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Web Exclusive Interview: Neil Finn
by David Iskra | 07.03.2007

Prior to the July 10th release of Time On Earth, Crowded House's first album in 14 years, Filter took a little time to sit down with Neil Finn and talk about getting the band back together.

Crowded House played with Peter Gabriel this weekend. I hear the weather had its way with you.
It was good fortune, really. It was pissing rain all weekend. The first two songs in Dublin were wet, then the sun came out. In the middle of the show, I made the mistake of telling the clouds to **** off and they dumped on us in a major way two songs from the finish. The fans hung in there and stayed and sung along, so more power to them! It makes for an interesting show, like nature’s pyrotechnics.

How is the crowd response so far?
Fantastic. We’ve done both little and big shows and we have a really great feeling coming from the crowds. The fans have been singing loud and in tune.

Your fans have a great energy.
They’re very communal and really positive. We’re really lucky. Everyone loves their fans but we think our fans are pretty damn fine.

At some shows, the audience is there to have a beer and then get out; it doesn’t matter who is playing. With you it always feels as if a friend is on stage.
It’s been that way for some long time. I think because we keep it interesting, they keep coming along.

How does a Neil Finn show different from a Crowded House show? Or are they the same thing but with different songs?
There is a difference.I attempt to be a similar performer in terms of letting the audience in, but my solo shows are obviously more about me. With Crowded House, it’s more about us. It makes me a bit braver in reaching out. Nick [Seymour, bass] is also really outgoing and quite an extrovert. He steps it up out there.

This started out as a Neil Finn album and in the middle became a Crowded House album. How much survived? How would it have been different if it remained a solo project?
I think it wound up half and half--half of it would have wound up on a Neil Finn album, but half of it is reworked and remixed. Once we got the band together we came up with new music. We were really just looking for a balance and to wear the name well. This was a statement of intent to become a band again. It isn’t a defining album but a part of another continuum now.

Things have changed since you started--technology, Pro-Tools, etc--Does it affect the way you work?
Yes and no. We take advantage of technology but I tend to start tinkering far too long so I have to avoid getting bogged down. Our process is pretty much the same as it was when we started in terms of songwriting and recording.

How has growing up in New Zealand affected your work? How has it affected your songwriting differently, as opposed to, say, growing up in the US or UK? You don’t have any exotic instruments and it’s not the accent, but you have an exotic flavor that I can’t pinpoint.
I think it's just been there from day one, in terms of openness to influences. I don’t think I have things that defined, because I grew up in a country where you had Motown, heavy metal and folk music coming out of one local radio station. I think some of that rubs off, as does the land and the light, I guess. If people find exoticness in what I do, then I guess it come from where I grew up. I have a little accent and a little flavor from where I come from.
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