Interview

Murphy’s Law: INXS manager on ‘band to brand’ and the music industry in 2019

Chris Murphy managed INXS from 1979-1995 before returning in 2009 with a self-proclaimed desire to re-energise the interest in the group by turning the band into a brand.

2017 saw the acclaimed Kick 30 reissue – featuring a Dolby Atmos surround mix by Giles Martin – hit the shops and this year has seen the release of Mystify: A Musical Journey With Michael Hutchence (a wonderful companion to the Mystify documentary) and a restored version of the Live Baby Live concert film which is receiving a theatrical run in the UK at the moment. The newly remixed soundtrack is out today.

We caught up with the Australian music entrepreneur in the summer to discuss these projects and found a very driven individual and a canny operator and someone candid about what he does and doesn’t like about the music industry. “I’m not here to make money in life, I love doing the things I’m passionate about,” he tells SDE…

SuperDeluxeEdition: The 4K restoration of ‘Live Baby Live’ is incredible. The thing that came across more than anything was just how amazing Michael was as a frontman. 

Chris Murphy: For 21 years people talked about Michael’s death and girls and drugs and bullshit and fucking money and this and that. And very few people have spoken about his lyrics… the fact that he’s a poet, and a beautiful guy and what an extraordinary frontman.

And even to me, who managed the dude for 15 years and now have been working on putting INXS back together again for nine years. Shit, that’s 24 years of my life. Even I sat there last night [at a special screening of Live Baby Live] thinking how does Michael’s voice hold out. He’s really pushing… I grew up in it in the entertainment business and I’ve been around singers all my life, with my parents having a theatrical agency. So I know a lot about vocals and so forth, and I was watching him last night, he’s just pushing his vocals. I mean he’s excited, the adrenaline, it was heavy-duty, which you could see close up. That was the other thing I could see last night, is the adrenaline of the band and where the adrenaline, where the exhaustion started to take over the adrenaline, and then where the audience kicked back in again and the audience then lifted them up to take them home to the second part of the show.  And I thought my God, Michael’s just … that voice of his, it’s just extraordinary.

By the way… I want to thank you for your review of Mystify, A Musical Journey with Michael.  You got the whole thing straightaway, so you got everything and you’re one of the first in the world, so really, really appreciate that. I do. When I got that I was, you know, I risked my reputation and partly my career on that album, so it must be ’cause I’m a brave bastard.

SDE: When I wrote that I’d listened to half of it but I’ve now listened to the whole thing a few times. The whole ‘Musical Journey’ is actually a really great title for it because it does take you on a journey and it has that dreamlike thing where it just transports you. And that’s what’s so good about it. 

CM: I’ve had to deal with a lot of questions and a lot of crap around, “oh, this is not the soundtrack.” The Mystify film went off on its own tangent with a very arrogant attitude towards INXS and Universal [Music]. You know… we’ll do whatever we’re going to do and we’re going to do this and we’re going to do that. And we don’t care about your music…

SDE: Just to take the story from the beginning, tell me a little bit about your relationship with [director] Richard Lowenstein. Because you’re obviously both massive champions of INXS, but it seems like you’re maybe slightly pulling in different directions with regards to the documentary…

CM: Richard has taken … Let’s put this into perspective. As I said, initially they didn’t believe they needed INXS’s music, it was sort of a little bit of a secondary thing, because the film was going to be so great.  So we went, okay, fine.

SDE: So they were going to do the film without any INXS music in it, is that what you’re saying?

CM: Yeah, that was their approach, it was a bit carefree. Now, there was also outstanding legal issues, I must point out, that there were some issues around use of INXS’ archives that were going to be used in the film without INXS’ approval. And both myself and Universal were like “listen dudes, there’s things in the world called rights and assets and responsibilities, so we need to get all that right.”

My job, when INXS asked me to take over their catalogue, was about turning a band and its catalogue into a brand. And that’s what I told Lucian Grainge [Universal Music Group CEO] when I first met him years ago, and he was fascinated by this concept, because one thing that you know as much as I know is that, unfortunately, too much music has gone into vaults, over the decades.



A lot of people don’t understand that when a band’s active and they’re having hits and they’re touring, they’ve got managers, they’ve got agents and the record company, everybody’s in their back pocket. Everybody wants a slice of the action. Now, once the band or the artist stops having hits and they become… let’s call it ‘catalogue’, then they fall into another department that used to be called ‘special projects’ or something. And then the guy who wasn’t that good, or wasn’t working at the top level anymore…. he used to get moved over to that section.

