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Formed as The Farriss Brothers in 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales, INXS rose to become one of the world’s biggest bands with a series of hit recordings in the mid-to-late 1980s and the early 1990s, including the albums Listen Like Thieves, Kick, and X, and the singles “What You Need”, “Need You Tonight” , “Devil Inside”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, and “Suicide Blonde”. INXS has won six Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards, including three for “Best Group” in 1987, 1989 and 1992; the band was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001. INXS has sold over 70 million albums worldwide, making them one of Australia’s highest selling music acts of all time. After singer Michael Hutchence death in November 1997 the band tried different guest vocalists but finally disbanded in 2012.

INXS were always about rhythm and groove as evidenced in their hit singles and stunning stage shows. Bass player Garry Gary Beers and drummer Jon Farris were a huge part of that process, creating and then laying down those contagious beats. Garry Gary Beers spends most of his time these days in LA, where he has been concentrating on his own line of basses, which he has named GGB basses. Garry also has a new musical project, AshenMoon, formed with fellow Aussie expat Toby Rand of Juke Kartel. The band has released 6 original songs and videos so far and have plans to release a full length record soon.

Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips recently interviewed INXS bass player Garry Gary Beers as part of NAMM’s Oral History Project to discuss his career with the world beating band, his memories of Michael Hutchence, his gear, his own line of basses and his new musical project Ashen Moon. NAMM has kindly granted us permission to create an Australian Musician edit.

More about GGB Basses
Garry Gary Beers is not only one of the best known bassplayers in the world but he uses his flair for woodwork and electronics to build his own line of bass guitars.

But he actually started out as an acoustic guitarist. This was when he was at Forest High School in Sydney, and he formed an acoustic band called Legolas Elvin Warrior with best friends Bill Hucker and Glen Fender. “We decided we needed a bassplayer and we made a bet – whoever of the three of us who knew the least chords would have to switch to bass.

“I’d studied guitar for nine months but I was the worst guitar player so I bought a bass guitar. I was determined not to have lessons.”

The move to bass was a bigger turning point for Garry than even he anticipated. No one else in the area owned a bass guitar. “That’s how I met Andrew and Jon Farriss. It was at a surf club dance. I knew the band which was playing so I arrived early. “They were having a problem finding the power switch. I thought I spotted Tim Farriss with them, I knew him from school, so I went over to say hello.” It turned out to be Andrew. “I’ve heard of you,” the second Farriss brother said. “You play bass.”

Andrew and Jon invited him for a jam session two days later, and Garry ended up forming a band with Andrew called Doctor Dolphin, which Michael would soon join. From there they became The Farriss Brothers which became INXS.

Garry Gary William Beers was born on June 22, 1957 (which makes him the eldest INXS member) in Manly, Sydney. His father Bill was a truck driver, mum Lola worked part-time in a variety of jobs. Garry has an older sister Kerry. Bill in fact died in 1990 on the night that INXS were shooting the video for “Suicide Blonde”.
“I had to leave so the guy wearing a hat on the video is actually the makeup artist.”

Garry is the only member in his family to get into music. “I grew up at the right time, listening to Queen and AC/DC on the radio and Zeppelin and Deep Purple on black and white TV. I was hooked.”

In INXS, Garry saw his role was “to keep it simple because it was a big band with three guitar players and keyboards, and just keep it solid. “As luck would have it, I could play as loud as I wanted to, and I enjoyed that. “The job of any bass player is to be the one that everyone can rely on. Most bass players are laid back and easy going as people who hold it together.”

He and Jon Farriss made a strong rhythm section, both growing up musically together. But Garry had another role onstage. One of INXS’s producers Mark Opitz in his memoirs Sophistopunk called the bass player “a databank”.

That was because Garry has a strong memory, remembering incidents and conversations. In the early days he kept a diary and he has started to write a book on his INXS days. That memory for guitar parts and lyrics helped the others in concert. Michael and Tim, in particular, would be leaping about onstage. Quite often as the adrenalin flowed they’d be lost in the moment. Sometimes Michael would forget one of his own lyrics and Garry would have to mouth the upcoming lyric line to him.

