He has long been destined for a music's Hall of Fame as one of New Zealand's greatest exports, yet legendary Crowded House frontman Neil Finn admits a large slice of his soul will always be Irish. 

The iconic songwriter who penned classic hits such as Weather With You and Don't Dream It's Over has had more than a little folk influence in his music down the years and it's no wonder, with his mother hailing from the Limerick town of Kilmallock, Neil feels very much at home every time he sets foot in Ireland.

Neil Finn 2019

"I have always considered myself to be a product of the Celtic traditions and that may explain why I feel so comfortable when I come to Ireland," says 60-year-old Neil, whose middle name of Mullane is a tribute to his mother's maiden title.

"I've been in Ireland so many times with Crowded House and there is always something about the place that feels very familiar. I've always found it very easy to strike up conversations with the Irish people when I come to your country and I guess that is a legacy of my mother's influence.

"Some of the great songwriters of musical history would say they have been hugely influenced by Irish music down the years and while my Mum didn't play a whole lot of folk music when I was growing up, she was certainly a huge influence on my musical taste.

"Mum loved a sing-song. We would regularly sing Cockles and Mussels when I was a kid at home and I was keen to explore Irish and folk music myself in my teenage years when I found myself in folk clubs as I learned how to play guitar and write songs.

"I wouldn't say my music is folk because it is a little bit more rock and pop than that, but it certainly has a huge influence from Ireland and that is something I'm proud to be a part of."

No Irish party is complete without plenty of Guinness flowing, so Neil was little bemused when one of his recent gigs in Ireland's capital hit an unexpected roadblock.

"I was not drinking alcohol on stage throughout this tour, but I guess it was inevitable that we ended that run when we got to Dublin," he says with a smile. "Then they shut the bar at the Olympia Theatre. It's unimaginable for this to happen in Ireland. No wonder no one could buy me another pint!

"I always have a Guinness or two when I'm in Ireland because it always tastes so much better here than anywhere else in the world. I'm not sure if it has ever been resolved as to why that is the case, but it's certainly true and you guys certainly know how to drink the stuff.

"One of many things I admire about the Irish is your collective ability to drink Guinness and Murphy's to incredible levels and I have experienced this skill on many occasions first hand.

"A few of my mother's Mullane clan have ended up in the Doneraile and Mallow areas of Cork and we have had a session or two down there when the whole town appeared to show up and have a drink with us. I dread to think what the bar bill was those nights!"

The affable Finn was happy to talk about all aspects of his enduring career, with his acceptance that selling music is becoming an impossible ambition in the digital downloading era a sign of changing times.

"I kind of feel like I lived through the golden age of copyright in music," reflected Neil. "Back in the days when Crowded House were selling a lot of records, this was the way we all made our money, but the landscape has changed dramatically now.

"Music has always been shared around and the way the world is today, it is being shared around and the artist is not getting paid for it anymore. It's an interesting change of direction for the music industry, but we all have to accept it.

Neil Finn 2019 02

"The way I see it, if people make a connection with my music and are willing to come and see him in a concert and contribute something in that way, then we are all getting something out of it. None of us are likely to sell millions of records from this point forward because the internet and downloading has changed the way music works.

"This is why you can no longer get fixated with how many CD's you might sell in the first week or two weeks when an album is released. If you did that, you'd find yourself in a constant state of anxiety.

"The way I judge whether people like my new music now is simple. I play it live, hopefully in front of a good crowd and if people don't leave for the bar mid-way through a song, then I'm doing something right."

Finn has recently been seen on stage as a stellar addition to a new-look Fleetwood Mac line-up that has been earning sparkling reviews after the new-look line-up took to the stage for the first time, with Neil telling us he is relishing the chance to add his own magic to one of the biggest bands of all-time.

More: Stevie Nicks wants to inspire women

Fleetwood Mac have been attracting sparkling reviews for their shows in America, with a stadium dated now inked into the diary for 2019 that include a huge occasion under the arch at Wembley Stadium on June 16th.

Tickets are available here.

Written by Kevin Palmer