By most standards, Perry Farrell has led approximately 20 lives. The enigmatic icon is 62 years old but looks incredibly youthful and fresh. She has been a linchpin of Alt Rock for 35 years, especially as the extravagant front man of the rock / funk revolutionary Jane’s Addiction and the founder and visionary of the US veteran Lollapalooza.
After locking off his own vaults, the singer prepares to box the Perry Farrell – The Glitz; The Glamor, ‘a 68-track retrospective exploring his career outside of Jane’s Addiction and his porno For Pyros, Perry’s other band, that rose from the ashes when Jane broke up in 1991.
We called one of rock’s signature idols at his LA home to look back on his unique and illustrious career.
Hello Perry! How are you doing during the pandemic?
“I ran on the beach in the morning. I was in deep sand and decided to sprint. It’s been a while since I’ve sprinted. I love being near the coast. But now I hear things. My wife told me that all of these toxic waste barrels are buried in the ocean as far as Santa Catalina Island, southwest of LA. So I decided to get into it instead of getting into it. “
Aren’t you an avid surfer?
“Not for a long time. I had a neck operation so I can’t walk. [I’ve got] two new discs. It’s going pretty well; it’s not perfect But I would wake up with a headache every morning so I wouldn’t have that anymore. ‘
You released your last solo album ‘Kind Heaven’ just last year. Did you plan to release this box set and collection as soon as possible, or did the pandemic escalate?
“Absolutely. The world was going so fast. There seemed to be a lack of craftsmanship. People didn’t have time to really sit down, be creative, and take their time. I don’t want to call it an advantage [of the pandemic]But you might as well benefit from the situation you are in. We are in a very sad situation where we cannot even cross each other without worrying that you will kill me. It’s really hard, isn’t it? While we’re here in our homes, I’ve just made up my mind to become a home industry.
“And I’m enjoying it. I really feel like I’m on the subway right now when I’m surfing. I can make music whenever I want, with whoever I want. I saw the world through the pandemic Really loves music. It can really help them. How much TV can you watch and how often can you check your cell phone? “
Your first job was in construction and then you designed jewelry when you first moved to LA in the early 1980s. Do you ever sit and think that everything could have been so different?
“To be honest, my life is so exciting that I don’t look back that often. Most of the time I am happy and I like what I see. I’ve never thought about it until now, but I think if you look back too much it is probably because it was a time when you were happy and now you are not. Fortunately, my life is so exciting that the main thing I want to do is make sure what comes next is really great. “
What was it like looking back on your career with Perry Farrell – The Glitz? The glamor ‘?
“At first I cried a lot. I was very fragile. I have boxes of pictures, real photos – that was my era. I showed the pictures to my team and told the picture a story. They said, “You have to get this out – your memoirs.” So I started writing them and I lost my mind for about two or three months during the writing process. But I wrote it through, so there is passionate writing there. “
Why was it painful?
“I don’t have that much time here on earth …”
Yes you do!
“Not very much. Even if you think of 20 years, it’s not that much …”
You played Glastonbury with Porno For Pyros in 1993. Did you have a good time?
“I was with this girl (who, by the way, was Robert Plant after me – sloppy seconds away from me). She was my drug dealer’s daughter, but she was of legal age and a model. Very white hair, blond hair, of course. “At that point, AIDS started and the mother believed I had AIDS. She said she heard that I was going to spread it. It can get really hot. It went back to the LA Health Department and they made a public announcement to find me and bring me in for giving people AIDS. “
It’s all a real story! So if you can see on the ‘Ritual’ album [Jane’s’ 1991 classic ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual] Cover that there was a positive test on the album cover. It’s a little known fact, but at the time I also stumbled to get this test positive because I was thinking about it. “
Anyway, back to Glastonbury …
“I showed up at Glastonbury shortly after that escapade and I really liked this girl. I was very embarrassed that her mother wouldn’t let me see because I had this disease that I didn’t have. I only remember this show so well because for the first 20 minutes I just said, “Get fucked! Suffer pussies! Suffering from Fucks! “Because I was really hurt inside. I let it out, I wanted people to know what I was feeling. I let it go for a good, long time; could have been 10 minutes. Gibby Haynes from Butthole Surfers was there and…” when I got off the stage I looked at him like, “I don’t know what I just did” and he looked at me like, “What the hell is wrong with you ?!”
