#TBT Lazy-i Feb. 10, 2005: Looking for a New Sensation…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:55 pm February 12, 2015
Michael Hutchence during the glory days of INXS circa 1994.

Michael Hutchence during the glory days of INXS circa 1994.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

With the impending release of Matt Whipkey’s new album, Underwater, Feb. 20 (and with no other news to report), it seemed like a good time to turn the Wayback Machine to February 2005, 10 years ago, and recap a pair of stories that appeared in Lazy-i and The Reader about the time Mark Burnett Productions rolled into Omaha looking for a replacement for INXS frontman Michael Hutchence. The rest of the story is below, and will appear next week. So for Throwback Thursday…

Published in Lazy-i Feb. 10, 2005:

INXSessive or American Idolatry?

So you wanna be a rock star, huh?

Well, Friday just might be your lucky day. Mark Burnett Productions, the fine folks who brought us such intelligent, thoughtful television programs as Survivor, The Bachelor and The Apprentice, will be at Mick’s in Benson all day looking for an “INXS Rock Star.” The talent search/reality TV series is an effort to help ’80s rock band INXS find a replacement for deceased frontman Michael Hutchence, who hanged himself in 1997.

“Sometimes in life, you get one shot to prove you have real talent,” says the call for auditions at INXS.com. “That chance is about to happen to anyone willing to prove they have what it takes to be a ROCK STAR.”

Word on the street was that they weren’t just looking for a pretty face, but for serious singer/songwriters, which is why Omaha was among the 18 cities chosen to host the auditions along with Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Sydney, Australia.

In my book, Anonymous American frontman Matt Whipkey and Galen Kieth from Lovetap, are the most qualified to audition. But Whipkey says he’s not interested. “It sounds like a great way to lose all your songwriting rights and get involved in some lengthy contractual obligation,” he said. “I’m sure it’ll be entertaining. I will likely watch it on TV and then say, ‘Boy, I should have done that,’ but right now… it seems silly.”

It’s hard not to agree. Look, I’m an INXS fan, too. “Don’t Change” from ’82’s Shabooh Shoobah is one of my favorite songs from my high school years. I have no doubt that this event will be an enormous success both for Mick’s and Mark Burnett Productions, but let’s not kid ourselves. Are they really looking for a singer/songwriter or just another stud? Isn’t this just another version of American Idol?

Absolutely not, says casting director Michelle McNulty, calling from Chicago. “We’re not looking for a Michael Hutchence look alike. The person has to be able to get up and front this band. He has to be the real deal.”

McNulty said the show, and the band, are looking for that person who has “it.”

“‘It’ is that charismatic quality that comes from someone who can perform in front of 50,000 people. It could be a man or a woman.”

McNulty said she understood Whipkey’s reticence and skepticism. “I get where he’s coming from. But I’m telling you the winner will become a full-fledged member of this band and will go on a world tour.” They’ll also be writing music with keyboardist Andrew Farriss, just like Hutchense used to do.

McNulty confirmed it was Omaha’s music scene that drew the production to town. “Look at that kid, what’s his name?” Bright Eyes? “Yeah. He’s blowing up everywhere.”

By the way, don’t bother dropping by Mick’s unless you’re planning on taking the stage. Auditions are closed, McNulty said, and they won’t be aired like they are on American Idol. You’ll just have to wait until this summer when CBS begins airing the series to see if they found any “it” in Omaha. – Feb. 10, 2005

* * *

Tune in next week to see what happened.

By the way, this also was going on in February 2005:

Lazy-i Feb. 10, 2005 — An addendum to the Jan. 26 column predicting Bright Eyes’ first week sales for I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn: According to Saddle Creek, I’m Wide Awake clocked in at #10 on the Billboard charts with 56,167 scanned during its first week of sales. Digital Ash was #15 with 45,736 scanned. That’s a combined total of 101,903 sold during the first week. In addition, Wide Awake and Digital Ash also made Billboard‘s Independent Album Chart — #2 and #3 respectively — and Alternative Album Chart — #3 and #4 respectively, as well as the BBC Radio 1 Top 40 Indie Albums Chart — #3 and #5 respectively.

Exciting times indeed.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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