Interview by: DeWitt Nelson
Remote Recording: James Fahey
Produced by: Neer Perfect Productions (David Bailes)
Copyright: 1990 Atlantic Recording Corporation
Copyright: INXS 1990
1. When did you start working on X?
I started actually working on the music for X right after we'd finished KICK, about a week after KICK. It's not exactly our second album we've made, it's our seventh, so for me I thought well I've been through all this before so, you make a record, you sit around if it's a success you go on the road and then the next minute everyone is screaming y'know "wheres the next one". So the sensible thing to do instead of rushing like a mad dog, would be to keep working. I write songs regardless of what is going on commercially. For me, I'd written 14 songs before we'd finished the KICK tour, so I'd done a whole albums worth of stuff on the road in the hotel room with a suitcase and a synthesizer in it and a recorder etc. When I got back, I had about 20 other pieces of music at home which sounded more techno with all the other electronic devices available. So I had a mixture of fairly simple stuff and some really technical stuff and there was a lot there for me to digest there.
I think getting together to do another record, personally I was looking forward to it, it wasn't like a panic thing, it wasn't like I didn't have the material, it was like I really wanted to make this record and for everyone in the band it was like that. (Andrew Farriss)
2. How did you come up with the album title X?
Actually that was one of the easier decisions I think we've made. What we first started thinking was, well we liked the title KICK and The Swing, so we thought what are we going to do here, how do we decide, and we thought choose something simple, we didn't want a big wordy title, we just wanted one letter or something. (Andrew Farriss)
It has lots of meanings to it, it was the simplest name we could come up with, because it's in our name already, it's a good nickname. It could mean we have been recording for 10 years so X could mean ten, it could mean all types of stuff. I guess it's a little bit of tongue in cheek stab at the ratings system on the music at the moment aswell, by rating it ourselves straight off. (Michael Hutchence)
3. What was it like getting back together again after the long break following your last tour?
We've never had a chance to go off and do what we've wanted for so long, and with a band your around each other all the time and you influence each other a lot. Whatever's on in the bus or in the car, you say 'hey listen to this, listen to that', or whatever and when you go away for a year it's like putting the band back together again in a sense because you say what have you been listening to and you might say, oh Acid House or something, which is basically me, which is a problem *laugh* and someone else saying that they have been listening to rock or whatever. It was interesting, we had to batter that out. (Michael Hutchence)
4. How do you view X in relation to KICK?
Well it's a step forward for us basically, it's also a culmination of a lot of hard work and also a lot of time to reflect on KICK, it wasn't that we ran straight off the road and into the recording studio. (Andrew Farriss)
Musically though I think that we managed to...our last couple of albums, there'd be like ten directions on each album, they'd all say INXS but they'd all take off down a different road, and on this album theres many different shades rather than ten different shades. (Michael Hutchence)
5. How did you end up with American blues harpist Charlie Musselwhite on the album?
He was actually playing around Australia, and I think he'd been there a couple of times before and he's a real nice southern gentleman, really a nice guest, it's great to have a blues legend playing with you. (Michael Hutchence)
I actually played on the harp thing in Suicide Blonde with the keyboard, like a sample, and also at the same time I was playing harp myself at home, fooling around with it. Actually it started when I was on the road with the KICK tour, I had one of those things you buy in the store for about five dollars and I picked it up and you use it to tune your guitar and I started playing with this thing and when I got home I went to my box, I've got this box with all these instruments in it, and I pulled out a blues harp and I started fooling with it. Later on when I met up with Michael we started putting some stuff on tape and demos and we thought hmmm, this is an interesting sound, when the band got together and I started playing it, I felt a bit self consciece because I hadn't really got my chops onto this instrument, and like Michael said, Charlie was in town and he said he'd love to play. (Andrew Farriss)
6. Andrew, you and Michael wrote most of the songs but on By My Side you teamed up with Kirk?
I actually wrote the song about missing my wife on tour, and you know Kirk ends up on the song, but no seriously, Kirk added some great stuff to the chorus. That's a personal song to me, lyrically I hope someone else can relate to it. I'm sure a lot of people miss their families and friends over the years. Kirk is a great writer in his own style, I wish he would do more work outside the group, if he'd ask me I'd really like to help him do that. He's a great singer to y'know. (Andrew Farriss)
7. What is it like working with producer Chris Thomas?
Well I think it's really good because he does not put a big stamp on you. He's one of those producers who that somehow if you want a style you go for it. Chris is really good because he puts the mikes up and records you. He doesn't really muck around with you too much. It's up to us. He doesn't say you have to make an album like this or a song like that, because a lot of people do that. (Michael Hutchence)
8. How do you go about recording an album like X?
We rehearse a fair amount and then go into the studio and see if we can get it down the first, second, third take. That's what the album is, the first couple of takes per song, keeps it fresh, y'know. We put mikes on everything, we just go in there and play. If someone's string breaks or if someone's out of tune, we keep the essence and overdub it later. That's rock and roll. (Michael Hutchence)
9. Tell us about the song Lately?
The song Lately, is a song I worked on musically about the time of Listen Like Thieves. I went back, I often do that, I go back and I dig out all these tapes of discarded ideas, and then I go back and look for them because it's interesting to see where my mind was musically four or five years ago. I do that a lot now because then I find inspiration to combine with that, it's like having a friend because I can't remember what I was doing four or five years ago so a lot of these simple recordings to me are important. Michael wrote the lyrics so maybe he'd like to explain what their about. (Andrew Farriss)
It's a song about the moment when you sort of stop and start thinking, 'whats going on around me' because you don't notice things. Sometimes you think everything is the way it was, then you realise hey wait a minute, everything is completely different, so it's a song about recognising that. (Michael Hutchence)
10. Tell us about The Stairs?
We're really happy with that song, I think it's a very important recording that INXS made there because I think the record has a great building thing, it starts off really gentle, and builds up to this sort of nice floating thing and then it turns back into like the rest of the album, this rock thing. It's very much our sound aswell, but in the end it ends up very powerful and Michael wrote the lyrics. I'm a big fan of the lyrics. (Andrew Farriss)
11. Blues Harpist Charlie Musselwhite appears on two songs on X. Who Pays The Price and On My Way.
We couldn't keep him out of that one, we actually wrote the songs for this album X in two blocks, the first block was done where five or six tunes were done, we didn't use a couple of them, we didn't use three if I can remember, then we stopped, listened and went back and did the second block of songs and on the second that particular tune was done the time we put the harp to it and as we said before Charlie came along and did his thing. (Andrew Farriss)