Reporting Sara Pelissero
It’s a history unlike any other — 33 years, more than 30 million records sold, a rollercoaster of ups and downs and a love of music that’s never faded.
INXS is undoubtedly one of the biggest bands to emerge from the land down under. The iconic rock group first stepped out in 1977 (then as the “Farriss Brothers”) and quickly won accolades of both music critics and fans alike.
Before long, the band captured numerous Top 10 hits, had several Grammy nominations under its belt and was seemingly on top of the world.
Then in November of 1997, that all came to a crashing halt. The death of lead singer and songwriter Michael Hutchence left the band with an uncertain future — not sure where to turn, but nowhere near ready to throw in the towel.
In that time, the band went on quite the ride to find its next lead voice. Through a list of fill-ins that came and went — and even a journey to scout the realms of reality TV — the band is doing something it’s never done before, yet something that truly makes so much sense.On its newest CD, “Original Sin,” INXS teams up with noteworthy front men to create an expedition through some of the band’s greatest songs. But don’t be fooled — this isn’t a tribute album or a greatest hits record, it’s a celebration of a truly legendary history, said drummer Jon Farriss.
“A lot of artists have covered INXS music, the likes of Tom Jones, Joe Cocker, Snow Patrol, countless others, and we thought, ‘Why don’t we do that?’ Why don’t we start doing a remixed, re-imagined cover album but with our own songs,” he said. “And that’s how it started.”
With the help of Rob Thomas, Ben Harper, Train’s Pat Monahan, Nikka Costa and numerous others, “Original Sin” is a both a nod to the time that was and a new approach to classic hits.
“The more we got into it, the more we really messed with dismantling the song tempos and some, to a certain extent, chord arrangements to really enjoy covering the songs, not just rerecording them,” Farriss said. “It wasn’t about trying to make them better, but it was just that we were having fun with them.”
Farriss said in a way, the band wanted to prove they still have the talent to go beyond the tracks fans were familiar with and show them something new.
“It really helped us to let go of our inhibitions and express our musicality in a way that hasn’t been shown before, that we were really capable musicians and not just in the confines of what INXS has normally produced,” he said.
They have been performing for more than 30 years, after all. And while musicians with a similar track record may be looking towards retirement, Farriss said the music just won’t let them quit.
“It’s my passion,” he said. “It’s what the rest of the guys love to do, and I think the motivation is to try and keep all the negative stuff on the outside, and the thing we love to do, which is music, make that the bridge that really is the path to happiness for us.”
A happiness that now includes a summer tour through the United States and Canada.
“It’s great, we’re out on the road and we’re enjoying dedicating part of the show to the new record, which is great fun. We’re really playing well and we’re really enjoying playing and, of course, the rest of it is filled with INXS hits,” he said.
Touring may not be a new thing for INXS but the approach to touring has certainly changed.
“It’s very different for me, being a family guy. Now I’ve got photos of my kids around and I’m like, you know, Mr. Dad Guy. It’s interesting, a lot of adapting from being like a kid into music all my life, it’s what I’ve done,” he said. “There’s been some ups and downs and obviously the trappings of being on tour, being a rock star, and you know, hey, it’s perilous out there. But for me, the best way to be is healthy and fit — and enjoy it and not just lock yourself in a room and you know, try to sort of drink yourself into nowhere.”
And for Farriss and his bandmates, the best way to enjoy being on tour is to celebrate the songs they love and their two-year labor of love, “Original Sin.”
“We’re really happy, we’re really enjoying being back on the road,” he said. “I think we’re playing better than we ever have, to be honest. I’m proud to be with these boys, doing what we do best.”
INXS, with special guest Berlin, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mystic Lake Casino Showroom. Tickets are on sale now and available by clicking here.