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Tim Farriss & Kirk Pengilly On How Australia's Pub-Rock Heyday Influenced INXS's Journey To Superstardom

26 October 2023 | 1:54 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

Two Worlds Colliding: Tim Farriss and Kirk Pengilly on INXS’s enduring legacy and newly compiled 12” remix collection, 'All Juiced Up Part 2'.


INXS (Source: Supplied)


Last week, all remaining INXS members – Andrew, Tim and Jon Farriss, Kirk Pengilly and Garry Gary Beers – reunited in Sydney, after six long years apart, to celebrate a phenomenal milestone for their band: accruing in excess (sorry, couldn’t resist!) of four billion global streams! It was also revealed that INXS’s The Very Best greatest-hits compilation had just spent a record-breaking 581 weeks (that’s over 11 years!) in the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart. 

Did you know that INXS also worked with trailblazing DJs/remixers to create ready-made dancefloor fillers back in the day? Early proponents of the extended dance mix, INXS released their Dekadance remix collection in 1983, and All Juiced Up, a bonus CD/cassette containing remixes, accompanied the special edition of their multi-Platinum-certified The Greatest Hits compilation (1994) as well. 

You can now also get your hands on the sequel remix compilation All Juiced Up Part 2, which comprises nine spiffy 12"s in coloured vinyl. Virtually all of the tracks on All Juiced Up Part 2 have been deleted and unavailable – for decades, in some cases – but have since been remastered at Abbey Road for this limited-edition release. All Juiced Up Part 2’s first volume of three 12"s is out now, with the second trio scheduled for release in February and the final set dropping in May 2024.

In light of All Juiced Up Part 2: Vol 1’s release, we Zoomed guitarist Tim Farriss and saxophonist/guitarist Kirk Pengilly to discuss INXS’s pioneering “funk-meets-rock element”, Australia’s pub-rock heyday, the power of MTV, how their late, great frontman Michael Hutchence “wanted to be more recognised for his poetry and his singing ability” and so much more.

Recruiting the hottest global remixers

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Kirk Pengilly: “We’d suggest some [potential remixers] from time to time, and I know Michael [Hutchence] did because he frequented clubs. But the organisation and approaching these people was done by Chris [Murphy], our manager, and/or the record company.

“Certainly during the late-’80s and the early-’90s, having these amazing remixers – you know, Coldcut and Basement Jaxx and Pete Lorimer – and all these people that were at the top of that game saying yes to remixing our songs was really amazing, really special. And, you know, we'd been doing remixes – well, we started doing extended club mixes way back in 1982: Andrew [Farriss, multi-instrumentalist/primary songwriter], I think, did the first one of Underneath The Colours where you'd pull out instruments and make the whole thing a bit longer so it could be played in a club. 

“So it was something that was always on our agenda, shall we say, and then obviously when the whole sort of DJ and dance thing came around, it was sometimes difficult to listen to the remixes when we got them back, ‘cause sometimes there was very little of the original song in it, you know? But it's just another creative outlet and obviously something for the fans who used to go to places like Central Station, like you say, and find these weird mixes and these things you can't get anywhere else and, yeah! It was really special.”

Tim Farriss: “I think the remixes are just great for the imagination, and they take you somewhere else with the same song.”

Kirk: “It's an exploration.”

Tim: “Yeah.”

Clubbing as “research”

Tim: “I remember being in a club in New York with the girls from Bananarama and just having a great time. But it was kinda difficult because usually, it’d have to be after a show if you weren't travelling. And then if you weren’t travelling, you would be the next day, so it required a lot of sleeping on buses.” 

Kirk: “Yeah, Michael probably used to club a bit more than all of us. And it was a great place just to hear the latest, new kinds of sounds and things like that. So it was also a bit of research as well.”

Tim: “Europe had some great clubs.” 

Kirk: “Paris.” 

Tim: “Yes, and Germany. Even Belgium. I remember being in a club in Germany when I first heard the Deee-Lite song, Groove Is In The Heart, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really exciting! What a great groove,’ you know? And that great use of DJs, and it was just a really happening sound. I thought that was very exciting.”

Just keep remixing Just Keep Walking  

Tim: “I really like the one that's actually out at the moment of Just Keep Walking [by Sgt Slick] – that's insanely good. So it's funny that they’re still doing remixes of our older songs today.”

*I’m So Crazy by Par-T-One, which samples Just Keep Walking, also slaps.

Tim: “Yeah, I like it, too. They were Italian fellas, I think. ”

Kirk: “That was from so long ago.” 

Bitter Tears remix incorporates “joke instrument”

Kirk: “I love the Bitter Tears one [Lorimer remix]; there's no doubt about that.”  

Tim: “Yeah, I like that one, too.”

