Jane’s Addiction Perry Farrell: “I Consider Myself a Late Flower” | The music


Sitting cross-legged in his backyard, 61-year-old Perry Farrell still has a jaw so protruding it seems chiseled in the mountains above the Sunset Strip. Her hair remains a thick, clean wave, barely speckled with gray. The Jane’s Addiction singer and founder of the Lollapalooza festival seems like his former touring mate, Iggy Pop, has taught him the secret to avoiding the ravages of drug addiction, aging and follicular pain.In 1993, a fan of heroin and cocaine speedballs, Farrell seemed much less immortal. Formed in 1985, Jane’s Addiction had grown into a multi-platinum juggernaut that reshaped alternative rock into something debauched and flamboyant. By the time Farrell’s next adventure, Porno for Pyros, topped the modern American rock charts with the psychedelic banger Pets, Rolling Stone described him as the rock star most likely to die next year.

Yet here he is, three decades later, sipping micheladas in Santa Monica while his pets frolic in a grove of lemon trees. “I now understand that you can’t be a dad and be completely fucked up all the time, so you remember that,” says Farrell, who has three sons, Yobel, Hezron Wolfgang and Izzadore Bravo. “There is a certain time in life to experience because you have the energy, you have the spirit. But I don’t want anyone to be hurt, I don’t want anyone to die. I have lost loved ones because of it, but I can’t lie to you and say that I didn’t take advantage of it either.

Her sartorial flamboyance is comparatively muted compared to her snow cone hair and purple suit, but there is still attention to detail in today’s ensemble of slim jeans, navy blue jacket, and tropical silk shirt. worn open to reveal a silvery raven pendant. “Take your time,” he says, offering aphorisms about his long career. “Make sure everything you do is of the right quality and done with the right intention. Make sure it’s done with love. Don’t be in a rush to be famous or popular. Make [art] because you have to; do it because it’s fun. You never know – 35 years later, it might flourish. I consider myself a late bloomer. Here I am almost 62 years old… I took my time and made sure to have fun, and I understand that the world is a very funny place.

Farrell with guitarist Dave Navarro during Jane’s Addiction performance at Lollapalooza in August 2003. Photograph: Eo / Keystone USA / Rex / Shutterstock

Farrell’s paradoxical and iconoclastic view of the world is fully on display throughout The Glitz; Glamor, a nine-disc set that features his 35-year solo career with his pre-Jane band Psi Com at last year’s Kind Heaven, a collaboration with his wife Etty Lau Farrell, co-produced by Tony Visconti. But rather than offering foggy-eyed rhapsodies from the good old days, Farrell seems most animated with ideas on how to fight for a better future.

During a 90-minute conversation, he unveils his dreams of peace in the Middle East (“I would go to Palestine and Israel with Lollapalooza and the greatest musicians in the world, and we would have a party, we would break bread. , make music and plan for the future ”), how to redress the inequalities in the music industry (“ We have to work with all the musicians and bring them together to say, “Let’s start our own distribution network on the Road Silk, because making $ 5,000 for a million flows is pathetic “), and how to ease mass incarceration (” I would make all drugs legal. People are doing it anyway and the war against drugs are a ruinous and destructive disorder that does not work ”).

Perry Farrell with his wife, Etty Lau Farrell

Farrell with his wife, Etty Lau Farrell. Photography: Walid Azami

There are artists who speak with pithy jokes and those who give declamations in the style of Mount Sinai. Farrell falls into the latter category, dropping allusions this afternoon to the Mayan god Quetzalcoatl, the true story of former Jewish leader Judah Maccabee, and his past conversations with the Spirit World. It was this maximalist idealism and ambition that transformed him from Peretz Bernstein – a Florida teenager who bought a Greyhound ticket to California with just $ 90, art supplies, a surfboard, and some weed. – in Perry Farrell (a riff on “peripheral”), grunge godfather and former honor of Maxim’s 10 Coolest People to Ever Be Bar Mitzvah’d. The son of an emotionally distant jeweler and sculptor mother who committed suicide as a child, Farrell navigated a passage between Led Zeppelin and Bauhaus, Van Halen and the Velvet Underground with Jane’s Addiction. But, first, he had to conjure his inner character into existence.

