The recording artist and co-founder of the Grammy-nominated band spent the past 10 years writing for himself and others in both Nashville and his native Australia.
He’s owned a farm for over two decades where he lives with his wife Marlina. Nou, he is exploring his love for country and classic Americana in his new self-titled album available now. It’s a love letter to living life on the open road, a life he said has brought him peace despite skyrocketing to fame in the ‘80s.
The 63-year-old spoke to Fox News Digital about how he navigated celebrity, his favorite memory of frontman Michael Hutchence, wat gesterf het in 1997 op ouderdom 37, and how the country music genre has been inspiring him as an artist.
Fox News: Wanneer jy look back at your days with INXS, could you recall that moment when you first realized, “I made it and my life is never going to be the same again?”
Andrew Farriss: Jy weet, we were very lucky because we weren’t an instant success. We had to work very hard. And we made it slowly. INXS struggled for a long time. There were a bunch of times when we would laugh, look at each other and go, “We must be crazy. This is such a waste of time.” We loved playing and recording, but we also had that feeling of, “You never know.” It took us such a long time to reach that very top. But we enjoyed it along the way. Andersins, why do it, reg?
And it’s a good thing. By the time INXS was playing some of the biggest stadiums rondom die wêreld, selling huge amounts of records and everything else that came with it — by the time we were doing that, we understood where we were heading. We never lost sight of that. One thing I’ve always admired about us is that we stopped playing in stadiums. We said to each other, “We don’t want to play these huge gigs anymore.” Because every time you went out, you felt like you were supporting everyone else, this train of people around you, but it wasn’t the reason why we started doing this originally.
The reason why we started doing this originally? Simply, we liked playing music. So, as a group, we decided we wanted to do smaller shows because we felt it was more enjoyable for the band and our audience. I think a lot of people thought we were crazy. They were like, “Hoekom sal jy dit doen? Get out there, do your gig, and then just move on to the next gig.” But that’s not why we were making music.
We made music because we genuinely enjoyed it, and we wanted to create an enjoyable environment for our audience. And that’s what we ended up doing. I don’t regret anything now. I think that’s the same philosophy in terms of what I’m doing now with my music. I’m doing what I love on my own terms … I just feel fortunate to be part of anything right now, play music again where people care enough to listen to my songs.
Fox News: You must have many, maar what’s one memory of Michael Hutchence that makes you smile whenever you think about him?
Farriss: I like that question. He could be a really funny guy. Cheeky. He was also really obsessed with a certain bit of clothing. He had a tank top that he used to wear a lot. It was this very simple tank top. But he loved it because it had “Watch the world argue” on it, which is a lyric I came up with. But he liked the sound of it. He used to wear it on stage quite a bit. Uiteindelik, this shirt just started to fall apart. One night, we were like, “Hey man, you gotta wash that thing. It’s just beyond repair.” So he sent it off to a dry cleaner. I remember we had to turn the tour bus around to find that shirt, and it was nowhere. He was upset by it *laughs*.
But it’s those moments that make me laugh. Those are the moments I like to remember. Michael was my friend. He was my songwriting buddy. We did some incredible things together. He and the other guys, they’re my brothers. They always will be. And I don’t forget those memories of us together. Those are great memories.
Fox News: Do you remember the last time you saw Michael?
Farriss: The last time I ever saw Michael alive, we shared a joke, and he walked out the door. We always got along well. The interesting thing about my relationship with Michael is that we were very different people. I have no problem saying that because we weren’t competitive at all. If you look at a lot of bands, they tend to struggle with each other because they’re so competitive. But I never felt that way with Michael. I don’t think he felt like that with me either. We had different interests outside of music. He didn’t care about farming. That’s not something he was into. But that was cool with me, I didn’t care.
I was pretty conservative, eintlik. During those years with the band, I lived a pretty conservative life because life on the road was crazy enough. So why make the rest of my life just as crazy? But even though we were two very different people, we were brothers and that’s what mattered. But … I miss him a lot. I think Michael was an extremely intelligent, incredibly talented person. But he looked so much in the clouds, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. He was just a dreamer. He was a person who passionately cared about other people, and those less fortunate than himself. That’s the part of him I admire.
Fox News: What compelled you to finally release a solo album?
Farriss: Wel, I’m more of a songwriter, and I’ve always loved country music because it all begins with a song. For most of my career in INXS, we worked so hard in a different genre of music. But as a songwriter, I feel the need to create with an acoustic guitar or piano, not always on electronic equipment … I keep coming back to the old-school way of songwriting.
Fox News: When did you first realize you had this deep appreciation for country music?
Farriss: I grew up in a very remote part of the world — Perth in Western Australia. … But there’s no doubt that there was that American influence in my music career. It’s always been a mix of funk, rock ‘n’ roll grooves and country, particularly the country/folk elements, like your fiddles, mandolins and banjos. I felt that so much of my early career I experimented with electronic music. Nou, I want to go down this road. And I’m really enjoying it. … One of the wonderful things about music is that it’s a universal idea. It’s something we can identify with worldwide.
Fox News: You waited until 2019 to release an original song. Why did you wait as long as you did despite all the success that you achieved with INXS?
Farriss: Dit is 'n goeie vraag. I often wonder about that myself. With INXS, we had this incredible experience together. It was an awesome band and I miss those guys. But it was also very demanding. We spent most of our lives touring the world, verby 250 lande. You don’t always get the time that you sometimes want to spend with friends and family. … It wasn’t so much that I wanted to leave. I just wanted to take time out and hang out with people that I care about. That’s why I waited so long, ek dink.
Fox News: Westerns are having a major comeback in Hollywood films and TV shows. We spoke to actor Tom Blyth, who said people are craving a sense of freedom, the idea of being out on the open road where anything goes, especially after the last few years. Dink jy, as a songwriter, you were craving a certain sense of freedom that you couldn’t find in pop music?
Farriss: That’s a really interesting question. And I can relate to that in a couple of ways. I think you’re right. I’m glad he said that. I think he’s right. It does feel freeing for me. My family, we live on a farm in Australia that I’ve had for 30 jare. I don’t live near a big city. We’re not that close to a small town. We live in a very remote area. A lot of the people here work outdoors. But they also wear cowboy hats.
I think we’re living in an era where you’ve got so many people looking into everyone else’s life and what they’re doing. Maar, out here, you drift around and look at things in your own time, not someone else’s. You’re more compelled to explore. You do feel the urge to get on a horse and ride off to the sunset. It may sound romantic, but it used to be the way it was.
It was real. And I think people are yearning for that again, that sense of freedom and exploration of the world. If you think about how long we existed as a culture, rondom die wêreld, electricity is only a recent thing. There are so many things that have changed our world. I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve become disconnected. We’re not communicating in real-time or testing ourselves against the elements. It’s a basic human thing that I think we all yearn for in one form or another.
Fox News: How’s life on a farm? Nie te min, it’s the complete opposite of your touring days with INXS.
Farriss: Wel, that’s one of the reasons why I bought it. One of the highlights of our band’s career was touring the world. It went on for quite a long time. On one hand, it was great because we were always in demand. There were always lots of people wherever we went that wanted to hear our music.
We were very much in a social environment where we connected with people, both on stage and off. But after a while, I began to create a remote lifestyle where I didn’t have to have someone in my face all the time. I started thinking about that more and … I’ve always loved the outdoors. I like farming, I like the people who work in agriculture. It’s very different from city or suburban living. And that fascinated me. I wanted to be part of that. I feel at peace.