Split Enz

Split Enz

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Split Enz

Img_capt = Split Enz (1977) "...with costumes and hair...like nothing else, wild, colourful and inventive."
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Auckland, New Zealand
Genre = Pop, New Wave, Rock Prog Rock, Art rock
Years_active = 1972 - 1984
Label = Mushroom, Chrysalis, A&M
Associated_acts = Crowded House The Swingers Schnell Fenster The Makers Citizen Band
URL = [http://www.frenz.com Frenz.com]
Current_members = Split Enz personnelSplit Enz personnel 2

Split Enz was a successful New Zealand band during the 1970s and early 1980s featuring Phil Judd and brothers Tim Finn and Neil Finn. They achieved chart success in New Zealand, Australia and Canada during the early 1980s and built a cult following elsewhere. Their musical style was eclectic and original, incorporating influences from art rock, vaudeville, swing, punk, rock, New Wave and pop.

The group formed in 1971 at the University of Auckland with the original lineup of Phil Judd, Tim Finn, Mike Chunn, Robert Gillies and Noel Crombie. From 1972 the band became a full-time occupation for the friends, and they called the band "Split Ends". The spelling was later 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 group was widely known for their unique visual presentation. Their costumes and hair were wild, colourful and inventive. The costumes were designed by Noel Crombie, who also designed most of the group's other visual material, such as stage sets, posters, stickers and album covers, as well as directing many of the band's music videos.

The group's career falls into two distinct phases. The first was firmly rooted in the progressive rock scene of the early 1970s. The group's sound progressed over the first era from progressive rock to punk rock at times. In 1977, with the departure of Judd and the enlisting of Neil Finn, the group's sound began to change from a progressive rock sound to New Wave with folk roots. The early 1980s proved the group's most commercially successful period, with a string of popular albums in the bourgeoning New Wave style, the group further established a legacy that is still recognised as a distinct musical style after over twenty years from their departure. Since their departure, the group has reunited as Split Enz several times, though its members have gone on to create other successful musical groups with one another since the breakup in 1984, such as Crowded House, Schnell Fenster, Citizen Band and the Finn Brothers.


New Zealand — 1971–1974

"Split Ends"

The origins of Split Enz lay in the friendships that developed amongst a group of young students in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After finishing primary school, Tim Finn attended Sacred Heart College 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, and there they met and befriended a group of art students including Philip Judd, Geoffrey Noel Crombie and Rob Gillies.

The close friendship between Finn and Chunn became the core of Split Enz; the band soon started writing together with Chunn working out the basic form and lyrics and Finn (who was strongly influenced by classic British pop like the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Move) providing melodies.

As the partnership developed, they 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 they formed a five-piece acoustic group called Split Ends in October 1972.

Interestingly, the band The Move, who were an early influence on Judd, released an album name "Split Ends" in 1972, after Split Ends had already adopted the name. [Richard Cromelin, [http://www.themoveonline.com/archive_13.html The Move Online: "Split Ends" liner notes] , written November 1972, retrieved 30 August, 2007] .]

Early singles

Golding's musical skills helped Finn and Chunn to build complex and impressive 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 its debut single, "For You/Split Ends", in April 1973. In March, just before the single was released, Golding left the group to study in London, although they would meet again years later. Reed player Mike Howard quit soon after.

With Miles's departure Chunn and Finn 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 Finn, and he dropped out of university.

In late 1973, Split Ends entered the "New Faces" TV talent contest, and in preparation for their performance, they recorded "129" and "Home Sweet Home". Soon after, they also recorded the retro-1930s sounding "Sweet Talking Spoon Song", which would become the second single. To their dismay, they finished second-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.

In November 1973, EMI NZ issued the band's second single, "Sweet Talking Spoon Song"/"129". 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 did not like 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

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, nicknamed "The Prof", would remain with the band for the rest of its existence, and he was crucial to the development of the band's sound.Fact|date=September 2008 A prodigiously talented self-taught musician,Fact|date=September 2008 his ability to realise and enhance the band's arrangements added tremendous depth and polish to the already strong material,Fact|date=September 2008 and in many respects his playing became the defining element of the band's sound.Fact|date=September 2008 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 mambers were able to encompass a wide range of styles and sounds, and they were always a force to be reckoned with on stage,Fact|date=September 2008 as even their early live recordings attest.