INXS were not aiming for global domination when they first formed. “We were just happy to play, meet people and travel. “I finished high school and didn’t qualify for anything, so I was pumping gas. “But I was good at woodwork and I studied electronics for awhile so I was meant to play guitars and make guitars.

“We didn’t think of overseas until we met (manager) Chris Murphy. We started travelling overseas early in our career.

“Most Australian bands wait until they are successful in Australia before they try to crack America. It’s usually too late because they don’t have the energy any more.

“We were young and hungry and still learning.  Our first album in America was Shabooh Shoobah, which was already our third album in Australia.

“So we had all the energy in the world to get out there and keep building it and building it.”

His highpoint with his INXS days was playing London’s Wembley Stadium – but not the legendary one which yielded Live Baby Live. Rather it was six years before, when INXS were opening for Queen. Queen singer Freddie Mercury watched them side-stage and came into the dressing rooms to tell them how much he enjoyed their show. Queen invited INXS on their European tour, treating them as family, and the Australians could see at close quarters how they put on an epic show and threw their much-talked about afterparties.

Garry lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jourdan (they married in 2007) and their 10 year old twins Isla and August. They volunteer for animal rescue organisations, in 2020 alone fostering out 15 puppies. Their property in Los Angeles is set among the gumtrees & has its own studio called The Shed because the building had been a tool shed.

In 2021, Garry released his GGB Basses handmade boutique line of bass guitars, with pickup electronics which he invented and patented. The guitars are built to replicate the old ’58 Fender Bass he played in INXS, even aged to give it that ‘worn’ look.

You can hear and see the GGB basses with Garry’s new band AshenMoon, formed with fellow Aussie expat Toby Rand of Juke Kartel, with whom he writes, records and tours. The band has released 6 original songs and videos so far and have plans to release a full length record soon.

The track that best sums up INXS for Garry is “What You Need”, which he regards as the most archetypal INXS song. “INXS really nailed that one. Andrew and Michael wrote a great song and Chris Thomas produced it perfectly. It’s always fun to play, it’s got a great groove and it makes people dance.”

“Great music should be a means to escape to a better place for that moment and What You Need demonstrates that to perfection”.

GGB Basses are the brainchild of Garry Gary Beers, bassist of INXS, the international sensations from the 1980s and 1990s. Garry has designed with legendary companies such as Ampeg, Peavey, Fender, Steinberger G&L, ESP, Ibanez and Maton guitars in Australia.

“I wanted to have a bass that feels like an old friend from the moment you first hold it. Then you plug it in and realize that this is like nothing you’ve ever heard or felt before.That’s exactly how I felt when I assembled GGB #1 and that is what I wish to share.”

Garry has put all of his experience, creativity, passion, and knowledge into building what he believes to be the perfect bass – in sound, feel and style. The shapes and colors of these basses are sourced from the look and feel of vintage basses that Garry has admired since he started playing.

“From the early 80’s I’ve been building, modifying, and experimenting with pickups and control electronics. My passion is creating. You can always see me with a soldering iron or shaping tool in my hands. It has always been my mission to find the exact sound and feel for the basses and bass rigs I design and build.”

“First, it started with my mission to build the perfect pickup. I started working on a pickup design back in Australia in the early 90’s. The sound of a vintage split Humbucker pickup was always priority number one. I finally cracked the code and finalized and patented my 4 and 5 string “Quad” pickup in Los Angeles in 2017.”

With the pickup design complete, Garry then began work on the basses that were to house them. For the weight, feel and balance of the new basses Garry turned to “Old Faithful” – his 1958 Fender P Bass he found in Chicago in 1985. “Old Faithful” is the INXS bass- she has played on all of the biggest INXS hits including on our biggest record – KICK.” All of Garry’s basses are modeled after “Old Faithful”, the perfect home for the perfect pickup.

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