Author: Michael D. Vogel Genre: ,
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By: Michael D. Vogel

© February 21, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved.

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The Album Network magazineMarch 7, 1997

Reading through the history of INXS, one of Australia’s most prolific bands can be rather time consuming. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Over 20 million records sold, tens of thousands of concerts, numerous hit songs, MTV awards, Brit awards and several Grammy nominations – all by the same six men over the last seventeen years!

Now that you are caught up, INXS is about to release their first album for Mercury Records, Elegantly Wasted. Just as every note recorded for the album was crucial to its completion, so has every moment in the illustrious, unpredictable – and occasionally erratic – career of INXS. For every bit of familiar cocky swagger on the opening track, “Show Me,” to the depths of bittersweet desperation on “Searching” or the poignant introspection of “Building Bridges”, this record shows a whole new side to the band from down-under. Add moments of pure pop bliss and the intoxicating groove of the title track and you’ve got a time capsule of INXS past, present and future.

While wrapping up a long day that included a three hour rehearsal at London’s Wimbley Stadium, several other interviews as well as a photo shoot, I was able to track down lead singer and co-song writer Michael Hutchence as he was traveling across the streets of London on his way to a relaxing evening of nine-ball and a few pints with some friends.

What has been going on with INXS since the last studio album over five years ago?

Michael Hutchence: “We really wanted to get off the old carousel for a while. As a band, we have recorded an album every twelve to eighteen months over the last five or six years. This helped to create a situation resulting in a lot of personal and business friction within the band, as well as the record label, at the time of the completion of our last studio album Full Moon, Dirty Hearts. With the completion of the album, we also fulfilled our contract with Atlantic Records. So, it just seemed like the logical time to take a break.

“But, this was by know means a down period. Andrew (Farriss) helped in the production and writing of both Yuthu Yindi and Teddy Richard’s albums. Tim (Farriss) produced a CD-Rom game, the X-Samples. I had a few songs on movie soundtracks (Batman Forever and Barb Wire) and recorded a song with the London Symphony Orchestra as well as a track on the Elvis tribute CD, It’s Now Or Never.

“And somewhere in the last several months Andrew (Farriss), Garry (Gary Beers) and I have all had children.”

How would you describe an INXS fan?

MH: “We were so young when we first started that our audience was about the same age. For the most part, they have grown up with us. But there are some pretty drastic differences in the fans from various countries. In Germany, for example, the men where leather jackets, in contrast to Italy, where all the women wear leather. But, over all, our fans in the United States seem to be the most enthusiastic.”

Where does INXS see its place in the current, yet radically different, musical landscape?

“Music has come full circle. When we first arrived, the United States was in the midst of a musical evolution. Music from England and Australia was making it onto American radio and the hot topic was `New Wave’ music. The same is true today! A few years ago the Seattle scene and grunge sound turned the music world right around. In the end, the by-product in the evolution of music is that people become more aware of the changing face of music itself.

“We come from a generation, somewhere between punk and disco, of which there are not many survivors left. Musically, we are in a very strange place. Not quite a punk band when we began, our music now shows influences of both R&B as well as funk-a-delic. A lot of bands, like U2, the Cure, Massive Attack and Depeche Mode, seem to be cross-pollinating the different genres of music. This is definitely a good time to be recording music – the horizons are once again widening!”

After a five-year lay-off, how did you capture the passion and spontaneity in writing and recording the new material?

“Our intention, whenever Andrew (Farriss) and I got together, was to write material that would be part of the next album. We made a conscious decision to use the proper recording tapes and microphones from day one. In the past we used 4-tracks machines and other portable home recording equipment. This time around, we used only proper studio equipment to record everything. A good portion of the material on the album came from first take recordings. This helps to capture just a bit of the magic.

“During the writing process, we completed one song a day. Everyone was confident with the material so we didn’t concentrate on the minute details. In addition to using samples and loops, we also brought in Cuban percussions as well as a few new musical instruments. This added a whole new dimension to what the INXS sound is all about. The main thing was to use what sounds good and keep up the attitude and positive atmosphere. As soon as you depart from that mode of thought, your only asking for trouble. But isn’t that is the ultimate price for being an artist. You can only make the album that is within your own abilities. In all, it took eight days to record the sixteen tracks on the record.

