Perry Farrell has been a fixture of the modern rock world for over two decades. His creative endeavors have dotted and shaped the musical landscape in an enduring manner which sets him apart from his peers, and to listen to almost any modern rock station for an extended period of time is to get a brief overview of his artistic resume.
Farrell first became a blip on the pop culture radar with his first L.A. band Psi Com, and later he became famous as the clothing shedding front man of Jane’s Addiction and the founder of the Lollapalooza festival. Nearly 20 years after the release of Nothing’s Shocking, Farrell is now also known for fronting Porno For Pyros, resurrecting his groundbreaking festival, and being the creative centerpiece of Satellite Party.
Jane’s Addiction was pivotal in the alternative music of the later ’80s and early ’90s and builded upon the foundation of fellow L.A. rockers The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Lollapalooza, while unquestionably groundbreaking at the time of its inaugural tour, is now regarded as the unquestioned predecessor to other annual tours such as Vans Warped Tour and Ozzfest.
In its first inception Lollapalooza combined varied musical tastes along with art exhibits and bought the unique mix around the country. By the time the festival was retired it had also been used as a venue to put to rest Jane’s Addiction before the band reunited in 2003.
In a fitting turn of events, the last time Farrell was naked on stage was during the band’s final show with all the original members in Hawaii in 1991, an experience which the singer describes: “I felt freed from all of that. I was ready to go off and evolve. It was a breakthrough, and I no longer feel the need to get naked on stage. Also, people are kind of hip to my show now…I wasn’t allowed in Hawaii for a long time because of that and I really love Hawaii. You can get in a lot of trouble for that. I still try to keep it pretty scantily clad when I perform.”
Sixteen years since that historic event, Farrell was once again at the helm of the festival, as well as a performer this past August, performing alongside his Satellite Party band mates.
Ultra Payloaded, Satellite Party’s debut album, is a mix of electronic and rock music and features guest appearances by Flea, John Fusciante and Jim Morrison. Farrell’s decision to work with Flea and Fusciante is unsurprising, given the trio’s deep and intertwined L.A. roots.
The last track on Ultra Payloaded “Woman In The Window” features a previously unreleased vocal track by The Doors’ front man Jim Morrison. When the remaining Doors gave Farrell permission to use the vocal track, many were taken by surprise as Perry Farrell and The Doors couldn’t appear to be less interrelated. Farrell was one of the lead singers who helped to fill the massive shoes of Jim Morrison when the remaining Doors toured as The Doors of the Twenty-First Century, and had already proven himself to be creatively trustworthy.
As unique and multifaceted as the debut album may be, according to Farrell, it may be the only full-length Satellite Party album, even though he intends to record with the band in the future. He explains, “I have to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll do another album with Satellite Party, but I’ll do songs with Satellite Party. The old music industry needed albums but didn’t deliver anything of substance unless you had a concept album. I think now we’re in a good position to distribute things.”
While there may not ever be another complete album, the band is “already at work” on the back of their tour bus working on new material. One thing is almost a certainty, any new Satellite Party material should not be expected in short order, as Farrell says of the creative process behind Ultra Payloaded, “It took three years to write the album, it took time, attention and love, and there’s not a bad song on the album.”
It’s no wonder that the gestation period was so lengthy, from the beginning, Farrell had lofty ambitions for the project. He relates, “I wanted to musically evolve. I thought the best way to do that was to put together a life based on different parts from different parts of the world. I wanted to combine music, hip-hop and rock, and come up with a hybrid sound. I really wanted to bring the enthusiasm of rock music to the club scene. Hip-hop music needs a beat match, and it’s something that rock producers don’t account for. DJs also need the construction of a beat match, and rock producers don’t think that way. I kept the speeds of hip- hop in mind and it’s served us very well in a live setting. It’s dense and rich and affects people,” Farrell explains.
Even if Satellite Party may prove to have a short shelf life, Lollapalooza, one of Farrell’s longest running creative endeavors, may be entering yet another new phase. When asked if there’s a possibility that the festival may not remain the three day stationary festival it has become, but someday be a touring festival once again, Ferrell said, “We’re thinking about it. We’re looking at the waters, and weather, and the lay of the land. Are there pirates out there? What do they want? Right now, we’re happy in Chicago for the time being. We may sail later. There were some bad corporate raiders out there that were turning promoters into zombies, and we have to ask ourselves if that environment is conducive to a good party or not. There are ports, let’s call them amphitheaters, where things are changing, and we may put the sails up again.” Farrell explains in a manner in which only he can.
In fact when asked how this year’s festival went, Farrell only has positive things to say. “Satellite Party dove back into my catalog and did some Jane’s stuff, and some Porno’s stuff, a lil’ old, a lil’ new, the crowd really seemed to appreciate it. There was also Daft Punk and The Roots, and Pearl Jam closed out the bill, it was really well rounded.”
One has to wonder if this wouldn’t be exactly the perfect time to relaunch Lallapalooza as a touring festival, seeing as corporate and creative conditions have improved. The last time the festival toured was in 1996 with Metallica as headliners, a decision which kept many fans away and caused many others to question if the founder had lost sight of his original intent.
In addition to an improved business atmosphere, the notion of a touring musician is one that Farrell holds dear as an artist. “A musician makes his way thought life playing live, and can play himself all the way around the world if he wants to,” he says of his job.
After having been the center of attention for so much of his life, and after having his life be speculated about so much so that there’s at least one book about his musical life and times, one has to wonder if there’s anything left for the music buying public to know about this iconoclast of sound.
“Gosh, that’s a great question. For as public as I am, people don’t really know who I am. I’m Perry Farrell to most of the world, and it’s right there in my name, peripheral. I like to be at a party, but I don’t like to be the center of attention. I like to reveal myself, and unveil myself on stage, in one way or another, but I’m really pretty private,” Farrell explains in a manner in which only he can.
Ultra Payloaded is in stores now. Satellite Party is playing at Irving Plaza in NYC on Sept. 5. For more info and tour dates visit myspace.com/satelliteparty.