Perry Farrell Talks New Mystery Project, Kurt Cobain Meetings

Singer also gives thoughts on Lollapalooza headliners Paul McCartney and Metallica

Perry Farrell tells Rolling Stone about coming around to Metallica, knowing Kurt Cobain and what he's excited about at Lollapalooza. Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty

Lollapalooza is still two months away, but festival founder and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell is already getting excited about headliners Paul McCartney and Metallica. "I was so influenced by Paul McCartney and the Beatles that, when I was in kindergarten, I faked a British accent and told everyone I was from England," he tells Rolling Stone at a tasting event for Dobel tequila, for which he's a spokesman. "I was born in 1959 and can sing every Beatles song."

While Farrell says he's also "honored" to have Metallica as a headliner, he didn't always feel as positive about the band. When the metal group took part in the 1996 edition of Lollapalooza, Farrell was skeptical about how they would fit in. "I was very angry the first time they played Lollapalooza," he admits. "I helped create the genre alternative, and alternative was against hair metal, teased-out hair, spandex, bullshit rock music. Metallica, in my estimation at that time, wasn't my thing. I was into alternative and punk and underground. My friends were Henry Rollins and Gibby Haynes and Ice-T."

These days, he thinks he was "kind of harsh" on the group back then. "[Metallica was] not the first group that I didn't want to play Lollapalooza, because I have an obligation to my patrons. I'm all about genuine, authentic, heartfelt, the real deal," he says. "So I was not sure about Metallica back in those days. It's my fucking party and I'll have who I want." Now he says, "I like their music."

Farrell also shared his feelings about the documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. "Look, they're scraping together things," he says. "He's gone now, so you can't very well ask him to do another take, can you? He's very high. And if it was me, I would have said, 'I need a change of clothing.' But I thought he was a very gentle soul and who knows what would have become of him had he lived."

The singer did, however, recall a few times that he crossed paths with the Nirvana frontman. "I met him briefly," he says. "I must admit, I got high with him in the basement of the Palace when he came to Los Angeles, and I hung out with him at one of the MTV awards shows... We had a mutual respect.

"I think the cat had the right idea, he had the right attitude, " Farrell continues. "Except only one thing: I love life. You have to kill me. I will never kill myself. That's the only difference."

Outside of touring with Jane's Addiction and prepping for Lollapalooza, the singer is working on a mystery project that he hopes will be his "shining and greatest achievement in life." Farrell says it's not a Jane's Addiction project, but that the band will "test-pilot" it and it will launch within a year. "We will be breaking ground," Farrell says. "It's very music-centric, but it is inclusive of technology, film, theater and even the gastronomic arts. It's going to be the greatest thing I've ever done."

Wrapping up the conversation, the singer also explained why he was in New York, taking a break from touring, to promote tequila. "If I didn't like Dobel myself, if I wasn't proud, I don't need to be slangin' booze," he says. "But they came to my show and let me try it and it's good." He's so much a fan of the drink that he sometimes pours it into people's cups at Jane's Addiction concerts. "People let me get away with a lot," he says.