The West

Never tear memories apart

Perspective is a nice thing to have. Tim Farriss - the eldest of the three Farriss brothers who went on to form the nucleus of arguably Australia's most popular band, INXS - has perspective in spades.

The guitarist has fond memories and stories to tell. And the 25th anniversary reissue of the band's benchmark album Kick, which saw INXS become one of the world's biggest bands, gives him the opportunity to share some wisdom.

"I always used to say 'Boy, the pubs are getting bigger,' and at Wembley Stadium, Michael said 'This is the biggest pub we've ever played'," Farriss recalls with a laugh.

The Michael he's talking about is, of course, Michael Hutchence, the late INXS singer whose shadow looms large over the band and whose songwriting, alongside Andrew Farriss, made up the majority of Kick - and most INXS albums for that matter.

"He's still with us because we're still playing music he wrote," says Farriss, 55, who was born in Perth.

The band is in rehearsals for a national tour supporting Matchbox Twenty that should see plenty of Kick material, including some rare cuts.

"We're going to be doing songs that we haven't played for years off that record," he says. "We've had to dissect some of the material and re-learn it.

"And, of course, Michael's all over it so we think about him a lot."

The release of Kick was a major episode in Australian music history. First single, Need You Tonight, topped the US charts and three more singles - Devil Inside, New Sensation and the ballad Never Tear Us Apart - followed that hit into the US Top 5.

Kick, which also features a cover of 60s Aussie rock nugget The Loved One, has sold more than 10 million copies in the US alone, as well as being a bona fide classic album Down Under.

The very danceable rock that fuelled the success stemmed back to the hit single What You Need from previous album, Listen Like Thieves (1985), a track that formed the blueprint for Kick.

"Listen Like Thieves was a critically important record because it was the first one we made with (producer) Chris Thomas," Farriss explains. "He always said 'I've listened to the records you've made up to today and then I come and see you live and you just don't sound the same on record as you do live. You guys kick arse live, it just doesn't translate in the studio, so we'll try and capture that'.

"Listen Like Thieves was the first attempt with him to get that sound."

Hot on the heels of What You Need, INXS returned to the studio with Thomas, recording Kick in Sydney and Paris, before the album was mixed in London.

"We wanted to pick up where we'd left off and that is how we went in to Kick," Farriss says. "That was why, in many ways, it was so much fun because we'd gotten a lot of the small talk out of the way and we all knew we were pretty damn focused on what we wanted to do with Kick.

"Everything was pointing towards (Kick) being massive so we felt pretty confident that it was going to be pretty good. We had a huge following in the States and Europe and South America and Australia at that point."

Not everyone was so confident.

Doug Morris, the then president of INXS' international label, Atlantic, famously offered the band a million dollars to go back to Australia and record a different album.

Thankfully, they stuck to their guns and unveiled Kick in October 1987. Soon everybody wanted a piece of INXS.

They were hanging out and touring with Freddie Mercury-era Queen and partying with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler backstage at the MTV Awards. Even the Rolling Stones got in on the action.

"Not together," Farriss admits. "But all of them individually would turn up at our shows."

The guitarist recalls a gig at Madison Square Garden on the Kick tour where the organisers had set up a little dressing room on the side of the stage, to save the band the long trek back to the stadium's bigger permanent dressing rooms.

Farriss recalls that when the band came off before the encore he was surprised to find Morris, who had by then changed his tune, had been sitting side of stage all night.

He was even more surprised to see Keith Richards perched there among the tubs full of beer and champagne.

"He'd sort of planned to surprise us during the encore break," Farriss laughs, before adding that, thanks to the legendary Stones guitarist, it may not have been their best ever encore performance. "Yeah, he was in form."

The West Australian

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