are a pop rock band formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1985. The founding members were New Zealander Neil Finn (vocalist, guitarist, primary songwriter), and Australians Paul Hester (drums) and Nick Seymour (bass). Later band members included Neil's brother, Tim Finn, and Americans Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod.Originally active from 1985 to 1996, the band have had consistent commercial and critical success in Australia and New Zealand and international chart success in two phases, beginning with their self-titled debut album, which reached number twelve on the US Album Chart in 1987 and provided the Top Ten hits, "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong". Further international success came in the UK and Europe with their third and fourth albums, Woodface
and Together Alone
and the compilation album Recurring Dream
, which included the hits "Fall at Your Feet", "Weather with You", "Distant Sun", "Locked Out", "Instinct" and "Not the Girl You Think You Are". Queen Elizabeth II bestowed an OBE on both Neil and Tim Finn, in June 1993, for their contribution to the music of New Zealand.Founding drummer Hester left in May 1994, citing family reasons, but briefly returned for their Farewell to the World
concerts in Melbourne and Sydney in 1996. Neil Finn had decided to end the band to concentrate on his solo career and the Finn Brothers project with Tim. On 26 March 2005 Hester committed suicide, aged 46.In 2006 the group re-formed with new drummer Matt Sherrod and have since released two further albums, both of which reached number one on Australia's Album Chart.Songwriting and musical influencesAs the primary songwriter for the band, Neil Finn has always set the tone for the band's sound. Allmusic said that Finn "has consistently proven his knack for crafting high-quality songs that combine irresistible melodies with meticulous lyrical detail." Neil's brother Tim was an early and important musical influence. Neil first saw Tim play with Split Enz in 1972, and said "that performance and those first songs made a lasting impression on me." His mother was another significant musical influence, encouraging him to listen to a variety of genres, including Irish folk music and Maori music. She would play piano at family parties and encourage Neil and Tim to accompany her.
Album covers, costumes and set design
Bassist Nick Seymour, who is also an artist, designed or co-designed all of the band's album covers and interior artwork. He also designed some of the costumes worn by the group, notably those from the cover of the group's debut album Crowded House
. Seymour collaborated with Finn and Hester on the set design of some of their early music videos, including "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Better Be Home Soon". Since the band reunited, Seymour has again designed their album covers.The majority of the covers for the band's singles were not designed by Seymour. The artwork for "Pineapple Head" was created by Reg Mombassa of Mental As Anything. For the first four albums Mombassa and Noel Crombie, who had been the main designer of Split Enz's artwork, assisted Seymour in creating sets and costumes. For the Farewell to the World
concerts Crombie designed the set, while Mombassa and Seymour designed promotional materials and artwork.