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Perry Farrell: Jane's Addiction front man goes interactive

Perry Farrell
Perry Farrell

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(CNN) -- Perry Farrell, the man behind Jane's Addiction and the Lollapalooza festival tour, is not short on vision.

In the mid-'80s he hooked up with guitarist Dave Navarro, bass player Eric Avery and drummer Stephen Perkins to create the unique sound of Jane's Addiction -- alternative rock infused with strains of metal, punk, folk and jazz.

As the band was breaking up in 1990 after several successful albums, Farrell was charged with developing a spectacular farewell tour. In the summer of 1991 Lollapalooza was born. By definition, lollapalooza is "something or someone very striking or exceptional," and Farrell handpicked the acts that made it just that.

Following the successful debut, Farrell continued to work on the tour's development in the years after Jane's Addiction's breakup.

The band reunited in various forms in the following decade but didn't record another studio album together until this year's "Strays," with new bassist Chris Chaney.

TMR caught up with Farrell during the latest incarnation of Lollapalooza to talk about the new high-tech elements of the tour and the band's reunion.

TMR: What brought Jane's Addiction back together?

FARRELL: Well, I would say the stage, playing live on the stage brought Jane's Addiction back together. We had done a few tours together in the live arena, and on the second tour's run, we just felt that we were not able to -- we didn't see a future just going out and making appearances. We didn't wanna become just a novelty band or a nostalgia band. So we decided that if we were gonna get back on stage again ever, it would have to be under the presumption that we're gonna record again, record new material. So 13 years later, we came out with the album "Strays."

TMR: So after playing live you decided to keep on doing it?

FARRELL: Yeah, well we would go out on stage and perform together and there was this super high, a musical high. And we had a feeling that after all this time that we were gonna be called on to go out and perform again together. And it felt, not only natural, but as I said, there was no combination of players in any of the individuals' lives that added up to the power that Jane's Addiction had when we all got together.

So it was one of those processes. It's like when you met a girl in high school that you fell in love with and you moved on. And after many years still being a single guy you run back into her. And you see her, and she's just as beautiful and your heart leaps out. And that was the feeling that we had with each other. So we decided we should get serious and have some musical children.

TMR: How do you pick the bands for Lollapalooza?

FARRELL: When I'm looking for a band to play Lollapalooza, honestly, aside from the music which is of course the prerequisite -- the music's gotta be powerful and passionate and sexy and freeing and in the most exciting way, peaceful. And after that's all said and done, I look at the players and decide, oddly enough, if I'd like to sit down and eat with them.

Because I feel like if they're people that I'd like to sit down and have a meal with at a table, at a dinner table, after the show as we are finishing up here and then we sit down and eat -- who I'd want to converse with and who'd I'd like to travel, have a good traveling companion. And I check out their style, their sense of style and creativity and their political slants on things as well. And if they have something to offer to the table in the way of conversation, that's how I do it.

TMR: Why'd you start it back up again?

FARRELL: Well, the reason I started Lollapalooza up again was the important interactive component that we have developed on the grounds using cell phones, technology, text messaging, video gaming. All these ideas were in development six years ago, but it wasn't until this year that we were able to afford, No. 1, the building of this new component. But now that every other person has a cell phone in their pocket, the playing can ensue.

So we have what we call MindField, which is a reality-based video game that you are immersed in yourself. You, the body and flesh, are actually playing Lollapalooza similar to the way that people play video games. And the technology is in place now to do that. But I would also say that if it were not for Jane's Addiction, and the fact that we had a new record, that we were ready to tour within the summer, and we needed to build a tour around Jane's Addiction. And of course, what I considered to be the best idea was let's build Lollapalooza around Jane's Addiction and let's see if Tom Morello and Audioslave and Chris Cornell and the rest, Tim and Brad, would be interested in coming through.

And once we started to get a musical collective the entire festival was magnetized.

TMR: What's the best thing about Lollapalooza, your fondest memory, the coolest thing about it?

FARRELL: Well, my favorite idea about Lollapalooza is always getting my fellow artisans together and just, if you could believe it, stoking them out with little gifts. Whether I buy them belts or I buy 'em products for their skin, or I invite them to go out to the xBox tent or invite them to come out on stage with Jane's Addiction and perform and start collaborative songs together. I just love the interactivity. So I guess the main word would be Lollapalooza is "interactive."


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