Aha Moment: From Crowded House to ESG

The World

Neil Finn is the lead singer of Crowded House, a band which had its share of big hits in the 80s and 90s. (Admit it, you belted along to “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”) Growing up in New Zealand, Finn was raised on the Beatles and David Bowie: “I was playing piano and playing guitars and trying to emulate those guys,” he remembers. When he formed Crowded House band with his brother Tim, they wrote songs that were lyrical, melodic, and perfectly New Wave.
But years later, when Finn was on a solo tour of the US – he was at a party after a show – he heard the music of a group called ESG. It was low-fi, homemade dance music from the early 80s, obscure and utterly unique; ESG used almost nothing but bass, percussion, and girls’ voices, and its guiding influence was James Brown.  
Finn got so hooked on their percussive sound that picked up a set of drum sticks himself, and formed a new band with his wife Sharon: the Pajama Club. “I do credit the ESG record for allowing me to believe that you could base something on incredibly simple groove with a kind of energy and abandon and it would be great music.”

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