Crowded House bass player Nick Seymour speaks to Rolling Stone Australia ahead of the band’s long-awaited Dreamers Are Waiting Australian tour this month.
On the eve of Crowded House’s first Australian tour in more than a decade, Nick Seymour and the rest of the band have set up camp at The Music Farm, a residential recording studio in the Byron Bay Hinterland. Curiously, rehearsal for the tour—which is the band’s first of any kind in 12 months—has not been the number one priority.
“We have actually been trying to seize the opportunity of just being in the same place at the same time to work through some new songs for a possible new album,” says Seymour, the band’s bass player and resident graphic artist.
Should the sessions prove fruitful, it would be Crowded House’s eighth album and the follow-up to 2021’s Dreamers Are Waiting; the Neil Finn-led group’s first album after an eleven-year break.
Seymour and Finn have been playing together since 1985. Seymour successfully auditioned for Finn and drummer Paul Hester’s fledgling post-Split Enz group, The Mullanes. The trio soon adopted the name Crowded House and signed a record deal with Capitol Records/EMI. Their self-titled debut album was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Mitchell Froom and released internationally in August 1986.
Froom—an American pianist and keyboard player with production credits on albums by Bonnie Raitt, Rufus Wainwright, Randy Newman and Paul McCartney—is now a fully-fledged member of Crowded House. Finn’s adult sons, drummer Elroy and guitarist Liam Finn, have also joined, making Crowded House a five-piece for the first time in its 35-year existence.
The new-look lineup loaded into North Hollywood’s Valentine Recording Studios just prior to the pandemic, laying down the beds for Dreamers Are Waiting. According to Liam Finn, Neil “really wanted it to feel like a band again,” something the lively comeback singles, “Whatever You Want” and “Playing With Fire”, made immediately apparent.
The fivesome demonstrate patent musical chemistry on Dreamers Are Waiting, deftly supporting Finn’s writerly lyricism and melodic talent, and earning Dreamers Are Waiting a seat at the table alongside Crowded House’s canonical releases from the nineteen-eighties and nineties.
But one can’t help but wonder, why the eleven-year break? Did Neil Finn’s solo commitments get in the way? He released the albums Dizzy Heights (2014) and Out of Silence (2017) during the band’s downtime, as well as Lightsleeper (2018), an album credited to Neil & Liam Finn.
Or perhaps the delay was a result of Finn joining Fleetwood Mac in 2018. Yeah—along with guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame, Finn was recruited to replace long-time Fleetwood guitarist and vocalist, Lindsey Buckingham, who was removed from the band due to intra-band tension.
If you ask Seymour, Crowded House’s dormancy was anything but planned. “Neil went on to write as prolifically as he does and then the next obvious thing was to turn to the people that are around him physically,” he says, referring to Liam, Elroy and Finn’s wife, Sharon.
A born-and-raised Victorian, Seymour and his partner reside in the Irish town of Sligo, a coastal town in the Irish Republic’s western province of Connacht. “I love living there,” says Seymour, despite Sligo being about as far away from Finn’s home in Auckland as you can get without leaving the planet. “In this day of carbon footprint awareness, it does make it tricky,” he says.
Seymour gravitated to Ireland after the break-up of Crowded House in the mid-nineties. “It was having an incredible boom, both culturally and economically, and I found it a really empathetic place,” he says. “I’m from a family with Celtic roots, a family of lefties, both my parents were school teachers—I found it such an incredibly comfortable place to live.”
As a self-described lefty, what’s Seymour’s impression of contemporary Australia, watching from afar? “I do genuinely believe that the pursuit of free market economics is going to come back and bite people in the arse when the infrastructures are breaking down because of profiteering,” he says.
People living in flood affected areas of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales might argue the “leave it to the market” dogma is already biting them in the arse. Though, Seymour’s not wholly pessimistic. “The Medicare system in Australia is absolutely extraordinary,” he says. “It’s world class and it’s obviously shown its integrity given the pandemic we’ve just been through.”
Neil Finn has always been an adroit and poetic lyricist, though rarely have his songs addressed political or social issues head-on. That changes on Dreamers Are Waiting, which includes a number of songs that bear the influence of contemporary events.
“To The Island” can be interpreted as a comment on isolationism: “The world is beyond us, it’s too enormous,” sings Finn, in harmony with his two 30-something sons. “But oh, the island is just right.” Of similar disposition is “Playing With Fire”, which appears to portend ecological collapse. “The next generation’s talking,” sings Finn. “We’re behind the wheel / We’re driving straight to the wall.”
“Within the band we’re all pretty much on the same page—no one’s particularly waving a flag of any particular agenda of a political ideology, but we’re pretty much on the same page of recognising when things need to be made fairer or clearer,” says Seymour.
This is the impression conveyed by Dreamers Are Waiting: it’s the sound of band that is conscious, attuned, and empathetic—not just to one another’s needs, but to the ills of the land. For multiple generations of music fans, Crowded House performances have been occasions of enormous uplift. The Dreamers Are Waiting Australian tour promises more of the same.
Crowded House – Dreamers Are Waiting Tour 2022
Tuesday, April 5th, 2022
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, SA
Friday, April 8th, 2022 (sold out)
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, VIC Saturday, April 9th, 2022 (sold out)
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday, April 12th, 2022
Aware Super Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday, April 13th, 2022
Aware Super Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, April 16th, 2022 (sold out)
A Day on The Green
Centennial Vineyards, Bowral, NSW
Tuesday, April 19th, 2022
My State Bank Arena, Hobart, TAS
Thursday, April 21st, 2022 (sold out)
Canberra Royal Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Saturday, April 23rd, 2022
A Day on The Green
Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong, VIC
Sunday, April 24th, 2022
A Day on The Green
Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley, NSW
Friday, April 1st, 2022 (Postponed)
Kings Park, Perth, WA Saturday, April 2nd, 2022 (Postponed)
Kings Park, Perth, WA Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 (Postponed)
Kings Park, Perth, WA
Also performing at…
Sunday, April 17th, 2022 (sold out)
Byron Bay Bluesfest
Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay, NSW