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When we last spoke to Aussie rockers INXS they were in the process of searching for a new lead singer in a rather unusual manner ~ through a reality show. Rock Star: INXS brought together performers from across six continents to vie for the position of front man (or woman). The prize was a desirable one, but it was not without its pressures ~ the most daunting being the task of filling the considerably big shoes of the late Michael Hutchence.

In the end, searing screen presence and the promise of rock star-like irreverence brought Canadian singer J.D. Fortune the prize. He fit right in and the band has since been enjoying a fresh wave of success with Switch, their first studio album in eight years.

The Record spoke to INXS before the contest last year and now here is drummer Jon Farriss talking to us exclusively once again about the new chapter in the band's career.

The Record: Good to talk to you again! We hear you're coming to India ~ how did that come about?
Jon: Well, we've waited years and years to come so it will be great to play there. The TV show reached people's homes in India so there was a demand we couldn't resist. [Laughs]

TR: Tell us about your new front man J.D. Fortune ~ how has he affected the band dynamics?
Jon: I think J.D. settled in quite naturally with the band. He has a great energy on stage and I think that's important. Also, there had to be chemistry with the person we chose to be our singer. That was the main ingredient firstly, and of course, they had to be able to sing and be a good performer. I think with J.D.'s chemistry, the band has a good energy on stage.

TR: Was there any one moment in particular on the show when you knew that it had to be J.D. for the band?
Jon: It wasn't until towards the end of the series that all of us agreed that J.D. was the guy because we had an open mind about having a girl singer and we were really open-minded about whoever...sometimes I thought it was going to be Marty, sometimes I thought it would be Suzie, one day I thought it might be Jordis...

TR: He was fairly outspoken through the contest and he ruffled quite a few feathers when he chose to break away from the team and write on his own...was that a red flag for you at all?
Jon: It was a little bit. If you remember on the show, when he did break away from his obligations to the team, we were a bit disappointed with him that he couldn't be a team player. So we gave the other team the prize even though we actually preferred what J.D. had done. We really liked what he did with the song [Pretty Vegas] ~ in fact it was our first single off the album [laughs] ~ but we had to also consider what we asked of him and that was for him to be a team player, instead he went off on his own... But in a way, on the one hand that was not good for him in terms of that one show but it was very good in terms of showing that he was capable of coming up with something really good. The latter was really important.

TR: Tell us about the new album ~ what direction did you want to take it in?
Jon: Well, we had to do a lot of writing before the show and even during. We were very busy and we didn't have time to write after because we would have lost a lot of momentum from the TV show if we'd done that. The idea was that we would put the singers through a series of tests to see what they're capable of and during that time, a few songs were written on the show like Pretty Vegas and Devil's Party because that was one of the tests. J.D. just did the best job with them. Once we finished the final show, we did a round of interviews and there was a big party that went on till 4 am and then we had to get up really early the next morning and go straight to the studio! We didn't even have a day off; we just went straight in. We had everything finished in four and a half weeks, including the artwork and everything! For INXS typically an album normally takes a few months but this was like, 'Let's go!" We had four studios at once and the producer would walk from one room to the next room while everyone was doing something different at the same time.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with INXS in the August 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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