The legendary Crowded House are coming back to Australia in 2022 in what will be their first visit in 12 years for their ‘Dreamers Are Waiting Tour’, including an a day on the green date at Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong, on Saturday 23 April.
I challenge you to find a person who can’t name a Crowded House song. And if you can, then play a Crowded House song to that person and I’m willing to bet that they will know every word.
Having formed in Melbourne in 1985 after the breakup of New Zealand’s Split Enz, Crowded House have now clocked up over three and a half decades as one of Australia’s most beloved groups. Considering ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over‘ is one of the most covered songs of the last 30 years and ‘Weather With You’ remains a favourite at most outback barbeques, you can see why the group’s song’s are regarded as timeless.
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Their 2021 release Dreamers Are Waiting was no exception. Being the first album recorded with the group’s new lineup of founding members Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, along with producer and keyboardist Mitchell Froom, guitarist and singer Liam Finn and drummer Elroy Finn, Dreamers highlights the adaptability that the group and in particular Neil Finn have as songwriters and in the Covid world, as recording artists.
“We started it when we were all together in a rehearsal room and then moved into a recording studio which was this mad, incredible place in Los Angeles,” remarks the group’s bass player Nick Seymour.
“We all converged on LA because Mitchell lives there and Liam was living in Los Angeles as well, so we decided it was easier for us to go there and get into a room together and jam some ideas.”
Touching on the writing process for album number seven, Seymour elaborated, “Some of the songs came from actual jams and others were demos that we had to learn in the usual way, with Neil sending out a demo of his ideas and us coming up with our parts.”
After the album’s recording process was forced to a halt as a result of Los Angeles’ first lockdown, the group decided to return home and finish it off remotely; a process which Seymour found to be much more creatively cathartic.
“We ended up finishing the record remotely but the main parts of the songs like the rhythm tracks and vocals were recorded while we were all together.
“We decided we should go back to our respective homes and then we started to share recordings of what we had been working on and realised that we already had the rhythm tracks and basic ideas so we started throwing more ideas around via dropbox. Next thing you know we were putting these sessions together with ideas that might not see the light of day if we were collected together in a studio.”
One song in particular that Seymour felt may not have “seen the light of day” in a normal studio session was the album’s enigmatic opener ‘Bad Times Good’.
“Because the opening track has two-time signatures to it, being a 3/4 and a 5/4, which I know sounds a bit prog rock,” laughs Seymour, “when we were jamming it, it was someone riffing on guitar and then I started playing a bassline and next thing Elroy was tapping out a drum part because he could hear the cycles looping in measures of five, almost like ‘Take 5’ by Dave Brubeck or something along those lines.
“We just recorded that jam and then married it with another section of the same jam which was in 3/4 like a waltz time, and then Neil edited those together while he was in isolation. These were ideas that would have never ordinarily seen the light of day if we were in the room together because at that point they weren’t sounding like complete songs, they were just snippets of jams.
“It was just called Fives and Sixes until Neil married them together.”
Although, for Seymour that was the most fun aspect of recording this time around, stating, “When you’re in a band the threshold to get over is when you walk into a room together and turn your amp up really loud and just make a racket. After a while, you start to realise that you’re making a racket in sync with each other and that’s quite liberating.”
“It almost feels like you’re 15 again and discovering what it is to jam because that is something that can be quite tricky to do. Especially when you’re a middle-aged family man,” he laughs.