INXS savors life beyond the top of the pop charts

POPULAR MUSIC

November 12, 1993|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

Usually, when a band goes from dominating the charts to only just denting them, people assume it's because the group has somehow lost its grip. But according to keyboardist Andrew Farriss, the reason INXS has had a lower profile of late is because the band simply got tired of being on top of the pops.

"When we'd finished our eighth album, which was 'X,' we said to ourselves, 'What are we doing?' " he says, over the phone from a hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Because all we'd been thinking was, 'Let's get to the top.' That's what we all thought was the game you played in the entertainment business.

"Then it occurred to us that there's got to be something after you get to the top. You've got to have a reason to be there."

INXS got to the top the old-fashioned way, making their mark through strong singles and relentless touring. After establishing themselves in their native Australia in the early '80s, the band devoted itself to cracking the American market -- an effort that found the band touring in support of singles like "Need You Tonight," "New Sensation" and "Disappear."

"We spent three or four years living out of buses and coaches in America and Canada and Europe," says Farriss. "Living in buses, literally. That kind of stuff doesn't leave your mind very easily."

No wonder that when INXS began considering its next step, Farriss and his bandmates felt that maybe it was time to get out of that roadwork rut. "What we wanted to do was, instead of doing an album, then going on tour, doing an album, then going on tour -- that clock-in, clock-out attitude -- we wanted to record two albums in a row, and not do any touring. Or if we are going to do a tour, do a really wacky tour, something that no one is doing.

"So the first of these two albums was 'Welcome To Wherever You Are,' which I think was a very unusual album. For a start, it had a picture of three guys from a boys' band in Ireland on the front, which confused the hell out of everybody. And the music was a complete departure from anything we'd ever done before."

Once that album was done, the band started straightaway on the next album -- "Full Moon, Dirty Hearts." But even that wasn't done the normal way.

"We got into the album, and had just about finished recording everything that we wanted to do," he says. "Then we decided, 'Hey, let's stop here and go and tour this stuff, the way we did when we first started. Let's go out and do a pub tour.' And we did that."

It wasn't just a matter of getting back to roots, though. "After playing this new album live, we then knew what we needed to finish the album, to put the icing on the cake," explains Farriss. "And that's what 'Full Moon, Dirty Hearts' is. It's us readdressing ourselves as a recording act. We've always been a touring act. We've played so many shows together, it's ridiculous. So we really wanted to test our recording skills."

pTC As for how that will play sales-wise, Farriss is surprisingly sanguine. "I think the thing that probably concerns us more, as people, is the fact that we have families, and whatever we spend our time doing away from them has to be pretty important," he says.

"I can be cynical about it too and I can say, well, you know, when you do sell a lot of records and you make a lot of money, then it's good work if you can get it. There's that side to it.

"But we want to make it good. Because it doesn't really matter how much money you're making -- it's what you're doing that counts. And if you're not doing something that's good quality, then you're wasting your time."

INXS

When: Tonight at 8

Where: Alumni Hall, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis

Tickets: Sold out

4( Call: (410) 268-6060 for information

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