INXS guitarist-saxophonist Kirk Pengilly has a good explanation for Toronto frontman J.D. Fortune's claims in 2009 he was let go by the band with a handshake at an airport two years earlier.
"I think J.D. was just losing his mind," said a chuckling Pengilly, 52, later joined by Fortune, 32, at a Toronto hotel restaurant leading up to the Aussie band's only Canadian tour stop on March 2 at T.O.'s Sound Academy.
"I must say that the event that J.D. purported to happen didn't happen," continued Pengilly. "The last show we did at the end of the tour was Borneo and that was where we said, 'We're going to have at least 12 months off.' I think a lot of it too wasn't helped by the management at the time, there was just sort of miscommunication."
Needless to say, the veteran dance-rock band parted ways with their management, regrouped 18 months later and began jamming in the studio in Sydney for what they thought was going to be an album of instrumental surf music. Instead, it led to their 2010 album of reworked INXS hits, Original Sin, with various singers including Fortune.
The singer -- who won the INXS vocalist role via the CBS reality TV show Rock Star: INXS in 2005, recorded that year's disc, Switch, and toured the world with the band -- clearly seems happy to be back with the group.
"Do I think I lost my mind? I lose my mind on a daily basis," said a half-joking Fortune, who admitted in a print exclusive with QMI Agency in 2009 he had misrepresented what actually went down with the band.
"I was literally in foreign waters, trying to sort out what had happened and what had gone down. And I wasn't aware of the fact that it's quite normal after you tour for 23 months straight and do 20 odd countries that you take a long break. But at the same time, the show kept going for me, literally I had just lost my mind. At the end of the day, it's just a real pleasure to be sitting here next to Kirk Pengilly."
Fortune -- who told QMI Agency in March 2009 he was broke and living out of his car (as he had been before Rock Star) before his godparents in Mississauga took him in -- finally reconnected with INXS in May 2009.
"There were no hard feelings," said Pengilly.
The band's new/old manager, Chris Murphy -- who was with them from their late-'70s beginnings until 1993 -- was the one responsible for the reconciliation, and just before Fortune moved to L.A., where he now lives in a Studio City condo.
"Canada was very, very gracious, and helped me through a very difficult challenge that I had in my life and that was actually trying to find my own voice within a band that comes with such a powerful and potent legacy," said Fortune. "After (singer) Michael (Hutchence passed in 1997), usually within a company, there's promotion from within. And basically what (Rock Star) did was went down to the docks and picked up one of the dock workers and said, 'Hey mate! You want to give this a try, running this ship for little awhile?' Now, ironically, we have history. We've had a peak, we've had a low, and now we're the underdogs coming back up to bite at the top again."
Still, Orginal Sin got panned by most critics and what was supposed to be a Canadian tour is so far just a Toronto date.
The good news is that Pengilly said they were already writing and recording a new studio disc with Fortune -- the first track called Violent Works of Art -- and are planning on touring following that release.
"It's a pretty sexy beat and rhythm kind of thing we put down," said Pengilly. "But it's a little early to kind of go, 'How's the record going to sound?' We don't really know."
ĎKillersí star gives up ĎBeautiful Girlí
INXS' latest album, 2010's Original Sin, features such singers as Canadian J.D. Fortune, Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, Train's Pat Monahan, Ben Harper and Tricky singing re-invented versions of the band's hits.
And although Monahan recorded Beautiful Girl it was actually The Killers' Brandon Flowers who recorded it first.
"In the end, (Flowers') management-slash-record company decided to give it a no because he was doing a solo record (2010's Flamingo), and I think they probably thought it would be a conflict if he's releasing that," band guitarist-saxophonist Kirk Pengilly told QMI Agency.
Pengilly admits he was disappointed.
"Oh, yeah, I must say I was really surprised in his vocal on that track because I've never heard him sort of sing like that. He always sounds like he does with The Killers. I didn't know that he had that in him. It was really good but I'm more than happy with Pat Monahan's version of it."