Now, that sounds terrible, but that’s how it used to work. And so there was very limited marketing and, as you know, every year or so a new cover was put on and one year it was called ‘Greatest Hits’, the next year it was called the ‘Best Of’, and then they’d find the track that wasn’t on there before, and it was like regurgitating.

I love music. I would die without music, and to see – I’m not going to mention anybody’s names because it will appear derogative – but to see some of the greatest music ever made just disappear into the vaults of the record companies, because the manager’s gone on to the next artist where they can tour and make money and the record company’s lost interest was incredibly sad.

I’m very careful about how I make decisions and so when INXS approached me [nine years ago, to manage their legacy] it took me nearly a year to make the decision. People say “that’s ridiculous.” It’s not. I go around the world, I do my research, I looked at where INXS was being played, I looked at all the other elements. So getting back to your question, the thing is, I had a big job to do with INXS, okay. The Mystify film is a spoke in the wheel of what I’m doing.

They [the documentary producers] came in late with this “please, we need some footage, so we need some music..” but a lot of people tell me the only happy part of the film or one of the most exciting parts of the film, is the Live Baby Live footage. So that’s what they really came for, plus a couple of songs, but they didn’t have a product. And obviously, the people who’d invested in it – I’m not going to mention their names – were saying “we’re not happy, we’re not happy, we have to get this extra footage.” So that’s where they came to us. Now, that was very last minute.

So we had to go pretty fast. I worked for five weeks, I didn’t sleep properly for five weeks, staying up with the producer all night, working through this to get it done. So, you know, you mentioned the difference of opinion with Richard and myself. I didn’t have a different opinion, I just had to make a soundtrack. When I got the music that was in the soundtrack in their film…. [I thought] how do I make a soundtrack out of this? And I turned it over to Giles Martin at Abbey Road, and he came back and said “what do I do with this?” And I said, “I actually don’t know.”



He was busy doing Rocket Man… anyway, so I called my old mate, Mark Edwards, and pulled him out of retirement and here we are and we’ve done it. And as I was listening to side A and side B, I though it’s actually more than a fucking soundtrack – soundtracks are just compilation albums put together by lazy people. But I thought this is a journey. I quickly emailed everybody at Universal and said look, don’t call it a soundtrack, it’s actually the musical journey of Michael Hutchence.

Apparently the film’s good – it’s got a couple of bad reviews, I understand, and it’s got some really good reviews – but why, if Richard [Lowenstein] is Michael’s friend, is he being derogatory towards Michael’s voice and music by taking such a stance that “it’s not a soundtrack”. Just let it go, buddy, let it go – promote your film. It’s the biggest thing he’s ever had in his life and I don’t think he’s ever released anything internationally in his life.  So just let it go, son, just let it go.

SDE: Chris, before you transformed it and turned it into what it is now, how exactly was it at the beginning then? What was the music? Because if they didn’t have any INXS music at the beginning, exactly what music did they have?

CM: They’d gone off – and obviously that’s why they were so cocky; they thought they had probably done their research –  they’d found bits and pieces that different TV studios or shows – there was a live show in America, they thought they could get the rights to a song, which they eventually couldn’t. They thought they could get the rights. I’m still fascinated at my grand age that in the music industry – and the film industry – people don’t understand rights.

So if you think you can go off and get an INXS song from the BBC, ABC, without them coming back to actually ask us [Petrol/Universal] for approval…  you know, you’re crazy man. So what happened is, they had all these bits and pieces, and there was like – I can’t even remember – there was music in the background of an interview or a live show in the background. So we looked at it, and thought are we going to make this terribly bad recording of ‘Need You Tonight’, which is being heard in the background, on an album – is that what people are saying we should do?!



So that’s what it was. It was a mumbo-jumbo of let’s call it second degree tracks [put] in for licensing. I said I’m not doing this to Michael, I’m not going to do it, for the sake of a couple of bucks. The easier thing would have been for me just put a tape together [of hits] and call it Mystify soundtrack, give it to Universal and get on the beach. That would have been the easiest thing for me in the world to do. But for Michael, I thought fuck that, I’m not doing this, this is a moment. And I’d been looking for these moments for the last nine years.

So I sat with the producers for two days at my house, at my little beach ranch – we sat down for two days straight and we drank a lot of red wine, Mark [Edwards] showed me some of the spoken word stuff he already had, showed me some of the demos he’d found. And we went through it and we started to get a philosophy. I had four 20-year-olds with me. One was my son and there was two English girls and one American girl – they were friends of my son. And I made the poor bastards sit with me, because I wanted a 20-year-old’s perspective on INXS music, and there were things that I thought they would love that they hated and didn’t make it, and there were things that I didn’t know they even knew that they loved that made it, okay. So they were my committee.

