July 2, 2020 Interview – Garry Beers Talks AshenMoon & INXS
For many, music is the saving grace in their lives. It can heal, inspire, teach, and expand their horizons to extraordinary lengths. When someone is passionate about music you know it, and that is exactly the case with Garry Beers. Famously known around the world as Garry Gary Beers, bassist of INXS, he has made music the center of his universe. A songwriter/producer/musician, Beers co-founded INXS, was the band’s only bassists over 30 plus years, and an intriguing part of their fabric, co-writing many songs including hits “Listen Like Thieves,” “Don’t Change,” plus “Perfect Strangers.” Looking for his next creative muse after INXS, Beers has found it within his new band, AshenMoon.
Featuring Beers, Jimmy Khoury on guitar, as well as Toby Rand on vocals, signed to Golden Robot Records, AshenMoon are set to release their debut album later in 2020. Looking to turn heads, the singles “Dustbowl” and “Mosquito” are out now, offering energetic, thoughtful Rock music for all ages. An exciting time for Beers, he recently sat down to chat about his career, INXS, the heart put into AshenMoon, and a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in music professionally for over four decades. Having a tremendous amount of success with INXS, you have also produced and been a part of other projects. To this point, how would you describe your journey in music?
Garry Beers – It’s been great. Obviously there was a bit of a left turn back in 1997. I’ve been very lucky, though. I grew up loving music, playing music, and I really left myself no other choice but to be a professional musician. I’m just of the opinion that I picked the right vocation. INXS was a lot of work. Kick (1987) was our sixth album; we toured our asses off, so we really earned it.
I have to say since then I’ve been looking for something that’s going to really get me back into loving music again, as far as what I write, produce, and play. With the core guys I have, AshenMoon is the first thing that has come along that has really sparked that interest back into me to really want to get out there and deliver some music to people.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear. As you said, you put in a lot of hard work with INXS throughout the years, and that all did pay off. INXS was a very unique band, they were not just a standard Rock band. What was the creative process like behind the band?
Garry Beers – We obviously had two major songwriters with Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence, but we all wrote and we all had our own production ideas in our heads. Overall, it was a pretty open-minded situation. We had three brothers and we all went to school together, so we were all very close. Everyone’s voices, thoughts, and musicianship was appreciated and involved. The beauty of INXS is it was a true band. That’s something I’m loving seeing again with AshenMoon; it’s a bunch of guys who love playing together. Even through the hard times, INXS loved playing together and the gigs were our salvation. When you have a job where your job is to make everyone happy, and you get to travel the world, it’s a pretty good job. We’ve never forgotten that.
Cryptic Rock – You can’t beat doing something you love for a living. Now you have AshenMoon. So how did this band come together?
Garry Beers – In a very L.A. way. I met Jimmy Khoury, the guitar player, at one of the first industry songwriting parties I ever went to when I first moved here in 2006. We’ve been mates ever since. He had been in the Beth Hart band. It kind of ended badly, and he just didn’t want to be in a band; he was just doing his own thing writing songs. I then met Toby Rand at a TV producer’s party who convinced me to get up and jam with Toby at the party; we also became lifelong friends. I got Toby to join my supergroup, so to speak, called Stadium; we were doing corporate work, playing ’80s music, and it was a lot of fun. As soon as Toby joined, I said, “Okay, this is a guy I want to make a record with.”
He and I paired up, then Jimmy became involved, and the three of us took the reins of a new project called AshenMoon. We all had something to say musically; I’ve been sitting on a lot of music. In fact, some of the songs that are on the AshenMoon record are songs I actually proposed for INXS. One of them was going to be on the Switch (2005) album with J.D. Fortune, but time beat us and it was the only song left off. That song is on this new record with Toby putting his spin on it, lyrically and vocally.
I’m a old hippie as far as music goes: I grew up loving Rock-n-Roll. I grew up in the best time for music as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Deep Purple were still releasing records. I really appreciate everything that has come before me, as far as everything I hear. I always go back to the music I grew up with; there is not a lot that has come along which has changed my mind that music in the old days is better. I just think AshenMoon is all based around the belief that you have to give something back to music. We’re trying to give something back to the people who gave us the passion in the first place and taught us how to play.
Cryptic Rock – You sound quite excited about the new band. AshenMoon has released two singles, thus far, in the last couple of months. Very lively tracks, are they a good example of what we can expect from the full-length record?
Garry Beers – Yes and no. They’re all amazing. I recorded it, produced it, and I’ve been living with it for well over a year. We took our time: it is a very personal, emotional project. It still sounds refreshing for me to hear because it’s all heartfelt. That’s the thing about good music: when it’s heartfelt, you can’t deny it. We really just made it a passion project.
Cryptic Rock – The two songs released, thus far, sound great. Toby Rand’s voice sounds fantastic, too. What has it been like working with him and Jimmy?
