One of the most notable and successful rock bands of all time, INXS has sold over 35 million albums worldwide with the group’s music remaining in constant radio rotation and in DJ sets nightly across the globe. To this day, the group’s multi-platinum landmark albums Listen Like Thieves, Kick, and X are all widely regarded as music collection staples. Huge chart-topping hit singles including “What You Need,” “Need You Tonight,” “Devil Inside,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “New Sensation” and “Suicide Blonde” have been featured in numerous films, advertising campaigns and video games, earning the band countless accolades and awards around the world, including several Grammy nominations, and is the driving force behind selling over 15 million albums in the U.S. alone. With a career spanning three decades, INXS have created some of the most enduring music in rock. From their first gig as the Farriss Brothers in Sydney’s Northern beaches in August 1977, Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, Tim Farriss, Andrew Farriss and Jon Farriss quickly won Australian then international acclaim.
Throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s, INXS were the consummate global rock band. Asked to describe their own music, the members would use such terms as “white boy dance music,” “big, basic dirty noise,” and “intoxicating little songs.” The bands’ longtime manager Chris Murphy always thought the critics put it a bit more eloquently, saying “they spoke of certain songs’ ‘blend of instrumental colors, the silky glide of vocal melody over sinewy rhythms’ and of an overall ‘spare, elegant funk’ and ‘dense, glossy beauty,’ which the band had always had, ever since day one as the Farriss Brothers.”
Determined, dedicated and sure-footed, INXS propelled themselves out of the frantic new wave, indie label environment of Sydney, Australia at the end of the ‘70s with such energy and resilience that in less than a decade, they were being hailed by music critics as one of the biggest bands in the world.
The band performed before gauchos in Buenos Aires, Royals in Melbourne and teens in Tokyo, on their way to number one American singles, headlining before 75,000 people at Wembley Stadium – a show captured and released on DVD in the shape of Live Baby Live, playing to 100,000 people at Rock In Rio, seven MTV awards, three Grammy nominations, and albums which hit #1 all over the world.
By the time they had charted their fourth hit down under, with “The One Thing” in 1982, INXS had made their way into the American Top Thirty with the same song – the first of 17 Billboard hits, seven of which were top tens. Britain came on line a little later, and their 23 hit run commenced with “What You Need” in 1986. There were six consecutive top ten UK and US albums.
INXS celebrated their first number one single with “Original Sin” in December 1983 in Australia, beginning a phenomenal run of 38 Top 40 hits. The Swing in April the following year was the band’s first Australian number one album (Listen Like Thieves 1985, Kick 1987, and X 1990 would all also hit #1).
“It’s incredible that a bunch of friends should end up such good players – never thrown anyone out, never needed help” vocalist Michael Hutchence marveled around the time of the ten million selling Kick album. “We know each other so well. I find that rather frightening. Andrew and I may write most of the songs but this is a real band. It’s not two writers and four dumb musicians; it’s a very active, competitive, democratic group of people. We’re a band that sounds very much like a band, a live band, that’s who we are, where we came from. ”
Following the departure of longtime manager Chris Murphy in 1995, the death of Michael Hutchence in 1997 had a profound impact on the five founding members of INXS, who had been close friends and collaborators for two decades. The future for the band was very much uncertain.
A year after, the band teamed up with vocalist Jimmy Barnes (with whom they had scored a top twenty UK hit in 1991 with “Good Times” from the film The Lost Boys) to reprise that collaboration at the 25th Birthday concert of Australia’s Mushroom Records in Melbourne, slaying the audience with the strength and good-natured tone of their performance. Six months later, with guest vocalist Terence Trent D’Arby, they returned to the concert stage, before 90,000 people and a vast television audience, to officially open Sydney’s Olympic Stadium with a blistering performance. “They rose to the occasion with a performance that defied critics who would have them simply disappear,” said one review. “A triumphant return to the performance arena” said another.
Although the five musicians had involved themselves in a wide array of songwriting, production and playing projects, the desire to return to full performance as INXS could not be denied.
