It took eight years after the suicide of lead singer Michael Hutchence for rock band INXS to find a replacement and return to the recording studio.
On Tuesday, the band released its first studio album since the singer’s death, confident of making the right choice to find his replacement through an unusual process: a TV reality show.
The new album “Switch” was recorded after the 32-year-old J.D. Fortune in September beat out 14 rivals on the reality TV show “Rock Star: INXS” to become the band’s lead singer.
The Australian band formed in 1977 when Fortune, a Canadian, was four years old.
“He’s the guy with the accent,” guitarist Tim Farriss told Reuters.
The new album is an attempt at a comeback for a band that peaked in 1987 with the album “Kick,” featuring such songs as ”Need You Tonight” and “Devil Inside.”
The TV series, which aired in the United States on CBS television and in several other countries, was a new twist on popular star-search shows.
It was a turning point for the band, which released its last studio album, “Elegantly Wasted,” a few months before Hutchence’s death.
“We basically dropped our pants in front of the world,” Farriss said about the show.
But the process worked, he said.
“It has exorcised a lot of demons out of us,” he said.
“If you’re true to yourself, it’s going to sound natural on the record. This record sounds very INXS, and that’s a great thing.”
Fortune, who was once homeless, was not sure when he started that the show would work as planned.
“There are millions of fans worldwide who were critics when the show started, and I was one of them, but as the show progressed, it became more about the record,” he said.
“Canadians and Australians share a lot of similarities culturally,” Fortune said. “We’re both a small population in a large land mass. We share a love of barbecues, beer, sports.”
The album was released on Sony BMG’s Epic Records label. INXS begins touring on Jan. 18 in Vancouver.