Kirk: “That's always been a real favourite. It's just got such a great groove. And, funnily enough, one of the instruments we always used to take the piss out of is the flute, and there's a flute on it! But I love it. It really works well; it just floats through. The flute was added in the remix, so yeah! I didn't play the flute, and no one else in the band played the flute. As I said, the flute was kind of a joke instrument – Peter Pan, you know [laughs]…”

Lorimer’s ‘lollies’

Tim: “Peter Lorimer, who did a bunch of our remixes, was standing sidestage at Wembley with this big grin on his face.”

Kirk: “He used to come to a lot of gigs.”

Tim: “And, I mean, he popped something in my mouth while we were playing – don’t know what it was, but I found out about an hour later.”

Kirk: Hahahaha.

–Just swallowed it and hoped for the best?

Tim: “That's right. Thanks, Pete! [laughs]” 

Kirk: “We’ll see what happens tonight.” 

Tim: “Yeah, we should be kicking by the encore [laughs].”

New Sensation: GOAT guitar riff?

Kirk: “It is one of my favourite INXS riffs, and I played it on the album and obviously live and all that, but Andrew came up with it, so, yeah! Where do these things come from? I dunno, from space [laughs].”

Tim: “According to Andrew, he probably had about six variations of it and very rarely did he ever play the same thing twice because he just about never did in the studio. But it's whatever ended up on the demo of the song that we’d take literally and go, ‘Well, that's the riff! We’ll play that.’ So that's probably how it happened, really.”

Kirk: “A big part of it was the rhythm section, too – you know, Jon [Farriss, drummer] and Garry [Gary Beers, bassist]. That whole four-on-the-floor drumbeat vibe was kind of working with the riff that’s cycling around. When we first started doing what's called four-on-the-floor, meaning the kick drums on every beat, there weren't a lot of acts doing that with their music, and it really was important to us. And it came out of the pubs, of creating music that made you wanna move, made you wanna dance.”

Introducing the “funk-meets-rock element” 

Tim: “I think around The One Thing was where we had the first successful blend of the two [funk and rock]. I mean, with all due respect to the people that produced them, the first two records [1980’s INXS and 1981’s Underneath The Colours] weren't very well-produced. And we were playing gigs, coming in after shows and whatnot, and recording. 

Kirk: Yep, midnight to dawn sessions.

Tim: And we didn't really know what we were doing. But Mark Opitz [Shabooh Shoobah’s producer] was a proper record producer, and he got us sounding like we did live in the studio. So, all of a sudden, we could hear the drums properly, and everything sounded great thanks to the production.

And I think, from that point, with The One Thing and making the video and then going to America for the first time, they were all like, ‘[adopts American accent] What's this? What’s this new music?’ you know? And it was crazy. We were, like, an MTV hit. And I think it was that blend of the guitars and, again, the sax and the drums and – as Kirk says – the four-on-the-floor just was powerful, and it was that funk-meets-rock element.”

Kirk: “It was the trombone that I really wanted to play”

Kirk: “Look, it is a great instrument ‘cause it's probably the most expressive instrument next to a vocal, you know. And you can get so many different moods, emotions, and sounds out of it, which is probably one of the reasons I took it up. We had too many guitar players in the band, including myself, and so I took up sax much later. I think if I’d had the choice back then, it was trombone that I really wanted to play, but I just didn't think that that was a real rock kind of instrument.”

Tim: “It's not really at all [laughs]. I'm really glad ‘cause I was living with Kirk when he learnt to play the sax, and he used to follow me around the house while he was learning, and it was driving me crazy.”

Kirk: “Sorry, Tim. Sorry.”

Tim: “I probably wouldn't be here if you’d played the ‘bone, man [laughs].”

Kirk: Hahahaha. 

Going global, pre-internet 

Kirk: “It was a lotta hard work, but it was fun, you know? And we were young and passionate, and we loved what we were doing, and so there's an element of it that was really kind of easy; tiring, but really easy because we just loved it. And we knew if we kept doing it, we’d get somewhere.”

Tim: “Yeah, and we stuck it out, basically. It can be a very daunting thing, travelling overseas for that long, and I guess we hadn't really reached dizzying heights in Australia when we left to start playing in the US, and we were young enough to deal with the fact that we had to start over. But, as it turned out, we didn't have to start over; we kind of had success straight away, and we could see that growing. So it made it a little bit easier to stick it out for month after month after month after month, year after year after year on the road because there was this…”

Kirk: “Progression.”

Tim: “Progression and snowballing thing that was happening. It was exciting to be a part of, and then it just became our life. We didn't know any other way of living except being what we were.”

Australia’s pub-rock heyday

Tim: “I don't think that existed anywhere else in the world, really, and there were so many great bands because of it. I remember touring with the Divinyls; they were opening for us, and still, to this day, they're probably my favourite-ever Australian band. And, at the time, there's posters [listing] these amazing bands all performing at the same venue, you know? Icehouse, or the Flowers, or Cold Chisel, Mi-Sex – you know, it just goes on and on and on, doesn't it? Midnight Oil – there were just so many great bands, and it wasn't really, ‘Shall we go out?’ It was like, ‘Which pub will we go to?’” 

