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The Music Q&A: Perry Farrell

Jane’s Addiction’s main man talks about what songs make him cry, which bands make him smile and playing naked

Perry Farrell

Perry Farrell during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2004 - Marc Jacobs - After Party at Maritime Hotel in New York, September 15th, 2003.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty

I always figured I’d leave a beautiful corpse with Jane’s,” says Perry Farrell. “But what does it matter? The point is, I’m alive.” In 2003, Jane’s Addiction released Strays, their first studio album since the 1990 epic Ritual de lo Habitual. After Lollapalooza in the summer and a fall tour full of dancing girls and black leather, Jane’s will return to the road for a cross-country trek early this year. The man has even bigger ideas for next year’s Lollapalooza. “My aspirations are to go around the world with it,” he says from a tour stop in Las Vegas. “And in its wake we would leave goodness and leave people happy. Maybe change the world for the better, just by example.”

At what point in your life did you realize that you had a voice?

When I was little. My family always sang around me. My brother and sister loved rock and funk, and they’re a good ten years older than me, so I got a schooling on great music at an early age. They’d have parties in the basement, and I’d watch them make out and get drunk. I would be their little showpiece. I could dance, so I’d show them how to do the monkey and the jerk, and I’d also sing Beatles songs. I learned early just to let it rip.

How would you rank your passions: performing, DJ’ing, making music, making art and surfing?

That’s a pretty good order. But the top priority would be parties. I love planning a party. In the grand scheme of things, I’d like to make a utopian world: You can’t do that so easy, but I can put together the ideal party. It would run on alternative energy and biodiesel, and there would be happy music and lots of girls. This is what I think about when I wake up.

What younger artists do you have your eyes on for Lollapalooza 2004?

Galactic is really hot. I love the Libertines. Muse is very Radiohead, but it’s hard to be Radiohead. Super Furry Animals have a psychedelic, beautiful feeling. The Thrills are happening. Right now I’m listening to people like Bright Eyes, Athlete, Cat Power, Bumblebees, Röyksopp, Detroit Cobras and Eagles of Death Metal.

What music brings you to tears?

I’m in love with that Mazzy Star song, um …

“Fade Into You”?

Oh, God, that makes me cry. Also, the ballads of Leon Russell — he’s a very heartfelt composer.

Do you think Jane’s Addiction is the greatest band name ever?

It ranks up there. I like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Primal Scream. Hot Chocolate’s not bad. And Captain Beefheart, Grandmaster Flash, the Germs, the Kinks and Minor Threat. Those are some good ones.

How do you feel when you’re performing with your dick hanging out?

It’s a bit of a smoke screen, y’know? Like monkeys who sit around in a zoo all day, they sometimes freak out. I guess I feel like a monkey. But it puts you in a zone. It’s a totally freeing thing.

What’s the last concert you saw that made you happy?

The Darkness. It was in the U.K. about four months ago. That cat [singer Justin Hawkins] has got his thing going on. He loves to rock, the people love him and he puts it out there for the crowd. We love that. And he’s silly.

What song that you’ve written are you the most proud of?

“Jane Says.” It is a privileged look into somebody’s life — the listener almost feels like a voyeur. And “The Riches” [from Strays]. It’s a gorgeous song about all the things in life that are rich. It has nothing to do with money: “Laughing that is rich puts my stomach into stitches/Early bird, from his perch, looking down, can see all the world’s riches.”

Does being nominated for a Grammy mean anything to you?

It is a lot better than not being honored. In my heart and soul I feel honored, but I feel that the Grammys are corrupt. I’m not counting on taking any trophies home.

What do you mean when you say it’s corrupt?

There’s money involved, and once that happens you’re not gonna get a pure view of anything. But honestly, I’m not one for trophies. To see all these musicians come up and grab a statue doesn’t do shit for me. And I think people can be acknowledged in a group. Then we could just have a party, and the party would be beautiful.

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