Theatrical sets

In February 1974 the band altered its original name to the patriotic "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, and 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 appearances, as did their old Auckland university friend, Noel Crombie. 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 a definite eccentricity that was 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. The costumes and stage personae also proved to be a useful facade for a group of young men who were, essentially, rather shy personalities.Fact|date=September 2008

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 really take her on tour with them, so Noel Crombie's spoon playing routine was substituted and soon became an essential part of each show.

In concert, the band was already in a league of its own and live performances from this era soon became the stuff of legend. 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 a now-legendary live performance of their live epic "Stranger Than Fiction", a woman friend was recruited to crawl across the stage during the song, under pulsing strobe lights, with a bloodied axe apparently embedded in her skull.

Australia — 1975–1976

By the end of 1974, the band's following in New Zealand was strong and dedicated, but the chances of further progress there were obviously limited — the only logical place to go was Australia. 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.

At the time, Skyhooks and Hush were probably Australia's most overtly theatrical rock bands, and the influence of the glam rock period could also be seen in acts like Hush, who used costumes and makeup. Even Sherbet and AC/DC had briefly toyed with glam-rock styling, but they had dropped the idea before long. 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"

The Enz soldiered for nine difficult months although, as at home, they quickly amassed a small fiercely loyal cult following which endures to this day. Their immediate future was assured when they were spotted by Michael Gudinski, who recognised their potential and signed them to a management and publishing deal and a recording contract with his Mushroom Records label. This would later provide an apparent conflict of interests that was possibly not to Split Enz's future artistic or commercial advantage. Their reputation as a top-notch live act and their association with Gudinski gained them several very important support slots to local bands like Skyhooks and with major overseas acts in 1974 – 75 including Roxy Music, Lou Reed, Flo & Eddie, and Leo Sayer.

The association with Mushroom was fortunate. The company had struggled to survive for its first few years but had recently hit the big time with the record-breaking "Living In The Seventies" album by Skyhooks and the company was now on its way to being a major succcess. Mushroom's staff were young, keen, aggressive and willing to take risks — exactly the kind of company Split Enz needed. Gudinski is often criticised (with some justification) for the treatment of artists on the Mushroom roster.

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. Russell had been the bass player with legendary NZ rockers Ray Columbus & The Invaders (1962 – 65), and went on to play with Ray Brown & The Whispers (1966) and Max Merritt & The Meteors (1971 – 74). The engineer was Festival staffer Richard Batchens, whose credits include The Cleves, Lobby Loyde, Chain, Blackfeather and Sherbet. The Enz members were reportedly unhappy with the result at the time, and Tim Finn still regards the album as "deeply flawed" although he acknowledges that time has revealed its unique qualities.

It was a moderate success on its release in July, selling a respectable 12,000 copies in Australia, reaching #35 on the album chart for one week, and peaking at #7 in New Zealand. It was also a critical breakthrough and along with a handful of other 1970s' Australian classics, like The Dingoes' debut LP and Madder Lake's "Stillpoint", it remains one of the most original and accomplished Australasian debut albums of the period.

Much of the material derived from Tim Finn's and Phil Judd's fascination with the work of the renowned English writer and artist Mervyn Peake — notably "Spellbound", the epic track "Stranger Than Fiction" (their concert centrepiece) and "Titus", named after the hero of Peake's Gormenghast trilogy.

Enz of the Earth

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

"Second Thoughts" in London

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'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. During the recording they met original member Miles Golding, who was then living in London, and attended a recital he gave at the Australian Embassy.

The band's bizarre appearance and crazed onstage antics initially baffled the UK press and audiences, and critical reactions were far from favourable, but 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.

"Courting the Act"

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 for "Second 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.

Mike 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, (apparently exacerbated by his experimentation with psychedelic drugs). 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. and 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

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 almost totally inexperienced 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 great new material that would form the basis of the next two albums.

Neil soon began contributing his own material, and 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 superb 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, Neil was playing a vital role in the band by 1980.

The Enz initially were at first scorned by the fashion-fixated UK music press, owing 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 substantial 'New Wave' scene, Split Enz began to draw larger crowds in the UK.


