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Australian legends INXS have returned with a game plan – brand new album, brand new singer. The selection process is out there for everyone to be a part of in the form of a reality show called, quite simply, ROCK STAR: INXS.

Collaborating with reality TV guru Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice), the band makes an unprecedented move even in a time when it seems like just about everything had been ‘reality-televised’. For the fifteen finalists, this is a dream come true. It’s not everyday that you get offered the chance to be part of a band that is, oh, only one of the biggest in music history! Over the last 25 years, INXS’ distinct brand of decidedly intoxicating rock has earned them both critical and commercial accolades. Through the ‘80s and the ‘90s, the band sold over 30 million albums and collected innumerable awards, their popularity rock-solid not just in their home country Australia but around the world as well. As they get ready to take reality TV and INXS to a new level, Kirk Pengilly and Tim Farriss talk to The Record Music Magazine about music, Michael Hutchence and more.

The Record: Any surprises during the ROCKSTAR: INXS audition process?
Kirk: Yeah there were a quite a lot of surprises! One surprise was the amazing talent that we found. In some cities more so than others but generally the level of talent was fantastic. We weren’t quite sure what to expect so…

TR: How were the auditions in your home country of Australia?
Kirk: Australia was great! The Sydney auditions took over three days. It was one of the good auditions, so was Canada… LA of course was great and so was Seattle. They were all good what can we say! [Laughs]

TR: Why did you decide to find a new singer using the reality TV medium?
Kirk: I guess you know we’ve done some work with other singers over the last few years (which perhaps was not known about in India) but the show for us was a great way to really try and put a bunch of great singers through a whole bunch of tests, a songwriting clinic, a media clinic… all the things it takes to be a rock star. And also put them all in a house together to see how they relate together – with other musicians, see if they are team players or whether they’re all about themselves. It gives us a great opportunity, over three months, to really find out who is the right person to be our new lead singer.

TR: What kind of person are you looking for to be your front man/woman?
Kirk: We’re not looking for someone who looks like Michael did. We’re looking for someone who has completely the right personality and characteristics and have them bring that to INXS. One of the things we decided before we embarked on this whole sort of adventure, was that we wanted it to be a situation where it could be any colour, race, creed, religion, sex… whatever. We wanted to be open to anyone and everyone.
We’re actually looking for a new singer so it’s not really a matter of replacing Michael – you can’t replace Michael. He was who he was! We’re looking for a new lead singer but we’re looking for someone that is special, someone that has amazing qualities, amazing charisma.

TR: Did you ever consider just filling the spot with one of the existing band members?
Kirk: I always wanted to be the lead singer actually! [Laughs] I don’t know, we’re all too busy being musicians on stage to concentrate on that as well, and you need a pretty amazing person on stage to be a great front person. I think that alone in itself is an instrument. We’re all too busy playing our guitars and drums and keyboards and things [to do both].

TR: You have eight women and seven men among the final contestants – girls or guys in the lead so far?
Kirk: Ah!! [Laughs] No one really. That’s what the show is about actually. Good control, different tests, all to see who should be the person that fronts INXS!
Tim: One of the things that is going to be most difficult is sending a different person home every week. That’s going to be really hard. We’ve met them and they’re all really nice people.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with INXS in the July 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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