November 27, 2006
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SJP


INXS frontman pens new album
By -- For JAM! Music


J.D. Fortune, lead singer of INXS. (HO)

Canadian INXS frontman J.D. Fortune, who only got three co-writes on the band's 2005's album, "Switch," because of time constraints, has been busy writing the follow-up after he had a dream about going to Hell.

"It sparked an entire concept record and I wrote 11 songs about this journey that I took to Hell and back," says Fortune, laughing.

Fortune says the first song is called "Angel Skin" about a man descending to the depths of hell with another man and telling him what brought him there.

"It turns out it's actually the Devil that he's telling the story to," says Fortune. "The Devil is so moved by how the guy ended up going to Hell that he says, 'You don't really belong here,' and sends him to Heaven."

Fortune then recites a lyric: "Underneath this burning suit, you're made of angel skin."

"It's going to be pretty intense. It's going to make 'Pretty Vegas' look like a walk in a park," says Fortune, referring to the first single from "Switch," which he co-wrote on the "Rock Star: INXS" TV talent show, seeking a replacement for the Australian band's original singer Michael Hutchence, who died in 1997.

Fortune says another one of his new songs is called "Death Of An Elephant" about how your heroes can fall, but they're still the same people. "Sometimes meeting your heroes isn't all it's cracked up to be or sometimes you're more impressed (by them)," says Fortune.

"But it's not just heroes," he adds. "It's the guy or girl that acts selflessly and does not expect to be rewarded. Heroes never know that they are; they just are. It's that dichotomy between good and evil within all of us. We are all God and we are all the Devil."

Other songs are untitled or have working titles such as "Lullaby," "Everybody Says Goodbye" and "Product Of The System."

Fortune says these songs are for a new INXS album and not for a solo album.

He wrote them on acoustic guitar and then played them into a small recorder and "kind of beatbox the beats that I hear with it and hum the bass lines," he explains.

Because of the nature of the subject matter, he's asked if he envisions that the music will go from dark to light, ending with some kind of glorious gospel number?

"Kind of (my) 'Hallelujah?' Definitely - and then I plan on dying," he jokes.

Fortune has already played the rough demos to his INXS bandmates - guitarist/saxophonist Kirk Pengilly, guitarist/keyboardist Andrew Farriss, guitarist Tim Farris, drummer Jon Farriss, and bassist Garry Beers. "They're loving it, absolutely loving it," says Fortune.

Fortune doesn't know when the band will get in the studio and this entire concept might change by then.

INXS is touring right through to next summer, including Europe and the U.K. in June ("I think we're playing Wembley in London") and a big concert in Australia in August. "So right now, it's still full-on," Fortune says, although he does get a break in January and February.

Fortune has also auditioned for a part in "The Dirt," based on Mötley Crüe's self-penned book, "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band." The film will be directed by Larry Charles ("Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"), and is due out in 2008.

"I'm up for a role of a heroin addict, which could be interesting for me considering I don't really party anymore. A needle has never touched my arms I'm glad to say, so it will be acting," says Fortune.

"It's just like anything. You've auditioned and then you put it out of your mind. If you get it, you get it and if not, whatever. I didn't want to be one of those typical, 'Oh, I think I can act, so let's try that.' It's not that at all. I just happen to really believe in the story."

Fortune, who has a great story of his own - from oh-so-close record deals and a hand-to-mouth existence to winning the televised competition to front one of his favorite bands - is also protecting himself by buying back the masters for some of his early demos, recorded from around 1999 to 2001.

There had been many lucrative offers from companies to put out the songs, but the person who owns them is honoring his relationship with Fortune by selling them back to him.

"I've got to wait because my hands are tied while I'm out on the road. I can't sign anything via fax because it's not legal. I have to sign real copies of it," says Fortune.

. "I want to own the masters outright, so 10 years from now I can put out a Canadian content compilation, or not even release them. Who knows? If one day, there's a young singer-songwriter who needs advice, maybe I can point them in the right direction and use those songs as an example? I love listening to old demos of somebody sitting in their basement going 'Shit that sucks; let's try this.'"

Fortune also sees it as a good thing that INXS is no longer signed to Burnett/Epic. The band can work on getting a more attractive deal, since Burnett Productions - which owns the Rock Star reality television property - does get a significant piece of the pie, which lessons the financial appeal for Epic and worldwide distributor Sony BMG Music.

"There's something to be said for sticking to your artists and believing in them, and right now, w're taking Europe and Asian by storm, and we've had offers to go back to India and play to like a hundred thousand people.

"We're working with some really great people right now and we're just in the middle of doing our own label with a company out of the U.K., so that's going to be really huge for us," says Fortune, not able to name the company just yet.

"We'll be our having our eye closer on our career, as opposed to having a bunch of 'yes' people around us, going, 'Yeah, yeah, we'll do that,' and 'Yeah yeah, we'll do that.' And we're out touring and nothing happens, and we're like, 'What the hell? 'Oh, it's too late now, sorry. We didn't tell you?' 'Ah, no you didn't.'

"I'm sorry, I'm just kind of paraphrasing the whole thing," says Fortune.

"By the way, Sony BMG Canada has been our biggest champion. Love them to death. It has nothing to do with Sony worldwide and Sony in Australia, Denis (Handlin), the president there, I'm his biggest fan."

"Switch" has scanned just under 170,000 units in Canada, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada. Worldwide sales are under one million.

INXS has played some great gigs the past year, including to 70,000 people in India, according to Fortune, but there's one gig that will top them all, if it goes through - in space.

Virgin Group entrepreneur Sir Richard has formed Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, which aims to send civilian passengers into suborbital space by late 2007 (for $200,000 U.S. a seat), and Branson wants some live music onboard.

"He's looking to put a band up in space to do a 45-minute set, going around the world doing six orbits around the planet and then coming back down, but, man, I'm afraid to fly," says Fortune. "I'd be on so much Xanax, I don't even think I'd be able to speak (laughs)." More Lowdown stories




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