You played an intimate acoustic gig in the Walkabout pub in Shepherd's Bush recently. How did it go?
Great. It surprised us. We've been doing a lot of these types of gigs in different parts of the world. We just did one in a place called the Café de Monte Cristo in a city called Santa De Mingo in the Dominican Republic and we just went in and had fun. The music isn't too loud - it doesn't blow your head off! The idea is the audience feel like they can relax into it rather than you blasting it away and it worked really well. Everyone was happy and dancing and having a good time, which is ultimately what INXS has always been about. We're not trying to save the world, we just like playing music!
Do you prefer these type of gigs to big arenas?
Well, INXS have been pretty fortunate because we've played pretty much every size of gig that you can imagine. From 1983, where we played to a quarter of a million people at a festival in California, here in Wembley stadium to 80,000 people, Texas stadium where we had 70,000 through all the pub gigs we did in the early days together as a band. I guess this is another soiree into yet another area that we really haven't explored that much; just playing versions of our songs stripped right back and to pull the volume down in the room and let the audience feel that they could be in a coffee lounge with us - and it really works. Last night's show surprised us. When we got there we realised there were 1,500 people - that's not a small gig! But then I thought, well is it? Maybe we're in a city the size of London and that's our idea of a café show. It went off - full of Australians and New Zealanders so it was quite raucous. But most of the people at the front of the queue were British. I wanted to know who was actually going to be there. After Michael's death I think we were trying to find out who are INXS's fans - what we've lost and what we've gained.
What's it like for you being back in the UK? You were slated by the UK press for a long time, weren't you?
When we first came to the UK when magazines like Melody Maker still existed, well, they're gone and we're still here. But when those magazines were around, they were like: "Gosh, they're crap. They're just Australians." We took all that on board and took it on the chin but thought: "We're going to come back again." The interesting thing was that we were no one's media darlings, we never were those kind of people. Finally, when we went to America, it was only Americans who fully embraced our career, took the thing on board and turned INXS into an international showbiz thing. For a long time we didn't want to come back because if people keep telling you they don't like you then you go away. So we went away, but when we came back in the late '80s we found that our fanbase had grown. That was really exciting. Funny how you have to go about it here! To give a more human touch, is that the Farriss brothers, our dad was originally from London so we always felt that we had family here, that there are good people here and we get on well with them. We made friends here and I lived here with my wife for five years and two of my kids were born here. I really have a lot of good memories of this place.
You've been touring with Blondie. How has that been and have you been hanging out together?
I'm probably the wrong one to ask because I'm probably the least social of any of the guys in the band. The funny thing is that the bands haven't seen a lot of each other. I have bumped into Clem and Deborah a little bit. They're good people. They've been doing this a long time so respect to them because it's hard to do this for year, yet alone years. I like their music, always have. Deborah, as Deborah Harry, supported us once in Wembley Stadium so there's always that connection but it's not so much about old yarns around the fireside, it's just a respect thing.
So what does being an Australian in Britain feel like now?
I suppose the Sranglers were around the same era as Blondie and I remember they made a video about Atomic bombs and people jumping around like kangaroos with hats with corks on. I think the idea of being an Australian has changed so much, especially over here. In Britain you've had an onslaught of Home and Away and Neighbours and you've had the stars from Neighbours who then become music stars and it's all very cerebral and intellectual with actors like Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Kate Blanchett... It's not Rolf Harris! To me, being an Australian growing up in Australia when we used to think of ourselves as poorer cousins of the great whatever in the north, the more I see going on now, we were one of the first wave of Aussies to leave Oz and venture out into the great big world. What I see now is a very different world. I liked the naivety of the early part of it all - culturally. I think as far as INXS goes, we really surprised lots of people by simply hanging in there.