‘The truth about Michael and Kylie’

May 10, 2015 5:23 pm 5 comments Views: 73
Left field ... INXS drummer Jon Farriss has recorded a new song — with cricket legend Viv

Left field … INXS drummer Jon Farriss has recorded a new song — with cricket legend Viv Richards.
Source: Supplied

DRUMMER Jon Farriss was up the back at INXS, but he’s moving into the spotlight with an unlikely first impression — a solo song featuring vocals from cricket star Viv Richards called Smokin’ Joe.

Congratulations, you’ve made a record featuring a sports star that doesn’t suck.

I don’t see this as a sports song but I see why people do. It’s not like I was going looking for a cricket guy, it’s just it was Viv and he happens to play cricket. When I met him it was a no-brainer. I was so lucky to be the first person to bring the idea to him. Viv doesn’t need to do anything for anyone. He’s a formidable character on the field but a really deep and conscious person. Beyond his cricket acumen there was something underneath I found fascinating. It was beyond intellectual, it was a spiritual thing as well. The song reflects my sense of humour, it’s a bit cheeky.

Affinity ... INXS drummer Jon Farriss says he had a spiritual connection with Viv Richard

Affinity … INXS drummer Jon Farriss says he had a spiritual connection with Viv Richards. Picture: Mark Stewart
Source: News Corp Australia

He’s basically narrating a soulful jam sounding like Barry White. Has he ever been involved in a song before?

No. He was out of his comfort zone. He loves music. He got into the flow of the rhythm, threw a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in. At one point Viv had left and my wife came in as I was playing back the tape of Viv just going ‘Ooh yeah’. Two or three minutes of `oohs’ and `aahs’ and my wife said ‘What were you doing in there?’ I’ve got an X-rated version if need be!

Jon Farriss & Viv Richards – Smokin’ Joe

What was his reaction when he heard the finished product?

I was in LA working and his manager called me and said ‘I’m in Lord’s (cricket ground) with Viv Richards, I’ve just played him the track and his eyes lit up’. If it hadn’t have worked I wouldn’t have released it. He’s a very charismatic man. When you’re in his presence you know it. I enjoyed a very interesting insight into a guy I normally wouldn’t have had any contact with.

Wild days ... INXS singer Michael Hutchence was the ultimate frontman.

Wild days … INXS singer Michael Hutchence was the ultimate frontman.
Source: Supplied

A song with Viv Richards is a left-field choice as your first post-INXS release..

I didn’t expect this to be the first thing out of the date. Once INXS announced we were off the touring circuit I was at the crossroads wondering what I was going to do. All my life I’ve had production ideas and songwriting aspirations, but a lot of that never came through INXS. The last two years I’ve built quite a large catalogue, a lot of it is production based. I spent some time in Nashville, I’ve got a writing partner in LA and I’ve got a studio in Sydney. I’m always working on new material.

Embracing change ... INXS drummer Jon Farriss says he has no issue with getting older. Pi

Embracing change … INXS drummer Jon Farriss says he has no issue with getting older. Picture: Mark Stewart
Source: News Corp Australia

A few weeks ago you and your brother Tim were on the field as Port Adelaide fans sang INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart …

We didn’t know the game had started until a few days later. And we were these two stragglers on the ground waving scarfs! That was awkward. But there was a meaning behind it, that song connects with people — 15,000 were singing that song with gusto. A bit of disruption is good now and then. That’s what I grew up on. Everything’s getting so regimented these days. It was a lot more loose and wild when I was growing up.

So you’re in front of 15,000 people who are singing an INXS song back at you. Do you miss playing live?

I do miss it. But I’m very comfortable with how life flows. I have no issues with getting older. I don’t get hung up thinking ‘It’s all over now’. Life is about embracing change. To me it looks better and better from a distance because it was great but there’s still great things to come.

So INXS as a touring act is still in the past tense?

I don’t see it happening. We’re not one of those bands who ever did a farewell tour. We never expected to announce it. I basically blurted it out onstage in Perth. There was no fanfare. It wasn’t set up to be a big moment. We were in Perth, I saw a full circle. We started there. It seemed like a fitting place to announce it’s unlikely we’ll be playing more gigs. But life is good.

Footy fans ... Jon and Tim Farriss hanging with Sydney Swan Jarrad McVeigh. Photo Sarah R

Footy fans … Jon and Tim Farriss hanging with Sydney Swan Jarrad McVeigh. Photo Sarah Reed
Source: News Corp Australia

Surely since the INXS mini-series there’s been offers to tour in some form?

I’m sure there has. The band members don’t get those offers so I don’t know what they are. And it’s not like we check in to see if there’s offers. But I’m sure there are.

At one point your manager was thinking out loud about a tour using a hologram of Michael Hutchence…

That’s an inevitable phase of technology. We know that technology exists, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before people use it. But it’s nothing we’re thinking about.

INXS: Never Tear Us Apart – Part 2 Sneak Peek
0:40

http://musicmania.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/edefc__2435821731_promo216260865_648x365_2435821692-hero.jpg

Take a sneak peek at the next installment of Channel 7′s INXS epic, ‘INXS: Never Tear Us Apart’. Courtesy Channel 7

What was it like watching yourself being portrayed in the mini-series?
Everyone was really concerned about Michael and other elements, like my parents. I wasn’t really thinking about me. It is obviously a mixture of flattery and fear that you’re watching someone portraying you. It’s bigger than that. I’m a small part of a big picture. And the big picture is what they had to get right. It’s almost impossible to get that right. Everyone sees their reality in a different way. They got the essence of the story, that was the most important part. Tim (Farriss) tried to get the feeling and the emotion behind what was happening. We were having fun. Even if it was challenging, we’d make it enjoyable. There were lots of jokes. Tim would have to say ‘Guys, lighten up’. I think they did a really good job.

