Andrew Farris has written and created music most of his life. He was co-founder, keyboardist and main songwriter of INXS, the Australian band that rose to fame in the 1980s with songs like “The One Thing”, Need You Tonight, “New Sensation” and many more. He has also written and produced for many other artists (he is a credited writer on Dua Lipa’s 2020 hit “Break My Heart”). And now he is embarking on a solo career.
The common thread through it all has been his love of songwriting.
“I’ve always been a songwriter,” he says. “I was writing songs even before INXS. I did that as a teenager.”
Farriss, his brothers Jon and Tim and school friends formed the band that would become INXS in the late 70s. change name later. Farris says it was a shared interest in songwriting that first brought him together with INXS frontman Michael Hutchens.
“That’s one of the reasons Michael and I formed a friendship as teenagers because we both had an interest in writing,” Farris explains. “For him it was more about the lyrics, and for me it was the music and lyrics, because he’s never played an instrument, and I have.
Together, the entire band created a unique sound that blended rock and new wave and resonated with music fans around the world. INXS would go on to sell over 50 million albums.
Hutchens will tragically commit suicide in 1997.
The group continued for several years and when INXS finally stopped performing, Farris began producing for other artists. It was in the role of music producer that he began to develop an interest in country music.
“I was asked to produce a country record about 20 years old for an Australian country artist called Tanya Kernaghan. I did that and met a whole bunch of people who played all these different instruments which I don’t know. I had never heard of before. It was a whole genre that I had never really worked with. I liked it, I had never worked with it.
For the past decade he has been working on his own self-titled country album. With an American twist, he incorporates his songwriting talents, his voice and highlights his love of the American Old West, combined with his own experience of living on a farm in the rural outback of Australia.
The songs tell stories of cowboys, outlaws, freedom, respect for First Nations and much more.
Ferris developed a deep respect for the Wild West years ago when he and his wife, Marlina, began visiting the Hideout Ranch along the Mexican border at the corner of Arizona and Mexico. Their guide was ranch owner Craig Lawson (now deceased). He had a deep knowledge of the land and its history.
“We didn’t just ride around,” says Farris, “what was interesting was where we were riding. We went through canyons where there were still stagecoach tracks. I was shocked; I didn’t even know things like that still existed. He took me to an abandoned silver mine where you could tell where prospectors had dug years ago. Everything was rusty with bits of metal lying around.
Farriss describes himself as “overwhelmed” by the experience.
“I’ve watched a lot of westerns on TV and in movies, but it’s different when it’s hot and dusty and you’re standing at Apache Pass and watching where Geronimo’s grandson is buried and there is a humble little tombstone. You realize it really happened. These people were there.
Although he lives in Australia, Farriss wrote many songs and recorded the album in Nashville. Now he’s back promoting his new music and performing at venues in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.
“Those are the kind of places that have a lot of bluegrass and country music and that kind of stuff,” he says. “And I play with an incredible group of musicians.”
He says he’s proud of all that INXS has accomplished as a band, performing in over 50 countries, playing hit songs to cheering crowds in large venues, but he’s also very passionate about it. what he is doing today. Along with playing a different style of music, he’s made a few other changes since his days with INXS. At the time, his key instrument was the keyboards, today it is the acoustic guitar. And he appreciates what it feels like to perform in smaller, more intimate venues.
“During all these years of recording INXS, I have worked with a lot of electronic instruments. And I know very well how and where we have come to today where you can basically make music on a laptop in your room and win a GRAMMY. And I’m not cynical, it’s amazing for young people today. But there’s something very human about being able to go on stage with other people and you all work together to create music for people in real time. It’s not about technology, it’s about music.
His album is available now and he has just released his latest single which serves as his final track. It’s called “You are my rock”. Filmed on his farm in outback Australia, it serves as a kind of “thank you” to everyone who has supported his music over the past 45 years.
And perhaps an introduction to those discovering him now, as he enters this new phase of his musical career.