For the second instalment of Neil Finn’s radio show that sees him and his bandmates dip into the archives of Crowded House’s career, the band are celebrating the release of their brand new single ‘To The Island.’ Starting us off with an acoustic rendition, the first time they’d ever performed the track that way, the band welcome us back to another episode and Finn’s voice floats through the screen as if he’s right in the room with us.
This week, Finn has quite the ensemble with him in the room. Instead of chatting through screens, he has both his sons Liam and Elroy as well as Nick Seymour with him at his home in Auckland. Although, Seymour only just made it. “Nick is joining us fresh from quarantine,” Finn reveals. He then goes on to ask his bandmate about quarantine life, having had to quarantine himself a few months prior, and Seymour agrees that Day 11 is certainly the most “existential crisis day.” But thankfully, that’s all over now and Finn takes a second to quickly thank Jacinda Ardern for being “so smart and sensible” and NZ for being “so obedient” in regard to our Covid 19 control.
What’s on the agenda for this week’s episode is a medley of tracks the band are set to perform on their upcoming national tour. They kick things off with a soft rendition of the 1985 hit ‘World Where You Live’ and then it seems no one has really planned the next steps, because behind-the-scenes kerfuffle starts out.
“Are we going to do a medley where we just go straight into the next song?”
“Oh, that’s bloody hard.”
“Well, that’s more of a segue.”
“We better decide what to do, everyone’s waiting.”
A brief pause, then the massive 1991 tune ‘Fall at Your Feet’ starts up. It’s a delight hearing Finn’s stripped-back version of it, and as the rest of the band all chime in to sing along it comes to be a heart-warming, full circle moment. Then 1993’s ‘Pineapple Head’ is next, a track based on a fever Liam Finn had when he was younger. “I have to ask Liam what the lyrics are,” Neil interrupts the song. “He wrote most of these lyrics!”
It’s then that Finn starts talking about ‘To The Island’, more specifically the music video. Featuring each member of the band travelling to a secret cave to play music with one another, the video plays on our desires to escape from reality at times. “It’s about seeking refuge from the chaos of the world,” Finn says carefully. “Everyone’s (the band) fighting their way to get to this magical cave in NZ where we can all play music. Then there’s lots of fancy green screen stuff, but maybe I’m giving the magic away.”
The topic of a magical cave gets the gang all talking about man caves and what their ideal one would look like (whiskey, sports on the TV and plenty of instruments). Somehow, the conversation steers into swapping youth stories and Finn laughs about a few Crowded House tour memories. “We pulled over at a golf course and all piled out and let off fireworks,” he remembers. “Oh, and I pretended to be a lawyer to a policeman … things get pretty crazy with Crowded House.”
But enough of that, back to the medley. The next track to be played is 1993’s ‘Private Universe’, a softer rock hit that seems to fall effortlessly into an acoustic version. But when it’s time for 1999’s ‘Time Immemorial’, the group all erupt into a pub-like chant for the chorus and look back fondly on their earlier live gigs.
It seems a perfect time then to jump into the new band’s first single ‘Whatever You Want’, although it misses Seymour’s bassline. After the song ends, Finn asks if Seymour could just sing the bassline so us listeners can understand how vital it really is to the track. Seymour then continues to sing a random bassline, nothing at all to do with ‘Whatever You Want’, and when everyone acts confused, he laughs and says, “oh, sorry, I thought you just meant sing any kind of bassline.”
To close us off, Finn sings ‘Better Be Home’ again but this time dedicates it to bandmember Mitchell Froom who’s “jetting up from the South Island at the moment to come here.” He takes a minute to find the demo for ‘To The Island’ and Seymour continues on about his quarantine life as we wait. “The first thing I want to do is get a bloody haircut.” The demo is found, the track is played, and the gang all hope to see us again next week.
Tune in to Crowded House: Album by Album on Fangradio every Thursday at 11 AM for Finn’s live broadcast.