The Pajama Club

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The Pajama Club

“I have always done a bit of work on Neil’s records, in the background vocal department,” she explains. “As for playing an instrument, I remember I had a few lessons from Nigel Griggs of Split Enz, many years ago – in my twenties,” she laughs, “on bass.

“I had my kids then, so everything sort of went on the back-burner. But now they’ve grown up, so there’s time. We were thinking, ‘Fuck, whatta we do now?’ and he (Neil) doesn’t play cards!”

So, what the pair made sure they did was to get through a few reds. “We actually did write most of it in our pajamas, only because we work later at night after a few wines,” Sharon explains of the band’s name and conception.

“We would go into our home studio for some fun and it sounded pretty good. So we started writing songs around our jams basically; me on bass and Neil on drums. We were about as bad as each other at that point, so it was a pretty even playing field for me musically back then.

“That’s how is started: we went into the music room and had a really good time, to tell you the truth. It’s been great.”

Sharon is also quite lovely to chat to. Even though husband Neil has been in the spotlight for years, she hasn’t ever really done interviews, so she remains honest and thoughtful – as evidenced in her reply about the division of labour between her and Neil when it comes to penning the tunes for the band. “Well you know shit – of course he writes!” she laughs. “I’m no songwriter. He did the lion’s share, absolutely.

“I stuck my oar in now and then… but lyrically and everything, it was Neil. Then we got a friend of ours, SJD (New Zealand singer/songwriter, Sean Donnelly), to come in really early on too and we gave him our jams. He’s a really great songwriter in his own right,: she points out. “So the two of them and me, sticking my thoughts in now and again, it was a really good team.”

Even so, the germ of the songs, the backbone of each, have come from Sharon in her pajamas, plucking away. “Well I’ve just been working up a groove, and my bass playing is very, umm…” she muses bashfully, “you know, it’s just a groove really. So we wrote the songs around those grooves I’d come up with, with a few notes thrown in here and there but it’s all about the groove for us.

“I hate using the word organic, so I won’t – it is so fucking over-used,” she laughs. “But anyway, it all happened in a pretty natural way.”

Given that there is no album yet, it’s hard to say what The Pajama Club sound like, but in downloading the track From A Friend To A Friend off the band’s website and you get an idea. It’s a bit of a slow jam that rewards persistence. “It is quite an eclectic bunch of songs, it’s really different for Neil – let’s put it that way. A much different sound,” Sharon says. “So people shouldn’t expect Neil Finn, Crowded Housey kind of stuff; it’s a different ball game, this stuff.

“It’s not the same,” she muses, “and nor should it be… because what would be the point? It’s quite dance-y. I love to dance, so I can dance to all the songs. There is one I can’t, more a ballad-y thing, but that ends up going into a grove too. The music is something to feel good to hopefully.

“Do you remember the band ESG?” she asks suddenly. That’d be funky New York jam band Emerald, Sapphire And Gold. “[That] real groove stuff from the seventies. That basically got us started because we would jump around the lounge room to that stuff and we thought, ‘Shit! This is so much fun,’ it inspired us to have a crack at laying down some grooves ourselves just for fun. You’ll hear ESG in the album because I am a very simple bass player. I just hold it down; but that’s okay hey!” she chuckles.

The Pajama Club’s upcoming east coast tour of Australia will not only be the band’s first outing (with Sean Donelly on keys and guitar, as well as Alana Skyring from The Grates on drums to fill out the sound) but it will also be Sharon’s first crack up on stage after years of being relegated to the lighting desk. “I haven’t ever been on the stage,” Sharon confesses. “It will be interesting. I think I’ll be okay, just throw me in the deep end. It’s all about feeling the fear really, and finding the fun. I think I’ll be okay. I might have the odd vomit,” she laughs.

“Neil said I’m only allowed two drinks before I go on. So I am either allowed two glasses of red or a couple of shots of whiskey and I’ll decide on the night what I feel like,” she laughs.

“I am really lucky being able to do this, believe you me. But I know Neil wouldn’t throw me out there if he didn’t think I could do it.”

Given the pedigree of songwriting talent, hopes will be high for new Neil Finn material, which is something that has also occurred to Sharon. “I’m really excited, I can’t tell you. I love the album,” she gushes. “I am so proud of it, I think it’s awesome, but I guess that remains to be seen. Hopefully everyone else will love it too but it is in the lap of the gods. Maybe people will love it as much as Neil’s other stuff. Wouldn’t that be nice!”