"We're on the frontier of what the internet can handle," Neil Finn grins from behind the glorious Steinway grand piano that dominates Studio A in his famed recording studio, Roundhead.

It's around 7:30ish on Friday night and in there with him is his son Elroy, a small choir, a large orchestra, a dude with a video camera, and an audience of over 15,000. You could say it's a little crammed.

Finn is specifically addressing his other son, Liam, who, along with Connan Mockasin, has beamed in from Los Angeles via webchat for a quick online jam session. This will be livestreamed right back out again to fans watching at home around the world. Later, the footage will find permanence on Finn's YouTube channel.

Whether Finn realises or not he has succinctly summed up tonight's whole event in one short, snackable sentence. His next sentence does likewise.


"But it will sound good," he says.

He's not wrong. From where I'm sitting - which is practically right in front of him, tucked safely out of the way in Roundhead's main control room - it sounds nothing short of wondrous. More than once during the evening I get genuine chills up my spine and am left gobsmacked by what I'm hearing, stunned into a state of near reverence by Finn's f***ing genius and how truly affecting his music can be.

Neil and Tim Finn recording Neil's new record Out of Silence in Roundhead Studios.
Neil and Tim Finn recording Neil's new record Out of Silence in Roundhead Studios.

I'm here because tonight, and for the next two weeks, Finn is livestreaming the process of recording his new album Out of Silence. If you've ever wondered how an album gets made then visit neilfinn.com at 7pm tonight to watch him do his thing. I highly recommend you do.

Ever the consummate performer, the night I attended was divided into two halves. The first could be considered warming-up, although 'amazing' also works because he was joined by brother Tim - always a special event.

Ever the wandering spirit, Tim starts off on guitar, moves to congas and ends up on that magnificent Steinway for a stunning rendition of Crowded House's classic Four Seasons in One Day.

Shortly afterwards Tim exits to make way for that live cross to LA. There's some easy bants between father and son before the musos on two different ends of the planet engage in an extended journey of sonic psychedelia. It's a vibey trip that leaves everyone - including the musicians - wondering what the hell just happened.

"We're gonna make a record now," Finn says bidding adieu to his musical guests, but he can't help but comment on that astounding musical freakout. "But that was a fantastic diversion," he smiles.

Connan Mockasin, Liam Finn and Molly jamming with Neil Finn over webchat
Connan Mockasin, Liam Finn and Molly jamming with Neil Finn over webchat

Tonight's "big task" is to record the song Second Nature, a rollicking piano-driven pop gem that's classic Finn. They'll get the song on tape now, mix it overnight and email it overseas for mastering by 5am.


"By the time I wake up at about 10am it will be in my inbox as a mastered record and hopefully tomorrow be on the radio," Finn explains. "It's pretty damned exciting. It's the way I always dreamed of making music."

Finn starts pounding away on his piano, the choir gets doo-wopping and the 20-piece orchestra swells and plucks in all the right places. It sounds incredible.

Before the final chord finishes ringing out, the choir's leader is shaking her head and saying, "that wasn't the one".

"It'd be surprising if it was, first up," Finn replies, relaxed. They run through it three more times.

"That felt good," he says after the second take. After the third, "Let's run through it one more time because we've got some good things happening now".

The idea of ending on a different chord comes up. "That's a frisky little thing to suggest," Finn laughs.

By 8:30ish he's happy with what they've put down. With half an hour left on the clock they decide to run-through another new song, Terrorise Me.

Obviously about terrorism, the Paris attacks in particular, it has potential to be embarrassingly lame. It's not. It's remarkable, a classic, easily one of the best songs Finn's ever written. It's dark, haunting and painfully beautiful.

"There's no sign of hope, looking through a telescope," Finn sings over a wistful piano progression. "Beauty has a way of seeming unconcerned."

As the song escalates he shifts into a crackly falsetto Thom Yorke would be jealous of, and threatens, "If you want to terrorise me you'll meet what you deserve, there's not a word for what I'll do."

"In my distant home I will write a melody," he sings once the song soothes out. "I will sing for you when I return. It may not change a lot. But I'll give it everything I've got."

All night I've been jotting down notes for this report. Reading back the next day I can't help but feel my notes on this song are woefully inadequate, yet also, somehow, bang on.

I've written just two words: Bloody hell.