ACL Fest Friday Interviews
4:30pm, AMD stage
After more than a decade's absence, no one expected another album from Crowded House. Then the band's original drummer, Paul Hester, committed suicide in 2005, spurring songwriter/guitarist Neil Finn and bassist Nick Seymour to reunite in the aftermath. "There wasn't any hesitation on either part," Finn recalls. "Any of the little negatives that might have existed were completely wiped away in the sheer desire to do it again."
The result is Time on Earth (ATO), the New Zealanders' first album together since 1993's Together Alone. The Ethan Johns-produced LP is a bit more pensive than Crowded House's previous work, due largely to the magnitude of Hester's absence. It also features some of Finn's trademark pop, which will delight longtime admirers.
"The lyrics reflect what you think about when you're in the middle of your life instead of a young man," explains Finn. "But in some ways, the [songwriting] process doesn't change. It's still as mysterious as ever. You're still relying on things falling out of the sky or out of your head that make you feel good – those little moments that feel good when you sing them over and over again."
One such moment occurs for the listener during "Silent House," a song that was co-written with the Dixie Chicks and also appears on the Texas trio's Taking the Long Way. "I got a call just to see if I wanted to write a song with them," he relates. "It was an intriguing thought. I wasn't familiar with a lot of their work. I knew about their staunch stand against George Bush, which endeared them to me. So after breakfast with Natalie [Maines], we sat down for two or three days in L.A. ... I had a little guitar figure that got the ball rolling and then Natalie told me about her grandmother that had Alzheimer's and how they packed up the house when she went into a home. There were a lot of poignant images in that."
As for Crowded House's plans for the future, Finn says a box set is in the works as well another album. "We're very eager to record again," Finn furthers. "We feel in many ways that we've become a band because of the touring of the last three months. I've got some new songs, and there'll be more by the end of the year. I'm not putting too much pressure on the situation, but we want to keep up the momentum we've got going. It definitely feels like a band with a future."