Australian songwriter Andrew Farriss’ country music single Come Midnight may be his debut solo offering, but it has been years in the making. Andrew is most well-known for the plethora of hits he penned for his band INXS, but it is with the rhythm influenced track Come Midnight that returns to his early roots. We were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew to talk about his new song and forthcoming album.

SCENEzine
How’s 2019 been for you so far?
 
Andrew Farriss
This year has been flying along to be honest. The momentum I created for myself keeps getting faster and faster. I put together an album and I’ve been travelling a lot, now I’m promoting the first single “Come Midnight”.
 
SCENEzine
Was getting to play Bluebird café in Nashville a bit of a highlight so far this year?
 
Andrew Farriss   
Yeah I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got there but it was really good. Basically it’s a songwriter in the round and an institution in Nashville. I felt really honoured to be invited to go there. It turned out great but I was quite nervous at first.
 
SCENEzine
What is it about Nashville that so many songwriters seem to gravitate towards?
 
Andrew Farriss
It’s really hard to explain other than it’s a kind of mecca for people who still like to play instruments live. There’s a song writing tradition from that town that’s been running for decades. The talent pool in Nashville is like nowhere else I’ve ever really experienced in all musical genres not just country. People flock there because they know there’s a talent pool of people to work with. That’s precisely one of the reasons I went there.  
 
SCENEzine
Huge congrats on the song “Come Midnight” I feel the song gets better the more you hear it. You must be proud of how it turned out?
 
Andrew Farriss 
I really appreciate that. I’ve had a really good response from people I’ve been talking to. I put this song out first because I thought it would give people a good indication of what direction I’m heading into. We shot a video for it as well which I’m pretty comfortable with.
 
 
SCENEzine
Was the song itself written around the guitar riff or were the lyrics created first?
 
Andrew Farriss
It was more written around the guitar riffs. This is the only track on my album that would have any relation to ancient history in my song writing, The rest of the album mostly happened in the last couple of years in recordings up to quite recently.
 
That one particular track “Come Midnight” chord arrangement on the recording that you hear was changed fairly recently. The lyric I rearranged to dedicate to my wife Marlina.   
 
SCENEzine
Would there ever of been a version of that song years ago that Michael Hutchence might of got to hear?
 
Andrew Farriss
No I don’t think he would of ever heard that. At that point when I was working on that song “Come Midnight” everything that I was doing was so polarised. Basically I was working with synthesisers, keyboards, funk guitar and drum machines around that period of time with INXS. I was working a lot with technology in dance music that became the beginnings of EDM and remixes. I was really into that. So I thought the track had no relevance at all.
 
The idea that I had in my mind had no relevance at all to what we were doing in that period in time it seemed like it was from outer space. But I’ve always been a fan of country rock and the fusion of those sorts of instruments with folk instruments like banjo, mandolin, fiddle, harmonicas and acoustic instruments. That was one of the things I really tried hard to do on this album to incorporate those sorts of instruments instead of going into technology areas that I would of gone into in the past. Most of what you hear on “Come Midnight” is a good representation of the instrumentation on the album.
 
SCENEzine
Since the country genre lends itself to a lot of storytelling can we expect that on your album?
 
Andrew Farriss 
Yeah there will be a few good yarns in there (laughs). When I say that I say it because when I started working on the album I realised the only mirror or reality check was to listen to my songs and try to imagine what I’m saying to people. As it went along I began to realise that with my writing I started to think about an earlier time in history. Not the 21st century not even the 20th century I started thinking more about the 19th century. Especially the late 19th century before there was recordings or even motor cars.
 
I started thinking to myself what was life like for people then, they must of all been riding around on horses, it must of been a very physical world. Probably people didn’t travel very far out of their own village or local community. That would of been the embryonic begging of early 20th century country music. So that’s why I started to think more about the 19th century as a songwriter.
 
I’ve incorporated characters that are both real and fictitoions into my writing when I’m telling stories because I wanted to write about my understanding from the research I’ve done about what went on in that period. Some of the lyrics on my album will be very much now, like social issues that are happening now. A lot of what we are dealing with now in the world is because of what’s gone on in the past.
 
