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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Talking Shop: Jon Farriss of INXS
Australian rock band INXS enjoyed huge success in the 1980s and 90s with a string of hit singles, among them New Sensation and Need You Tonight.

But the group was rocked by tragedy in November 1997 when lead singer Michael Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room.

Now INXS are back with a new album, a sold-out world tour and a new lead singer - Canadian JD Fortune - recruited through a reality TV show.

Here drummer and founder member Jon Farriss talks about how the outfit has bounced back to continue its musical career.


INXS
INXS released their latest album Switch in September

How have you found working with a new full-time singer?

It's been good. We'd dabbled with other guests since Michael's departure [among them Terence Trent D'Arby], but we hadn't recorded anything with anyone else before. So just to have new songs is very good.

Michael Hutchence left some big shoes to fill. How well has JD coped with the pressure?

He's handling it very well. I don't envy the poor bugger - he's in the crosshairs as it were, being microscopically focused on. It took a few weeks to figure out what works and what doesn't, but now it's just like a well-oiled machine.

Has there been any pressure from the record company to make him look or sound like Michael?

Not at all. You'd be mad, and rude, to ask INXS to do that. JD hasn't filled Michael's shoes - no one could do that. I think he's setting his own standard.

Whose idea was it to use a reality TV show to find a new front man?

[Guitarist] Kirk Pengilly came up with the idea originally, and risky as it was, we as a group decided to go down that avenue. Reality TV shows, or unscripted dramas as I prefer to call them, are a cultural medium these days - they're part of our life and world.

It seemed the best way to find our man was to launch a huge global search and get the public participating in that decision process. What we wanted to achieve was a quality show and I think we succeeded in that. And I think we also succeeded in finding the singer we needed.

Jon Farriss
Farriss formed the band in 1977 with brothers Andrew and Tim
As good as JD is, there will always be fans who won't accept him. What are your feelings about that?

You can't please everybody; everyone has their own ways of dealing with loss. We certainly grieved for a long time, but we ended up deciding to move on. There will always be a few people who won't be into it, but there are certainly more people into it than not.

Was there a point where you and your fellow bandmates contemplated giving up altogether?

I remember coming home from hearing the news about Michael thinking that was it. But we loved it too much to finish, and I'm really grateful that we stuck through and wrote some more great music.

How much of what the band has been through is reflected in your latest album, Switch?

Everything that happens to us is reflected in our music. It's really what being in a band is all about, especially a band that writes its own music and which is predominantly made up of family. That's what being an artist is - you're a vehicle for what you experience.

You formed the band in 1977 with older brothers Andrew and Tim. Has sibling rivalry ever been an issue?

I've never been able to articulate it correctly, but there's something about being in the position we're in, a sort of camaraderie and respect that just defaults into being cool about it. What's the point about fighting and carrying on when you've got things to do? We're either blessed or lucky or completely insane.

INXS (photo by Herb Ritts)
Michael Hutchence (centre) was the band's best known member
For years you've been the youngest member of INXS. Now JD is, do you feel different?

In a way, yeah. It's funny - ever since I was a kid I was always around people older than me which gave me a real head's up on how to behave socially. But with JD being a decade or so my junior, I feel a bit like an older brother to him.

Not only is he younger, he's also Canadian. Has that affected the group dynamic?

This is going to sound clichéd, but music really does cross all those boundaries. In any case, Canadians are very similar to Australians what with us both being Commonwealth countries. It's great we can shake hands and have two flags!

Jon Farriss talked to BBC News entertainment reporter Neil Smith.

INXS perform at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on 12 October.


SEE ALSO
New singer leads INXS to US hit
14 Oct 05 |  Entertainment
Canadian to be new INXS frontman
21 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
Rock band INXS hunt for UK singer
08 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
INXS to star in reality TV show
14 Jun 04 |  Entertainment

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