1985 in Melbourne, Australia - as The Mullanes
Core '80s Band Members:
- Neil Finn (born Neil Mullane Finn on May 27, 1958 in Te Awamutu, New Zealand) - Lead vocals, guitar, piano, songwriter
- Nick Seymour (born Nicholas More Seymour on December 9, 1958 in Benalla, Victoria, Australia) - Bass guitar, backing vocals
- Paul Hester (born Paul Newell Hester on January 8, 1959 in Melbourne, Australia, died March 26, 2005 in Melbourne, Australia) - Drums, backing vocals
Coming off nearly a decade of membership in his brother Tim's new wave band, Split Enz, Neil Finn had built the necessary experience and confidence to front his own group - wholly based on his creative leadership. And although the newly formed trio released only two albums during the '80s, those were highly memorable ones filled with classic, literate guitar rock containing timeless appeal. Finn's songwriting prowess was obvious from the start, and his skills as a lead vocalist raised the bar on the many worthy things he and his brother accomplished in Split Enz. Here's a look at the fine career of Crowded House.
Origins & Formation:
Despite leader Finn's New Zealand origins, Crowded House was from its inception far more of an Australian band. After all, Hester - who joined Split Enz near the end of its run - hailed from the latter nation, along with Seymour, whose brother Mark had fronted another memorable '80s college rock act, Hunters and Collectors. After signing with Capitol Records and moving to Los Angeles to record its debut, the trio settled on a new name and set out to record its debut. Released during the summer of 1986, Crowded House initially performed only marginally well without widespread, targeted promotion.
Crowded House Briefly Conquers America:
Fueled by international Top 10 pop singles "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong," the band's first record eventually became a bona fide smash hit. Part of this mass appeal can probably be attributed to the consistent strength of the LP's deeper tracks, including failed singles but quality tunes like "Mean to Me" and "World Where You Live." Nevertheless, despite better record label support for 1988's follow-up, Temple of Low Men, Crowded House could not sustain its initial North American momentum. "Better Be Home Soon," however, is a stunning and accomplished alternative pop masterpiece.
The '90s - A Dash of the Familiar:
Finn and bandmates prepared a third album's worth of material but needed assistance when Capitol rejected the songs. As had happened previously in Split Enz, a struggling Finn once again turned to his brother for a boost, and in this case Tim stepped in as an official fourth member for 1991's Woodface. Ultimately, the quartet ended up using tracks the brothers had prepared for an album together, and this turned out to be a welcome change of pace. "It's Only Natural" and "Four Seasons in One Day" are collaboratively composed standouts, while Neil's "Fall at Your Feet" is simply one of rock's all-time love songs.
Lengthy Hiatus, Then Tragedy Inspires Reformation:
Following 1993's Together Alone, another studio release that reached the Top 10 in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., Crowded House entered a long-term phase of relative inactivity. During this time the Finn brothers released their first LP together, Finn, and the band released a compilation followed by a farewell tour. Later, Neil Finn made some acclaimed solo records, and in the new millennium all three '80s Crowded House members remained active musically if generally apart. Sadly, Hester committed suicide in 2005, an event that played a significant role in bringing Finn and Seymour back together as Crowded House.
A New Era for Crowded House:
Crowded House had always been a band blessed with a passionate fan base, so when the band regrouped with newer members Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod (replacing Hester on drums) to release 2007's Time on Earth, reception was enthusiastic. As always, this had as much to do with song quality as anything, but the fact that the project had evolved from a Finn solo project into a full band effort stemmed directly from the loss of Hester. Moving tracks like "People Are Like Suns" reflected this mournful inspiration, but the reunion has persisted, with 2010's Intriguer the band's most recent (and highly successful) release.