Mini-series ... the as-seen-on-TV version of INXS from the Logie-winning Never Tear Us Ap

Mini-series … the as-seen-on-TV version of INXS from the Logie-winning Never Tear Us Apart
Source: Supplied

What about the ending with Michael’s death and the drama around his last few years?

I was nervous. There’s lots of stuff I don’t want to relive. Been there done that. Like anyone’s life. But I was grateful I got an early copy, I could sit by myself and watch it, not watch my life played out with a room full of people. I was expecting to be a sobbing mess and I wasn’t. The ending came round to life goes on, let’s focus on the part we’re celebrating. It’s easy and predictable to focus on the negative elements, they’re only small but they tend to overshadow everything because people have a hard time processing them.

Did you see Kylie Minogue covering Need You Tonight?

I saw it on You Tube, it was really great. I’ve seen Cee-Lo do it, I’ve seen Tom Jones do it. We were on tour in Vegas once, we were told Tom Jones played Need You Tonight the night before. So we did It’s Not Unusual and Michael just nailed it. For Kylie to do wipes any stigma that might be attached to the Michael/Kylie thing. Good on her.

She mentioned she could feel his presence when she sang it …

I think there was a healing element. It’s OK to tip your hat to it and embrace it. It’s definitely eased a lot of stuff for everybody. People are finally chilling out about Kylie and Michael.

Good times ... Kylie, Michael and friends hit the clubs in 1989.

Good times … Kylie, Michael and friends hit the clubs in 1989.
Source: News Limited

What were they like as a couple?

Great fun. Michael and I were living in Hong Kong, it was a great time of our lives. It was around 1989. We spent a bit of time with Kylie’s folks in Hong Kong, I remember going on a junk with them. She was burgeoning, she was coming out of the Neighbours thing. I remember thinking she had a big future. There was some reciprocity that just worked.

Your brother Tim had an accident with his hand earlier this year, how is he?

He’s fine. It’s been a big challenge but he’s risen to that challenge. I have so much respect for him. He’s taken the right stance. He’s on the mend. It’s going to be a slow road.

There was a lot of focus on whether he could still play guitar …

When something like this happens it’s not about the guitar it’s about Tim and his heart and his mind. We’ll cross that road when we need to.

What’s left in the INXS vaults?
Not sure. It’s a big vault. It really is. It’s a huge, enormous job. We’ve had to digitise a lot of it because it’s on tape. It’s scary, anything over 20 years old starts to decay, you have to bake and cook the tape, it’s counterintuitive putting tapes in an oven. Andrew (Farriss) has been doing that.

Rock stars ... INXS circa 1993, with surprisingly low sunglasses factor.

Rock stars … INXS circa 1993, with surprisingly low sunglasses factor.
Source: News Corp Australia

What’s next from Jon Farriss?

There’s a few different projects. I’m writing songs I want to filter out to different artists, they have a pop element then there’s the soul/funk area which is my comfort zone. All the roots of my upbringing from James Brown to disco to Motown. That was a big sound of INXS, marrying a rhythm box sounding approach to the way I drummed to rhythm boxes, inspired by Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, that era. I’ve always been comfortable in front of a computer, so it’s a perfect segway into the next chapter of my life, which is soul music, tasteful player, good players and computer editing.

That disco/funk sound is back in vogue thanks to Nile Rodgers, who you worked with on INXS’ Original Sin.

I know! I had all these boogie and disco songs ready to go and in LA I heard Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and it floored me. Not only was it the kind of thing I was doing but Nile was on it! Nile would have been the first person I called. I’ve seen him a few times over the last few years. There’s more boogie and funk stuff coming out now. Nile is feeling the love right now. He’s getting such recognition and validation.

The early days ... INXS in 1981 — Kirk Pengilly, Jon Farriss, Michael Hutchence, Tim Farr

The early days … INXS in 1981 — Kirk Pengilly, Jon Farriss, Michael Hutchence, Tim Farriss, Garry Gary Beers and Andrew Farriss.
Source: News Corp Australia

He’s got an amazing book, have you thought about writing yours?

It’s come up recently. It’s definitely an obvious next step. It’d have to be more about my view on life and the spiritual element. What it was like for me to be young, to bypass my teenage years and get thrust straight into the music world. I remember being 17 in Melbourne and starving and staying at cockroach infested places, sleeping virtually in squalor. They were exciting times, we had the big vision. It’s just a matter of remembering it all, we didn’t have mobile phones, we didn’t keep memoirs. I’d lug these big video cameras around but I was never in the footage because I was behind the camera. We just lived it. There’s not a lot of documented stuff to draw from. It’s a blur because there was so much happening, but you have to dig deep and you remember extraordinary things.

People like sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in their music memoirs, would it have that tone?

Well there was sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. That’s the basic story. As a kid, that’s what you grow up aspiring to. I remember watching the Countdown Awards as a kid and (Dragon’s) Marc Hunter would accept an award swilling from a bottle of champagne. They were the people you looked up to. Keith Richards had that whole almost about to fall over but plays brilliantly thing. It’s meant to be disruptive, that’s why we all got into rock ‘n’ roll. But then comes the sharp reality once you’re immersed in it but it doesn’t pay to be off your head all the time because you’re not going to be as good as you think you are. There were times it got the better of me but we always aspired to be really good and play well.

Smokin’ Joe, Jon Farriss and Viv Richards, is out now on iTunes

www.news.com.au/entertainment/music

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