PERRY FARRELL + ANDREW VONTZ INTERVIEW:
THIS SHIT IS CRAZY
I did this interview with Perry Farrell for FHM when he + Dave Navarro reunited the original Jane’s Addiction lineup. Santaria, black magic, dolphins–nothing is off limits.
What energy has Dave Navarro’s relationship with Carmen Electra brought to his guitar playing on the new album?
I’m sure he’s very charged up.
Has the band had any run ins with Dennis Rodman?
I don’t expect any run ins. I think we’ll be friends.
Why did you decide to bring back Jane’s?
I just felt like rockin’. You ever feel like going out for a walk? Same thing.
What led to doing a new album?
We did a tour and it feels very good when you play the songs. It’s a certain lift and elevation in your life. We felt we needed to write and play new songs if we were ever going to do it again and to do the old songs one more time without having new blood in there would be too painful. So it was decided we’d go in and record.
How did it feel to record new material?
There’s pain involved. It’s like being involved in a game. Like basketball, the game boils down to two minutes and it’s a tie score and one team is up by one and wants to win. That’s exactly how it feels to write a record. You’re taking your shots and somebody’s getting hot here and somebody’s getting hot there and you want to make this great song happening. You’ve got your structure down and then you’ve gotta work on your tones and it gets close to the record being finished and you’re trying to make a great classic album. It’s difficult but if you succeed at it it’s like winning a great game.
Was making this album different from your solo work and Porno For Pyros?
Bob Ezrin is the producer and he’s worked with some of the greatest rock legends ever. I decided I would concentrate musically, listen a lot harder and go for it, take those three pointers, take calculated risks and shoot for the top.
What did the band have to overcome to get back together?
We haven’t worked so intimately with each other for twelve years and in that twelve years things change a lot. Everyone has gone through a tremendous amount of living and it changes people. Hopefully through learning you become more successful at what you were put into this world to do and have a rhythm to your life that allows you to do the best job you can do in your life. That’s what’s changed with us.
What factors were getting in the way when you broke up?
When you get older you see things differently. You can be very self-centered when you’re young because you have a feeling the world revolves around you. Everything becomes very internalized and reflective but when you get older you take on responsibilities and you see they become things that you have to take care of and it’s really your job as opposed to when you’re young thinking well, it’s everybody else’s job and I’m just existing in this place. It then becomes your job and the place becomes yours too. What are you going to do with this place?
Did partying get in the way of Jane’s when you broke up?
It was a very lopsided thing. Some of us were partying, some of us were not partying and when you have two extremes like that that’s chemistry for disaster. That’s like religious extremists. It’s the same feeling.
What was it like making a new Jane’s album with the whole band sober?
If a team is not talking to each other your team is destined to fail but if your team is communicating and you’re huddling together you’ve got interactivity and the team will become one ball of unity soundwise and everything else, coordinated. We’ve developed a rhythm and we ride that rhythm together. I enjoy playing and sitting into the rehearsal and feeling the music. That’s an accomplishment.
Was it any less fun?
Man, I party. I have a pace on my life. I have balance. There’s a nice balance and with a balance you maintain your uprightness and your stability and your focus.
At the end of a long day would you crack open a few O’Douls, light up some sage, and watch Sportscenter or what?
I don’t drink O’Douls. I like vodka. I like fine wine. I become adventurous towards desert. I’ll try some really interesting desert liqueurs or sweet wines. Up in Whistler I had this stuff called ice grape wine and it was so good, they served it nice and chilled.
Why did you decide to bring back Lollapalooza?
We’ve been working on an idea to take a leap in revolution with festivals. We did it with Lollapalooza once and every festival became the same after that, less attention to ideas. It just used obvious parts of the model. I met different people who had different ideas and levels of faith and were willing to try new things. Now we’ve again elevated the whole experience of the festival. This summer the experience you’ll have at Lollapalooza will be a very unique experience in your life. We are making the festival completely interactive and you’ll be experiencing the first one of its kind. No one has ever done what we’re about to do.
What makes it so different?
We’re using technology and interactivity to create a game space. X-Box is our platinum sponsor. We’re working with them and Microsoft and Verizon. We’re using all forms of interactive media to create new experiences for festivalgoers.
How does a shamanistic revolutionary feel about working with The Man?
I look at corporations very cold and faithless because technology is something people in the media use. It’s the most valuable tool. I’m interested in their tools and in a free democratic society I can use that tool to spread a message. To me that’s fine. I’m not going to work with an oil company because I don’t believe in their product.
Why is now the time to bring it back?
Creating the engine for the interactivity took this many years. Starting six years ago to build it, it’s taken this many years through convincing people and gathering the right people who are like minded. And by the way Jane’s Addiction’s back.
