Censorship takes a stronghold over the scene. The ones in charge ban your album from stores. What is a musician to do? In Perry Farrell's case, the answer was obvious: Start your own festival.
The first Lollapalooza, in 1991, doubled as a farewell tour for Farrell's band, Jane's Addiction. Many stores had refused to carry their 1990 album, Ritual de lo Habitual, due to nudity of the cover’s artwork. In response, Farrell created Lollapalooza, a safe haven where Jane's and other controversial bands, like Nine Inch Nails and Ice-T's Body Count, could play their hearts out.
This weekend, Jane's Addiction are ready to play their hearts out again for Jack's 11th Show, hosted by 93.1 Jack FM. The legendary L.A. band's headlining performance will double as a 25th anniversary celebration of the first Lollapalooza, which came through Irvine Meadows in July of 1991. The rest of the lineup this Friday, Sept. 23 doesn't match that first Lollapalooza, but it's still a pretty great '90s nostalgia-fest: Garbage, The Cult, Violent Femmes, and Everlast & House of Pain.
Farrell spoke with L.A. Weekly while in Berlin with his wife and two sons, ages 12 and 14. The family was to soon return to their hometown of Santa Monica, so Perry could surf Venice and prepare with Jane’s for the upcoming show.
How is Berlin treating you, Perry?
It is perfect. The weather is amazing right now.
How is parenthood for you?
It is fun. And it is more fun as they develop into fine young men and women. I think women prefer the baby phase and they never want their babies to grow up. But I really enjoy the older phase when I converse with my son for a while. I want to mentor him. Up until now, he has been under mommy’s thumb. I am excited for him to become a young man.
What is your advice for teaching children how to attain their happiness?
My generation did an incredible job and took great strides. We put an African-American in the White House and may put a woman in the White House. Yes, there is that other side that has to get sorted out. … You have to give your life so that your children may live a better life. I feel like I’ve done that. We don’t have that much time on this Earth. You try to teach them that peace and love are the strongest forces that we have on this Earth. Keep working at it. Chip away, chip away …
Congratulations on 25 years for Ritual de lo Habitual and on Lollapalooza. At the first Lollapalooza in 1991, as the lead singer in a band and the founder of a new festival, did it all flow or was it overwhelming?
It flowed. I accept due credit, in part. But nothing is ever possible without surrounding yourself with talented, open-minded, fun-loving people. I had a lot of help. William Morris helped so much with it, and Bill Graham. He did a great Lollapalooza in San Francisco that everybody loved.
But you know, if it weren’t for the patrons who were into alternative music, the young women and men who came out in droves, then the music industry never would have been shown that this is the kind of music and this is the kind of lifestyle that we all need now. It would not have been possible. Success is really due to the generation. The generation was changing, they wanted a change and were ready for a change. And we all needed to have it.
I attended that first Lollapalooza in 1991 and was up on the grass, it was totally amazing. Do you have any messages for your fans in Los Angeles who attended that show and will be at the upcoming show this month at Irvine?
My message is to say, good job. And it will be lovely to see you again. But you know, you can’t light fires up at the top of the hill. You can slide down the hill if the rains were to happen. If you were to do either of those things, it wouldn’t be me who would stop you.
Oh man, I was at the second Lollapalooza in Arizona. Ministry came on and people started a mosh-pit around a fire and lit chairs on fire. That was pretty fun.
Yeah, that must have been a good time.
Do you want to give any teasers on the Irvine show? What can people expect?
You can expect us to play and dance our hearts out and entertain you, only like Jane’s Addiction can. There will be beautiful stage production, wardrobe and costume. And of course the incredible musicianship that is Jane’s Addiction.
How would you describe the music scene in Los Angeles back then, in that time? When Jane’s was playing its first shows.
It was great. It was incredible. You have to understand, this is what we did. We didn’t have video games. Look, I understand what is cool about it, but this is what it’s done. It has made young people very awkward, anti-social and uncomfortable making friends. My point is this. You were asking me about the scene. It was amazing. We were going out every night of the week. We were scenesters. We would make the scene. At the time I was around 20 to 22.
You were connecting with people.
Yeah, we would meet up with groups of guys and girls at the clubs in Hollywood and downtown. At the Anti-Club, Lingerie, Scream. … We would go out and listen to music. Music was the centrifuge. It was great because you were socializing. By socializing I learned how to promote, do graphic design. I started doing all the artwork and posters for Jane’s Addiction. That’s what we did back then, we did art. And that’s why L.A. was so fertile with music and art back then.
So music and Jane’s rose with the influx of creativity in Los Angeles.
The music industry? Man, did it get stale. Because it was basing itself on pure economics and not art. They brought in all these accountants to keep their corporations afloat and they screwed everything up.
Is that when the music industry refused to carry Ritual de lo Habitual, due to the artwork?
Yes! They banned it. They wouldn’t allow people to see nudity. You know who did it? Al Gore’s wife did that. She tried to tell us what language to use. We were trying to make art and poetry. They were opposed to figuring out a way for the young people to get the music. They started censoring the music. Jane’s rose up at that time. The money did not hypnotize us. I was hypnotized by the great time, the lifestyle.
So I created a world built for us. I created Lollapalooza. We made our mark, our lives and our career based on live entertainment. That’s what was so important about it. It kept musicians alive. It kept us breathing. We didn’t depend upon record sales.
That’s really awesome that you gave a place for musicians to play, who were being banned.
Oh yeah, Ice-T and I … we got along famously. He used to say, “I like you, Perry, you a playa.”
Do you have anything you want to say about the 25th anniversary show?
If anybody was around at that time, you should come out to the Irvine show. Because those memories are the memories of your generation and your life. You never know. We are not around forever.
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I would also say to people that those who have never seen Jane’s Addiction, you want to catch us before we are practically worthless. Right now, we are really, really good!
Jack's 11th show featuring Jane's Addiction happens at Irvine Meadows on Friday, Sept. 23. More info.