Flannel Vision – Neil Finn’s Pajama Club

pajama_club

pajama_club

Published in the Groove Guide – December 2011

It’s been quite a while since I’ve talked personally with Mr Finn. In fact the last time I interviewed him he was in the studio at Radio Active pushing some new project he’d formed with the drummer of Split Enz and the brother of the front man from Hunter’s and Collectors.  This time I’m taking a little bit more notice!  It seems Neil is always creatively restless.  “I like what happens when you keep yourself open to new things happening. It keeps the music fresh and alive.” 

He’s done bands , duets  All Star Collisions, Student nights, solo projects, national anthems, and now a ‘family’ gig.  Story goes that when the boys, Elroy and Liam, left home Neil and Sharon finally got around to doing up the music room.  That led to rocking in their jim-jams and a pretty cool album as a result.  Since then the Pyjama Club, which includes SJD (Sean Donnelly) and road drummer Alana Skyring (the Grates) have been touring the wee beastie around the Northern hemisphere. 

 

Over the line Neil’s his usual charming, witty self.  He’s down Cambridge way visiting his 89 year old dad.  “A poached egg in the morning,” he quips “and a whisky at five.  That’s’s the template for a successful long life.  Bet you didn’t expect such sage wisdom? ” 

 

Ironically, Finn himself has become the elder lately, in experience at least, when it comes to touring.  He tells me how Sharon’s hard work to overcome her inexperience and get up to speed.  “She rehearses more than I do.  …I really admire her tenacity to jump up on stage…During Sharon’s second gig (in Brisbane) she was singing a semi tone down.  There was a fault with her bass amp, also a ‘semi’ down.  We had to stop half way through ‘Go Kart’ and fix it.  She was hard on her self but people were coming back stage and telling us ‘Go Kart’ was their favourite song.”  Finn says he enjoys living the experience of being new on stage, vicariously through Sharon.  “It’s great to be part of that excitement and thrill of being new on the stage, flying by the seat of your pants.”   

 

All and all the tour’s gone well, with the PC material being well accepted despite it’s newness.“We didn’t get any one calling out for Crowded House songs.” 

 

 There were one or two hiccups, some dates on the West Coast of the States which had to be cancelled when Donnelly became very ill.  And during a break at their London house, Neil and Sharon were awoken at 3AM by a drunken man who accused them of breaking into his house.  “He rang the police and asked us what the address was.  We gladly gave it and they were around to arrest him in five minutes flat!”

 

The couple’s favourite song to play, naturally, is ‘Golden Child’ about their boys, “I always have a soft spot for that one.”  Now back in Auckland, the Pajama Club are gearing up for a national tour of dates in December.  “Then, I think I’ll see.  I have about four albums of material but the music will decide which band or project I should use it in – could be solo, Crowded House, Finns or Pajama Club.  I need to get to work.”

 

Tim Gruar

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