By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Andrew Farriss played to millions of fans as a keyboardist for the legendary rock band INXS.
His life is much different now. Farriss and his American-born wife, Marlina Rae Neeley, live a quiet life in the bush in Australia.
“We love it,” Farriss says via telephone at midnight Australia time.
His music has evolved as well. As INXS’ main composer, he penned a series of hits, including the haunting, bluesy music that accompanied singer Michael Hutchence’s lyrics in “Never Tear Us Apart.” Now, he’s turned to country music.
“I love listening to music from all over the world,” says Farriss, who has lived in England and Australia. “I’ve always loved country music. My background is as a songwriter. Country songs tell stories, especially older country songs. They’re real. As a songwriter, that’s what got me.”
Farriss recently released the EP “Love Makes the World,” which is available to stream and download on all digital services. The music was inspired by his trips to Arizona and Mexico.
“It’s very different,” he says with a laugh. “We took a trip down to the Mexican border at the Chiricahua Mountains, and I had a first-hand education from Craig Lawson, who sadly passed away.
“I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought it was a nice horse-riding thing. But we rode by the national monument, the stagecoach routes and I saw where the cavalry had ridden through and where the Cochise stronghold was.”
He thought about the cowboys in Tombstone. Farriss returned several times to New Mexico and Arizona, diving headfirst into the culture.
“Something happened to me in Arizona,” he says. “It pushed all my buttons. Something was happening to me where I was becoming involved in culture.”
He calls it an unexpected education.
“I didn’t see that coming,” says Farriss, who frequently spends time in Nashville. “I didn’t look for it. I was simply trying to have a holiday with my wife.”
“Love Makes the World” focuses on the human process and all things that are important. Rather than sit back and wait for the world to deal him a sweet hand, Farriss shows optimism through his music, just when everyone needed it the most.
“I think the thing that is interesting about the EP is that the tracks don’t all sound exactly the same. It takes you on a journey. It has its own character and style.”
“Love Makes the World” also gives fans a peek into Farriss’ solo efforts, a project he has been working on for more than a decade.
“I was actually going to release my self-titled LP, ‘Andrew Farriss,’ before the pandemic hit and plans shifted,” he says about the album now slated for release this year.
“The five-song concept of ‘Love Makes the World’ was born by accident as the world was and still is struggling with the pandemic and trying to contain it.”
The pandemic, he adds, is a time to reflect on family and the people closest to us and “how the hell we’re going to get out of this thing.”
Farriss isn’t one to rehash his career by relying on rerecording INXS songs. He says he loves the original recordings.
“It’s not just because they’re nostalgic for me,” he says. “I think we got it right the first time around. I’m the kind of person who loves to create something new.
“I’m not interested in revisiting the things and messing around with them. I’ll perform them live, though.”
First, he and Neeley want to ride out the pandemic in the bush.
“I’m talking to you from near where I live,” he says. “I feel really lucky to live where I live right now. We used to live in the suburbs, but we live in the middle of nowhere now. We went through a terrible drought and we lost a lot of money. For three years it wouldn’t rain. But I feel blessed and really fortunate. I really do.
“Folks might find this hard to believe, but I work outdoors a lot. That’s why I’m into hats. I like animals and working with people who like animals. I keep my life grounded. I have better friendships and a quality of life. I follow things in life that are real.”
Andrew Farriss, andrewfarriss.com.