Exclusive Perry Farrell Interview

Perry Farrell was interviewed for JamBase by Wesley Hodges.

Perry Farrell is crazy-busy preparing for this weekend’s Lollapalooza, but he made time to talk shop with JamBase.

Perry Farrell by Meeno Peluce
JamBase: It’s obviously a big week for you. What kind of last-minute preparations are you making or is it basically in cruise control at this point?

Perry Farrell: No, I’m in overdrive. I don’t wanna say it’s frantic, but I’m putting together a unique, once-in-a-lifetime show with Jane’s Addiction. I’m talking to everyone from helicopter pilots to dancers, special/theatrical producers [to add] theatrical bits or gags, and working all afternoon on that. And in the evenings I’m putting together a live electro set. So, I’m basically producing fresh music in a studio and rehearsing it at night. We do electronics with live instrumentalists [a live electronic drummer and a live guitar player]. Today we have, aside from band rehearsals, costume dress rehearsals, speaking with the people in Chicago setting up the stages in the park, making sure everything is creating good sight lines for everyone, and, of course, doing interviews.

JamBase: Last year was such an overwhelming success [read the review here] with the monstrous headliners [Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails]. What are your expectations this year from both an artistic and a business standpoint?

Perry Farrell: Ticket sales are on line to match last year’s; we’re looking at selling out, which is amazing if you consider the state of our economy. It really shows you that human beings, when they’re strapped for cash, they may not go out and buy houses, but they absolutely need to go out and celebrate and enjoy music. I’ll tell you when I started having a dream about Jane’s Addiction performing at Lollapalooza. [It was] when I was on stage in 2008 with Rage Against The Machine, looking out at the sea of people, [trying] to imagine Jane’s Addiction communicating with this audience. When we did get back together and at least begin to speak with each other, we’re going around the room talking about everyone’s desires and prerequisites, and the words that came out of my mouth were about getting back to where we left off and performing again at Lollapalooza 18 years later and doing a stellar show and putting some money into it to put together a theatrical presentation that would be better than the one we did in 1991. It was a success on many levels, but I’ve always felt that with Jane’s Addiction I wanted to develop into being one of the great live bands on Earth. To do that, you really have to think and concentrate on the live show and bringing something special to the audience.

MGMT at Lollapalooza ’08 by Vann
What major changes are in store for the 2009 edition of Lolla?

The music industry itself causes changes in the culture. If you look at the ’60s and you look at Woodstock and the kids that were there, you see that it was fueled by LSD. LSD had a certain look to it and a certain sound to it. In the ’80s it was about cocaine and heroine and it had a certain look to it and a certain sound to it. What I see is the development and evolution in music [today] happens to be in the dance area, in electronics specifically. What I see is that there is really not a lot of money out there for musicians. So, musicians are forced to be very clever and savvy and self-produce themselves. In the last 10 years they’ve learned about electronics. They’re incorporating those production techniques and the things they’ve learned into the live shows. So, we are watching all this and we’ve created a hybrid area with the ability to accommodate 10,000 people. It’s not a dance tent; we like it under trees. It’s a custom built DJ Tower that has LED screens, because the new DJ software has fresh capabilities so that the young people that are producing this music and creating their own videos and producing will be able to do all this and work their machinery at the area we call Perry’s.

Can you give me a few artists that you are particularly looking forward to seeing?

Scrolling down the list: Depeche Mode, Lou Reed, Thievery Corporation, Snoop Dogg, Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective (really looking forward to seeing them for the first time), Santigold, Cold War Kids (I think they’re really special), Peter Bjorn and John, Lykke Li. The way I like to get my music is through music blogs, the bands I’m telling you are really hot on the blogs, they’re not necessarily pop but the music blog people really love them. As far as the dance area goes, I can’t wait to see Simian Mobile Disco, Deadmau5 and MSTRKRFT.

Jane’s Addiction :: 06.03.09 by Frank Poulin
What are your plans as a musician and a producer for the rest of 2009 and going forward to 2010?

I have a lot more control with the live electro sets. You can produce basically anywhere on the fly in the palm of your hand on a laptop. That’s what I do on tour, I’m always producing electronic music. I’m working with Danja, Kaskade, and the Swedish House Mafia, and I’m gonna be doing more of that. I’m thinking we’ll have product out in late fall. That’ll give me the ability to go out and perform to anyone into the house music nightlife. I’d like to eventually develop more of a club or house festival to spin off of Lolla. As far as Jane’s Addiction goes, I’d like to go back to the roots of the band next year and rehearsing two or three times a week, and we all have daytime jobs, I know I do, and see if we can’t write some new material.

One final question. In brief, what’s your favorite thing about a music festival?

My favorite thing is that everybody wins. Musicians that are playing win. They just love to perform for people. [And the audience] get to hear the music that they’ve been listening to on their iPods or online; they get to actually see them perform. Everybody at the festival wins.

Lollapalooza begins Friday in Chicago. For more info go to www.lollapalooza.com.