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 #18 in Australia. The first single, the quirky "My Mistake" (August), peaked at #18 during October, bolstered by the national tour and aided by another great promotional video. In New Zealand, "Dizrythmia" reached #3, and "My Mistake" peaked at #21. The song's introduction bears a close resemblance to the Jack Clement's novelty single "My Voice Keeps Changing On Me", a song that Noel Crombie covered in 1983 under the moniker "Noel's Cowards"

The second single, Tim Finn's jaunty "Bold as Brass" (December) was a melodic pop gem, laden with hooks, with a strong and bouncy backbeat by the Green – Griggs rhythm section. It was even more sophisticated than its predecessor, but it failed to chart in Australia. The single was accompanied by another specially-made video, co-directed by Noel and Rob.

Between November 1977 and February 1978, Split Enz toured solidly throughout the UK and Europe. At the turn of the year Rob Gillies left and Phil Judd returned, briefly, in early 1978 after Tim and Eddie heard some of his new material, but he apparently found himself out of step with their changing direction, and left the band for good after about a month.

From Luton to Nambassa ("Frenzy")

1978 was 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 [http://www.creativenz.govt.nz/ New Zealand Arts Council] came to the rescue with a five thousand dollar grant. They immediately booked a tiny 8-track studio in Luton and with the help of 18-year-old English engineer David Tickle, they knocked out demo recordings of around 28 new songs in less than five days. These legendary sessions, (the "Rootin' 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 his albums in the few years prior, to record 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 magic and 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. It didn't chart in England but "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.

The group's status was beginning to be restored, however the group was still facing some difficulties in this period. [Robyn Langwell, [http://i71.photobucket.com:80/albums/i138/nambas/nambassa/SplitEnz.jpgYear of the Enz?] , Published by New Zealand Women's Weekly on 1979-04-02. Retrieved 2007-04-30.] 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 Australiasian 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."Staff reporter", [http://i71.photobucket.com/albums/i138/nambas/nambassa/FireatWaimata.jpgCostly Gear In Razed Waihi Hall] , published by The New Zealand Herald on 26 January, 2979. Retrieved 2007-08-30.] 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, [Jeremy Ansell, [http://www.radionz.co.nz/nr/programmes/enzology/ep05 Enzology - (5) Frenzy] , broadcast 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2007-08-30.] stunning friends and fans alike with their "towering performance" at the festival. [K.P. [http://i71.photobucket.com/albums/i138/nambas/nambassa/SplitEnzdeliversagain.jpgSplit Enz delivers again] from Auckland Star, 1979-01-30. Retrieved 2007-08-30.]

"I See Red" eventually peaked at #15 in February 1979, and "Frenzy" produced one more single, "Give It a Whirl", that May, the first Split Enz single to be written by Neil Finn. Neither the LP nor the second single charted, but one album track, "She Got Body, She Got Soul", was later reworked for the soundtrack to the musical feature film "Starstruck". [Carolyn, [http://www.kylenano.demon.co.uk/starstrk.htm Matinee Idyll - Starstruck (Aus 1982)] , published 11 June, 2002. Retrieved 30 August, 2007.] . A self-produced, non-album single "Things", which featured the B-side "Semi-Detached", was released in October 1979, and also failed to chart.

The combination of the dramatic changes in the English music scene, the relatively poor 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 they reined in the more outre aspects of their image. The wild makeup and hairstyles were also toned down (well, sort of); 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.

The evolution of streamlining and consolidating core melodic elements of Enz music organically bonded with a less harried visual approach, although the trademark Enz weirdness was never far from the surface. The genius of Noel Crombie's contribution in design and manufacture of band clothing, art design, film clip Production; image cannot be underestimated as a primary reason why at this point in time Split Enz 'engaged' with the public in commercially popular terms. Neil's generally optimistic, upbeat songs provided a perfect counterpoint to Tim's edgier and more melancholic pieces. 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 which were both timeless yet perfect for the period.

Critical acclaim — 1980–1984

New Wave success

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 20's 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 the accessible 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, NZ and Canadian charts, to #11 in Britain, and even got them onto the US charts, where the song reached #53, while the album peaked at #40. The song reached #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 #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.

