Jane's Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell just spent an afternoon in his hometown of Santa Monica, California, eating "miracle berries," those strange little pieces of fruit that make everything taste sweet to your tongue.
"They brought us a plate of lemons, limes, and now everything tastes sweet. I'm taking it home to my kids so they will eat broccoli finally, and giving it out to audiences so we can sound sweeter," says Farrell, also the jet-setting DJ and promoter behind Lollapalooza.
Jane's Addiction is currently on the road behind last year's The Great Escape Artist, the fourth proper LP of the band's 27-year career. Farrell has been one of rock's most theatrical and enigmatic front men of the past two decades, as the acid-laced, Zeppelinesque Jane's has influenced the likes of the Mars Volta and Incubus, not to mention most men behind the mike during the grunge era.
With the Duke Spirit, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at Bayou Music Center (formerly Verizon Wireless Theater), 520 Texas, 713-230-1600 or www.bayoumusiccenter.com.
Chatter talked to Farrell about the late Osama Bin Laden, the chances of Jane's hitting the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and what he sees as a decaying music industry.
Chatter: The last time you were in Houston, you broke the news to the Buzzfest crowd that Osama Bin Laden had been captured and killed. You sounded pretty excited in the YouTube clip.
Perry Farrell: I was trying to be respectful of people who didn't believe in murder and killing, and I was trying to be respectful of Muslims and people that had friends that were Muslims, but actually I was pretty stoked. Houston is a pretty "USA! USA!" town, and I fucking love the USA, but I was trying to figure out how to come at them.
Some people would say, "That's terrible that we went and killed another human being." Well, you know how it goes; people are always trying to be so politically correct and all that bullshit. Luckily I was in Houston, so I got a big "Yeah!"
My personal opinion is, I'm not a hater, I'm a lover, but I am not going to say that if I had to fight I wouldn't fight. I'm not opposed to punching a guy in the face, and I have been punched in the face myself. This guy had what's coming to him, so fuck him.
C: As the band reaches 30, does it still get nerve-racking getting onstage?
PF: I'm never nervous performing. I know I got the goods. I know my innate talent will entertain people and make them happy and rock the world. That's really all I am after.
If I really get nervous about anything, it's whether people can dig it, appreciate it. Can the people around me appreciate who they are and what they are, and where they are in this world? Those kinds of things.
I don't worry about myself, I worry about others. I decided a long time ago to just let 'er rip. I don't play down to people.
I'm not looking for votes. I'm not looking to pander. It creates problems for me, because in a funny way we are all politicians, us musicians: "Vote for me, buy my records," and all the rest that goes with it.
C: On that tip, what has changed in the industry since you started?
PF: A musician now has to think about their entire lifetime and how are they going to get by. Those of us that are still left in the major-label business, we are the last remnants of that old way. The major-label business is a joke, and it's corrupt as most levels of government.
The only way that these musicians are getting by is with their mentor/dictator, pulling stunts to get their records played. I choose to not play that game. There are many different courts you can play on. I don't play on that court. I have my own court. It's called Perry Farrell, Jane's Addiction, and it's Lollapalooza.
I don't play with those other guys. There are a couple of big players in the music industry who push through garbage and people buy it because they aren't that connected.
C: You guys are eligible for the Rock Hall this next year. Would you pull an Axl and not show up?
PF: I don't want to tell you what I think about Axl Rose (laughs). I would be more gracious, because they are inviting you in and saying they respect you and recognize you as an artist and the work you have done. That's an honor.
If it's good enough for Keith Richards, it's good enough for me. That's the way I look at it. But I wouldn't be surprised if they don't invite us, because we have a checkered past.
C: Guns got in on the strength of one album, but you guys have several great albums...
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PF: I would never second-guess anybody. I am one of the most fortunate musicians out there. Not only do I have a band and a career as a DJ, but I also help promote one of the greatest festivals in the world. Most musicians don't have that and they have to rely on cheap tricks to keep their careers afloat.
My guys look at me like, "Of course you can afford to be artistic and not make money, because you don't really need the money here since you have it coming from everywhere."
C: If you could snag one dream band for Lollapalooza, who would it be?
PF: If I could get Led Zeppelin, I would give the devil two years of my life. If they aren't going to do it for each other, they aren't going to do it for me.