SDE: I want to ask you about the relationship between Petrol Records and Universal and the balance of power. Correct me if I’m wrong – but Universal, own the rights to INXS’ masters, is that right?

CM: No, no, no. INXS’ masters are actually owned by INXS. One of the reasons they came back is because of the deal I did a fair way back when I renegotiated the deal where INXS would get their masters back from the next album. The ‘next’ album just happened to be Kick. And then Universal, for a while – or Polygram/Universal – for many years retained the ownership of – let’s get this right – the first three international albums: Shabooh Shoobah, The Swing and Listen Like Thieves.

A year or so ago, I negotiated with Universal. I did a deal with them to move the ownership of those back to INXS, then back into Petrol. So Petrol control the INXS market for the long term, and then with Universal… well three years ago, Mr Grainge, Lucian Grainge – God bless him, I love him dearly and I mean that, that’s not being sarcastic – he bought 50 percent Petrol and so I call it an official partnership.



SDE: Okay, so that’s interesting then. So it’s a proper partnership then.

CM: The thing is, many people probably couldn’t have got away with what I did, but the good thing about getting older and my having a pedigree is that the right people seem to pick up on, and respect a lot of the things I’ve done. And I’ve done a lot of crazy things, I mean there’s no two ways about it – in all sorts of businesses, but particularly the music business – and, you know, when you come across a gent like Sir Lucian Grainge, and I mean this sincerely, because there’s a lot of people in the music business now who, you know, it’s a big business, right. I mean it’s a fucking big business and there’s all these rules now… It’s not like the old days where people were just “oh, yeah, go and do that, Chris, or go and do this.” It doesn’t work that way anymore. Now lot of these poor bastards literally have an iron ball around their legs and they’d love to do things, but they can’t. So we’ve still got an extraordinary human being in the music business called Lucian Grainge.  And he and his team understand the weirdness, the wild ones, the reckless ones, those who are prepared to create dangerously, you know.

SDE: The good thing about that deal is you’ve automatically got enthusiasm and some buy-in too. It’s in their interests to obviously release INXS-related product, because they’re a partner of yours now, so you kind of secured a future for products to come out.

CM: Yeah, you know, now we’ve just delivered that, we’ve got some extraordinary fancy-pants stuff in the catalogue, you know. One of the things that I created many years ago, is that because I was an agent from a very young age for very big bands in Australia, one of the things I saw with the bands that broke them up most of the time was song writing, and making money out of song writing.

So one of the first things I did with INXS was the songwriting agreement, so they all shared in everything, and the second thing I did is when we delivered an A-side of a single, the band would rotate and each individual would do a B-side. So they all went up and expressed their wacky side. Don’t go and try to write a fucking pop song, I’ll be sick… you know, express your wacky side, just do whatever you fucking want. After a while, the B-sides got really quirky and wacky.

I always wanted to do an album called The Other Side of INXS and put it out, and because the band became so big those little things fell between the cracks. So when I came back, I was really chuffed to find out that, one, Live Baby Live hadn’t been re-released and two, no one had done anything about the B-sides. So I’m working on that album at the moment, The Other Side of INXS, with a really funny cover – a very funny cover. But again, you know, this is the beauty that the partnership – it’s what the Petrol partnership allows.

SDE: How frustrating has it been that for a while it seemed like the record company was just obsessed with Kick and didn’t seem to realise that INXS had released any other albums? Has that been a little bit frustrating and what are the plans for albums like Welcome To Wherever You Are or X?  Are we going to see expanded reissues of those?

CM: Yeah, all that is being worked on as we speak. I’ll be frank with you… when I went and did the deal with Universal and relicensed back the content…

SDE: What year was that, Chris, just to get the timelines right?

Chris: Let’s think about this, let’s get it right… probably around 2009. So, they gave me a big presentation about, you know, what are we going to do with the The Very Best Of and it came out [in 2011] and didn’t sell; nothing happened, even in Australia. And I was like holy shit, you know how the music industry works – remember I was out of the mainstream for 14 years.. and I was like ‘no way’.

The Kick album came out, the 25th anniversary and the band had been playing a lot of small gigs for different singers and I wanted to get the band off the road forever, because it was just not good for them. I wanted to really reactive the image of the Michael-era with INXS and get rid of all the other stuff that had come along.

So I booked the band as special guests on the Matchbox 20 tour in Australia [in late 2012] doing arenas, and I booked it for two reasons. One, I wanted the band to finish their touring not in a small 900-capacity venue, but where they loved playing – in big venues. And two, I wanted to give Universal Australia a leg-up with the Kick album, as it was the 25th anniversary. I can tell you honestly – and anyone who wants an arm wrestle about it please come to my table, I’ve got my arm ready – but it did very little.



