28th June 1997, by Markus Wicker (Transcript)
The last time we saw you out here in St.Gallen, was in 86. It was my first day at this radio station, by the way. I remember how excited everybody at this station was, back then to have your show live on the air. I guess, we could talk endlessly about how music and the world have changed in the meantime. Do you remember 86 at all?
Yeah, sure do (laughs), believe it or not. Vaguely, you know. I mean it’s a while ago. Yeah, the show I do actually kind of remember, because of the location and everything. I remember we were driving around and it would drive our tour management crazy by just taking off all the time in different cars and saying yeah, see you there at the next festival.
You were touring behind “Listen like thieves”. I guess it was like conquering Europe for the first time, back then.
Yeah, or “Kick”, wouldn’t it be? Yeah, good times.
Considering that the musical and personal formula of INXS hasn’t changed too much since then, I thought that there must be something still exciting about working like this
Yeah, I don’t know, it depends. You know, we’re not a band who changes their albums in giant leaps. We tend to change within the album. So, we cover a lot of territory per record, I think. You know, “Listen like thieves” to “Kick” to “Welcome to wherever you are”, where we did everything from big band to kind of drums and bass. So, we’d cover a lot of territory within records. We’ve all got very different tastes. We’re completely different people, actually. (He laughs).
So it must be a hard process to get things together if your writing an album and recording it? Or is it a smooth process?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I mean, sometimes it’s really smooth. On this record (Elegantly wasted) it was very smooth. In fact, it was so smooth, we just kept all the demos (laughs) and basically put that out.
Talking about the new record. The making of the new record “Elegantly Wasted” was a step in the opposite direction of today’s recording habits, I guess. What was the thought behind the decision to record proper demos with small, but high-quality gear?
Yeah, well, it didn’t really occur to us until we’d actually started. Andrew and I were working together and you know, you can get stuff – I don’t know if people know out there – but you can get stuff now, 8-track DAT’s, the size of a briefcase. We chuck a bunch of crap into the room and we started writing songs. It occurred to us after the first song. By midnight I’d written the lyrics, I’d sung the song and it’s called “Show me” on the album. It’s the first song that ended up on the album. We thought “wait a minute, this is it!” (He laughs) So we continued in that vein. It was cool, you know. It’s kind of lo-fi and hi-fi. It’s whatever you want to do. It just takes all the pressure away. And you just enjoy it.
Were there times when the band was afraid of losing its bite, when the band was afraid maybe to become lounge lizards instead of keeping your chops sharp. I mean, the great lifestyle in luxury and abundance and so on?
I don’t know. It depends on who you ask in the band. I always considered myself a lounge lizard anyway (laughs). The reason why band’s second albums usually don’t work for them well is because all the terror of a real life and all the ups and downs of a real life are not presenting themselves to you anymore – sometimes, if your first album is very successful. So, you don’t have the turmoil and the angst. You know, we live in a time of great angst. You don’t have as much angst, technically, anymore. So, what do you do? What do you say? Suddenly, you are on a couch for too long. So, I think luckily for us, we didn’t have that. Our first album nobody heard, our second album virtually nobody ever heard, our third album a couple of people heard, our fourth album people started to hear and our fifth album was going pretty good and our sixth album was “Kick” and it was enormous. So, we slowly got there (laughs) through a lot of hard work, a lot of live gigs. We don’t come from, you know: “Hey boys, here’s a new hair cut, here’s a new first album and gee that was big and now it’s all over”. Andy Warhol was wrong, it’s not 15 minutes. It’s 5 minutes now. We come from 5 years of fucking touring before we got a contract!
Now, tell me about your feelings about going on tour right now. I guess life on the road has its drawbacks when you have a little daughter at home.
Yeah, definitely. You miss seeing their front teeth grow and stupid things like that (laughs). I think it gives you a special energy. To have a child gives you a special energy. And you have to keep your eye on the ball and you have to say: “Well, ok this is what I do”. And she wants me – whether she knows it or not – to do what I want to do best and do it right, because ultimately it is for her. You know what I mean? You have to keep that in your mind. It’s very difficult at times. But then again I’m the last guy just about – John hasn’t got any kids – I’m the last guy to have one. Well, I’ve got four now. I inherited 3 stepdaughters. You know, Tim’s got a 14 year old son. Last time we saw him, he was at a “Smashing Pumpkins” concert and they were playing a medley of our songs in Sydney (laughs). It gets weirder and weirder.
Does it happen that you look back at times when your band mates had their children and do you understand things that were happening then to them?
Oh yeah, I mean I’ve always been very aware and sensitive to that issue, because I’ve seen guys break down and just cry. I can’t do this. I haven’t seen my baby for 4 months. I don’t even know if she knows who I am anymore. It’s very very difficult. And anybody who has got kids out there will know what it’s like to have a “9-to-5”. Leaving 9 in the morning you can’t wait to get back at 5, you know.
How long will you have to wait to go back?
Well, I’m lucky because I’m based up in Europe. Everybody else’s in Australia. So, it’s much tougher on them. When we got time off or whatever, in the end I guess, we will be able to have so much bloody time that they’ll be sick of us (laughs).
Do you plan a future life as a family man then? One child, three inherited stepchildren?
I have one right now, you know. I’ve been doing that for 2 or 3 years. It suits me. I’ve always loved kids. It’s natural to me. It’s not a big deal. A lot of people look at me in a very cartoon fashion. They look at me in a very blinked way. They just think I’m some guy that’s around night clubs all night or something and getting in trouble or something. I’m not that person. That’s a very tiny part of me that gets blown out of proportion by assholes in the media.
I guess the tabloids will miss you sorely?
I wish they’d miss me now, you know. But I seem to make them too much money. I’m well exploited. If only I could charge 10 percent for every bloody article. I mean it’s a question of respect. I believe in respect of people. And I believe in good stuff and I’m a good person. I love family and I feel really good in that situation. I think children are the future, I really believe that. And I really believe in what I’m doing. I’m going to do all that I can to ensure that she has a great future.
I second that emotion, but that isn’t the thing that sells records.
Oh, fuck selling records! See, there is a great misconception. And I think it’s men who make it so. Because men are so sensitive about their masculinity and their balls and their dicks. They tend to think in terms of once you have a child that you’re emasculated and are thrown into the kitchen and you’re now useless as an entity. That’s crap, you know. That really is crap. If you can’t do both, I mean if you want to be a man, try to go to Pizza Hut with seven kids for three hours for lunch. Then we’ll see who is a man! (bursts into laughter)
You’re talking to a family man!
Exactly, you know what I’m talking about. To be more intellectual about it, to be more sensitive about it, what I’m trying to say is that: You know, rock ‘n’ roll has been around for a long time. This is kind of one of the last bastions, like the Hells Angels and road crews and mercenaries and war of maledom. It still is. Rock ‘n’ roll is a horrificly macho world. What I’m trying to say is, we have to brake down all that rubbish. A man is a man. And that’s many things. That’s to be able to nurture a child and be strong and lead. And not just be some idiot who can’t even get it together for a child, because he is in the pub. You know what I mean? To be a real man is to be real strong and to lead and take that child somewhere and teach them to be wise. That’s what I’m saying.
It was a pleasure to talk to you, Michael.
Well, any time!
Thanks a lot, have a good concert.
Thank you very much. I will. Can’t wait (laughs), can’t wait.