Return to Lollapalooza with Perry Farrell (Relix Revisited)
Since this weekend is Lollapalooza, we’ve decided to post this conversation with festival founder Perry Farrell from 2004.
What was the impetus for bringing back Lollapalooza?
There was a couple of things. You do something for a while and sometimes you just need to bail. Sometimes it just gets stale. We had a beautiful system that we created, we followed the same prescription as did any other festival. Repetition, competition made things kind of stale and we took a break, which was five, six years ago, and I had an idea for a new method of attending festivals and it had to do with interactivity. At the time I was considering painting but putting the scheme together and approaching people-the idea was a good idea but it wasn’t of it’s day yet. Kind of too far ahead. Technology wasn’t quite up to speed. There wasn’t a big enough vote of confidence to do the idea though people were inspired. So I just kept working on the idea and talking to people about it, I’d get close, one year or another pulling it off but it just wasn’t the right scenario.
I will tell you that when you that when you put a festival together, all these amazing things can surround the festival but for me the method, the truest method, has always been the music. So, if you don’t start with a great line-up, you can dress it anyway you want-like having an ugly head in a tuxedo, you still have an ugly head. So things were starting to go well with the relationship with the fellows from Jane’s [Addiction], so well that we decide to go in and record a record that took us this last year to record. And of course we started to plan for tours, I felt that now would be the time because the first thing that was solid… I could guarantee that Jane’s Addiction would come in and headline.
A few of the years when I was trying to put it back together, the first question was, “Is Jane’s going to play?” If I wasn’t offering Jane’s playing, there wasn’t as much interest. So this year we have Jane’s Addiction headlining and coincidentally or simultaneously, the technology is in place to do this interactive gaming. So soon after that came the musicians and the other bands you know, we got some great people working with us: Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age Jurassic 5, The Donnas, Perfect Circle, Enid (CHECK). A very sound and solid line-up to begin with. I think that music kind of moves around its format for the last five years. The kind of music and the kind of groups that would have been ideal for Lollapoolza, it’s… it’s got a niche. The niche kind of wasn’t there for the last five years for some reason along with, and I as I say conincidentally and coinsidenally, we have the technology in place now and the Jane’s record, Jane’s is ready.
Conincidentally, the type of music that is perfect for this traveling festival is coming back strong. It’s more like it’s growing, not coming back necessarily. There’s a new look to and there’s a vibe to it. What it is, it’s live players, it’s people that want to play in bands and I think that’s the prerequisite: people who are willing to work their way, through their career, coming up slowly, and playing to people, playing clubs, doing your gigs touring. For the last two years, it’s been dominated by pop. Pop and rap. Bands were coming in quick and making a lot of money fast. They weren’t taking their time and I would say a lot them were put together, industry creations if you will. But now what I see, I’m overloaded, it’s a nice feeling but I’m overloaded with the talent. There’s so much young talent that wants to get out there and get on the road play and mix it up, create a musical community, it’s kind of like it was repressed. So that’s where there’s this huge resurgence of that format and that style.
I could talk to you for hours about what happened to the music industry and why certain styles created certain outcomes when it comes to parties, festivals, clubs. A lot of this stuff that was being made, musically, was prefabricated music so people would emotionally dose off when they went out. Prerecorded music in clubs, it just doesn’t have the same feeling as, I don’t think, as live musicians. There’s something that happens with us human beings and souls that you cannot replace. Even though it may sound good, it’s brittle and soulless. And you need live communication. It makes people interact and react differently. I think when the musicians here the call and come back and start playing and practicing their instruments, it forms a social gathering that is unique and it’s just of its time.
Another aspect to why it’s timely is that Lollapoolza began, ironically, during Desert Storm. So you can see the relationship that music has to society. When things “good” so to speak and there’s not much to complain about or comment on, you’ll find that pop starts to flood the market-meaningless drivel. But when you have people who dare to resist, feel the need to comment, want the public outcry, things are going wrong, it goes into the music. So, at times, the inspired musician starts to rise again. Then people…
I always have this analogy, sometimes this is how I size people up, a crazy way to do it. Sometimes I size them up by thinking to myself that if the whole world was falling apart, would I come running to that guy? There the true colors really… the true nature really kind of rises up when you consider people that way. Music to me is so important, that’s how I consider the musician and that’s how I consider the band. Really, I look at them as social commentators. Would I come running to that guy, that man, what have they been offering really, this whole time? So when the whole world is falling apart, I don’t think, “this person is here is really someone I would go really go to but yet on the other hand, that person there is someone I would rub up and rub shoulders with. I think it’s important to have people like them.
So with Lollapoolza, that’s kind of how I set about to choose the groups and I think that’s another reason why it’s of this time right now.
Do you think musicians have a responsibility to speak out, whatever their mind or beliefs or despite how they might feel, during a time a like this?
See, it’s a very tough situation because on one hand your first priority is to entertain people. In a perfect world, if we had no war, we could be freer to make happier suggestions and talk about things that we love, that are silly and playful and funny and awesome and inspiring. But at the same time, as an artist, I wonder… the artist is the ultimate sensitive human being. His art comes off of reflection. So, how can one not reflect something is so heavy when it happens? It’s hard because you want people, I want people, let me personalize that, I want people to go away from my art feeling good and looking great. That’s my little catch phrase. That will make them in love with you. You want them to be in love with you. You want to have good music but at the same time you don’t want to be an idiot and you want to be someone that another can depend upon in these times of struggle and strife. So here’s how you do it.
One has to stay in a positive mood. It’s no different than leadership and leadership you’re going to follow the people who, number one, have a solution. If there is a problem, you can complain and your song can be a song of complaint or your song can be one of solution. I would choose to do the solution song because in the solution song, you can have a positive attitude and it can be a happier, healthier tomorrow or you just bum out and then your song turns into a masturbation song. I want sex but I can’t have sex. I’m having sex. You know, I’m not a masturbator. So, that’s my message.
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