A concert in May 2000 was the first with Jon Stevens on vocals, and the band saw loyal fans scrambling for tickets. It was received so warmly by public and media alike that in 2001,the band headed out on a 13-date, Just For Kicks tour of Northern Australia. The Life Ball in Vienna in June became INXS’ first performance outside Australia in three years. By August, the band was back in Europe for five more shows (Germany, Poland, Romania, Ireland). In September, they played before 90,000 people in the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the nation’s premier sporting event, the Australian Football Grand Final. What had begun as a tentative venture into the possibility of life after a shattering death had taken on a momentum very much of it’s own.
In 2001, INXS received the ultimate accolade from the Australian music industry when band members were inducted into the ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Hall Of Fame. Band members received a lengthy standing ovation from the 3000-strong audience. Just a year into the new century it was obvious that the unmistakable INXS sound was finding a whole new audience. The UK DMG Dance chart saw “Precious Heart” by Tall Paul & INXS (with sampling from “Never Tear Us Apart”) rise to number one. Around the same time the Italian-originated European sampling hit, “I’m So Crazy” by Par-T-One used INXS’ debut Australian hit “Just Keep Walking” as its bed. Australia’s remix masters Rogue Traders had a top ten hit with a remix of “Need You Tonight” renamed as “One Of My Kind,” and UK artist, Professor Green gate-crashed the charts with his sampling of “Need You Tonight” topping at #3 in the UK.
An essential part of the process of the bands’ re-evaluation has been the preparation of retrospective projects. In 2001, the band involved themselves in the creation of the North American double disc set Shine Like It Does (1979 – 1997). The following year, anthology packages were released worldwide to celebrate the band’s 25th year together. Definitive INXS, carefully and specifically prepared for the British/European market, featured 15 UK chart hits, two Australian/US hits from the band’s emergent years (“Just Keep Walking” and “Original Sin”), a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” from a film soundtrack, and two previously unreleased tracks from the INXS vaults (“Salvation Jane” and “Tight”).
In Australia The Years 1979 -1997 a 41-track double CD with extensive liner notes and exclusive photos was certified Platinum and had a lengthy stay in the Australian ARIA Top 40 charts. In the US, The Best Of INXS featured 21 tracks, including the US top 10 hits: “Need You Tonight,” “New Sensation,” ”Devil Inside,” ”Never Tear Us Apart,” “Suicide Blonde,” “Disappear” and “What you Need,” plus “Salvation Jane” and “Tight.”
“A lot of 2001 was spent working out what we could do, wanted to do and needed to do,” explained Andrew Farriss. “Playing shows in Australia broke the psychological barrier. It was a tricky year because we weren’t quite ready to go out – it was a cleansing process that made everything in 2002 possible.”
Playing live again in the worldwide arena was an important step for the future of INXS. By the middle of 2002, the inevitable return of INXS to the international concert arena saw the band depart for South, Central and North America on a full-scale tour reminiscent of their legendary ’80s jaunts around the planet with two brand new songs featured in the set. The response was overwhelming, with the band re-igniting the love affair that had once existed with fans and media.
Next up was the band’s first tour of the UK in more than five years through December 2002. After a Christmas break, the band returned to Latin America, headlining the huge Vina Del Mar Festival in Chile, broadcast to a global audience of 180 million. The band also appeared on the country’s music awards program to receive the public-voted People’s Choice Antorcha Silver Award – one of the Chile music industry’s most prestigious awards.
In 2005, INXS announced their plans to launch a global search for their new singer using an “unscripted drama” TV series – Rock Star: INXS (in conjunction with Mark Burnett Productions). Kirk and Tim travelled the world to all the auditions for Rock Star: INXS, hand-picking about 100 singers out of thousands that were then whittled down to the 15 that ended up on the show. INXS chose JD Fortune, a charismatic Canadian performer with “all the goods.” The day after the shows finale, they went straight into Westlake Studios in LA and recorded possibly INXS’ most diverse album to date, Switch. The album was recorded and delivered to the record company in less than five weeks, then embarked on nearly two years of non-stop sell-out shows across the planet. It was then time for INXS to take a well-earned break.