“On albums like Kick, X, and Listen Like Thieves it was simply the attitude that stuck out. When the band is very confident about something, that positive feeling comes across throughout the music. As a group, we wanted to get back to that style but not at the sacrifice of rehashing old material. The whole creative process is a very fine line to tread and INXS has always been somewhat of a balancing act.”

How concerned is INXS with commercial success?

“We are only six guys from Australia with a pretty healthy attitude towards the roller-coaster ride in the music business. For the most part, we are just as happy to be the underdog as well as the guys on top of the music scene. As far as the band is concerned, we made a great record and are hoping that it will make a solid impact in the music world of today.”

What is the story behind the title track, “Elegantly Wasted?”

“It’s the story of life. Our intention is to show the paradox of reality in the world. People are always searching for rights and wrongs but don’t necessarily know where to look to find the proper answers. It can drive you crazy. For the most part though, the song means different things to different people. It’s all about perception versus reality.”

What prompted the band to go outside the conventional stream of musical instruments for this album?

“For the last several years we have been looking to break away from conventional norms and experiment with the addition of new sounds into our music – this record seemed to be the perfect time. Bruce Fairburne, who helped co-produce the album, was originally a trumpet player. This proved to be an extra bonus for us. For example, on `Girls On Fire’, we were able to add a new element to the INXS sound by incorporating Cuban Percussions.

“On the other hand, the scales and instruments on `Thrown Together’ are an area that Andrew (Farriss) has always been interested in. There are just so many different types of instruments out there in the world; it’s crazy that most bands limit themselves to the same four or five instruments. The curiosity comes when you try to mix these new instruments with conventional music to see what type musical style prevails.”

What is the message in the last track on the album, “Building Bridges?”

“The song talks about a loss of innocence yet hints at sense of hope. Believing in who you are and what you have to offer is the key. Everyone has the ability to reach out to others in times of need, know matter how painful it can be. We all need the support of others to survive. If we are all going to build bridges to others then we must first learn to comprise and be open to new ways of thinking, Only then, ultimately, will this world be a better place for all of us. If there is one lesson to be learned, let it be this – In the end, all we have as individuals is the ability to reach out to and help each other.”

What does the future hold for INXS?

“Our first point of touring will be in the United States, which we hope will be sometime this summer. We want to start with a small intimate club tour in ten major cities just to prove that we exist. These smaller venues bring us back to our roots from where we first started. There is something very powerful about a captive audience of eight hundred to a thousand people. It allows us to bring a high-energy show to an intimate group of fans. We did a small club tour for the `Full Moon, Dirty Hearts’ tour and it was one of the best things we have done live, as a band, in years. Ultimately, our intention is to rip the roof off a few thousand seat venues and then come back around on a proper, full-blown tour later on in the year.” ^m^

Origin:

Originally from Australia, the band has now relocated to London, England.

Line-Up:

Michael Hutchence – Vocals & Guitars Jon Farriss – Drums

Andrew Farriss – Guitar & Keys Garry Gary Beers – Bass

Tim Farriss – Guitar Kirk Pengilly – Guitar, Sytar & Saxophone

About The Current CD:

The present CD is the tenth overall album for INXS, the first to be released by Mercury Records. Due in April, Elegantly Wasted is as good if not better, as familiar yet as different, than anything the band has done before.

Discography:

Elegantly Wasted (Mercury, 1997) Listen Like Thieves (Atlantic, 1985)

Full Moon, Dirty Hearts (Atlantic, 1993) The Swing (Atco, 1984)

Welcome To Wherever You Are (Atlantic, 1992) Shabooh Shoobah (Atco, 1982)

X (Atlantic, 1990) Underneath The Colours (Atco, 1981)

Kick (Atlantic, 1987) INXS (Atco, 1980)

Produced By:

Bruce Fairbairn with Andrew Farriss

Label:

Mercury

Website:

www.inxs.com

© February 21, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved. This originally appeared on the Vogelism blog at http://www.vogelism.com authored by Michael D. Vogel. This article may be shared or reprinted as long as the entire copyright message, including the source location of this article, accompanies it.

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  1. […] of personal and business friction within the band, as well as the record label,” Hutchence explained. “It just seemed like the logical time to take a […]

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