Fortunately for Hutchence's band, most people were just as fucked up as he was during the group's '80s heyday. When folks sobered up in the '90s, the Australian sextet was relegated to the suck-ass bin and Hutchence hanged himself in 1997 (while achieving autoerotic climax, some allege). But thanks to Survivor creator Mark Burnett, the band was rescued from obscurity last year through the CBS reality show Rockstar: INXS, wherein J.D. Fortune, a 31-year-old ex-Elvis impersonator from Canada, was plucked from hundreds of starry-eyed aspirants to front the band. INXS bassist Garry Beers was kind enough to discuss J.D.'s fortunes and Rockstar judge Dave Navarro with B-Sides one recent Thursday afternoon.
B-Sides: Why were there so many Canadian contestants on Rockstar: INXS?
Garry Beers: It just worked out that way. We had auditions all over the world, and a lot of Canadians really made the grade.
Were Ty and Mig just too gay to make the final cut?
I don't know about gay, but they had a bit of theatrical experience that, at the end of the day, may have worked against them. They were both great singers, but maybe not man enough.
Did you approach either Lionel Richie or Kenny Rogers about fronting the band before resorting to a rock reality show?
Unfortunately, no. We can only dream of those two fronting our band. Michael McDonald would have been a good choice, too. We just didn't think we were big enough.
Let's say, hypothetically, that Kenny Rogers was in serious negotiations to join INXS. What would be Rogers' number-one reason for declining the gig?
That we don't have enough songs about cars and loose women.
Will Dave Navarro be on the jury of Rockstar: Fine Young Cannibals, or are they holding that spot for Howard Jones?
Dave's a funny fucker. He's extremely talented and has great tats.
Did you guys used to do a lot of blow back in your heyday?
Like all rock bands, we dabbled in all sorts of things we shouldn't have. But being a father, the only way you can tell your children what not to do is if you've had firsthand experience yourself. And they still won't listen to you anyway. INXS at the Family Arena, 2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles. Show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 1. Tickets are $27 to $42; call 636-896-4242 for more information.
The death-metal quartet known as Nile writes epic songs primarily about ancient Egypt from various rites and rituals to mythological and historical tales all delivered with guttural screams, Middle Eastern flourishes, ferocious riffs and blast beats. Your first encounter with Nile definitely provokes the question: "Is this for real?" But when you open the thick CD booklet for their latest record, Annihilation of the Wicked, and see the song-by-song commentary written by principal songwriter and singer/guitarist Karl Sanders, the only answer is that Nile must be real. When B-Sides spoke with Sanders, we found him to be a funny dude who loves death metal and has a genuine interest in Egyptology. We also chatted with him immediately after he dealt with U.S. Customs there were problems getting Nile drummer George Kollias' drum set into the country, since Kollias is from Greece.
B-Sides: So what happened?
Karl Sanders: Fucking U.S. Customs! They're such punks! They wanted to say that we were going to re-sell George's drum set, that we were gonna make all this money off it, and that we had to pay these taxes. Man, it took forever to get around them!
Glad you got it sorted out, though. Who'd be the winner in a steel cage match between Zeus, Odin and Ra?
Me. I'd jump in from the side. I'd be the wild card.
What!? What special power have you got that could take out three gods?
Just a whole lot of Southern redneck charm.
All righty then, I guess you could kick the Rock's ass too?
No, you know, I love the Rock. I smell what he's cookin'.
Uh...OK. Since your drummer is Greek, does he ever pressure you to write songs about Pegasus or Theseus or other Greek myths?
No, not at all.
Does the song "Walk Like an Egyptian" bum you out?
No, I think Susanna Hoffs is hot!
Is she hotter than Cleopatra?
Well, that depends on who's playing her. In that HBO series Rome, they have this young girl that plays Cleopatra that is smoking hot. I wasn't into Elizabeth Taylor, not at all. I think she's a stupid fucking pig. Nile at Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois. Show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 28. Tickets are $20; call 618- 274-6720 for more information.
Shake Your Groovethang
"No one would demean or make anything less of what the Saint Louis Symphony does, but, in essence, they're a tribute band," says Justin Stewart, Groovethang's lead singer. "They play classics that have been around for hundreds of years, and they play it just as they were meant by Mozart to be played. And that's the way we play this music." Well, yes, but try getting the SLSO to do "Hey Nineteen" as perfectly as Groovethang. Hear Stewart's band transform into Steely Dan and then the Doobie Brothers for their second-annual tribute night to benefit the Leukemia Society at the Pageant this Saturday. Stewart (a.k.a. Donald Fagen, a.k.a. Michael McDonald) stepped out of his alter-egos for a rapid-fire Q&A.
B-Sides: Tougher to emulate: Donald Fagen or Michael McDonald?
Justin Stewart: I can do a better job at Anita Baker on the fly than I can Michael McDonald. He's absolutely the toughest, and he has such a range. I have to jump up to a falsetto where he would be singing in his very strong, normal singing voice.
Could you do a duet with yourself?
Oh, absolutely, yes! There's a Doobie Brothers song called "One Step Closer" it's a duet between Michael McDonald and [late Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers sax player] Cornelius Bumpus. As I'm learning the song, I'm singing Cornelius' part and Michael McDonald's part.
OK, more overplayed Doobie song: "Black Water" or "Listen to the Music"?
I think "Listen to the Music."
More desperate: The guy in "Dirty Work" or in "What a Fool Believes"?
"What a Fool Believes."
More spiritual song: "Jesus Is Just Alright" or "Deacon Blues"?
"Deacon Blues." Here's this classic, faded hipster talking about his trials and tribulations, and he's searching his soul trying to figure out exactly who he is. I remember when I was growing up, older guys in their twenties would refer to themselves as "Deacon Blues." That was their nickname, because they identified with that guy.
You spend all this time channeling Steely Dan's voice, but would you say that Dan's more steely or actually kind of sweet?
[Laughs.] He's a sweet guy. See, because if you refer to the "steely" part, then that refers to the origin of the name, and I don't want to have any sort of association with that. Groovethang at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. Show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 28. Tickets are $25 (21-and-up only); call 314-726-6161 for more information.