Michael Hutchence Biography


"I've read our old biographies. They're exhausting. I feel like I have to lie down afterward."

>That having been said by Andrew Farriss, here is the abbreviated history: 1979: INXS' live debut in its native Sydney, Australia, 1980: the first record: INXS. 1981: Beneath The Colours. 1983: The first US album: Shabooh Shoobah ("The One Thing", "Don't Change"). The US Festival. 1984: The Swing ("Original Sin"). 1985: Listen Like Thieves ("What You Need," "Shine Like It Does," the title track). Live-Aid: beamed from Australia to Wembley to the world. 1987: Kick ("New Sensation," "Need You Tonight," "Never Tear Us Apart," "Devil Inside"). 1990: X ("Suicide Blonde," "Disappear," "The Stairs"). The year-long X Factor tour. 74,000 attend a headlining stand at the site of the band's introduction to the world: Wembley Stadium. 1991: Live Baby Live. Documents the X Factor tour. 1992: Welcome To Wherever You Are ("Beautiful Girl," "Heaven Sent," "Baby Don't Cry"). Hailed as INXS' most adventurous, possibly best LP to date. 1993: Full Moon, Dirty Hearts. Capri. 1980-1996 (overview): Over 20 million records sold, literally thousands of shows played, numerous hit singles, MTV Video awards, Brit Awards, Grammy nominations...all in 17 years, all by the same six men.

The present: INXS' tenth studio album, Elegantly Wasted, is due out April 1997. It is as good, if not better, as familiar yet as different, than anything the band has done before.

"There's a lot that's different about the new record." Farriss says. "And the way we approached the making of it. We used to do a record every year, year and a half. We felt we were prolific, but maybe we weren't, even though we were putting out more 'product'. So prior to the making of this record, we found it difficult to place ourselves. We had to ask 'Who is INXS?' because, in the past, we had been too busy being INXS to really know. Or to enjoy it. And making a record, first and foremost, should be enjoyable. Exciting. That's when our music is most exciting: When it's exciting to us."

That excitement is obvious and contagious throughout Elegantly Wasted's twelve songs. In order to capture the thrill and spontaneity of creating this material, Farriss and his fellow principal songwriter, vocalist Michael Hutchence, treated every demo, every moment of music as a potential final take.

"We made a conscious decision to use proper tape and mics from day one," Hutchence explains. "In the past, we'd used 4-tracks, TASCAMs, portable and home equipment. This time we used proper studio equipment to demo everything. A good deal of the material contains first takes, I'd say 60 to 80 percent. That way you catch a bit of magic. I don't think we've ever done a record quite this way before. No producer, no one looking over your shoulder, saying 'We've been here all day! What's happening?'"

"A lot of people try to design excitement in the studio," Farriss adds. "But if you don't have it before you even walk into the studio, you are not going to be able to create it once you start recording. For the first time in our entire career, we were not just capturing the best but often the first take of each song. Some of the vocals on the record are the first time those words have ever come out of Michael's mouth! A lot of my instrumental parts are first takes as well. We just assumed that everything would be important from day one."

Just as every note recorded for Elegantly Wasted was crucial to its completion, so was every moment of INXS' illustrious, unpredictable--and occasionally erratic--career. For every bit of familiar cocky swagger ["Show Me (Cherry Baby)" ("One day of work," Michael recalls. "Ha! Goes to prove that you never know how these things'll go."), "Shake The Tree," "Girl On Fire"], there is a bit of bittersweet desperation and longing ("Searching") or poignant introspection ("Building Bridges") or hell-and-back reaffirmation ("Don't Lose Your Head"). Add moments of pure pop bliss ("Everything"), the intoxicating groove of the title track, and a beautiful autobiographical centerpiece ("I'm Just A Man"), and you've got a time capsule of INXS past, present and future (One that caused one prominent critic type--who will remain nameless--to comment: "I put in the advance and just felt the years fall away..." Interpret as you will.)

"We drew on many aspects of a sound we created." Says Farriss. "Some of it could be us 12, 13 years ago! Now fashion-wise, trend-wise, that might be an insane thing to say. On the other hand, to keep changing just because you think you have to is not necessarily a good thing. Keep changing for the sake of changing and you'll lose sense of your own identity. You can start to doubt your worth, to second guess yourself, to start overthinking every trivial little thing. When I look back on everything INXS has done, there are some things I hate and some things I love. But getting some distance from everyone, from the band, in order to realize this, was wonderful."

Penultimately, notes on the abbreviated "Getting some distance" period (It was hardly downtime): Between 1994 and 1996, Michael Hutchence teamed up with the London Symphony Orchestra: ("Under My Thumb," Symphonic Music Of The Rolling Stones) and NRBQ ("Baby Let's Play House," It's Now Or Never: The Tribute To Elvis), and contributed tracks to the original motion picture soundtracks of Batman Forever and Barb Wire, One Voice: The Songs of Chage & Aska, and most recently, Talking Heads' No Talking, Just Head. Over the same few years, Andrew Farriss has amassed production and co-writing credits including Gun, Yothu Yindi and Teddy Richards, and Tim Farriss has produced a CD-ROM entitled Deep Inside Tim Farriss: XSamples. Meanwhile, Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Garry Gary Beers have all produced (co-produced?) children in the last six months...

Finally, having taken some time off, having taken stock of past accomplishments, having allied with a new label, agency and management team, having recorded possibly the best album of a 17-year-plus career...where does

INXS see its place in a musical landscape radically different from the one it last visited some three or four years back?

"I don't know where we'll fit in now," Michael laughs. "I've always had a horror of that. Ever since the success of Kick, I've had a terror of being lumped in with bands that were popular then, but are now extinct. We come from a generation of which there aren't many survivors left. A generation wedged somewhere between punk and disco.

There's U2, the Cure, REM, Depeche Mode, maybe... It's a strange place to be: to not quite be a punk band starting out when we did, then over the years, to start to hear the influence of the mixture of R&B, funk and so on creep into our music... Bands are doing more of it now, cross-pollinating. It's an interesting time. The horizons are widening."

"Come to think of it," he concludes. "I don't think we've ever fit in. Maybe it's a generational thing. Or maybe it's because there's always been the six of us, pulling in six different directions."

INXS is : Garry Gary Beers (Bass), Andrew Farriss (Keyboards & Guitar), Jon Farriss (Drums), Tim Farriss (Guitar), Michael Hutchence (Singing, Guitar on "She Is Rising"), Kirk Pengilly (Guitar & Saxophone)


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