Rhett Hutchence. Does this name ring a bell? It certainly does. It also strums the strings, so to say: Rhett is the older brother of an all-time rock’n’roll hero Michael Hutchence of INXS. Besides of that, this man is island’s own rockstar and a total darling. We chat to him about the inside of fame, sculls and headless chiks, literally.
1. Does every interview with you start with a question about Michael [Hutchence]? If so, are you ok with that?
– Some do, lately they are more about me. It’s strange how I’ve been wanting or not wanting association throughout my life. I’ve been through different stages. It used to be “Hi, my name’s Rhett, I’m Michael Hutchence’ brother!”. If I wanted something. Followed by the stage when I didn’t want people to know I’m his brother. Then it became important to me for people to like me before they’d find out who I was. And now I’m just proud to be Michael’s brother, as much as I am happy to be in my own skin.
2. So, you are making the headlines again as we can see. What’s all the fuzz about?
– I wrote a very personal post on Facebook about Michael’s death anniversary and my feelings about it, and a trashy tabloid copy-pasted it, adding the headline “I know Michael was murdered”, which I never said. They’re always looking for a scandal, you know, to sensationalize. I could try to set the record straight with another mag in return, but I don’t want to. It only fuels the fire.
3. Looks like this year is special for you with the 20th anniversary since your brother’s death. It also looks like you’re on the mission to get some answers at last. What would be your biggest goal?
– I’m still working on my “personal investigation”, let’s put it that way. I’m really determined to find out what has happened exactly 20 years ago in that hotel room in Sydney. Collecting opinions, finding more leads, talking to people that didn’t want to talk for 2 decades. Honestly, I’m still hitting the brick walls. But some of them are softening up now, yet still playing hard to get. They would be like: “You’ve been waiting for the past 20 years, so what’s about a few more months?” But it’s all coming together. I am always getting new pieces of the jigsaw. I am keeping a dairy all of those communications, and I may write a book out of it. That would be another goal for this year.
4. You and Michael first came to Bali in the 70s. What was your most memorable impression of the island?
– 1972 it was. We’ve stayed at La Taverna hotel in Sanur. Oddly, the most impressionistic moment I remember was the barong dance performed at the hotel parking lot: one of the dancers grabbed a tiny yellow chick, bit off its head, spat it out, then tossed the baby bird on the ground and continued dancing while the headless body was still running around for the good 5 minutes. Being 10-year-old kid, I was very impressed as you can imagine.
5. Would Michael love it in Bali these days?
– He definitely would. Michael had been here many times and loved it. He’d enjoy everything, apart of the traffic maybe. He’d probably live somewhere lush and quiet like Sayan Terrace, in a lovely house with lots of friends staying over. By the way, Michael did invest in some land here – in Gilis, actually. So I guess he’d be hopping between here and there.
6. Your shop Skull has a very unusual concept – naturally, it’s all about skulls. Why?
– I always had a thing about skulls. There is nothing metaphysical in it for me: it is what it is, a human brain carrier, but that’s the beauty of it. Also my partner Vera always wanted to own a skull shop. So we did and we sell skulls, yes. Made of wood, glass, resin, plastic, metal, stone, coral, antler, bone, horn– you name it. I handle the décor and art and Vera takes care of the fashion. I work with local artisans who make all my crazy ideas come true. At the moment we are busy moving our Oberoi store to Legian and opening a new store in Canggu. Today Bali. Tomorrow the world.
7. You know, there is an ongoing joke (is it a joke, really?) that those who have been in Bali for a while inevitably go cray-cray. Any symptoms, after 7+ years of the island life?
– I’ve noticed there is a 12 years benchmark, so I have some time left 😉 But if you see me hanging in Sanur, give me a shot punch in the head, deal? It’s true: Bali can give you some disturbing mind twists. The thing is, it changes every bloody day! Nothing is for certain or forever. Bali is never settled! That’s why I love Nyepi so much – for one day only the island stays still.