Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An Evening With Nick Seymour

Tonight Fran, Mary and I met up at Allans Billy Hyde on Bourke Street for an unique opportunity to listen to Nick Seymour of Crowded House talk about his career in music and as an artist. They had rows of chairs set up in the store for the 100 or so people lucky enough to grab a free ticket to this special event.

Nick was his usual lovely and entertaining self as he started the evening by talking about his upbringing, going to art school, and the local Melbourne music scene in the late 1970s and 1980s. One of his early band experiences was with his brother Mark and other housemates in a band called Bam, but it came to a end when Mark took the songs they had worked on to his other band The Jetsonnes (an early version of Hunters & Collectors), which had a bass player so Nick wasn't needed.

Nick was already friends with Paul Hester, so when he and Neil Finn announced they were starting a new band out of the ashes of Split Enz, Nick was determined to get a shot. He crashed the Enz farewell party, cornered a drunk Neil and got him to agree to let Nick audition for the band. The rest is history.

As part of Nick's talk he took us through the bass parts of different Crowded House songs utilising the rehearsal tracks that Neil and his son Elroy put together to help Nick rehearse for Neil's solo festival shows that they played over the past week. We were treated to portions of "Don't Dream It's Over," "It's Only Natural," "Fall At Your Feet," "Sister Madly," and "Pineapple Head" as someone asked a question about it. He also played a bit of "Amsterdam" as an example of a song he was initially unsure about but felt came together in the end, and "Better Be Home Soon" as an example of rises and falls he added to baseline instead of just playing it straight. Nick said that his favorite songs were those where he gets to sing and play bass at the same time.

Nick answered many questions from the audience. He briefly touched on some of his artwork, including the Crowded House album covers and original stage costumes with the painted jackets. He said those came about due to his horror at Neil and Paul turning up to rehearsals in slippers and Neil wearing a cardigan. He discussed the band's input into their earlier videos, where "Don't Dream It's Over" featured rooms representing a space from each of their childhoods, and Nick designed the set for "World Where You Live" as a moving room (which gave Paul motion sickness). A young member of the audience asked about the impact of Paul's death, and Nick spoke quite honestly about his sense of grief and abandonment

He spoke about live shows, including playing the Sydney Opera House both 20 years ago and last November, one of his favorite gigs (Byron Bay Bluesfest) and worst gig (Coachella playing before Rage Against The Machine to a hostile crowd that threw a water bottle that hit Neil's mike stand). Nick also told a very funny tidbit that when Neil feels they've had a really great show he will stand around completely naked while changing in the backstage room and chat away about the gig.

Someone asked about the chances of Crowded House recording again, and Nick felt that it will happen eventually - both by revisiting sessions they did with Nick Launay a few years ago and doing new material. After the talk Nick was kind enough to stick around and sign autographs for people. I got him to sign my Chris Bourke Crowded House: Something So Strong book. He even wrote a line to rhyme with one Paul had previously written. Now all I need is Neil's signature. Nick was so gracious with everyone and I'm so happy I got the opportunity to listen to him speak for a couple of hours.

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