“I used to look at myself in the mirror and imitate Mick Jagger and David Bowie. But I knew I could really sing too, ”Farrell recalls. (You can hear her son’s band notes covering Tom Petty, out of sight in the garage next door.) “I moved to Hollywood and got into the post-punk world. Everyone had a fashion idea: what they listened to affected their appearance. “OK, you’re a rockabilly kid, but you also like goth and punk.” You will pass through the Misfits or the Cramps. “”

Psi Com was born from this fertile underground scene, mixing post-punk and goth in the vein of Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Farrell has studied everything from the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon; in a nod to the tribal spirituality that spanned his life and career, he was already writing songs like Ho Ka Hey, rooted in a Cherokee mantra on the medicine wheel.

Farrell eventually moved into an overcrowded and dilapidated Victorian house near the Melrose Avenue neighborhood in Los Angeles, then on top of his combat boots and nylon chic. He started playing music with bassist Eric Avery, teenage guitarist Dave Navarro, and drummer Stephen Perkins. A mercurial and drug addict roommate named Jane has moved in, accompanied by an abusive boyfriend named Sergio, giving Farrell’s group his name.

While LA was dominated by hair metal bands such as Mötley Crüe, Jane’s Addiction created a scuzzly subversive mix of funk, industrial, post-punk and classic rock. Farrell wrote songs about serial killers, junkies and, in their hymn Been Caught Stealing, shoplifting. The band’s first two studio albums, Nothing’s Shocking from 1988 and Ritual de lo Habitual from the 1990s, are alternative classics. Every generation gets the Jim Morrison it deserves: Generation X has Perry Farrell.

“I feel a huge responsibility to carry on the great shamanistic spirit of Los Angeles,” Farrell says, in the mind of the frontman of The Doors. “I want to show that we are telling the truth, we are brave, we are fearless and we are heavy. We dive deep into the inter-dimensions of our own heart to try to extract the truth and then spread it to the world.

The group’s impact remains undeniable. Flea of ​​the Red Hot Chili Peppers called Jane’s Addiction “the most important rock band of the 80s”. Chris Cornell cited their huge impact on Soundgarden and grunge. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine once said that it was Jane’s Addiction, not Nirvana, who drove rock out of the wilderness of hair metal. Meanwhile, the modern festival industry in the United States arguably stems from Lollapalooza. Designed as a touring version of UK festivals such as Reading, Farrell turned the Jane’s Addiction farewell tour of 1991 into a major event with Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Ice T co-starring, as well as live performances. secondary such as the Jim Rose Circus – Farrell’s vision of an “alternative nation” at large.

In conversation, you feel that he considers his extra-musical achievements as important as his music. He has a philanthropic streak that has taken him everywhere, from a 2001 trip to Sudan to buy the freedom of 2,300 people enslaved by militias, to 10 Downing Street to discuss global warming with Tony Blair in 2007.

Perry Farrell at a Downing Street reception with Tony Blair

Farrell at a reception in Downing Street in 2007 with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Photograph: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

“The trick is to get each [nation] coordinated to say, “We want the Earth to be so beautiful that everywhere we go there’s a new stream of clean water that I can go to,” says Farrell. “’I don’t have to stay there, it doesn’t have to be mine, but I’m welcome.’ This is the way musicians do. We travel, we entertain you, then you say, “This is fresh food from local agriculture, and you will never get a chili like this.” You say, “Dude, thanks a lot. Now we’re friends, and you come to my house next time.

For all the heaviness in life in 2020, it’s easy to be wowed by Farrell’s positivity. He’s one of the few who not only survived, but succeeded, and seems rightfully determined to help as many people as possible. He is a scholar of the Old Testament and esoteric texts, but he has no evangelical tendency; he is just someone who looks for signs of divinity and is content to find them in the mundane.

“This is it,” said Farrell, gesturing broadly to the garden, as if it were in the last pages of Candide.. “It’s the universe and what I don’t know… the wormholes and the unfathomable.” What I can grasp is what I can see with my own eyes right now. I love dogs and I love trees and I love people and I love music. Everything is provided here. Him, her, that and all the rest – God is all added up. What’s so beautiful is that we got to see what chaos looks like, and it’s a fucking work of art.

The Glitz; The Glamor will be released on November 6


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