Garry Beers – Toby is 6’4″ and a handsome Australian. (Laughs) Besides that, the timing was perfect for AshenMoon. He had his other band, Juke Kartel, and his solo stuff, but I think he was waiting for a project where he can actually put his lyrics into a more personal space. We just sat in a room in my little studio; I have a vocal booth and he sang right behind me towering over me. (Laughs) We just assembled songs as we felt fit. It was a lot of work but we didn’t rush; assembling the tracks was really leisurely. I own the studio; it’s on my property, it’s a little garden shed I turned into a studio.
Toby and I wanted to make a statement. We picked “Dustbowl” and “Mosquito” as the first singles, because lyrically they relate to exactly what is going on right now. The rest of the album is a trip, it’s old school. When I first heard Led Zeppelin III (1970), I put the headphones and went on a journey. I just think we made something that I feel will take listeners on a journey. It still takes me on a journey, and I’m involved in it.
Cryptic Rock – It will be exciting to hear the full album. Has a release date been set for it yet?
Garry Beers – We’ve released the two singles, so we’re going to release an EP with a total of five songs and a third single soon. The second EP will have another five songs, with another single, and be released later this year. Then we are going to release the full album as a vinyl probably around Christmas.
Cryptic Rock – Sounds like a good plan! Hopefully we will have live shows again sooner than later. Once able, will AshenMoon be able to be do live performances?
Garry Beers – Absolutely. We had shows cancelled and we recently found out a 15,000 people festival we were going to play in the Midwest was cancelled. It’s obviously a brave new world and we will take each day as it comes. I’m in L.A., I have friends who have TV studios and we’re going to setup podcasts when the smoke clears.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I think it’s going to make everyone appreciate that they used to be able to go and see music all the time. I’ve always believed, in a situation when times get tough, music tends to become people’s crutch. I think tough times make better music, because it makes people think about what they’re saying. I just think people are going to learn to say something that is relevant again. That’s what we’re trying to do.
We’re a lucky band. We have a record that is finished; it is mixed, mastered, we did all the artwork ourselves, and it’s ready to go. We’re lucky we don’t have to start from scratch and try to make a record when you can’t actually see each other that much. I just think all this is going to create a more interesting situation. Hopefully all the bands, artists, and people in the industry will work together to make it work in the long run. Obviously a lot of small venues will be really hurt; the bigger companies are going to work out how to get through it. Hopefully everyone appreciates what they had and what they can do to make it better again.
Cryptic Rock – Let’s hope for the best. As we have spoke of, over the decades you have worked as a musician, songwriter, and producer. What would you say are some of the more important things you have learned from your vast experience?
Garry Beers – I think when it comes down to it you have to appreciate you who are working with and what voice they can lend. When it comes to a project like AshenMoon, everybody’s voice is important. I can call myself the producer, and it is my vision on this song and that song, but you have to pull the reins back a little bit, let go of them, and say, “You take it.” Then all of a sudden you have a whole different voice, guitar-wise or keyboard-wise, that can take you in a different direction.
Music is like when you have a baby: you don’t choose the baby, the baby chooses you. I think when you write a song it chooses you, too. I think if you don’t realize that, you really shouldn’t be trying to write songs. Songs are the most personal thing you can give about yourself, besides writing a book. With a song, you have to stand there and sing it every night; you can’t bullshit that. If you can, then you really should be an actor. If you write a song that is really personal – an important part of your life, and vision of what you think is right and wrong with the world – then you have to go out to sing it on stage; that is the most personal thing you can do in your life, really.
Cryptic Rock – That is so true. That is where the best music comes from, and you can tell when it is real or put on.
Garry Beers – Exactly. Look at music these days. What’s going to be listened to in three years, let alone five or 50 years time? We’re still going to be listening to Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Pink Floyd in 50 years times. That’s just the way it is; there is timeless music and there is just tossing spaghetti on a wall to see if it’s cooked or not. I just want to be part of the timeless music. I’m very happy with my career: I’ll always be proud to be Garry Beers, the bass player from INXS. It’s a very important and wonderful part of my life. It still goes on too: I’m still very good friends with the INXS guys. Andrew Farriss is out doing his Australian Country stuff, and I’m really happy for him. He and I started off the INXS thing; we got together first. It’s ironic that we are the last two standing, musically.
Cryptic Rock – You certainly have been on an awesome ride, musically. You are clearly very passionate about music. That in mind, could you give us more insight to your personal musical influences?
Garry Beers – I grew up with a lot of great bands in Australia; AC/DC actually played at my school dance and there was no turning back from that. I actually lost a bet with my friends, whoever knew the least chords would buy a bass, and that was me. I became the only bass player in the area, then the Farriss brothers sought me out and I became part of them.
As far as influences, I have to say I started out with The Monkees. I know it was a TV show, but the songs were great. Then I discovered The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, and old Genesis with Peter Gabriel.
I was very lucky to grow up when I did. I would ride my bike down to the shopping center and buy Queen’s A Night at the Opera (1975) for four bucks. I would agonize over buying that or Made in Japan (1972) by Deep Purple. You would then go home, and because you spent your hard-earned dollars, sit there with a pair of headphones, just pour over the music and discover a whole new world. I was a real loner, so in the early days music was everything to me.