So that’s why I quite honestly went into shock and thought what have I done, I’ve just walked out of this great life. I was just having fun with my life. And now I was thinking, what the fuck have I done? Am I back on this treadmill of record companies not doing their job, what, am I supposed to get on the phone and start screaming at people, like I’m 27 again? So I was in a very bad state of mind, to be honest. I actually did consider getting off the boat, because I thought I can’t do this because that’s what I used to once upon a time. I was very diligent, and I wouldn’t let record companies get away with shit, and I was very hard on people. They would say, oh, you’re so hard, and I said if you just do your gig, guess what, I’m the nicest guy on this planet, but if you don’t do the gig, my job is to kick your arse. It’s really that simple. So you do your job, we’ll get on well, you don’t do your job…

SDE: What was your analysis of that situation? What needed to happen, what wasn’t happening? What was your view on it?

CM: Oh… the record companies had become big business, and they generally had – I wouldn’t say lost their soul – it’s not any individual’s fault, but the music business in that period of time had gone through havoc. If you remember, the music business had no idea of the little word called ‘digital’, no idea on the planet. And all of a sudden, it crept up from behind them like a deadly snake and it popped up, and then all of a sudden, all the kids became bootleggers. My son’s a bootlegger, everybody was bootleggers.

Then the music industry turned around and said “we’re going to come in hard and we’re going to take your computers and then we’re going to arrest you!” Like sorry, guys you’re talking to your customers, you don’t talk to your customers that way. So the customers went – mainly boys, a lot of them boys, the boys went fuck you, you’ve got a fucking helicopter, you guys do cocaine… fuck you! And it became an underground war that nobody really speaks about, and I find it fascinating. And the older dudes then started freaking out… I knew many high-end level people at the time, and they were all trying to work out how they could get out of the [music] business with their super funds and pension funds.



So then it was like how many majors [‘major’ record companies] do we have, and they kept falling over and they kept being bought, one, two, three majors. So through that period of time, of tightening up, people losing their jobs, people being retired early, people doing a runner from the music business, the music business became a terrified place, right.  Everyone was terrified.

So that causes that people to… people weren’t prepared to operate with any danger, so people had a system. The don’t want to make a mistake, I’m not going to go and put my neck out and go out on a limb to promote Kick 25, or put my neck on the chopping block for The Very Best of INXS, they haven’t sold records for years… I’m not going to spend $20,000 on a print [marketing] campaign. They weren’t going to do that. Now, this is my fault, by the way, I hadn’t done my estimation and valuation properly on where the music industry, where was at when I re-entered. So that was a shock. I felt quite responsible being back at the helm and with Petrol that I hadn’t done my job. I basically hadn’t had a very good encounter with Universal and we basically hadn’t sold much.


Chris Murphy and UMG CEO Sir Lucian Grainge

So when Lucian found out the deal hadn’t been done because of a slip-up in the system, he called me and he said I’m not going to let you go, I’m keeping you. And I said, well, it’s on one condition, I said you’ve got to buy half of my company. “Why?”  I said because I need you and all your troops to be engaged in INXS.

I can’t run around the world by myself with a fucking little drum, banging it by myself, I want to do musicals, I want to do exhibitions, I want to do all these fancy-pants things; I want to do movies and documentaries, I didn’t come back just to, you know, sell a record.  And he said “done”, and that’s how this whole thing came about.

And the great thing about it all is that over the last couple of years, you know, everyone’s, the main key people at Universal have probably thought what’s this fucking Murphy guy, this Australian guy, he’s fucking off the planet but they’ve all got to like me and respect me and my wacky ways.

If I had delivered the Mystify album three or four years ago, when I got the deal, I would have had business affairs and the legal department over me like a cheap suit. And they would not have allowed it.



SDE: What you’ve just said does explain why you reissued Kick again, because it was like pressing reset, in a way, wasn’t it, you doing that deal? And then it was like let’s start again – and that’s why the 2017 version of Kick happened, I guess. But Chris, let me ask you about the Max Q album?  How come you didn’t get any music from that album into the Mystify soundtrack?

CM: It’s quite simple, the rights are in transit, okay. And that’s the only way I can express it, because people ask me these questions and I can’t answer them. They’re legal questions, they’re legal points that are going on behind the scenes. I would love to have released, on Petrol, Max Q, but the timing is not right.

SDE: So that will happen then at some point in the future?

CM: It has to happen, it has to happen.

