The Makers, with whom he released two albums. His 1995 projectENZSO saw some of the members sing the old Split Enz songs in an orchestral setting with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and two albums were released with live recordings. He has released two solo albums: instrumental album Horse and Play it Straight.
Following the demise of Split Enz, Neil and Paul Hester recruited bassist Nick Seymour (younger brother of Hunters & Collectors leader Mark Seymour) and multi-instrumentalist Craig Hooper (ex The Reels) to form The Mullanes in 1985, but Hooper's tenure was short-lived and after his departure the group settled into a trio lineup which was renamed Crowded House; they became even more successful than Split Enz, recording four international best-selling albums and a string of hit singles between 1986 and 1996. Eddie Rayner performed frequently with Crowded House for their early live performances, but turned down their offer to become a permanent member because of his family commitments.
Tim Finn continued his solo career, as well as collaborating with a variety of other artists. fans. He reunited with Neil in Crowded House for their third album Woodface but left the group again during the subsequent tour. Tim has since collaborated with Neil on two albums released as Finn Brothers, low-fi 1995 album Finn and 2004'sEveryone Is Here, which was released as the brothers grieved their mother's death.
After the demise of Crowded House in 1996, Neil launched his own solo career, although Crowded House have since reformed on several occasions, most recently in 2010. Over the years Neil has collaborated with many other notable artists and groups including Wendy & Lisa, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, The Dixie Chicks, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, and members of Wilco and Radiohead, as well as with his own sons Liam and Elroy, and his wife Sharon. In June 1993 Tim and Neil Finn were both awarded the OBE for their contribution to New Zealand music.
Emlyn Crowther later started a boutique guitar effects company called Crowther Audio. Both Paul Hester and Tim Finn collaborated (two videos by Paul, a version of "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" by Tim) with the Australian children music group The Wiggles and Hester had a brief career in television following the demise of Crowded House with his own TV show, Hessie's Shed. Hester committed suicide on 26 March 2005 after a long battle with depression.
Current status[edit source | edit]Edit
On 17 July 2005, Split Enz were inducted into the ARIA music awards hall of fame and performed "History Never Repeats" and "Poor Boy" at the event. Every member of Split Enz received an award and almost all of them were present, excepting Mike Howard who more than 30 years after leaving the band still does not comment on it, and Paul Hester who had committed suicide only four months earlier.
"Letters to my Frenz" (A Split Enz Book) was released in June 2006 via Rocket Pocket Books. A limited number were autographed by the band. The first print run sold out via the Frenz of the Enz club within weeks. It is currently out of print.
Split Enz last performed on 14 March 2009 at the Sound Relief benefit concert. This was a multi-venue rock music concert in support of relief for the Victorian Bushfire Crisis., with another concert held simultaneously at the Sydney Cricket Ground. All the proceeds from the Melbourne Concert went to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire relief. Performing alongside Split Enz in Melbourne were, Augie March, Bliss N Eso with Paris Wells, Gabriella Cilmi, Jack Johnson, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson with Troy Cassar-Daley, Kings Of Leon, Jet, Paul Kelly, Liam Finn, Wolfmother and reformed Hunters & Collectors and a reformed Midnight Oil including Peter Garrett.