Andrew Farriss has long been known as a co-founder & key member of legendary, Australian rock band, INXS. The group, led by lead singer & frontman Michael Hutchence (who died in 1997), had massive international success. In the U.S., they had seven Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including the number one hit, “Need You Tonight.”
What’s lesser known about Farriss, is that he was a main songwriter for INXS, co-writing all of their hits. He also plays multiple instruments, including keyboards and guitar. In most of the INXS songs, Farriss would create the music, and Hutchence would write the lyrics. Notably, he was inducted into the Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.
Now in 2020, Farriss is making his debut as a solo singer/songwriter. He has just released his EP called Love Makes The World (on BMG Records), and in 2021 he will be releasing a full album. He has also filmed several quality videos of the songs from his EP and upcoming album.
For his music as a solo artist, Farriss has written & recorded songs that are more acoustic, folk and country, that reflect his life and musical style today. For the past few years, Farriss has mostly resided in the Australian countryside, about four hours inland from Sydney, although he frequently travels to Nashville to collaborate, and to other U.S. cities. Interestingly, he filmed one of his new videos in Arizona, and his wife is from Dayton, Ohio.
On his EP Love Makes The World, there are several highlights. The title cut, “Love Makes The World,” has a positive, peaceful theme that fits well with the current pandemic environment. Other key songs are “All The Stars Are Mine,” “First Man On Earth” and “Tears In The Rain.”
In the past year, Farris has also released two uptempo songs (“Come Midnight” and “Good Momma Bad”) that will be on his upcoming album:
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Farriss. He discusses his music career after INXS, and his new EP and upcoming album. He also discusses some of the classic hit songs he wrote for INXS.
Here’s the video of Andrew Farriss’ new song, “All The Stars
Before we get started, here’s a brief rundown of Farriss’ hit songs and albums with INXS. With Michael Hutchence, he wrote the Top 10 U.S. hits “Need You Tonight,” “What You Need,” “New Sensation,” “Devil Inside,” “Never Tear Us Apart,” “Disappear” and “Sunset Blonde.” He also co-wrote their Top 40 hits: “The One Thing,” “Not Enough Time” and “Pretty Vegas.”
INXS released 12 studio albums, five which were certified multi-platinum or platinum in the U.S., and one which went gold. Here are the band’s biggest albums: Shabooh Shoobah (1982), The Swing (1984), Listen Like Thieves (1985), Kick (1987), X (1990), and Welcome to Wherever You Are (1992).
Here’s our interview with Andrew Farriss:
DK: You’ve just released your EP, Love Makes The World. Most of the songs have an acoustic & country flavor. Can you talk about the making of your EP?
Andrew Farriss: I’ve always been a songwriter, so it was important to me to think about the songs that make up my EP. I was actually in the middle of releasing my self-titled LP. But what happened was, I had released two tracks from my album, which is finished and will come out around March 2021. I was about to release that, and then the pandemic kicked in and the world went crazy. Then I went into lockdown and isolating, and we’re trying to find out way out of it now.
The record label said, “Look, you can keep on releasing music, but you know the world’s going nuts, so it might be a good idea to wait awhile and see what happens.” So I thought, that’s a good idea, I’ll do that. So I waited for a little while, and idolated like everyone else. Then I started thinking about some of the songs and music that I had, that weren’t on my album. I recognized that some of the lyrics might suit the times we’re going through, where the world is experiencing something weird and strange and in some ways frightening, and we’ve gotta come out of it together. That’s why I suggested to the label, “What about if I put out this EP?” And they said, “That’s a really good idea.” So that’s why I’m doing it.
DK: What are your favorite songs on your EP?
Here’s the audio for Andrew Farriss’ new song, “Love
Makes The World.”
Farriss: I would say my favorites are “All The Stars Are Mine” and the title track, “Love Makes The World.” And there’s a fifth track on the EP called “First Man On Earth,” which is 8 minutes & 9 seconds long. All of these songs are connected in one sense lyrically, where they all relate to how we human beings get along. For example, “First Man On Earth” talks about the relationshp between us as biological human beings, and our ever-increasing obsession with technology. These days, the songs have a country-rock-folk flavor, because that’s the work I’m doing as a songwriter & artist. I love the genre and I love the instruments.
DK: I’ve seen your recent videos, which are filmed in the countryside, and there are horses in one video. So I guess that’s more reflective of your life right now.
Farriss: Well, exactly. That’s why I felt comfortable doing it, because I live here in the outback in Australia. I don’t live near the coast. When I was in INXS, I worked and lived a lot of my life in big cities and traveled. We went to 52 different countries at one point, we had a huge career touring, and we mostly lived out of a suitcase .But after awhile, I recognized that I liked being outdoors. I liked the feeling of space, and I don’t mind living in areas where other people might call it a desert or a landscape that they feel uncomfortable with. I feel comfortable in those environments…I feel good.
