Crowded House: “We were trying to get back into that almost teenage mindset of making a racket with an electric guitar”

by James Hendicott

Nick Seymour, bassist in Australiasian stars Crowded House, has been riding the coronavirus outbreak with us here in Ireland.

A long-time resident of Sligo, Seymour and his band were making a new record when the coronavirus crisis hit, and Seymour steamed home to Ireland’s west coast, while the record production went on digitally.

The band are highly international in their approach now, but their first record in a decade, ‘Dreamers Are Waiting’, is nevertheless atypical of their approach, and saw the incorporation of new members.

“We started out recording the album in November 2019,” Seymour explains, “in Los Angeles. We went into a rehearsal room and tried to make sense of some of the ideas being tabled as potential songs, and jam our way into arrangements and so on. We had to integrate Neil [Finn]’s two sons and Mitchell Froom, who we’d only ever done pre-production before.”

“We were trying to get back into that almost teenage mindset of making a racket with an electric guitar. We were rehearsing and recording a little in this vintage studio, and then we moved to United Studio on Sunset Boulevard. That was meant to be the clincher studio with the serious takes.”

That wasn’t how things worked out, however.

“We realised the stuff we’d recorded in Valentine, this locked up museum-like studio, were as good as they were going to get, so we started working on those and tracked a few new songs. And then covid happened, and we started to realise it was a bit every man for himself in the US, the law of the jungle.”

“The studio decided to close and I started to get a bit panicky about getting back to Ireland. It was really intense, but I got back through Dublin, and we all sat around sheltering in place, as they said, and worked out how to finish the record.”

“Fortunately we all have these great studios where we can alter files, but we couldn’t do anything in real time, we could only exchange files for other people to listen. We had these exchanges, but our whole schedule for the year had fallen apart, including the record and the tour, so we were just sitting working in our remote parts of the world sending files to each other and becoming IT geeks.”

“We finished the album, decided it needed to be mixed, and we found a platform where we can do it in real time, so we all had the same monitors and headphones and so on for that, and we got it done.”

Then, an unlikely chance to tour came up and the band headed back down under.

“It turned out New Zealand was covid negative and we still had our tour dates there booked,” Seymour explains. “There was a promoter willing to risk doing it without insurance, so we took a chance, got special dispensation as essential workers for those of us living abroad, and went out, working with a local crew – 47 people – and it basically got everyone out. The shows sold out immediately as we announced them, everyone wanted to see a band.”

The same, of course, willo happen in Ireland soon, including with Crowded House shows returning, something Seymour particularly looks forward to.

“I can understand hecklers, for starters,” he laughs when asked about playing what are now his home shows. “Neil or the others might not understand the subtleties, but when I hear ‘go on you good thing,’ things I use myself now, that makes me laugh.”

‘Dreamers Are Waiting’ by Crowded House is out now, Crowded House’ rescheduled Dublin date is currently pencilled in for late June 2022.

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