Most couples suffering from empty nest syndrome go on a cruise or buy a caravan, but not Neil and Sharon Finn. When their two sons moved out of their Auckland home to pursue their own careers in music, the prolific Crowded House frontman and his wife of n
Finns create new sound.
Q. Why did you and your wife Sharon make an album?
A. It was just something to do on a quiet night when we had the house to ourselves and we were just about to go to bed. We decided to go and make a noise instead. It started off as a pretty late night and slightly intoxicated affair. We were delighted by how good it felt on drums and bass – neither of us being in the least bit skilled in those areas – but we taped it and kept us entertained when we played it back. It’s definitely given us a new lease on life.
Q. One might think you’d be indulging your more mellow, laidback instinct but it’s quite edgy and even menacing in parts. Where did that come from?
A. It just evolved. We recognised that when things start off with drums and bass and they have by and large a pretty up-tempo groove to them that it would be good to serve them with something that has energy and a bit of rawness. There are some mellow moments here and there, but I think generally the album is pretty up and we are quite happy it has some rough edges. We didn’t want to make a grown-up record. We are trying to deny our advancing years.
Q. What’s it like writing with someone who knows all your deepest secrets already? Can you be at your most honest?
A. It’s good to have the art of the withering look. It’s one of the skills of songwriting that has been previously undiscovered. Nothing works better for getting rid of a poor idea than a withering look.
Q. Presumably Sharon didn’t submit to your point of view just because you have been in Split Enz and Crowded House. Did you butt heads at times?
A. Sharon submits to my point of view all the time on every front really. You can hear her laughing in the background – that’s not something I would have said if she wasn’t in the room. She doesn’t roll over on anything but it really came down to whether she could dance to it. She is actually a very good dancer and that’s where her bass playing came from.
Q. You two have been married for close to 30 years in a business not known for its stability. What’s the secret?
A. There is no secret to our longevity. It’s just a lot less complicated to be together. It would be really complicated if we broke up now, especially now that there are songwriting splits that have to be agreed. We’d have to go through the songs line by line, saying ‘ I wrote that one’.
Q. Is it immediately obvious to you when you are writing what is going to be a solo song or a Crowded House song or a Finn Brothers song or a Pajama Club song – or does it depend on who else is in the room?
A. It depends on who is in the room. Songs have a mysterious linear journey and it depends what it’s ending up on. The ideas just come. I don’t ever sit down and think ‘ I’m going to write a Crowded House song now’. You are in that situation and it just goes into the pool and it gets stirred up and dolloped out into a nice steaming hot bowl to be served up at whoever’s table is appropriate.
PAJAMA CLUB out now ( Lester Records)