Parting Shots: Perry Farrell
It was a very organic process,” says Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell of the festival’s recent expansion to Chile this April. One could say the same could be said of the festival itself—which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year—and Jane’s Addiction, the band that Farrell has fronted since 1985. For each, the wily Renaissance man has big plans: the festival will continue to expand from its Chicago home and incorporate more art- and music-based offerings offsite from the festival grounds while Jane’s Addiction—which is wrapping up its fourth studio album tentatively titled The Great Escape Artist —is poised to deliver its most sonically ambitious effort to date with help from TV on the Radio bassist/producer Dave Sitek.
How did you decide to bring the festival to Chile?
I look at it like looking for a partner—everybody wants to have a partner, but you can’t rush these things. You never know when you’re gonna run into that person who’s your soul mate. Well, it was the same way with Lollapalooza. I’d always had the desire to [do it] outside of the country, but never really found the perfect place to do it. And the perfect place to do it would be a place that wanted you as much as you wanted them. So when I went down to Santiago it just made sense. The country is really coming into its own—they’re rebuilding from the earthquake and they’re investing in the arts in part to make their city unique and attractive.
Lollapalooza has changed quite a bit since it started 20 years ago.
[We began with] seven groups [on tour] and the audience apprised those seven groups. There was a scene that was in that audience—all that has changed so much. It’s a lot tougher to create a scene these days because the music industry has been blown wide open. [Lollapalooza] has 150 groups now. And you would think that those 150 groups would come with their own scene but they really kind of don’t. What I do know is that young people still love music and their opinions on music are a lot wider spread. So now [at Lollapalooza or other music festivals] you’ll include not just hip-hop, rock and alternative music, but you’ll have dance music too. To me, if there’s any scene that’s new and has a look and feel to it [like the early additions of the festival had], it’s the dance area.
In what ways have your various electronic-based music projects impacted what you’re doing in the studio with Jane’s Addiction?
With house music, I might be writing with an artist in Paris and staying in touch with him via Dropbox. We’re doing the same things today with Jane’s: [for instance] I just gave the guys three songs so far this week—three recorded vocal tracks. They go listen to the tracks and then it’s a matter of them constructing, deconstructing and constructing again, and that’s how it’s been rather than having a studio where you’re spending a $1,000 or $2,000 dollars a day. We’re not really doing that, but at the same time we’re coming up with new sounds.
How does that process change the studio experience?
To come up with new sounds takes time. You have to go through them and it takes solitude. I write a lot from my home now—I have a home studio—and to be honest with you, I’m spending more time in the studio than I ever did. I [typically] start at one o’clock p.m. and end near nine o’clock and that includes eating. That’s how much time I spend on a track now, whereas back in the day—and I’m very proud of the music that I made then—I was always in a rush to get the fuck out of there to get back home and do some more dope. Now, I have a chance to focus on the song and see where I might be able to sing it better. And sometimes I kick myself that I didn’t take as much time as I do now.
TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek plays bass on the new Jane’s Addiction album. What effect has that had?
To have Dave Sitek in there was really helpful because he’s kind and incredibly creative, but he’s tough, too. He’s spry when he needs to be and I feel like the guy has hung in there and bought into the program, for lack of a better term. [Jane’s Addiction] bought into the program that Dave was already on—this whole [new] way and method of writing.
It’s like learning a new offense if you’re a sports team—learning the West Coast Offense or the triangle offense. At first, people don’t quite know if it’s gonna work. [Jane’s Addiction] has been writing, writing, and writing, and we’ve got over 20 songs that we want to record. Of course, we’ll whittle those 20 down. But once we started the process and got going on it, [the songs and music] really started to flow.
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