With over 30 million album sales, dozens of global industry awards and a career spanning 30 years,many people consider INXS as the biggest band Australia have ever produced. Kirk Pengilly (guitar/saxophone/vocals) has been frequently spotted on many different islands in the past few weeks. We caught up with him for a quick chat.
What brings you to the Maldives - a number of colleagues tell me you have been a regular visitor in the past weeks?
Yes, I'm becoming a regular... I was here with my wife, Layne Beachley at the beginning of September for the inaugural "Four Seasons Surfing Champions Trophy" event. It was a really fun event where 6 World Champion Surfers were up against each other in 3 challenges - Single Fin, Twin Fin & Thruster (3) Fin surfboards. Layne was the only female surfer. We stayed at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa for the week and it would have to be one of the most amazing resorts I have ever been too. The food, service and attention to detail was astounding. Whilst we were there, it was announced as the "Best Resort in the World" by Condé Nast Traveller... After the event, we went and stayed at Club Med Kani for a week. A completely different feel and loads of fun. The usual whacky, fun entertainment each night. Layne tied for 1st place in a Michael Jackson Dance Competition which was pretty funny. We stayed in a bungalow over the water on the end of the wharf which from every aspect was completely private. It even had a big bath with a 180 view over the ocean with no land or other bungalows visible. It was incredible. Food wise, they had the usual amazing Club Med buffet spread and there's never a plate big enough (I hate going back for seconds...).
Have you ever visited the Maldives before this year?
No I haven't. It has always been on my (small) list of must, places to go. Next week Layne and I are heading back to the Maldives to take part in an event at the Six Senses Laamu called "Water/Wo/Men - a powerful gathering of people with purpose, coming together to facilitate change" ( Six Senses Laamu, +H20 ). The event should be amazing with many inspirational people flying in to participate. I'm really excited about staying at Six Senses as I have heard the food is amazing there but mostly, their concept of reducing the carbon footprint but still living in luxury is very responsible and appeals to Layne and I. I hear that a typical room is like the world's best tree house with all the mod cons ie the Bose sound system and all the high tech equipment and space to satisfy anyone! Robinson Crusoe eat your heart out... So, soon I will have been to 3 different Maldivian Resorts in just over a month... I have some very jealous friends...
What was your impression of the Maldives before you actually came?
I guess I pretty much imagined it as it is..., lots of scattered island dots in the middle of the ocean. It is way more beautiful than I ever imagined and certainly has way more to offer than I thought too.
What do you think of it now you have visited?
Well firstly, as there are so many different islands, there really is something for everyone here, and budget wise too. The beauty is that every island is unique and for the most part, each island is dedicated to the one resort, so you have it to yourself. It is literally, the most beautiful part of the world I have ever visited and because of my career, I am certainly well travelled... Also, as each resort is surrounded by water, the water-sports are phenomenal. From surfing, to sailing, to scuba diving, to windsurfing, to my favourite, stand-up paddle boarding, etc.
Was there anything that surprised you about the Maldives?
I think firstly, as you fly over before landing in Male, you can't fathom how vast the Maldives is. The view form the air is spectacular looking down and as far as the eye can see there are submerged atolls, next small islands, next to more attoll's... And the water is the most beautiful shades of blue, turquoise and aqua. The natural, pristine beauty of the water, the islands, the sunsets (and sunrises, but I didn't see any of them) is amazing, truly unique to the Maldives. Everywhere I have been, the staff and people are so friendly and happy. No wonder..., living here how could you be anything else.
Kirk, you were runner up in Celebrity Masterchef in Australia, how have you enjoyed the cuisine in the Maldives?
Firstly the seafood is amazing and so fresh. At the Four Seasons "Indian" restaurant, Layne and I had one of the best meals ever - Tandoori Lobster. It was incredible, just melted in your mouth surrounded by all the wonderful tandoori flavours. Overall, the food wherever we have been was "Michelin" level.
What was your favourite meal here?
The Tandoori Lobster at the Four Seasons Indian restaurant. I can still taste it...
The authentic music in the Maldives is the Bodu Beru drums and the traditional chorus singing and dancing. Have you managed to experience this?
Yes, on arrival at the Four Seasons, you are greeted with a Bodu Beru drum performance. Also,during the "Surfing Champions Trophy" event we all ate at the outdoor restaurant at the Four Seasons and they were performing from table to table. I think we surprised them as our whole big table of about 30 people got up and starting dancing with them. It was loads of fun.
As a song writer, have you had any musical ideas from this?
It certainly is a very inspiring location and also, having just finished a four month world tour, I am completely relaxed and rejuvenated. I'm ready for the next instalment of INXS...
INXS are reputed to be one of the few bands that sound best when playing live. Would you and the band like to perhaps play in the Maldives one day?
Sure, we'd love to, though I don't think you could afford us... Just joking.!!! It would be awesome to play here. INXS has always loved going to new places and also off the beaten track parts of the world where International bands don't normally perform.
Your band rose to world fame at the same time as your good friends U2 and REM. Were you surprised to hear that REM recently split?
Yes I was, although I didn't really know that they were still together... We did a lot of shows with REM back in the 80's and Michael Stipe is a lovely guy. He used to always watch us perform from side stage whenever we performed together.
What is the secret of INXS's longevity?
A lot of factors really, We all grew up together and went to the same schools. Three brothers in the band has always made INXS more of a family than a band and most of all, we love the magic of when we play and perform music together. I don't think any of us would know what to do if the Band no longer functioned...
INXS once flew to an island to write and record one of your albums (Full Moon, Dirty Hearts) - there are over 100 resort islands and 100 local islands in the Maldives, would this be a good place to write and record?
Certainly. The whole reason we went to the Isle of Capri to record that album was to have no distractions and really focus. The fact of the matter was that it was a bit like recording on Alcatraz, as it was the off season so there was nowhere to go to let of steam or getaway from the Studio. To record here, we would probably have to fly in special recording equipment, as I don't think any of the islands have a whiz-bang recording studio. To record on Male would be fine but perhaps not so private.
Finally, the Maldives is currently looking for a new national slogan for its tourism and destination marketing. What would yours be?
"Enrich your lives..., Go play in the Maldives."
"Get Wet in the Maldives."
"Go hide (away) in the Maldives."
"Get close to the water in the Maldives."
"The Maldives..., there's no other place."
(sorry, my Dad was in advertising... I could keep going...).
Kirk and the band are currently taking a well earned break. However, they are about to start reharsals for more touring and they have also released a new "demo" track that can be streamed on INXS.com. They will be touring Argentina and Peru early November, then 2 weeks in Europe early December (see INXS.com for news of dates, etc.) and Australia in January.
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