By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
After a 12-year hiatus, Australian group Crowded House renewed its lease on life three years ago. Most important, the rebooting of the band marked the reunion of two of its key players, founding members Neil Finn (singer/guitarist/songwriter) and Nick Seymour (bass).
Finn and original drummer Paul Hester formed the band in the mid-'80s, grafting it from the remnants of an earlier outfit, New Zealand's Split Enz. Seymour read that Finn was looking for a bassist for his new venture and promptly introduced himself. The three hit it off immediately and spent the latter half of the '80s and early part of the '90s championing their smartly tailored, radio-ready pop rock. The band produced four critically acclaimed albums and a string of Top 40 hits — "Don't Dream It's Over," "Something So Strong," and "Weather With You" among them.
Hester abruptly left the group midway through a U.S. tour in 1994 and, after falling victim to chronic depression, took his own life in 2005. Although the band eventually expanded to a four-piece with Finn's brother Tim on guitar — later replaced by guitarist Mark Hart — they subsequently agreed to call it quits in 1996.
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But in 2007, Finn and Seymour reconvened and agreed to give Crowded House another go. The next year, they were back in action. With Hart again in the fold and Matt Sherrod on the drum kit, Crowded House now has a new album to tout, Intriguer, and an extensive world tour that brings them to the Fillmore Miami Beach this Thursday. New Times recently spoke with Seymour and caught up on Crowded House's current affairs.
New Times: What's it like touring again after all these years?
Nick Seymour: I don't mind being on the tour bus again, but I don't think I would have liked it the way we did before if we actually have to sleep on it. Fortunately, it's arranged so much better now. We get to stay in nice hotels. Plus I'm really enjoying the touring now. I like to document all the places we go, and I do a lot of research beforehand, to locate the museums, the places where I can ride my bike. My significant other lives in Dublin and we recently had a child, so I do miss them, but they often join us for various legs of the tour.
And what are the audiences like? Are they still the fans that supported you the first time around, or are you noticing there are newcomers as well?
Oh, we still get many of the same fans we had from before. It's not like we're the Grateful Dead, but I do notice that many of the fans trail us from gig to gig, especially on the East Coast. I always meet people before a show that I recognize from another show, or they tell me they've seen us various times before. And a lot of our former fans bring their kids too, so it becomes kind of like a multigenerational hand-me-down.
Early on, you guys gave producer Mitchell Froom one of his first credits and really helped boost him into prominence. Has there ever been talk about bringing him back to helm another project?
That's an interesting question. I always liked Mitchell, but his name has never come up. I don't know why that is, actually. We were supposed to work with Brian Eno at one time, but somehow that never worked out. I thought that would have been interesting.
So what were you doing in the interim, between the time the band went on hiatus in the mid-'90s and then when it reconvened in 2007?
I was living in Ireland and running my studio and getting to know some of the artists on the local Dublin scene. The bigger Irish bands, like U2 and Christy Moore, obviously aren't tied into that local scene anymore, but there are still plenty of younger bands that still are, and I've gotten to work with a number of them, which has been great.
I worked with a band called Walls and produced an album by Bell X1. Neil Hannon and his group, Divine Comedy, recorded their new album there; it was great to have the studio used for a project from start to finish... So do they use a lot of air-conditioning in Miami?
Yes, every place here is heavily air-conditioned.
I guess I'll have to go into my trunk and pull out some extra jackets. Here's a quick story for you. We recently did a big outdoor gig in Hyde Park in London. Paul McCartney and Crosby, Stills & Nash were on the bill, and Elvis Costello was there as well. It was incredibly hot that day, and everyone was dressed appropriately in T-shirts and such, but there was Elvis, wearing a three-piece suit — a three-piece suit on this incredibly hot day! Now, I've met Elvis four or five times before, but I couldn't believe it. I couldn't approach him. I didn't even want to look at him. All I could think about was all that sweat!