Charlottetown rock band with lead singer J.D. Fortune
The former frontman of the rock band INXS says it’s a dream come true to be taking the mike for a long-time Charlottetown band.
Haywire, which formed in 1981, are planning some live shows with him. The Guardian sat down with members of the band in Charlottetown recently to talk about what's next. Fortune joined the interview via cellphone from his home in New Glasgow, N.S.
“My initial thoughts were, ‘this is incredible’, and, ‘I can’t believe this is happening’,’’
Fortune, 48, told The Guardian, referring to a recent phone conversation he had with David Rashed, Haywire's keyboard player, about being invited to jump on board for some jam sessions and live shows.
Fortune said growing up in Nova Scotia he was a big fan of the band, even before the first album, Bad Boys, came out in 1986 and expanded Haywire’s popularity nationally. Fortune had the firsttwo albums on cassette and a poster of the group on the wall just behind his bed.
Ronnie Switzer, the bass player, said the band members have felt restricted the past couple of years due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and have been aching to play again.
Paul MacAusland, the only lead singer Haywire has ever known, told the band he was unavailable for personal reasons and gave the group his blessing to move forward. MacAusland, who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador, is the only original member not currently living in P.E.I.
Marvin Birt, the band’s guitar player, stresses there is no animosity with MacAusland that they remain the best of friends. “We don’t want to sit on our hands in the meantime,’’
Birt said, referring to MacAusland's availability. “We have been cooped up for two years and we want to move ahead.’’ So, Rashed decided to reach out to some artists that might be available. That included Fortune, who is known for winning the television reality show Rock Star: INXS in 2005.
The Australian band was looking to find a new voice following the death of Michael Hutchence. Fortune would then serve as the lead singer for the INXS until 2011.
“I was so honoured just to be thought of by (Haywire) to come and jam and just really getting back into the (Haywire) music,’’ Fortune said.
“All of the nostalgia just came flooding back. Every time I see these guys I think it’s just really epic.’’ Birt calls hooking up with Fortune a “test drive’’.
Fortune said his only expectations are that everyone brings their A game. “I like to rock and I know those guys do as well. We’re all going to approach this professionally and with dignity that the (Haywire) songs deserve.
There are great writers in (this) band and I know a thing or two about writing songs that stand the test of time and that people can relate ... years down the road.’’
In rehearsals, Birt, Rashed and Switzer said they were amazed how well their signature hits like Dance Desire, Black and Blue and Bad Bad Boy translated with Fortune. “I think we all knew right away there’s something there,’’ Switzer said, adding that Fortune put his own take on the songs.
The former frontman with INXS agrees. “When we’re jamming, I just closed my eyes and got swept in the music,’’ Fortune said. “The music is bigger than all of us. That’s what really blows my mind. Marvin, Dave, Ronnie and (drummer) Sean Kilbride just nailed it.’’ Fortune said his experience stepping into INXS's music is invaluable to what he brings to the table with Haywire, adding that he will pour as much passion and energy into this new endeavour. “I have acquired a very particular set of skills over a long career which makes me perfect for a band like (Haywire). They are getting a guy who knows exactly what he’s doing; who knows how to memorize a back catalogue.
Michael Hutchence was, arguably, one of the greatest rock stars that ever lived... you have to have fun with this but approach it with seriousness.’’
Fortune takes on a more serious tone on the phone before offering the following comment: “I want to honour the Haywire music. I want to take this as serious as they want to take it and be a front guy that they can depend on,’’ he said, vowing to bring a powerful energy to the stage as the lead singer. Birt said Fortune isn't coming in trying to sound like MacAusland. “He’s trying to be himself,’’ Birt said. “It’s going to be really interesting with these songs to have a new voice. It’s his take on them. We’re not expecting him to go up there and try to be Paul. It’s J.D. with Haywire.’’
The band is in talks with different venues plan to do some live shows this coming year.
-Dave Stewart, email@example.com