SDE: Let’s talk about Giles Martin, because he has got this role of Executive Music Director, and he’s a very busy man, obviously, with his Beatles commitments. He’s just done the Elton John film, as you said.  I think he’s got a role with SONOS as well, hasn’t he?  So, how is that working out with Giles?

CM: Look, it’s bloody brilliant. Giles and I have a lot of fun together and we enjoy each other’s company. We take the piss out of each other all the time. Basically, what happened is that many, many years ago we got invited to Japan to do a festival and the Musical Director was Sir George Martin, who was one of my greatest heroes. Now, his son was on that trip, a young kid called Giles, and most of the people were just ignoring him, you know, just walking past him and going, “oh, hello, George Martin, how are you..”, you know, all that bullshit. But I’m a very different sort of character, everyone’s equal to me, it doesn’t matter who you are; if you have money, no money –  it doesn’t matter who you are. So I saw that happening and said “hey Giles, how’s it going, buddy, good to see you”, and we made him feel welcome. So a couple of years later, we had a job to do – I can’t remember what the job was – and we gave it to Giles. So the history is simple, we gave Giles one of his first jobs.

SDE: And one of the things that’s good about Giles Martin is that he’s very much an advocate of 5.1, Dolby, Atmos and all that. Does that mean that future reissues are likely to follow the same format as the last Kick?  Are we likely to see surround sound versions of some of the other albums?

CM: Look, I’d be a liar to say the word “yes, yes, yes” at this stage, because what I was going to say before you asked the question about the back catalogue, before February 2019, I probably spent the previous two years working on this INXS exhibition, the musical, and I was literally flying round the world, spending my own bloody money trying to get all these projects going, because I thought they were very important to the future.  But in that time, I had left Petrol in the hands of Universal – it’s not a negative, it’s a fact.

And so, in February this year I thought to myself, I’d bloody better make sure my baby – Petrol is really my baby, one of my children – I’d better make sure all this is together. So we’re just finalising everything now and the problem was I was trying to push too many things. We’d got The Swing 35 [vinyl reissue] coming out, and that conflicted with this [Mystify] release date.  So what we’re doing now is now that I’ve got Mystify out, because that was a very big mental and emotional obligation on my behalf, now we’ll sit back and have a look at The Other Side of INXS, Elegantly Wasted – which needs a whole new tune-up – Welcome to Wherever You Are…  I was even thinking in the last couple of days, about the first two albums, INXS and Underneath the Colours. So there’s a lot of work to be done.

Thanks to Chris Murphy was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE. ‘Live Baby Live’ is out today and ‘Mystify: A Musical Journey with Michael Hutchence’ is also available.

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INXS

Live Baby Live - 3LP vinyl

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Live Baby Live - 2CD set

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Michael Hutchence

Mystify - A Musical Journey With Michael Hutchence [VINYL]

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Michael Hutchence

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INXS / Live Baby Live Wembley Stadium 3LP vinyl

Live Baby Live: Wembley Stadium 3LP black vinyl

SIDE A
Guns in the Sky
New Sensation
I Send a Message
The Stairs

SIDE B
Know the Difference
Disappear
By My Side
Hear That Sound

SIDE C
Lately
The Loved One
Wild Life

SIDE D
Mystify
Bitter Tears
Suicide Blonde
What You Need

SIDE E
Kick
Need You Tonight
Mediate

SIDE F
Never Tear Us Apart
Who Pays the Price
Devil Inside

INXS / Live Baby Live Wembley Stadium 2CD edition

Live Baby Live: Wembley Stadium 2CD set

CD1
Guns in the Sky
New Sensation
I Send a Message
The Stairs
Know the Difference
Disappear
By My Side
Hear That Sound
Lately
The Loved One
Wild Life

CD2
Mystify
Bitter Tears
Suicide Blonde
What You Need
Kick
Need You Tonight
Mediate
Never Tear Us Apart
Who Pays the Price
Devil Inside

MYSTIFY – A MUSICAL JOURNEY WITH MICHAEL HUTCHENCE

SIDE A

Let It Ride • Deliver Me (Demo) • Black & White • Need You Tonight (Live 1988) • Under My Thumb** • Please (You Got That)

SIDE B

What You Need • Don’t Change • Spill The Wine* • Move On • Need You Tonight

SIDE C

Devil Inside • Love Is (What I Say) • Baby Don’t Cry • All I’m Saying* • Shine Like It Does

SIDE D

Burn For You • Viking Juice • Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain) • Original Sin • Never Tear Us Apart***

* Michael Hutchence

** Michael Hutchence & London Symphony Orchestra

*** Michael Hutchence, Mylène Farmer & INXS

 

38 responses to Murphy’s Law: INXS manager on ‘band to brand’ and the music industry in 2019

  1. Brad Breault says:

    Paul congratulations on this interview, being a casual INXS fan even I always thought their catalogue was kind of ignored til the last couple years. Having stories and interviews along with proper information on purchasing music in one place is very helpful, so keep up the good work and hope going more long-form like this will be possible for your site. And I’ve still got my original CD ‘cut out’ copy of Max Q, it would be nice to see an updated version of this come out, since this definitely was an underrated album.