In an early interview, you said you lost your creativity after signing with Warner Brothers in 1987. Have you been disappointed with your experience with a major label?
“No, I [re-]I gained my creativity pretty quickly with these guys. What I said was that I realized that when you have a message and you try to talk it to people, you want it to be fun and creative, but you don’t want people to like you. I like being where I am right now – I always tried to go back to where I started when I didn’t expect the whole world to buy my product. [I didn’t want] to water down my message or to clean up my message. That always bothered me.
“I had the wild dream of being able to sing about whatever you want, to bring out any picture you want and not have to be held accountable. During that time, Warner Brothers were good people. That was the heyday of the music industry. “
You put the tracks you recorded with your first band, Psi Com, into this box set. Why was that very British post-punk sound an inspiration to you?
“I hung out with the musicians and the musicians always had great records. I was lucky enough to meet the LA underground back then, it was 1982 and I was 21 or I was 23 when Psi Com was throwing super interesting parties with Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, Meat Puppets and Minutemen. We loved Joy Division and The Cure. Wire was another group that we loved; The case, two-tone. There were some great groups … “
Farrell on stage with Jane’s Addiction in 1988
I feel like you were happiest as a solo artist and not as a member of a band. Did being in a band choke you?
“I think about it a lot and I’ve come to the conclusion that everything is really great feathers in your hat. I love it when I get together with Jane and we rock. Trying to move four people at a time is very inconvenient. I like to live the way I live now. I call friends and say, “I have this track for you to listen to.” Then they want to play on it and we just split the publishing up and let it rip. “
In 2001 you released your debut solo album “Song Yet to Be Sung”. Was that a turning point for you when you discovered that feeling of freedom?
“It was beautiful. It took me three and a half years to produce and release this record. During that time I studied electronic music production – all the drums are hand-played, but electronic. That’s how I really love being with music. You. You.” don’t know where it’s going, but you’re happy to be on this trip because you know it’s a good trip. “
Was a satellite party [the collective Perry formed with his wife Etty Lau in 2004] a way for you to be cooperative without officially joining a band?
“Yes. I’ve been thinking about it [Satellite Party] this morning. We have a song on this record [the band’s only release, 2007’s ‘Ultra Payloaded’] called “Insanity Rains” and the chorus reads “We’re drunk with power / Take part in our noisy parade.” Break out your umbrellas today …. Raining madness! ‘.
“I read about Joseph Wang last night, who is one of the most influential young people in the world and a youth protester from Hong Kong. He started a movement called the Umbrella Movement. You carry umbrellas with you because you can put an umbrella against tear gas and stop water from splashing out. I wrote this song about a protest, but the umbrella movement hadn’t started yet. That’s why I thought about this song: I thought to myself, “I wish I could give him a song to help him.” I am thinking of that. “
You have talked about climate change and environmental issues for years. Where do you think we are now, what are your fears and hopes in relation to today’s issues?
“I was disappointed. Look what we could have done in the past four years and see what we did. It’s awful. But I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand that it’s not about a nation . You have to start thinking like a globalist. We have to get it through our heads. The atmosphere makes us sick and it’s not cool. I’ve heard Biden talk about it and he understands that it’s the smartest thing for everyone. Everyone benefits if he thinks like that. Nobody benefits if he thinks differently. “
When you released your solo debut you said it would be a shame if you were only remembered for Jane’s Addiction – do you still feel that way?
“I always want to be a punk and go, ‘Naaaah – no Jane! ‘But Jane is a very important part of my life. I listened to the record ‘The Great Escape Artist’. [Jane’s Addiction’s 2011 comeback album] and I liked it very much. I figured if I got back with these guys I would love to do this material. There are some good songs on it. “
Jane’s Addiction reunited earlier this year for Lolla2020, Lollapalooza’s 2020 virtual festival. Do you have a good relationship with the guys these days?
“Yeah, it’s pretty good now. We rarely talk to each other or see each other, but this time – for the first time because we’ve been away from each other for quite a while – they finally look older when I see them. Because I wasn’t there, I said, “Oh man!” But you know, I look older too … “
– Perry Farrell’s retrospective ‘The Glitz’ box set; The Glamor ‘was due to be released on November 27th, but has been postponed until January 22nd, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic