MUSIC

Nick Seymour on Crowded House's legacy and the power of a timeless melody

RENOVATED: Crowded House in 2022 features, from left, Nick Seymour, Elroy Finn, Mitchell Froom, Neil Finn and Liam Finn.
RENOVATED: Crowded House in 2022 features, from left, Nick Seymour, Elroy Finn, Mitchell Froom, Neil Finn and Liam Finn.

THE question is often asked how have Crowded House become more beloved in their absences, than they ever were in their supposed late '80s to early '90s prime?

How do Crowded House 36 years after their debut self-titled album continually attract new young fans, while many of their contemporaries are restricted to their ageing demographic?

For bassist and founding member Nick Seymour, the answer lies in the timelessness of a good melody.

"The sound that we make when we're trying to reveal a song, and render a song, and the instruments we choose to do it justice are not necessarily governed by any particular production trend of the time," Seymour tells Weekender from his home in Ireland, where he's lived since 1998.

"We've not been consumed with being trendy or fashionable with production styles of the day and that's served us well in terms of 30 years later people are still listening to our records, without thinking that's terribly dated now.

"It wasn't necessarily a conscious thing, it was making sure we got to the essence and the integrity of what it sounds like when you're in a room with people playing together cohesively."

ON THE ROAD: Crowded House are touring Australia throughout April.

ON THE ROAD: Crowded House are touring Australia throughout April.

Seymour, 63, has seen it all. Along with frontman and chief songwriter Neil Finn he's been the mainstay of the band that began in 1985 as a three-piece with late drummer Paul Hester, following the dissolution of Kiwi art-pop band Split Enz.

He's been there for seven studio albums, three distinct eras (1985-1996, 2006-2011, 2020-present) and multiple line-up changes. The latest version of Crowded House is a true family affair with Neil Finn bringing in his sons Liam (guitar) and Elroy (drums) and the band's original producer Mitchell Froom (keyboards).

"We were all very nervous when Neil first suggested this idea," Seymour says of bringing in Liam and Elroy. "I flew into LA and when we first started recording Dreamers Are Waiting, it was kind of a trial really.

"I wanted it to work, I was willing it forward, but at the same time I have always been so protective of the core and integrity of Crowded House. I just didn't know if this would work or not. Whether it was gonna be an enjoyable thing or if we were gonna struggle. It just fell into place so simply."

Naturally plenty of interest in the latest incarnation of Crowded House has focused on the Finn sons. However, Seymour says Froom's inclusion has been as important.

The 68-year-old American produced Crowded House's debut album in 1986, as well as Temple Of Low Men (1988), Woodface (1991) and Dreamers Are Waiting (2021).

"Paul [Hester], Neil and I had just played in pubs together and we thought we had a sound, but when we met Mitchell Froom in Los Angeles he actually defined a Crowded House sound," he says.

"He could hear it trying to emerge. So getting him in now 30 years later and him saying, 'let's play these songs live exactly how we recorded them with the exact same instruments we used back at that time', that was a real challenge for us to rediscover how we actually went about it.

"To write new songs with Mitchell in the band from jams, he's loving it because he's been stuck in a studio for 30 years. Now we've created a monster. He's constantly asking for tips from me about what jackets he should wear and t-shirts."

COVER: Dreamers Are Waiting is Crowded House's first new album since 2010.

COVER: Dreamers Are Waiting is Crowded House's first new album since 2010.

Bringing Crowded House together again for their first shows since 2016, always had to be about more than living off past glories. Even though the band possess a bountiful back catalogue including Don't Dream It's Over, Weather With You, Better Be Home Soon, Something So Strong, and many more.

For Seymour and Finn, Crowded House needed to record new material to make the reformation worthwhile.

"Whenever we get together the first priority is to actually make a sound together that exposes our chemistry and musical instincts," Seymour says.

"Getting together in a room, plugging your guitar in and turning it up really loud, there's that threshold you have to break through.

Crowded House is a band that tries to expose the strength of melody and the counter point of harmony on melodies.

Nick Seymour

"That's always moving forward for us. We do love jamming. We've always been quite good at stream-of-consciousness playing together."

Crowded House's latest album Dreamers Are Waiting actually features several songs written in jam sessions, including the opener Bad Times Good.

The classic Crowded House melodies and harmonies are also there in the startling Show Me The Way and Goodnight Everyone.

"Crowded House is a band that tries to expose the strength of melody and the counter point of harmony on melodies," Seymour says.

"Liam and Elroy are absolutely spectacular at finding harmonies with their dad.

"It's something that's so instinctive. It's something that was similar with Paul and I in a song like Better Be Home Soon."

Crowded House plays the Adelaide Entertainment Centre (April 5); Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (April 8, 9); Aware Super Theatre, Sydney (April 12, 13); Centennial Vineyards, Bowral (April 16), Bluesfest, Byron Bay (April 17); MyState Bank Arena, Hobart (April 19); Royal Theatre, Canberra (April 21); Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong (April 23); Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley (April 24).

This story Crowded House building on solid foundation first appeared on Newcastle Herald.