  2. madman says:

    Another great interview Paul! Since I’m not a big INXS fan, I’m not sure what’s with the negative views on Chris Murphy. He might be a self-promoter, but unless you scream and yell you’ll never get anything done for your clients. He seems to be sincere in his love of the band and their music; isn’t that what you want in a manager?

  3. les oldfield says:

    Excellent stuff. Chris Murphy will always elicit a strong response from INXS fans, be it good or bad. He did some shitty things but the positives far outweigh the bad.I personally think what he is doing now is great.
    Being a fan of the band for over 30 years, I got to the point where I was angry that they had become a forgotten band, despite how big they were. For years we had the same hits compilations and no one cared. Then after the Australian Mini Series it kicked up a gear and I’m very happy that INXS & MH are back in the spotlight. Although the Mystify doc was so sad I could only see it once. the DVD is not on my Xmas list!
    I’m really looking forward to the next projects, hopefully SDE of WTWYA and Elegantly wasted (which by the way is my favourite Inxs album, controversial I know!)
    Paul – your site is my daily go to site along with Discogs. Brilliant Brilliant stuff. Well done mate.

  4. Don says:

    This article reminds me of telling stories around the campfire… lots of embellishment and some of it might not even be true, but wow, is it ever entertaining!!! If Chris can get the rest of the INXS vaults reissued and released, more power to him.

    But a B-sides project next?? Please no. Chris might have a soft spot in his heart for those, but most folks aren’t clamoring for godawful songs like “I’m Coming Home.” Ugh. The businessman in him must surely realize that there is a much stronger market for deluxe versions of Listen Like Thieves, Shabooh Shoobah, The Swing, etc.

  5. Dave McGonigle says:

    Eeeshhhh. I need a good mouthwash after reading that.

  6. Danny says:

    “Generic, radio friendly, mediocre third-rate eighties rockers” according to a recent Rocksbackpages podcast.

  7. juepucta says:

    Would be interesting to know wtf is up with the rights to Elegantly Wasted? Seems to be in some weird limbo depending on the territory. The label (from back then, not sure if stillup to today) hasn’t even made it available for the usual streamers.

    -G.

  8. Mister Stick says:

    This a great snag for SDE, Paul. Terrific job. It must be great to have no editor winnowing your conversations down to mere blurbs.

    If I have submitted this recollection before, after previous INXS posts, feel free to ignore, but it seems relevant now:

    In 1987, as INXS started the Kick tour, they played my university and I interviewed Michael Hutchence and Kirk Pengilly, simultaneously, for the campus television station (in the women’s locker room of the basketball arena, no less). My interview wouldn’t win any awards, believe me. I stuck to the obvious questions (“How does ‘Kick’ differ from ‘Thieves’? How do US audiences compare with Aussies?” and so on). The only memorable response was Hutchence telling a tale of watching the Let It Be movie with Kick producer Chris Thomas, who, of course, had worked with The Beatles. Hutchence said that during the screening, he realized that Chris Thomas and Paul McCartney, “are the same person”, or words to that effect. He said that they acted the same way, talked the same way, ate the same foods, etc. Hutchence found that very amusing… Pengilly apparently did not, and the mixed reaction on camera was so weird that we dropped that story from the broadcast cut of the interview.

    But it was what happened after we stopped recording that I’ll never forget. Pengilly and Hutchence left the room, and we were breaking down the camera and lights a few minutes after, when I looked up and saw Michael Hutchence standing in the doorway, looking around for something or someone. At first, I thought he must have forgotten some personal item. But then, he looked straight at me, pointed, and started walking in my direction.

    Inside, I panicked. “This can’t be good,” I thought. I figured he was unhappy with one of his answers, or felt I had insulted him somehow, or God knows what, but I was sure I was in for some kind of Rock Star vs. Local Nobody showdown.

    Boy, was I wrong. Hutchence marched right up to me, and said, “Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’m very sorry that I didn’t thank you earlier.” All I could mumble was “Sure, of course” or something else unintelligible. He gave me a smile, patted me on the back and went out to do the show.

    I heard a quote once, “What is style without manners?” Hutchence had no obligation at all to offer his thanks. I just got the feeling that he was someone of a polite and thoughtful sensibility and was good enough to maintain that as his band was about to blow up into international sensations.

