INXS' Quest for Fame and Fortune
19 December 2005
By ELLEN DAVIES
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New INXS front-man JD Fortune ruffled some feathers during the reality TV show Rock Star, in which he won the right to sing in the band.
Early on in the competition, Fortune irritated viewers and competitors with comments like this about the other rockers: "While they're learning the INXS songs, I know them because I love them."
Fortune's antics on and off stage, like planting a kiss on Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dave Navarro, made sure he rubbed some people up the wrong way. But far from putting INXS off, Fortune's straight-up attitude helped him win.
"The less bullshit you can experience, the better," drummer Jon Farriss told Sunday News.
"You know, he did some pretty funny things. I think he went through a process during the show when he had to live up to expectations. Those guys were a bunch of singers living and playing together, competing to be a lead singer of a rock band.
"There's no handbook for dealing with this sort of situation. Even for us watching from the outside it was just an incredible experience.
"We have had a lot of experience in front of cameras but a TV show was definitely a new experience for us.
"It was really organic. We were really seriously looking for a singer. We really were having to comment and give constructive criticism to the finalists."
Joining a band that has been together for 30 years seems like a daunting task.
Jon and his older brothers Andrew and Tim, together with bassist Garry Beers and guitarist Kirk Pengilly started playing together as kids in a garage.
The death of Michael Hutchence in 1997 left a hole in the band that has variously been filled by different singers, including Kiwi Jon Stevens -brother of Idol judge Frankie.
It was the band's decision to undertake a worldwide search to find a permanent singer to front INXS.
It was also their idea to approach TV producer extraordinaire Mark Burnett - responsible for hit shows Survivor, The Apprentice and The Contender - to make that search into a TV show.
"I'm really glad Mark Burnett agreed with the idea to just do it properly.
"One of the first things for us was we didn't want any cheese platters on this experience. "We thought that if we were going to travel the world and audition hundreds of people, why the hell not film it?
"It's really great that we invigorated the band's exposure. It's been wonderful, there's been so much positive reaction.
"Right now we have got ourselves a wonderful tour coming up, and JD is our boy."
The world tour kicks off in Vancouver in January, and is expected to wing its way to Australia and New Zealand in August.
From talking to Farriss, it seems that Fortune settled into the band very quickly.
They're getting on "fantastically", he says. The first single of the new album Switch was co-written by Fortune and Andrew Farriss.
"As every day goes by he's getting closer and closer to us as the bond goes deeper and deeper. He just turned out to be an extremely talented person," Farriss said.
"We have got options for a future, the way things are going. He and I get on really well. I've got a soft spot for JD and I think he has that for me. He's always gone 'I love you man'."
It all sounds a little bit like a 'kumbaya love fest', to steal a phrase from Fortune.
Farriss says Fortune stood out from the first time they saw him perform.
"Kirk accompanied him when he auditioned - he sang Never Tear Us Apart," Farriss recalls.
"He was one of the only people who got the grace of one of the band members to help him out. We went through so many people, and JD always stood out.
"I always had my eye on that guy."
So what would Michael Hutchence have made of the Canadian rocker?
"I think he would love him. He's a star," Farriss says.
"And I think there's a kindred spirit with anyone with the talent or charm that they have. I don't know how those guys do it. There's a lot of light coming from that guy's eyes. Michael was the same."
Farriss doesn't believe any of the other contestants on the show could have worked as the lead singer of the band.
"We went through a very stringent process of workshopping which would reveal and bring out the best," he said.
"JD was legs ahead of the rest."