Published in The Music Network
INXS’ Manager Chris Murphy talks to TMN about managing the band (again), their new Original Sin album and how he’s planning to get them “back in stadiums in 3-5 years”.
Chris, how did you find yourself back with INXS. Was it an acrimonious split?
No. I was the first manager who wasn’t fired (laughs). I retired from it. I said I’d manage INXS for 10 years, it ended up being 15. My two daughters needed me, and I needed a change. The only negative aspect of it was that INXS hated me for making that decision. After I stopped managing them, it took a long time to get them out of my psyche. We got together the same way I met them – a bit of fate. I was in Cuba, and I was thinking ‘this is the sort of place INXS needs to come to. There’s music everywhere.’ Not long after, Kirk Pengilly rang me and said, “Our masters are coming back. We’d like to have our masters with you.” I flew around the world to analyse where the brand was at. And I realized there’s at least 100 million people who are aware of the INXS brand. I thought there’s a huge opportunity for INXS. In 2008 we started to get serious and map plans out. It was like you’d lost your family for 12 years, and for some reason you all start getting together.
How big can they be again?
I’m confident within the next 3-5 years, INXS will be back in stadiums. And I have no doubt. Are they going to be big in every country in the world? I don’t know. I’ll work every country individually. Australia is going first, then we’ll work South America, Canada, Europe. We won’t release it in the US until early next year. Someone said the other day, “why is INXS still continuing?” In America and France, they don’t say that. It’s only in Australia. I love Australians and INXS love Australians, but for some reason they’ve been the hardest on INXS. To this day, I do not get it.
What level of consumer research do you undertake?
A lot of people see me as a rebel, gung-ho type, shootingfrom- the-hip character. But I always do (analysis). I don’t like failure. What I’m doing for INXS today is not trying to solve an issue or problem today. I’m setting up a strategy that will last 20 years.
You’ve been quoted as describing Original Sin as the most important INXS album since Kick. How so?
There’s the sense of where the band was at creatively when they started their walk into Kick. It has the same emotional leadup. The band had been doing all these things over the past 12 years, since the death of Michael, the TV show and all the drama associated with it. On this album, I spent a couple of years dissembling the band. Forgetting all the pressures to try to have a hit record, forgetting those pressures of expectations. And just go out and have a good creative time and enjoy yourselves. They had a skip to their step. I’ve only seen that twice with INXS, once with Kick and with this album.
What do you hope Original Sin achieves for the INXS brand?
The band had been beaten up in so many ways. INXS is one of the most creative bunch of musicians and songwriters I’ve ever come across, and they’re also the most professional. But they’d closed down their creativity by the type of people they were working with. I needed to unlock it. What we had to do was expose the depth of the song catalogue, blending old and new. Part of this process is to show the depth of the songs. And to reveal a songwriting genius, Andrew Farriss. He’s the most successful songwriter ever to come out of Australia. He’s sold 40 million freakin’ albums!
So when will Petrol Electric rollout out the INXS catalogue?
We’re trying to work out an interesting way to put it out. I want to see what happens if you do give people something specially, physically. Not just a bloody jewel case with a bit of flimsy paper in there. For the December 10, we’ll release a limitededition deluxe version of this album. It’s a 40-page book, with the album and there’s a version of Ben Harper and Nikka Costa doing a swamp version of Devil Inside as the bonus track. We’ve done our final research for a January limited edition t-shirt and CD box. We really have to evaluate what’s going on with the consumer and the marketplace. The four record players only have to have a meeting in New York, and if they decide CDs are too expensive, they could drop it and go digital. I love digital. But if that happens, I don’t think it’s the right thing.