    Setlists.fm says that show, here in Ohio, was the third concert of the Kick tour, in October of 1987 in front of about 5,500 people. By June of 1988, they were packing Wembley for consecutive nights. I like to think that, had I met him in London that next summer instead of a tiny town in the midwest, he would have been just as class the act.

    Thanks again for a great ‘inside story’ on the INXS legacy.

  9. ChristopherM says:

    Good interview Paul. Your well-timed & knowledgable interjections kept things on track.

  10. Bern says:

    “When I wrote that I’d listened to half of it” – a review of only half the product? Wow….

  11. WILLIAM ENGLAND says:

    “I love music. I would die without music” – well that neatly sums up why we’re all here (on this site). I think you need to have that sort of attitude to really deliver back catalogue that lives up to the fans expectations.

  12. D W says:

    Not sure what kind of manager he is but he sure is when hell of a self-promoter. And I’ll bet at least half of what he says is true.

  13. Blessed Brian says:

    Well done Paul. This is exactly the type of article I visit your website for. It’s always interesting reading this type of thing, especially about such a fantastic group like INXS & I cannot think of anywhere else where this sort of interview would be published. As for INXS, I’m glad Chris has taken them off the road, no dignity in doing that in small places. I cannot wait for the WTWYA boxset as for me it’s quite possibly their best album with great b-sides too. I still have that cardboard box that came with “Heaven sent” ( I think ) CD single. One of the musical highlights of 1993 which was a brilliant year for music.

    • Patrick H says:

      Interviews of this kind can be found on the Innerviews website. Anil Prasad has interviewed quite a lot of musicians, and the interviews are thorough and detailed. As for direct answers from the interviewees, I suggest reading the points of view of Jeff Berlin, Al Di Meola, Jakko Jaskszyk among others. With Paul’s interviews, that makes two great sources of music related info.

  14. Steven_Wilsons_Prog_Cat says:

    I am excited for these reissues and would buy them all, hopefully they can find the finance and backing for 5:1 mixes, that would give the releases and extra attraction to previous buyers and new fans.

    On the subject of ‘the other side of INXS’ Please Chris, please include ‘you never used to cry’ such a brilliant and fun song, long forgotten and ignored. Also on a personal level I have much love and admiration for this man, he is keeping the legacy alive and I would love to see his own, personal INXS archives as it is the stuff of legend, a holy grail.

    Thank you for the interview Paul I found it fascinating and riveting.

  15. J. Walsh says:

    Great interview, Paul! I’m really excited about these projects. The Other Side of INXS! Did Chris Murphy read my mind? …or see how many of these tunes I’ve been searching for on YouTube? That collection would be amazing. Scratch, Long in Tooth, Space Shuttle and The Harbour are some of my favorite “lost” INXS gems.

  16. Eamonn says:

    I saw Mystify in cinema the other week in Camden and they screened a Q&A afterwards with Lowenstein and the producer Chris Thomas (who worked on many INXS albums as well as some amazing other records). The way they told it, getting the rights to the music was a losing battle until Michael Hutchence’s daughter saw an early version of the film without the music and said it had to be on there. She then emailed Universal who acquiesced to the usage of nine songs or something. I think they always wanted the music but were pragmatic about not getting the rights to it.

    The way Murphy tells it, they were very cavalier and arrogant about it.
    Always good to read an interview about technical things from someone who isn’t afraid to speak their mind though!

  17. Chris says:

    I would love to know his take on the loss of master tapes from the fire at Universal. I wonder if any INXS tapes were lost.

  18. frank says:

    Excellent read Paul! Thanks to you and Chris for such candid discussion.

    And Chris, if you’re reading comments…Thank you for your work and dedication to the music and spirit of INXS. I very much look forward to what you come up with next.

  19. Django Chang says:

    Superb interview. Thank you very much! Giant fan of the B-sides. As a number have never been released in digital format, very pleased to learn this may finally be remedied.

  20. Glenn says:

    Insightful interview. Interesting to hear about the project that are in the works. Like another poster here I would prefer to have the expanded reissues (starting with the pre-Kick albums) than more compilations.

  21. Stephen K says:

    I’ll be well-pleased by an INXS b-sides album! Looking forward to it, Chris! Hopefully all those 80’s remixes will get a digital release, too.

