After "reimagining" some of its older songs with guest singers for the new "Original Sin" compilation, Australia's INXS is starting to feel the pull to make some fresh music again -- and perhaps its first new studio album since "Switch" in 2005.
"We're dying to record new material," says guitarist Tim Farriss, noting that his brother Andrew, INXS's chief songwriter, "has got vaults of songs, and he's been writing lately with JD (Fortune, INXS' frontman) and everyone's in the background going, 'Yeah! OK! Great!' "
Andrew Farriss, meanwhile, confirms that, "Yes, I can feel that pressure building -- and I'm laughing nervously because I know where a lot of that pressure's probably going to be put. I don't take it lightly. I know there's a lot of excitement in that direction."
Farriss, who wrote most of INXS' material with the late Michael Hutchence, says he "took a break from writing for a little while...and now I'm beginning to get a very strong sort of re-passion again for that idea." And he adds that his bandmates' involvement in the "reimagining process" for "Original Sin" "is also healthy for us because everyone got to contribute their thoughts, and certain people took control of certain things and maybe will do so again on whatever we do next."
Meanwhile, INXS is preparing for "Original Sin's" U.S. release exclusively via Amazon.com -- digitally last week and physically on April 5, as well as through the group's official website -- after putting it out internationally during the fall. Among those participating in the project were Train's Pat Monahan ("Beautiful Girl"), Rob Thomas with DJ Yaleidas ("Original Sin"), Tricky ("Mediate"), Ben Harper with French singer Mylene Farmer ("Never Tear Us Apart"), John Mayer with another French singer, Loane ("Mystify"), Australian upstart Dan Sultan ("Just Keep Walking") and Nikka Costa ("Kick"). Fortune, the Canadian singer who won the 2005 "Rock Band: INXS" competition, is featured on two tracks, while Farriss and the band's Kirk Pengilly recreate "Don't Change."
Video: INXS with Train's Pat Monahan, "Beautiful Girl"
"Honored" that "so many people raised their hands and wanted to be part of this," Andrew Farriss says the project grew out of some "original instrumental things" the band members were working on and subsequently applied to some of INXS' existing favorites. "It led us to think about how you reapproach your own music when you've performed it live in front of millions of people," Farriss explains. "It's amazing how you don't think that you can do it in a different way, but it's really just up to you and what you limit yourself to do, or not to do, in the end."
Drummer Jon Farriss, meanwhile, primarily helmed the project. "It was too close to Andrew, I think, as the major songwriter, to see, as he puts it, someone taking jackhammers to the foundation of your house and destroying it and rebuilding it," notes Tim Farriss. "He was pretty much on tenderhooks throughout the process, although having said that he dealt with it really, really well, and I think he now realizes it's a testament to his songwriting ability."
On several of "Original Sin's" tracks, INXS chose to do what Andrew Farriss calls "calm the farm" -- take previously uptempo songs such as "New Sensation," "Mystify," "Kick" and "Don't Change" and present them in quieter, stripped-down arrangements. "We were born out of a pub rock culture," Farriss says, "and in that environment you don't survive if you don't play something pretty hard. A lot of our original recordings were soundtracks ot our live performance, but one of the opportunities this 'Original Sin' gave us was to not have to think like that anymore and instead experiment and just mess around with our actual songs."
There are also some additional tracks with other guest artists that weren't used for "Original Sin," though the band isn't sure what will become of them, Tim Farriss says.
INXS recently finished a tour of South America and was part of the Day on the Green festival tour of Australia. The group plays in Toronto on March 2 and at the Enlighten festival March 12 in Canberra, Australia, and is "very much looking forward to coming to the U.S.A. and Canada" for more extensive touring in the summer, according to both Farriss brothers.
"At the moment we're trying to figure out what makes the most sense," he says. "We've had such a huge touring history in the United States, that it's so important to us that wherever we go and wherever we're playing, we feel like we're doing something that the audience and ourselves are really going to enjoy, and is as strong and interesting for everyone as possible."