SCENEzine
How much of a perfectionist have you been in regards to choosing the tracks that make it onto the album?
 
Andrew Farriss 
That’s a good question. One thing I am thinking about is I’m trying to think what songs all work together to form a body of work. I’m interested in the old school sense of the album having a theme that has a flow to it. Having some of the songs characters relate to another song that sort of thing. I was just saying to my wife Marlina it’s really hard to talk about music unless you’ve heard it (laughs) but I’m doing the best I can.
 
SCENEzine
I guess it must be comforting now as apossed to INXS days where record companies were expecting hits from you?
 
Andrew Farriss
I’m not applying pressure to myself like that at all. In fact I’m the opposite really. One of the things when I first set out to make this album my wife and I talked about it a lot. We came up with the idea that wherever I take myself on this journey.
 
I want to try and make sure that I’m enjoying myself and that I can share that enjoyement with other people. Whether it’s shared on stage or through recordings. I’m not in the same head space as I used to be where everything often was very commercial driven. I’m not thinking like that I’m thinking in a different way. I guess I’m being more arty about it.
 
SCENEzine
How different is the song writing process knowing you are also the vocalist and front man?
 
Andrew Farriss
Yeah that’s another interesting question because I’m still getting to know the creature that I’m supposed to be. I think I’ve got a character and an image. I’m singing a lot more than I’ve ever sang in my life but I’m feeling good about it because I’ve been conscious of what keys I’m comfortable singing in. I’m not trying to sing things that are beyond my capability. The songs I’ve written deliberately because I can sing them. I’m not about vocal aerobics I am more of a storyteller.
 
SCENEzine
Are there any INXS songs you’d love to try out putting a country arrangement to them?
 
Andrew Farriss 
I tried a bit of that last year when Glen Wheatley and John Farnham championed the Hay Mate concert that was held in Tamworth. It was televised around Australia, because I live in the North West I put my hand up to be a part of it. So Jon Stevens and I put together a set of music. With my set I also invited the very talented Davidson Brothers to perform with me. We started messing around with some of the older songs I’ve written for INXS. 
 
SCENEzine
It must be surreal to think next year in 2020 it would have been 40 years since the release of the first INXS album. At the same time it’s also the same year your first solo album will be released.
 
Andrew Farriss
I never thought about that. I suppose with twenty twenty vision you are spot on (laughs). I think there’s a lot of ironies to this. With “Come Midnight” my wife Marlina had it on high rotation for a long time on her phone. She used the song as an alarm for when to wake up. It used to drive me nuts then I realised it must mean she like it.
 
As I’ve been going along I’ve been asking friends and other song writers if they like what I’m working on. I’ve been getting some really good responses from people and that’s a good indication that hopefully it will be something that people enjoy listening to. 
 
SCENEzine
Are you ready for the feeling of playing live seeing people sing your solo songs back to you?
 
Andrew Farriss
Well one of the more tricky things at the moment is people haven’t heard the album. In a sense I feel like I’m going right back to the beginning of my career, where it’s like the old days again and people don’t know what I’m singing about. I’ve got a few runs on the board now though  so I can entertain people because when you walk on stage that’s what you are, you’re an entertainer.
 
SCENEzine
When it comes to lyrics are there any tips you might of learnt from Michael Hutchence that you can use in your song writing?
 
Andrew Farriss
Yeah Michael was a brilliant lyricist amongst many other talents that the extraordinary guy had. Lyric wise he would tend to write a verse or a rough chorus idea and then finish it later on when we got in the studio. I had always wrote lyrics whenever we were recording as a band but because Michael didn’t play an instrument a lot of people don’t understand that his voice was his instrument.
 
Because he didn’t play an instrument I always felt out of respect because he had to sing the songs on stage as a co-writer I would give him the floor space to write lyrics because he had to deliver them as a vocalist on stage. I’ve always had my own lyric ideas and my own way I work in fact in the early years of the band I would write most of the lyrics. I miss Michael he was my friend and I think there’s far too much focus sometimes on negative areas of his life. I wish people would talk about his creativity more it’s brilliant.
 
(interview by Christian Ross)
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