INXS: New Sensation

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There are indeed, and in keeping with the irreverent spirit of the rocker-in-heaven joke, the members of INXS are definitely not campaigning for sainthood. They don't always just say no when a contraband pleasure comes their way, and they are not above passing some time with all those cute girls the world so thoughtfully provides. Yet they are far from spoiled, jaded rock stars. They've worked too hard and too long to indulge guilt now that the rewards have begun to roll in.

The members of INXS also like to accentuate the positive. Asked about the possible pitfalls of the large halls the band is currently playing – and the even larger ones it will likely be playing in the future – Andrew Farriss, 29, by far the group's most obsessive and intense member, says, "There's two rewards from playing a big venue. The first one is the fact that all those people are standing, sitting, going crazy, whatever they're doing, simply because they like the music. Secondly, it's financial, which is a reward after a lot of years of not having things that we may or may not need. But that comes along, too.

"Money doesn't necessarily have to be that negative. It can also turn into something wonderful. You can provide people with things they don't have. I also think you can put on more shows to provide more people with more entertainment – and there's nothing wrong with that."

Hutchence shares the general feeling of good cheer. "Everybody keeps looking around, going, 'Yeah, yeah, this is it,'" he says. "We don't believe it. It's a strange situation, because lots of my friends say, 'Yeah, but it was always going to happen, of course.' We worked really hard to put ourselves out there. On the other side, so what? Lots of people do that and nothing happens. I guess we're very thankful that we've come from a garage in the beach suburbs of Sydney to three nights at Radio City Music Hall. And we somehow kept our sanity all the way."

The deep roots everyone in the band shares have helped INXS to maintain that sanity. The Farriss family originally lived in Perth, on the west coast of Australia, and later moved to Sydney, on the southeast coast, where the boys started playing in bands. "Sydney was basically where we all fell in together," says Jon Farriss – who at twenty-six is INXS's youngest member – one afternoon on the band's bus. "The Farriss brothers had all done their musical homework when we were really young – this was in Perth. Just listening to and studying music – we didn't realize we were doing it. We'd huddle around our record players all the time.

"Eventually, when we were capable of producing and arranging, Mom and Dad were exceptionally helpful in accommodating everything we needed. If Kirk's parents or someone's parents were against it, they'd have them over to stay the night so they'd feel really kosher about it. They'd allow us to play until eleven at night so we could develop. We weren't doing sports, and we weren't doing other things. We were really stubborn."

"It seems like we've been playing together so long now I can't imagine anything different," says Tim Farriss, 30, about his relationship with his brothers. "When we were kids, my father bought us instruments and made sure that we could play them, that we got taught.

"When we were really young, we used to stand around with tennis rackets and mime records, the three of us," he says, laughing. "Like 'Don't Sleep in the Subway' and 'Mr. Pleasant,' by the Kinks – and the Monkees, even Herb Alpert!"

Hutchence was born in Sydney but spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong after his father, who was in the import trade, moved the family there. He returned to Sydney for about a year when he was fourteen and became fast friends with Andrew Farriss in high school. He left Sydney again when he was about fifteen and moved to Los Angeles with his mother, who was a makeup artist, after his parents broke up.

"I kept very much to myself in L.A.," Hutchence says about his year there. "It was a bit shocking. I suppose I was more cosmopolitan than your average Ozzy kid because I'd been in Hong Kong and traveled around the world a bit with my parents, but on the whole it was just very different"

His friendship with Andrew helped hold Hutchence together. "The whole time I was exchanging letters with Andrew," Hutchence says. "Even though we were miles away, we were both getting into the same things, getting into the music more heavily.

"The day I got back, I rang Andrew, and he said, 'Yeah, great, come around.' It was funny, because we had both been dressing the same and looking the same and had the same attitudes. Most people fifteen, you split them up for a while and they come back completely different people. We still had a strong friendship."

Hutchence and Andrew hooked up again in a group that included Garry Beers; meanwhile, Tim Farriss and Kirk Pengilly were playing in bands together. At one point in 1977, as a result of the perpetual breakups and re-formations that afflict so many teenage combos, the five of them got together and drafted jon Farriss as their drummer. Jon, in fact, provided the motivation for the next stage in the band's career. Because he was still in high school, Jon was forced to move to Perth – a beach town about a continent away from the musical hotbeds of Sydney and Melbourne – when his parents decided to return there in 1978. Knowing the value of a good drummer, the band followed him.

"It's ridiculous," Hutchence says, laughing. "We thought, 'This is horrible – we're gonna lose Jonny, and we're gonna have to look for another drummer.' Then we thought, 'Well, maybe we can use this. Perth – apart from a really good blues scene – has no influence. Maybe it's perfect. Maybe we can just influence each other. Let's go to Perth, get a big house – it's really cheap there, great weather.' We weren't going to move to New York to a garret – we were interested in having a good time.

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