  22. mark says:

    CAN YOU PUT THE MOVIE JOURNEY/STRACK OUT IN STREAMING SERVICES IN USA PLEASE? Appalling this has not happened. Also Paul i love your work but can i suggest its only fair you interview Lowenstein Chris Murphy is not the most straightforward character and everyone in the industry knows it. There is reason Michael Hutchence had his own manager that was not Chris Murphy. The whole ‘making it a brand’ has had many questional decisions that most fans are united about … Michael would be rolling in his grave. There is always two sides to the story! Thanks for your great work and site. lets keep it positive and balanced … MP.

  23. Richard says:

    Interesting interview, the guy likes to talk! a tad concerned with all the talk of brand, are we going down the Queen route here, i always feel the music almost becomes secondary when that happens what with all the talk of movies and exhibitions, is the musical next!
    And the concept of a b side only comp seems a bit flawed, they weren’t blessed with a multitude of amazing b sides were they, how many great b side compilations can you think of, just keep them to the deluxe box sets and we will all be happy!
    And i still don’t understand how the Max Q rights have been tied for 30 years, would love to know who has been in control of them all this time

  24. Benjamin says:

    My god, the arrogance.

  25. Jakob Rehlinger says:

    If only he’d stepped in and prevented that reality show thing.

  26. Desiree Gambos says:

    Dear Chris M. Murphy,

    Thanks for bringing Michael’s music back to life, something only you could have done. You were my hero when I was 12 in 1989 and I wrote a 7th grade essay on being a band manager, imagining myself as you. I watched “In Search of Excellence” in ’89 and focused on the power that you had over the domain. I noticed names in the liner notes of “Kick”, such as Nick Egan, the Art Director, and “Kick:The Video Flick”, and recognized Richard Lowenstein as the video director. I loved how all of the artistic forces came together with the art of the music created by Michael, Andrew, Tim, Jon, Garry and Kirk to make INXS. I watched your interview a few months ago, where you show all of your INXS memorabilia in your garage. It was just how I imagined in my 7th grade essay, “This is my music room…I’ll fax the agreement right over”, I wrote, and described my office with gold records and posters, just like your garage 30 years later. In “Excellence”, which I have on VHS, and so can’t watch it anymore, you said, “That becomes a really big tour”. I just reveled at the power and responsibility you had over my favourite band. Now, I see that you’re a fan, just like me. I want to thank you for giving that little girl in me, now a 42 year old woman, the best Christmas and birthday in January, I could have, with Live, Baby, Live and Mystify being released in the U.S. at this time. Now I can share the same fascination with my 14 year old daughter. What a dream come true, being that I wouldn’t attend an INXS concert sans Michael. You’re a genius, thank goodness you were the same age as the guys so that you can continue to manage INXS’ catalogue and future. To me, you are more iconic than Malcolm McClaren, Tony Wilson, Rodney Bingenheimer, Hillel Kristal, and Brendan Mullen.

    Thanks,

    Desiree M.G.
    Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA

    • John McCann says:

      Open letters are good,happy 43rd birthday Desirée in January,but the guy who managed inxs more iconic than Malcolm mc laren I think not.,

    • M D says:

      More iconic than Tony Wilson?! Not in a million years. I’m afraid INXS couldn’t hold a candle to Joy Division and New Order. Not forgetting Factory Records and many of the bands on their roster. Iconic is such an overused word, but in the case of Tony Wilson and Malcolm McClaren it’s particularly apt and not Chris M. Murphy.

    • Iain says:

      If you search you should be able to find a company (or someone) who can convert your VHS tape to DVD for you at a reasonable price. I know of one in the UK.

  27. Quante says:

    Brilliant.

    Chris’s passion, love, enthusiasm, grit and determination shines through. Well done to Chris – I’m sure INXS love having him as their champion. That’s how to sell and manage what is already a great product.

  28. Jon says:

    Um…Richard will tell you that not using INXS music isn’t true. It’s been wrapped up and untouchable in Michael’s estate for years.
    Tiger Lily got the permission to use it within a few hours.

    Richard would do you a damn good interview Paul.

    • CJ Feeney says:

      Richard Lowenstein wrote a great piece about the Mystify movie for The Times (UK) a few weeks ago. But I’d love to see what an SDE interview would reveal.

  29. Simon Carson says:

    Really good interview once again Paul. Hopefully now the back catalogue will get a long awaited decent overhaul. Think he made the right choice of getting the band off the road. It was great to see them live in 2007 but of course it wasn’t the same without Michael. Surely ‘X” 30th anniversary deluxe next year?

  30. Danny says:

    Love these interviews Paul. :)

  31. Lee says:

    Very rarely post, but this interview was my favourite you’ve done thus far…..I need to read more. What an insight, what a guy Chris is – just loved it. As I scrolled down I was thrilled it wasn’t the end, until it was ha. Such passion – thank you so much for bringing this to us Paul.

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