DK: When you were in INXS, you wrote the songs with Michael Hutchence. These days, are you writing songs by yourself, or do you have new co-writers?
Farriss: These days, I tend to write by myself. I trust myself now as a songwriter. I know when I’m onto something that I feel people would like or enjoy, I sleep well at night as a songwriter. But I also still love co-writing with other writers from around the world, including Nashville. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Nashville the last three years. I was working there with both well-known writers and some unknown writers. And I found that it helped me to grow as a songwriter as well. It’s good to get out of my comfort zone and try different things with different people.
Here’s the video for Andrew Farriss’ song, “Come Midnight.”
DK: When you were with INXS, the band released the album Switch in 2005 (with a new lead singer), and the album Original Sin in 2010. Since then, what’s been your journey musically over the past 10 years?
Farriss: Well, I kept writing songs. In Australia, there’s a city called Tamworth, which is about 110 miles from where I live. Tamworth is the Australian equivalent of Nashville; it has a country music community that’s similar. So I would collaborate with songwriters both in Nashville and Tamworth.
When I started this journey (after INXS), I didn’t actually see myself as being a solo artist. What happened was, I started to co-write songs, especially in Nashville, with some great singers as well as songwriters. And one day I was sitting down, and a couple of my friends in Nashville said to me, “Hey Andrew, why don’t sing the songs? You’re always writing for other people. Why don’t you sing them?” Then the next minute they’ve got a microphone in front of me, and I’m singing. And they’re helping me, and they made me sound pretty good! I appreciated those guys doing that with me, and that started me on a journey. So I started to think, I can write for myself now. That was important…a game-changer for me.
DK: I want to ask you about some of your big INXS hits, and how you wrote them with Michael Hutchence. I read when you wrote with Michael, that he mainly wrote the lyrics and you wrote the music. Is that correct?
Farriss: Yes that’s pretty much true, because Michael was a great lyricist and an amazing singer. He got better and better, and as a performer…Wow. He didn’t play an instrument…his voice was his instrument. In the early years of the band, I wrote a lot of lyrics, and I still did during the band’s career. But I identified that with Michael being the lead singer, he would feel good getting out onstage and singing his own lyrics. He’s singing about things that mean something to him personally. And as a songwriter, I recognized that. So I would use my other talents, to work to make songs that would suit the band, and to make sure that I was doing the best job I could for everybody, including Michael.
DK: Three of your biggest INXS hits were “Need You Tonight,” “New Sensation” and “What You Need.” Do you have some good stories about how you and Michael wrote those songs?
Here’s the video for INXS’s #1 hit “Need You Tonight,” which
was co-written by Andrew Farriss.
Farriss: Sure. “What You Need” came about because we had recorded our fifth studio album, Listen Like Thieves, and we were pretty happy with it. But Chris Thomas, the record producer, said, “This is a damn good album, but I don’t think you have the absolute smash hit that you guys need internationally.” So we were pretty disappointed. Then Chris said, “You two go into a room [at the studio], and we’re all gonna leave now,” and I felt like I was in school (laughs). He said, “We’ll come back in the morning, and I want you guys to come up with something that’s really special and we’ll record it.” Se we looked at each other and said…”No pressure.” Then we went to the room, and came up with “What You Need,” and that was a huge hit for us. It was our first Top 5 hit in the U.S., and it did great around the world.
Then for our next album, we had a huge album called Kick, and “Need You Tonight” and “New Sensation” were on that album. “Need You Tonight” was born because I was living in Sydney during those years, and I would go to Hong Kong where Michael lived at that point in his life. One day, I called a cab to take me to the airport, to fly over to work with him. But as the cab was sitting out in the front, the idea for “Need You Tonight” came in my head. I had a drum machine, and I wrote the riffs and the chords that you know from the song. Then I got into this horrible situation where I was trying to finish what I was doing, and the cab driver said, “I gotta go. You’re just sitting in there and I’m out here” (laughs). I said “No no, don’t go.” But eventually, I ran out and jumped in the cab (laughs). I had virtually nothing with me but a passport and a cassette in my hand of “Need You Tonight.” So I drove to the airport, flew to Hong Kong and when I get there, Michael says, “What have you been doing?” Then I played him some of the recordings and ideas I had, and when he heard “Need You Tonight,” he said, “That’s great.” Within about five minutes, he had the idea for that lyric and we tracked it. That’s how that happened.
As for “New Sensation,” I had the guitar riff and the idea for the chords earlier, somewhere around 1983, even though we recorded the Kick album in 1987. When Michael heard what I was doing, he liked the more bluesy feel in the movement of the chords, and he liked the chorus. So we talked about it, and he had that lyric idea for “New Sensation,” which was a great idea. So we put everything together, and that’s how that song was born.