'And they will never tear us apart'

Legendary Australian band INXS is coming to Coffs Harbour.
Legendary Australian band INXS is coming to Coffs Harbour. Tomas Correa Arce

THEY'RE one of the most recognised names in Aussie music history.

After 30 years, and more than 5000 live shows played to 25 million people across 50 countries, INXS have announced a tour to regional Australia.

And after all those accolades they're still just blokes who like to play music.

We spoke to Tim Farriss, guitarist and faithful Manly lad, about the upcoming tour, new singer Ciaran Gribbin, and what it's like to play in a band of brothers.

"[Manly's] where we've got our equipment set up, we're all living nearby," Tim said of the tight-knit INXS members.

"Yeah, we have Christmases together, but it's not a big deal if we don't - now our kids are friends too."

Being locals has meant - as it does for lots of Aussies - trips to the local pub, one of which had a very interesting outcome: new singer, Ciaran.

"Andrew met him at the pub," Tim said.

"Ciaran got up and played and sang 'Mystify' - Andrew walked up to him afterward and told him he wrote that song. Ciaran said 'no way' in his Irish accent - he was fresh off the boat then."

A chance encounter turned into something bigger when Andrew invited Ciaran to the odd jam - which turned into songwriting sessions, and eventually recording sessions.

"The rest of us heard some of their stuff and said yeah, keep going," Tim said.

"So Cairn's first gig was 15,000 people in Peru."

Not bad for a journeyman singer-songwriter.

The rough and tumble world of Aussie pub rock was the breeding ground for INXS, with the first show under that name played in Toukley in 1979.

That first line up - Michael Hutchence as vocalist, Garry Gary Beers on bass, Andrew Farriss on guitar and keys, Jon Farriss on drums, Tim Farriss on lead guitar and Kirk Pengilly on guitar and saxophone - was to prove remarkably resilient.

More than most bands could hope in their wildest dreams, the original INXS line-up recorded 10 albums, topped charts and toured the world.

And then - tragedy.

The final leg of INXS' 20th anniversary tour was to be in Australia in November and December of 1997.

But on the morning of November 22, Michael Hutchence, aged 37, was found dead in his room at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay, Sydney.

The following February, the NSW coroner ruled his death a suicide.

It was a devastating time for the rest of the band - and they took until 2002 to make a formal announcement of their future intentions.

"It took us a long time to get over," Tim said.

"But we feel we're doing him justice by playing the songs he wrote.

"You know we're one of the only bands in history to turn down a Rolling Stone magazine cover?

"They only shoot the singer. And INXS is a band. So Michael said no."

The sense of closeness fostered by the surviving members comes not only from habit and family ties, but from a longstanding and deep love of music.

Have you ever listened to INXS on a long car trip?

These are songs that will, literally, get you through the night - they're timeless, and people are attracted to them time and time again.

"It's bizarre - the diversity of our audiences is mindblowing," Tim said, "everyone from six years to 65 years old."

And the secret to INXS' longevity? Possibly just an unconscious drive to do what they do best - play.

"We haven't ever gone back."

INXS is playing Friday, June 22 at C.ex Coffs.

For your chance to win tickets, email your favourite INXS song in the subject line to entertainer@coffscoastadvocate.com.au before 5pm, Monday May 14. 

Topics:  c.ex coffs harbour inxs music music tour

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