The week of April 20th marked two significant historical events.
- Posted on Sep 16th 2011 2:00PM by Dan Reilly
Jason Dempsey/Chris Stapp
For starters, how did this project begin?
Neil Finn: We were in our pajamas. It was after dinner late at night with a couple of wines on board we decided we were going to go and have a jam and make a big racket in the music room on drums and bass, which is something we'd never done before. And we just locked on to these very simple but good grooves. And after a few of those sessions, they just had a really good sound about them. We weren't expecting that to develop into anything more than a good time. They seemed to suggest that they could be songs.
What set this apart from other things you have done before?
Sharon Finn: Well, this is the first thing we've ever done apart from 7 Worlds [Collide, a charity project started by Neil]. We don't make a habit of it.
Neil: Yeah, Sharon's not done any shows before. It's wholly precious, probably entirely different than anything I've ever done as well but not just because of that -- that's a big part of it -- but I think it sounds really different because of the way it came about. One thing that's common in everybody's perception of the record is that it doesn't sound like anything I've ever done before. I've gotta be happy about that.
Had you ever discussed doing anything like this or was it really spur of the moment?
Sharon: We've always had the odd jam with the kids and stuff like that, since we've always had a music room, but we've only just started. It's good fun.
Neil: It's an unfolding thing. It's like I'm seeing, through Sharon's eyes, everything for the first time, even doing an interview, which is the most commonplace thing for me for the last 20 years. I'm sort of going, "Oh yeah, I suppose it's quite a thing."
Sharon: Having to speak.
Neil: Having to own up to what you do and rationalize it and explain it, you know? But that's a side that's also kind of fresh and that's exciting for me to have that sort of feeling of the first time again about it.
Sharon, have you been nervous at all?
Sharon: No! [Laughs]
Neil: F--- yeah!
Sharon: It's been a learning curve. I'm so used to him doing the thing and being there and witnessing it and watching the side and keeping out the way, to all of a sudden it's pretty full-on, actually. And tiring! Talking about yourself all the time.
Neil: Sharon's got a new respect for me now [laughs].
Sharon: I have! I started, after 34 years, to respect him.
What was it like that first time on stage? Was your heart in your throat?
Sharon: Oh yeah. It still is. But it's totally alien. It's really intense.
Have you been asking Neil for advice?
Sharon: No. He's been amazingly tolerant with my nerves. It's like you have to get up and give a speech, anything you're not used to doing. I'm hoping I'll learn how to navigate my way through it.
Neil: She's had all sorts of things go wrong on stage. It's always going to happen, but it all happened in the first week.
Neil: Feedback coming through the monitors. Bottom-end feedback a semi-tone out of the song we're playing.
Sharon: And the bass amp cutting out. That was at my favorite gig. And no one warns you about it.
Neil: You can't, really.
Sharon: It's like childbirth.
How long were you guys using Pajama Party as the name before you had to change it?
Sharon: For ages, actually.
Neil: Because we started in our pajamas it was just going to be one of those things that before we even thought we were going to be a band or we had made a record, we called ourselves the Pajama Party because that's what it felt like for the two of us. We didn't think about it until very late in the piece. Then we realized that there was this Latin hip-hop band from the '90s that had the trademark, so rather than enter into a prolonged hassle, we just lopped the end off and became a club.
Sharon, in terms of songwriting, did you defer to Neil and his experience or did you go out of your way to make your opinions heard more?
Sharon: I defer to him, obviously, on most of it, being a man of experience. But you know, I certainly put my oar in if I disagreed with anything, you know?
Similar to normal marital collaborations?
Sharon: [Laughs] Yeah.
Neil: Well, I don't get quite as much latitude in normal marital collaborations. The thing was, because they started as drum and bass grooves, they couldn't have existed in any other way. They never would have turned out that way if I had sat down at a piano and said "Come on, let's write a song." It just wouldn't have happened like that. They were built on these really solid foundations, and Sharon didn't have a very strong sense of what they should be. Therefore, any time I tried to put any sort of nuance or decoration on them that was not straight to the point or ultimately groovy, she would just look at me with a withering look. That's songwriting. You're in the room with somebody and you're writing a song together, it's really hard to demark who's doing what and all that stuff but it just got done and it all began with these really great grooves. Sharon plays bass like she dances, from the hips. You can't beat it.