As seen in issue 56 of Closer Magazine, published on 2009-03-27 in the "NationalMusic" section.

Been Caught Spinning
Confessions of an iconoclast rocker turned electro-popster
By: Alex Rendon



Most of us probably did a double take when we came across Perry Farrell's name, in fine print, near the bottom of the Ultra Music Festival’s Friday night lineup. There was the godfather of alternative rock, founder of Lollapalooza, savior of Coachella, shoved in between young upstart acts the Whip and Sneaky Sound System.

Typical response: “It couldn’t be the Perry Farrell, of Jane’s Addiction’s, could it?”

Turns out, since releasing his 2001 world beat electronica solo debut Song Yet To Be Sung, the iconic, eccentric rocker has increasingly devoted his time to syncopated beats. Speaking from his L.A. studio--while fiddling with his newest gadget, the Lemur, a “fucking crazy” touch-sensitive device that’s a blend of iphone, MIDI-controller, and mixing program—Farrell confesses “I love electronic music! I want to be fully immersing the dance crowd.”

At the same time, our boy's been up to some of his old tricks lately, and confirmed a couple of rumors that have generated a lot of Internet heat.

One is that Jane's Addiction—the original line-up of Farrell, bassist Eric Avery, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins--has re-united, yet again, for some studio time. The other is that the band will be touring with Nine Inch Nails.

The Jane's reunion studio time included an appearance by NIN overlord Trent Reznor, and resulted in just a handful of tracks rather than a full album. “I don’t think you or I have sat down and listened to an entire record in a long time,” Farrell explains. A believer in the single—and the short attention span of contemporary audiences—he says he personally gets most of his music through blogs or online music stores.

Neither is he a big fan of lengthy studio sessions. Although he “works at songs every day,” and twice has spent three and a half years on a record, he now says he doesn't believe in “taking a whole year and not going out and performing.”

Farrell was candid about how the reunion went. “I thought things would go much smoother,” he said. “But we did record some really good songs.”

The new numbers (titles unknown) won't be included in the Jane's Addiction box set, A Cabinet of Curiosities, due in late April--“the set was finished when I suggested it,” Farrell said, “and the record company had already started pressing it”-- but they are promised to be released in a “unique” way.

The Jane's/NIN tour—a reprise of their headlining turn on the original '91 Lollapalooza, and sure to be a colossal draw—is “going to happen,” Farrell promised. He said the two bands are meshing well and, despite their rocky pasts, are determined to endure the road together. “We, by ourselves, are a nightmare,” he said. “But we are not quitters.”

Farrell says he “insisted” that his agent get him on the Ultra bill, where he will take the stage in a trio with his exotic wife/backing vocalist Etty Lau Farrell and “guitar super hero” Nick Maybury, who does “some beautiful, strange things” on his axe.

A backup dancer for Jane’s Addiction’s ’97 “Relapse” Tour, Etty Lau married Farrell in 2002, and played an integral role in the couple's globally conscious band, Satellite Party. She was the subject of many verses on the group’s symphonic, celebrity studded ’07 release, Ultra Payload. But Farrell tells us the Ultra show will feature a sound more like his solo effort.

The Miami performance will be a homecoming of sorts. Although Farrell's local roots are not well publicized, he spent part of his adolescence here, leaving at the ripe old age of 17 to find rock ‘n roll infamy in L.A. Of his fast times at North Miami Beach High, which he attended in the late '70s, he says he “surfed, got into drugs—man, it was great!” Did he fall in with the wrong crowd? “No,” he insists. “It was the right crowd.”

Farrell doesn’t like to reflect upon his status as the voice of a generation, or his role in reintroducing America to the concept of the music festival. “I honestly like to live in the musical moment.” he says. All the critical praise for his past gets “put off to the side like trash, and then is taken outside and thrown away.”

Of more interest is the new technology available to musicians and the art of performing. “It is a balancing act, a seesaw,” he says. “One part is creating the music, the other part is the performance, how you present yourself and the music.”

And the continuing appeal of the festival route? “I just love to turn around and watch and see what other musicians are doing,” he says. “Oh my god, when we go out there and witness great performances at great festivals, that is the highlight of the world.”

Perry Farrell plays the main stage at Ultra on Friday, March 27


Previous Articles:
1, Sounds Familiar
2, Grown Up All Wrong
3, Been Caught Spinning
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