Behind the Band Name: INXS

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Icons of the ’80s and ’90s, INXS epitomized cool. The Australian band was sleek, laid-back, and stylish in an age of overdone new wave and superfluous synth-pop. Their brand of funk-infused, dance-driven pub rock set the band apart and cemented them in time.

INXS’ music seems to exist in a vacuum, in a moment untouched by the decades that have passed since their initial success. From the sexy grooving “Need You to Tonight” to the soulful strutting “New Sensation,” their songs are perfect in their ability to transport you back to the band’s heyday and back to the era that informed their unusual name.

Behind the Name

While the band’s name looks like it should be pronounced “inks,” or said like I-N-X-S, they were actually called “In Excess.”

So why wasn’t INXS just In Excess? Simply because it was cool. Yes, it was trendy at the time to have a band name presented stylistically different than how it was meant to be read. They were inspired by other bands of the time, taking a page from the likes of the English group XTC, or Ecstasy, and fellow Australians IXL, or I Excel, who preferred acronyms and abbreviations to full names.

Made up of the Farriss brothers—Andrew, Jon, and Tim—alongside longtime schoolmates Michael Hutchence, Gary Beers, and Kirk Pengilly, the six-piece band needed a name that suited them. They went through monikers like the obvious, The Farriss Brothers, and tried on the name Doctor Dolphin for size. They also briefly performed as The Vegetables, however, when gigs started to become more frequent and impressive, such as supporting the band Midnight Oil on a regular basis, the group landed on INXS.

In an interview, frontman Hutchence explained the name, “It was just an idea someone had because there’s six of us and it means too much.” Their energy on stage was excessive, he continued.

Watch members of the band discuss their origins, below.

Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage

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