INXS, one of Australia’s greatest rock bands, have two very big reasons to celebrate.
Last week, INXS – The Very Best was recognised for its outstanding achievement in the ARIA Top 100 Album Chart where it has successfully remained for an incredible 500 weeks in just under a decade.
This is more than any album in the current top 100, with a whopping seven of those weeks spent at No.1. Many of those hit songs featured on The Very Best can be accredited to their 7-x Platinum, highest-charting record, Kick, which almost wasn’t released.
Speaking to Rolling Stone about the legendary album that solidified them as one of Australia’s most beloved exports, Kirk Pengilly revealed that Kick had initially been panned by industry bigwigs – a move that seems utterly baffling when seeing the gargantuan success the album would later achieve.
“Basically, our manager took Kick to Atlantic Records in America and sat down with the head of the label and played it to him. He kind of nodded his head a little bit and then he apparently just sat there and said, ‘Look, I’ll give you a million bucks to go and make a new record. I just don’t get it. I don’t hear any hit singles on it,'” Pengilly said.
“I guess now in hindsight I understand it because I think some of the tracks like “Need You Tonight” – which was the lead single off the album – were really different. It was a really different sounding song to what was happening, so I get that he didn’t ‘get it’. Thankfully, our manager, Chris Murphy, went off and found people within Atlantic that ‘got it’ and worked with them and, of course, it went on to become one of our biggest albums,” he laughed.
At the time of Kick’s release, the Australian music scene had been dominated by pub rock bands whose sounds were notably different from that of INXS.
“I think [our music] was progressive,” Pengilly mused. “We were incredibly lucky to have come out when we did – it was a time when every pub in Australia virtually had a band playing every night. There was so much work around, and around the time of our first album in 1980, for the next two years, we pretty much did 365 gigs each year – some nights playing three shows.
“It was nuts, but it was also a really great place to learn our chops and how to work onstage with an audience and try things out. If it didn’t work, it was like, ‘Okay, let’s try something else’. And it didn’t really matter,” he added.
“I don’t think we tried ever to be anything other than ourselves, we just wanted to play the music we loved. We were influenced by all the stuff we listened to as kids and all the stuff that was happening then. We didn’t set out to be anything other than wanting to make great music that we loved, and hope that people loved it.”
In celebration of the legendary album’s 35th anniversary this year, Kick has undergone an exclusive remix by British-born, two-time Grammy Award-winning music producer extraordinaire Giles Martin – who has also worked with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – who has delivered his latest spatial audio masterpiece that is available now on Apple Music.
Kick became the second album in the world to be remixed by Martin for a unique cinematic experience in 2017 that showcased the new Dolby Atmos sound as part of the record’s 30th-anniversary celebrations.
“It’s a whole different way of listening to music,” Tim Farriss said of the album’s remixed sound. “I know that they’re starting to use it in cars, so it’s only a matter of time before every car you get in is going have this immersive surround sound.”
Pengilly added that the group were highly involved throughout the entire creative process, saying, “Tim and I came into the studio to listen to some of the tracks on a Sonos Soundbar, as well as some of the tracks on headphones.
“From there we made a whole lot of notes and spoke to Giles on Zoom to discuss what we felt was needed track by track. It was great to have been involved with that, and Giles was very open and very appreciative, it was a really good experience.”
And as for what late frontman Michael Hutchence would think of INXS’ ongoing success and Kick’s new sound?
“We often got asked that question,” Pengilly noted. “After he died, when we were doing the Rockstar shows, people would ask, ‘What do you think Michael would think of this?’ and part of me is sort of ‘who knows?’ but I do know Michael always said the one thing he wanted was for our music, or for INXS, to matter in years to come.”
Kick ATMOS is available now on Apple Music.