INXS: Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Andrew Farriss, Garry Gary Beers, Tim Farriss, Jon Farriss. / Murphy Media Academy
Even 25 years after the release of INXS' hit album, "Kick" -- which yielded four Billboard Top 10 hits, including the Number One smash "Need You Tonight" -- band keyboardist Andrew Farriss says that he is surprised and mystified by the record's longevity on commercial radio.
"We were definitely trying to do something different from what everybody else was doing at the time," he tells CBSNews.com. "And we were also doing something that I think radio later on kind of got, where we were fusing different styles of music together that weren't really normally comfortable with each other when we were putting all this onto one album...I'm just amazed that this album and the songs on it seems to have resonated somewhere with people."
An album that has sold six million copies in the U.S., "Kick," with its fusion of rock, dance and funk, brought renown to the Australian six-man band -- Andrew Farriss, his brothers Jon and Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, and the late Michael Hutchence. In addition to "Need You Tonight" topping the U.S. singles chart in 1987, the album's other songs -- "Devil Inside," "New Sensation" and "Never Tear Us Apart" -- also went Top 10. In marking its 25th anniversary this year, "Kick" was recently reissued as a deluxe four-disc package that also includes bonus tracks and a DVD of videos and interviews.
Prior to "Kick," INXS had made five records beginning in 1980. Its 1985 album, "Listen Like Thieves" and the band's first Top 10 U.S. hit single, "What You Need," kind of set the stage for "Kick." "We fused that straight rock thing with shaking your butt and more kind of heavy dance grooves," says Farriss. "I think Michael and I as songwriters -- we really zeroed in on that song in particular. We were surprised how instantly people really liked that thing. So we looked at the each other and we thought, 'If people liked that, let's do some more of that.' I think that was really sort of, as simplistic as it sounds, a lot of the beginnings with "Kick.""
Of whether he had any inkling back then that "Kick" was going to be INXS' biggest hit album, or expectations going into the recording of it, Farris says no. "What really amazes me when I look back on all that is Michael and I somehow got our [act] together to write songs during all of that. And the only thing I can really think that probably inspired us was the fact that we were moving around between different countries all the time and song writing in different countries. I think that possibly part of this record's success is the fact that we weren't really taking it from one country's perspective when we were writing this album."
One of the songs written from that approach is the dance rock number "Need You Tonight." Farriss says that he called for a cab to take him from his Sydney home to the airport for his flight to Hong Kong where Hutchence was living. Simultaneously, Farriss came up with an idea for the song.
"Then I started to panic," he says. "I started going, 'Hang on a minute, the cab is coming. This is really full on because I think this thing is really important.' I put together a demo with a drum machine feel, the riff that you know. The cab driver was looking at me like I'm crazy. I'm running in and out of the house going, 'You gotta wait, you gotta wait.' He was like, 'Man, you're crazy,' and I'm like, 'Well, maybe -- maybe not.' I mixed it all down to a little cassette, jumped in the cab, flew to Hong Kong, got out of the cab, and walked through the door of the studio, and Michael said, 'You got anything?' And I said, 'Yeah, [this].' (laughs). It was just really weird."
Initially the band's American label, Atlantic Records, wasn't thrilled when it first listened to "Kick" prior to its release, according to Daryl Easlea's liner notes in the deluxe package. The record company even offered INXS a million dollars to go back and rerecord the album. "In all fairness to them, I think what they thought we were going to do was to make another 'Listen Like Thieves,'" says Farriss. "But that's not what 'Kick' was. We didn't deliver that kind of album. I'm really pleased we didn't cave into paranoia or regret or money. We just went, 'No, we want to put this out exactly what it is.'"
After the success of "Kick," INXS continued to have more Billboard Top 40 hits through the early '90s, such as "Suicide Blonde," "Disappear" and "Not Enough Time." In retrospect, Farris says he loves the stuff on "Kick" but also cites "Shabooh Shoobah" as his favorite band album along with other material from records "The Swing," "Listen Like Thieves," and "X."
"I think we look back on that whole period of time with some curiosity ourselves as we reflect on it. "A lot of people they sort of stamped INXS as an '80s band, but really it's not that quite simple. We went through a really exposure period in the '80s but we were really much creating and putting out a lot of music and touring a lot in the '90s. There is so much competition on radio, there is so much music...that we're fortunate to have had any time in the sun."
Sadly, while "Kick" celebrates a special milestone, this year also marks the 15th anniversary of Michael Hutchence's passing. A charismatic and gritty singer, as well as the band's co-songwriter with Farriss, Hutchence was only 37.
"I say to people to reflect on their own personal life for a minute and imagine that one their closest friends had departed many years ago was a famous person," says Farriss. "And then you think also about some of his family members or friends who aren't famous. It doesn't really matter if they're famous or not, it's how much you love and respect them. For the guys in INXS, we miss Michael terribly. But we also lost our mother before Michael passed away, and I still think about her every day. It's just a matter of recognizing and respecting people in your life."
INXS carried on after Hutchence's death and worked and recorded with different singers. And after 35 years together, the band recently announced its retirement from touring. "We had pretty much finished a year's worth of successful touring," said Farriss, "and we wanted to sort of be able to say to people that we really loved our time as a touring act. We want to take some time to reflect on things. We're paying respect to the years of touring that we've done, to ourselves more than anything, and to our fans and people who've followed INXS' career -- we felt it was important to sort of say something."
However, the door remains open as Farriss hasn't ruled out working with the other band members from INXS on future projects. "We're brothers, we're friends," he says. "We really come from a very similar philosophical view of the world as people. So we're not closing any doors on each other. I think the idea is to sort of say we're in a situation, and we feel it's a really positive situation where we can reflect on a lot of years of work together, and at the same time there might be possibilities to do other things, including together in the future."