When it 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 a strobe-like stream of colours under certain lighting conditions. "True Colours" was one of only three albums (the others being "Paradise Theatre" by Styx, also on A&M and the soundtrack to the Superman Movie) on which this effect was ever used.

The band's next LP, 1981's "Waiata" (which was called "Corroboree" in Australia) also sold well although 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. Following this album, 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"

Early in 1983, after Split Enz decided to take a well earned break from their 3 years of recording and touring, Tim in his break from the group 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, (Mushroom boss Michael Gudinski later said in hindsight without ever mentioning this to the band or their then management he would have prevented it if he had still been managing them at the time), and it delayed 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

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, Paul Hester was brought in on drums. With their new drummer the band toured once more. All members during that time felt that it was like a new beginning. After the tour 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.

"See Ya 'Round"

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 original members from their original lineup.

However, this incarnation released only one album, and even its title ("See Ya 'Round") clearly 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. But whatever tension there might have been between the band and Tim was resolved when they went on their final tour together, 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's first gig) on December 10 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 tragic death of Paul Hester in March 2005, Malcolm Green, the drummer from their most successful lineup (1977 – 1981), toured with them for the first time in 25 years.

After Split Enz — 1984–Current

Following his time with Split Enz, Phil Judd formed a band with Buster Stiggs and Bones Hillman named The Swingers. Later, he released a solo album "Private Lives". Judd released his solo album "Novelty Act" exclusively through the Split Enz fan club and his own website, with the possibility of a commercial release to come. He also creates artwork and portraits. Geoff and Mike Chunn returned to New Zealand and formed Citizen Band, and Mike Chunn later became the head of the Australasian Performing Right Association.

Following the demise 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 got back together in a new band, called Schnell 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 project "ENZSO" 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. An instrumental solo album "Horse", and another album "Play it Straight".

Neil and Paul Hester (later joined briefly by Neil's brother Tim) went on to form Crowded House, which was also very successful worldwide. After the demise of Crowded House, Neil started a solo career. Tim Finn has a successful solo career, and was in Crowded House for their third album. Eddie Rayner also joined Crowded House on keyboard for their early live performances. Family commitments prevented him becoming a full time member. Tim and Neil Finn were both awarded the OBE in June 1993 for their contribution to New Zealand music. Neil and Tim have also released two albums together as the Finn Brothers, the 1995 album "Finn" and 2004's mournful "Everyone Is Here", which was released as the brothers grieved their mother's death. As of 2007 Crowded House have reformed after finding another drummer.

Emlyn Crowther later started a cult guitar effects company called "Crowther Audio". Both Paul Hester and Tim Finn had collaborations (two videos by Paul, a version of "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" by Tim) with the Australian children music group The Wiggles. Paul 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 March 26 2005 after a long battle with depression.

Current status

On July 17, 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 4 months earlier.

Split Enz last toured Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in March, 2008.


*Feb-Mar 1973: "Orientation '73" (NZ universities - as support to Itambu)
*Apr 1973: NZ (as support to John Mayall's Bluesbreakers)
*Feb 1975: "Orientation '75" (NZ universities)
*Jun-Jul 1975: "Black & White" (NZ)
*Jul 1975: Aus (as support to Lou Reed)
*Feb-Mar 1976: "Enz Of The Earth" (NZ/Aus)
*Sep-Oct 1976: "Jackpot" (UK) (as support to Jack The Lad)
*Nov-Dec 1976: UK
*Dec 1976-Jan 1977: "Courtin' The Act" (Aus/NZ)
*Feb-Mar 1977: US
*Apr-May 1977: UK
*Sep-Oct 1977: "Dizrythmia" (NZ/Aus)
*Dec 1977: The Netherlands
*1978: UK
*Feb-Mar 1979: Aus
*Apr 1979: "Whirl Wind" (NZ leg)
*May 1979: "Give It A Whirl" (NZ)
*Jul-Sep 1979: "Whirl Wind" (Aus leg)
*Dec 1979: "Enz Of The '70s" (Aus)
*1980: "Trooping The Colours" (NZ)
*Mar-Apr 1980: "Sporting True Colours" (Aus - with The Sports)
*May 1980: "Enz In The West" (Aus)
*Jun 1980: Aus
*Sep 1980: UK
*Oct-Nov 1980: US/Canada
*Nov-Dec 1980: UK/Europe
*Mar 1981: "Outback" (Aus)
*Apr-Aug 1981: "Waiata" (NZ/Aus/world)
*1982: "Time And Tide" (NZ/Aus/world)
*1983: "Conflicting Emotions" (NZ)
*Feb-Mar 1984: "Kia Kaha" (Aus)
*Sep-Dec 1984: "Enz With A Bang" (Aus/NZ)
*1993: "20th Anniversary Tour" (NZ)
*2006: Aus reunion tour
*2008: NZ reunion tour


