How long had it been since you'd auditioned anyone? I've only done it one other time in my life, and that was when I was in Split Enz [before forming Crowded House]. We auditioned drummers and found Paul Hester, so it was effective then, and I trusted it this time. We actually cast the net a little wider than last time. In fact, once it became known that we were looking for a drummer, we had a lot of inquiries and a lot of people putting their hands up; we ended up playing with about 50 drummers in five cities.

How'd you decide to go with Matt? He had a wonderful presence in the room, and he played the drums just right. He also didn't know a lot about Crowded House. In some ways, he was free of any burden of living up to anything; he just came in and played really unself-consciously. It sounded like something fresh.

There's an overall freshness to Time on Earth that differentiates it from a lot of reunion records. Many times, the music of reunion albums gets bogged down in an attempt to uphold a band's legacy. It feels like that to me as well. Maybe it was the way we came upon it; we were making music before we were thinking about being a band, you know? We weren't burdened by it.

If that’s not what you were thinking about, what about the music felt Crowded House-ish? The way Nick plays bass. It’s quite characterful; I hadn’t really realized it until we started recording together, but he kind of gets things wrong in a really cool way. He works every note and every fill of every part. It excited me, and I thought that it sounded like a band. Also the nature of the way we recorded with Ethan, who’s very much into people playing live on the floor. We overdubbed, and we certainly used modern technology, but the approach toward recording was very much along band lines as well. It has an element of performance about it at every level, I think.

An element of spontaneity. Right. You can make things sound beautiful in a recording, but to give them the amount of spark that you need is a tricky thing.