During the two-year hiatus, the band periodically stepped into studios experimenting with all sorts of music. 2009 also marked the return of original manager and friend, Chris Murphy, as the band’s new Creative Director / Global Business Strategist after signing INXS to his Petrol Electric label. Artistically re-inspired, INXS embarked on an ambitious project, teaming the band members with influential musicians from around the globe to deliver Original Sin, an album of revitalized INXS signature hits and fan favorites that speak to a new century and new generation of listeners. “It was originally Chris” idea,” Jon Farris recalls of how the album came to be. “We were in the recording studio in Sydney just jamming on some instrumental stuff and we actually did a real summer, beach-y cool instrumental version of a song called “This Time” and Chris said, “why don’t we start doing more stuff like that?”
During the sessions, the band was also invited to perform at the Medal Ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Selling out a stadium with a capacity of 20,000 people before announcing who would be singing, INXS’ first live show in over two years. JD Fortune was the surprise guest vocalist as well as Deborah de Coral, a rising recording star from Argentina. Afterwards, the band headed home to finish working on the last few recordings for their next album and turned in two surprise appearances at Rob Thomas’ (Matchbox 20) shows in Melbourne and Sydney, performing two songs with Thomas as an encore, “Never Tear Us Apart” and “Don’t Change.”
INXS have enjoyed renewed worldwide critical acclaim following the release of their latest studio album Original Sin in 2011. Hailed as a “rewarding collision of nostalgia and modernism” and a “cleverly and lovingly assembled collection,” Original Sin teamed the band with musicians from around the globe, from superstars like Ben Harper, Pat Monahan, Tricky, and Nikka Costa, to Deborah de Corral, Mylene Farmer, Kav Temperley, JD Fortune, Dan Sultan, Loane, DJ Yaleidys and Tricky [Massive Attack] to reinterpret and revitalize their own classics for a whole new generation.
The album’s first single, “Original Sin” featuring Rob Thomas and DJ Yaleidys, officially topped the Billboard Dance Club Play chart earlier this summer, knocking Britney Spears off the top spot, and marked the band’s first ever number one Billboard dance single with the original version of “Original Sin” peaking at #17 on the chart in 1984. In Australia, the album hit number two twice on the iTunes albums chart. Ben Harper and Mylene Farmer’s version of “Never Tear Us Apart” debuted at number four on the French iTunes charts, and “Mediate” featuring Tricky [Massive Attack] jumped to number five on the U.S. Dance Charts.
On September 26, 2011, INXS announced singer/songwriter Ciaran Gribbin as the band’s new front man and have recently unveiled the first new demo recording with Gribbin, titled “Tiny Summer.” The band will continue to write and record a slate of new songs with Gribbin for a future new studio album release. INXS and Gribbin will be performing live for the first time together during a run of upcoming shows in South America, Australia, and Europe throughout November and December 2011.
Hailing from Belfast, Ireland, Ciaran Gribbin is a Grammy nominated singer/songwriter who has worked with a range of artists including Snow Patrol, Groove Armada, Paul McCartney, Madonna & Paul Oakenfold, who received a 2010 Grammy nomination as a co-writer of Madonna’s worldwide hit “Celebration.” Gribbin, also a film composer, wrote, recorded and produced all the original music for the acclaimed international film Killing Bono, Ridley’s award-winning UK film Heartless, as well as contributing music to films Wild Target (starring Emily Blunt) and Love and Suicide (the first U.S. film shot entirely on location in Cuba).
“Without a doubt I was a fan of INXS,” the 35-year-old Gribbin told Billboard.com. “I remember Kick like it was yesterday. I remember seeing the guys on MTV and then on Jools Holland’s BBC show…watching as a kid, just blown away by them. INXS definitely played a huge part in my musical education as a songwriter and something I aspired to, so to be in the band now is pretty amazing.”
Farriss said, he and the rest of INXS “don’t have a master plan” for how they’re going to proceed with Gribbin. “We’re just really enjoying being creative and seeing where that leads,” he explained. “We’re experimenting with a whole range of things; we actually tried out an idea for a song the other day—that’s probably the most crazy, off-the-wall thing I’ve ever done in my life, completely radical. And that’s the most important thing, to really try out different things and find out what we can do together.”