* 1986: Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior benefit concert, Mt. Smart Stadium, Auckland, 5 April.
* 1986: A special show at Middle Park Hotel in May 1986 to showcase Neil's new band Crowded House and Split Enz.
* 1989: Crowded House and Schnell Fenster toured together in 1989 bringing with it an assortment of former Split Enz alumni. Members of the Enz would get together on stage for a bit of a reunion during the tour. Phil Judd, though he was lead singer of Schnell Fenster chose not to take part in the reunion parts of the show. Conversely, Tim Finn, a member of neither group (he would later join Crowded House briefly as a fulltime member), did occasionally join them.
* 1992: One-off promotional show for Air NZ and NZ Tourism Commission in Australia.
* 1992: One-off show to mark the band's 20th anniversary, to announce the 20th Anniversary Tour, and to launch Mike Chunn's Stranger Than Fiction book, Wynyard Tavern, Auckland, 10 December.
* 1993: The band reformed briefly in March (while Crowded House were recording their fourth album "Together Alone") for the 20th Anniversary Tour of New Zealand.
* 1996: Neil and Tim Finn both featured prominently in Eddie Rayner's Enzso (Split Enz and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) project and tour, making it arguably a semi-reunion.
* 1999: The core band members, Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Noel Crombie, Eddie Rayner, and Nigel Griggs regrouped in Auckland during 1999 and recorded a number of demos. There were ideas for an album, one which did not come to fruition.
* 1999: The band played two "Enz of the Millennium" shows in Auckland, New Zealand to see in the year 2000, 30 and 31 December.
* 2002: One-off private reunion for Neil and Sharon Finn's 20th wedding anniversary, 13 February.
* 2002: One-off reunion at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio for webcast.
* 2002: Special TV appearance on Holmes show to mark the band's 30th anniversary, Kohimarama Yacht Club, Auckland, 10 December.
* 2005: In mid 2005, the band announced they would reform again for a tour of Australia in 2006 starting in June, with New Zealand dates forthcoming. The lineup for this tour was: Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Nigel Griggs, Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie, Malcolm Green
* 2007: On 8th November, the band announced on New Zealand's TV3 on program Campbell Live, that they were indeed reforming and going on a New Zealand tour, starting in Christchurch, March 2008. The lineup for this tour was: Tim Finn, Neil Finn, Nigel Griggs, Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie with Michael Barker on drums


ee also

* Crowded House
* Finn Brothers
* The Swingers (Phil Judd)
* Schnell Fenster (Phil Judd, Noel Crombie, Nigel Griggs)
* The Makers (Eddie Rayner)
* Citizen Band (Geoff Chunn, Mike Chunn)


# Chunn, Mike, "Stranger Than Fiction: The Life and Times of Split Enz", GP Publications, 1992. ISBN 1-86956-050-7
# Dix, John, "Stranded in Paradise: New Zealand Rock and Roll, 1955 to the Modern Era", Penguin Books, 2005, ISBN 0-14-301953-8

External resources

* [http://www.frenz.com Frenz.com]
* [http://www.milesago.com/Artists/enz.htm Biography on the band]
* [http://www.somethingsofinn.com Something so Finn]
* [http://www.book.russells.id.au/ "Stranger than Fiction"] - book
* [http://www.onlytalkingsense.com/forum/ Only talking sense] - message board
* [http://www.kylenano.demon.co.uk/starstrk.htm "Starstruck" ] - film and soundtrack info
* [http://kiakaha.net Kia Kaha ] - Japanese site with an excellent discography and English links
* [http://www.radionz.co.nz/nr/programmes/enzology Enzology ] - Radio documentary
* [http://www.myspace.com/splitenz MySpace page]

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