How much is Lollapalooza forecast to make?
I don’t really want to tell you. It’s not as much as you would expect because we’re investing a lot of money to build this infrastructure that has never been built before. If we wanted to go in there and just make money, the amount would be more impressive to you. The goal includes making money but there’s many more ambitions.
Because you’ve lost your ass before on the Enit festival. . .
In those days I had money and I was very naive. My belief was I’ll make my money back. I put it out there because I wanted to see the festival take shape and happen. The naiveness was in not allowing other people to bring money to me to assist me to make the festival happen. I wasn’t savvy enough in my business mind to know that. I was naive and in a rush. I had a record and I had an idea and I had money and I didn’t want to wait around for these, pardon my French, jerks to tell me whether I could do it or not. It was premature for a business to invest in electronic music and I did not want to go into certain venues to play. I wanted to play in different venues. The only way to do it is to put your money into it and kiss it goodbye and that’s what I did.
Luckily you’re using the same lollipop licking mascot. What’s in that lollipop anyway?
The lollipop is symbolic of a few things. It’s symbolic of what Lollapalooza means. It’s something great or someone wonderful and the second description of it is a giant lollipop swirl. I take that swirl to mean all of these ingredients mixed in to create this giant swirl. But the swirl is very auto-hypnotic and suggestive and I like that swirl. This year part of the interactive component is something we call mass hypnosis and it uses these lollipops to get off. You’ll see.
Trippy lollipops. Gotta love that. How will Lollapalooza be different from violent debacles like Woodstock?
To keep that violence from happening you have to set a tone and the tone starts with the musicians. Tone is sound. Musicians will be setting the tone for the event but the promoters and the producers set a tone as well. If they invite in patrons and have respect for the patrons and don’t treat them as morons there’s a chance just as in any family when a family member is treated with respect they behave respectfully. Respect is a very reciprocal thing. As producer of the festival I try my best to have positive, loving energy and a bit of the ridiculous is always good and healthy but we try to drive people towards the center and create a feeling of unity.
The center of the lollipop. We look forward to the cheap bottled water. Corey Glover in a wet suit really made the first Lollapalooza. How could you leave Living Colour off the bill?
There was word that their guitar player was jamming with somebody and might make an appearance but I don’t know where Corey is.
What did you learn from your drug experiences?
You can’t be a drug addict at age forty if you want to accomplish anything as a man. That’s my most valuable lesson.
How did you survive that period?
Beats me. My heart said to me, you are no different than any man. You have the same process from birth to death and your body has its day of youth and its periods of deterioration and if you’re clever and if you’re smart you’ll do the right thing and accept that and then make yourself a motherfucker. Become a badass and don’t waste any more time because we all get some rope but we all run out of rope, too. Use your life because we all have time for ourselves. That’s all fair and good but if you spend too much time with yourself and for yourself then you’ll miss out on this other half of life which is everything else.
How will you tell your son about that period of your life?
We all get some time to run around and check things out. Every period of life is different from the last period of life. You don’t have to feel funny that you’re moving on or getting through something or stuck in something because I guarantee you you’re going to have to make different decisions later than you did just now or before. But you have to be clever and you have to take care of yourself and then if you take care of yourself you can move on and take care of others. But you can’t take care of anybody if you can’t take care of yourself. You then become a hazard to others and you become a negative to this earth. Those that put their time into this earth, they get the credit. People that take things from this earth, always conning people, ripping people off, don’t contribute—they’re negative and they’re looked at as a detraction. You have to decide what you want to be. You’ve got chips to start with but once you start seeing your chips get low, you better start getting some chips. You know what I mean?
You’re about to hit a Pilates machine. What else are you doing to get high these days?
Swimming, snowboarding, running, bicycling, and yoga.
Have you had any scary experiences?
There were times when I was paddling out that it was like stepping off the platform when you bungee dive. Your instinct takes a hold of your common sense and says this is a threat but you do it. I’ve paddled out into some situations where you’re doing it but you know if things went wrong that could be that for you.
What have you learned from the Kabala that you didn’t pick up in your study of black magic and santeria?
Kabala is an organizational structure that is not solely black and not solely white, but it teaches structure, time-space continuum, mathematics, science, language, psychology, and all those things. To me it’s a very in-depth weekend read when you can sit down and want to sharpen your mind and your sense of balance and it’s something that’s healthy and mature.
What black magic can fans expect at Lollapalooza?
I don’t practice black magic. It’s tempting. Sometimes you like to curse somebody but I don’t want to test it because I don’t want to be cursed. I have people who love me and stand behind me and I don’t need them to get injured because of my stupidity. What I’m trying to do is bless this place.
Photo credit: http://www.rockpaperphoto.com/music?dir=asc&order=lowest_price