INXS keyboardist and main composer Andrew Farriss recalled how the band “burst its own bubble” in the ‘90s by deciding to stop doing what the music industry expected of them.
In an upcoming episode of SiriusXM’s Humans of Music program, he recalled how they felt trapped by the expectation of supporting other people’s incomes and discussed his creative partnership with late singer Michael Hutchence.
“INXS actually burst its own bubble because we got to that stadium level, as a band, around the world,” he said. “One of the more scary elements of that lifestyle is that you have this gravy train of people who all depend on you to keep doing it. If you don’t keep doing it, then they don’t have their jobs … their own thing suddenly gets put in jeopardy. So, you’re suddenly thinking, ‘Why am I doing this exactly? Who’s this for?’”
He said the band members had started to “talk about it quietly” before they decided to “let’s just play places we really like to play. If it’s festival, great. If it’s a stadium, fantastic. If it’s a pub, great – so long as we like the venue.”
The upshot was a tour of English pubs around 1993, “even after we’d just played stadiums. … Promoters couldn’t understand it – they were like, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘We’re doing what we want to do – not what we’re supposed to do.’ … Everyone’s making money when you’re doing more and more and more – but are you any happier?”
Farriss described Hutchence as “a bohemian, social creature” and recalled their unusual collaborative style, which often involved giving the singer a musical idea then waiting for him to visit late at night with melody and lyric ideas that would often give the keyboardist “goose bumps.”
“We weren’t competitive, we had diametrically opposed skillsets,” he noted. “He would talk in terms of, ‘That should be a bit heavier,’ ‘That needs to be a bit bluer.’ … I’d go, ‘Okay’ and try to think of something. Lyrically, I’d throw an idea in occasionally. He was very sure that he always wanted to lyrically say something. He was passionate about that, and I respected that.”
Looking back on Hutchence’s suicide in 1997, Farriss said: “One of the saddest things that comes along with a quick loss … is that you don’t get time to say goodbye to them. … I just miss the happy side of that guy and the talented side of that man. He had a cheeky side to him, too. It was funny, off camera, off mic … it’s those sort of memories I hold in my mind, rather than going down the rabbit hole of tragedy.”
The full interview airs on SiriusXM’s Humans of Music on April 26 at 1PM ET and will be repeated at various times throughout the week.