Kirk: “Yeah, ‘Which band will we go and see?’ It was so important to our career because we played hundreds and hundreds of pubs in those first coupla years in the ‘80s before we went to America. We were so slick, you know – as a band, as performers – ‘cause we'd had that opportunity to experiment in pubs and try things out and all that. So by the time we went to America, you know, woe betide the main act that we opened for – ‘cause our first few tours we opened for bands.”

“We literally blew Adam Ant off stage” 

Kirk: “[Adam Ant] was the first tour. He was very nervous after the first gig; we literally blew him off stage, really, because we were so tight as a unit.”

Tim: “I mean, we didn't know what to expect. We had no idea, you know, it was our first time playing in America. But we didn't realise that we'd had this hit with The One Thing and how powerful and how big that was. So we were coming out on stage opening for Adam Ant thinking that no one would know who we were, and people were just going nuts, screaming and carrying on [laughs]. 

“And I think Adam Ant, he’d sort of been and gone. So we were this new thing, and he was like, ‘Uh-oh, what have I done asking these guys to open for me?’ And I think that he ended up really trying to get us off the tour at a couple of points. Then one time we went to his after-show party, and we all got in trouble for that, because… [laughs] Well, let's not go there. But I remember it was very interesting, let's just say that.”

Kirk: Hahahaha.

Tim: “Yeah, that was the power of MTV in those days. So we’d arrive in some weird little town in Idaho, and be walking down the street and get recognised! And nobody would know why.”

Kirk: “Yeah, it was bizarre. The Adam Ant tour was the college circuit, the college towns. So, it was really a great way to start. But I know Michael struggled initially with, well, specifics of that, too. Because, I mean, girls were throwing bras and undies on stage and all that sort of stuff. And we'd never seen anything like that in Australia – that didn't happen in pubs, you know – so it was kind of like, ‘Oh, hang on, we’re here to – it's about the music, not the sexiness,’ kinda thing. So, yeah! It was a real eye-opener, it really was.”

“Michael wanted to be more recognised for his poetry and his singing ability” 

Tim: “We've just done the Dolby Atmos remix, an immersive sound remix – Giles Martin did it at Abbey Road – of Full Moon, Dirty Hearts [30th anniversary edition is scheduled for 2 November release]. And I was just saying a little while ago that I love the whole remix of that album because, for me, it's really brought it to life, and it sounds better than the original mixes. And some of the vocals on that of Michael’s are just amazing; I mean, really great singing. And I wholeheartedly suggest anyone who's a fan of Michael's voice gets a copy of that and listens to it. Kill The Pain is amazing and very relevant now.

“It was around the time of grunge when we were recording that record [Full Moon, Dirty Hearts], and I think [Michael] felt a little displaced in a sense and wanted to be more recognised for his poetry and his singing ability rather than his sex appeal. And I think he really tried to get that across in that record.”

The “underrated” To Look At You

Tim: “[To Look At You] is such an underrated song of ours…”

Kirk: “Yeah, I used to love playing it live.” 

Tim: “Yeah, I think it's fantastic. I still like live versions of it – like, when we played it at the US Festival. But the thing about that song is, it's just so current still; that's what I like about it. And I'm not sure if you've ever heard the Original Sin album we did with different singers, but Kav Temperley sings a great version of that with us playing. It's just a great song; I love it.”

The band’s evergreen back catalogue

Kirk: “Look, it's a testament to the songwriting, I think; obviously mostly Andrew and Michael. But I think also we were just really aware of trying to get the best people around us to work with and picking producers that got us and had seen us live and understood what our sound was, and trying to reproduce that properly on record without too much colour and too much noise and stuff. So, I mean, the songs are just songs – you know, the recordings are kind of simple in a lot of ways; maybe not so much later on, but certainly the early to middle records were just very true, very honest.”

Dua Lipa’s Break My Heart songwriting credit  

Tim: “We don't get that very often, and that's why I think it was very noble of Dua to reach out. It was pretty blatant, but good on her for doing the right thing.”

Kirk: “[Laughs] It's a great song, too.”

Tim: “Yeah, it is a great song, and she's a great singer.”

All Juiced Up Part 2: Vol 1 is available to pre-order now for a 3 November release date.


A1. I’m Only Looking (Morales Bad Yard Mix)
A2. Bitter Tears (Lorimer 12” Mix)
B1. Need You Tonight (Liebrand 12” Mix)
B2. Listen Like Thieves (Extended Remix)

A1. Not Enough Time (Ralphi Rosario Mix)
A2. Original Sin (Dance Dub)
B1. Underneath The Colours (Cement Mixer)
B2. Freedom Deep (Extended 12” Mix)

A1. Please (You Got That…) (E-Smoove Club Mix)
A2. New Sensation (Nick 12” Mix)
B1. Taste It (Youth 12” Mix)
B2. To Look At You (Extended Mix)