Perry Farrell and Dobel Tequila
O nce upon a time, not so long ago in the 90’s, a band called Jane’s Addiction came onto the music scene and changed music forever. The front man, Perry Farrell not only became the godfather of alternative rock but he’s the man behind the music festival that would pave the way: LALAPALOOZA. Jane’s Addiction, The Beastie Boys, NWA, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Violent Femmes – let’s just say the 90’s music scene, rocked. Perry was a rule breaker that took us all by storm and in the spirit of his nature, he’s joined forces with a brand that encourages precisely that: DOBEL Tequila.
DOBEL invited us to come join them and the man that rocked my teenage years, Perry Farrell for dinner at Hollywood’s, Bagatelle Restaurant. The menu would be paired entirely with tequila cocktails, shots, and concoctions made with Silver, Diamanté, Reposado and Anejo Dobel, which was rather befitting for the evening’s theme: RULEBREAKER. As a thank you, guests went home with a bottle of Dobel Diamanté’s world’s first multi-aged crystal clear tequila encased in the Limited Edition Drum Case. This is a gorgeous tequila with a keen taste that is subtle on the tongue and abundant on the finish.
While the cuisine was vast thanks to an array of culinary creations from Chef Robert Liberato, tonight it was impossible to squander the younger version of myself. I was elated knowing the man who taught us to celebrate loud, sexy, strange music – the guy that made it okay for a girl no one expected to mosh, to give her the courage to jump in the pit – the man who made alternative rock something that couldn’t be ignored – was sitting at the end of my table. And thanks to the team at DOBEL, I had the opportunity to interview him.
If you’re not part of the freaks, you’re part of the boredom.
Being a teenager in a sea of “squares”, being told it was more exciting to be different was exhilarating. I have to admit that interviewing Perry Farrell is living out a teenage dream. The man is a mastermind of bringing the collective world of music together and his passion to convey the energy behind the music is altogether – badass. While he’s the man behind LALLAPALOOZA, saving Coachella, and the face of DOBEL, he is continually creating projects that will bring people together. He, in every way, is a rule breaker. He has been instrumental in music, humanitarian aid, and is in the process of creating a new music experience that will integrate technology, gaming, music and art. After talking with him about it, without telling me much, I can tell you that it’s going to be the next wave of his legacy. A musician, brilliant visionary, devoted husband, and dad to two sons, it goes without saying that Perry Farrell is a damn cool man. So when you’re reading my interview with him, remember, this is the guy that changed music.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Jane’s Addiction. I used to beg to go to Lollapalooza just to see you but my dad wouldn’t let me. BUT – I did get to go to Castaic when you performed your first ever Porno For Pyros performance. You put a lot of time and effort into putting on a great show. After all of these years performing, you’re still one of the most fun to see live. And there’s nothing like live music!
Oh, you saw that show! What did you think of the dancers?
Sexy as f***. They set the entire stage. I remember that was the first time I saw topless dancers and I was in awe. And then, the fire burning on stage – I’ll never forget it! It was friggin amazing! However after that, I totally regretted not sneaking out to get into see you perform with Jane’s!
So if you had to tell me what your message has been all these years, what would you say?
Yeah, I love the dancing. Ok so the message. It’s music. Honestly, that’s how it started – music. If I can bring great music that will invite people in, that’s the goal. I mean, that’s why we play. That’s why I write. That’s what Lallapallooza was all about. That’s how I got involved with Coachella. They needed help. I put Jane’s on the lineup and 12 years later, here we are. Still playing, still writing music.
I wrote some music yesterday with someone I really respect and we wrote some music for my new project. It was everything I was wishing it to become and that always feels good.
What’s the new project?
I can’t really say yet but it’s a new platform; immersive entertainment with music. Go to a location, building a complex and it will have music there, etc etc etc. So I’m writing music for it. I wish I could talk about it but it’s gonna have multiple residencies, original music, original story. Larger scale, but not as big as Lollapalooza – more internet and tech. 4 weeks until I can speak about it. Two years in the making and it’s finally almost ready – so I’ve been writing music. Yesterday was working Harry Gregson-Williams and he’s my favorite (80-piece orchestra). This man can coordinate that many musicians, deals with digital, composes film – and Pete from Porno For Pyros playing guitar. It was – great.
Ok so I read about the negotiating the release of Sudanese slaves and some of humanitarian work you’ve done in LA, NY and NOLA, and I’m guessing you don’t get to talk much about that. I just want to say thanks for what you do. If you could something about humanitarian efforts, a call-to-action if you will, what would you want people to understand?
The attitude – charity should hurt a little, it shouldn’t be easy.
Believe it or not, it’s not the easiest thing – charity is a tricky thing but it’s so hard – it’s never what you think it is. I mean, when I was flying into the African Bush, UN didn’t wanted us there. Went in there with bags of money to help the people be freed. Went in to men with weapons and saw their slaves sitting under the tree. They could have blown me away but instead they took the money and they freed the slaves. Human beings were stolen and we got them back to their homes … There are some people you can never impress and they will always hate you – but you can’t worry about. I think it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I was able to do something and I did. I don’t regret it.
Any challenges with balance between music and family?
They’re always around me. They’re one and the same. Etty is my dancer on stage. The story is, I asked my ex girlfriend to marry me and she told me she was pregnant and that started my family. Two sons later, she’s still the hottest girl I know.
How old are your boys?
11 and 13.
Nirvana often gets credit for being the first ‘alternative’ band to break through, the band that changed music and led rock out of the hair metal wilderness of the ’80’s. That’s just not true. It was Jane’s Addiction.
– Tom Morello (when inciting Jane’s into Guitar Center’s Rock Walk of Fame in June 2011)
How did you come to join forces with Dobel Tequila?
They came to a Jane’s show and they were looking for someone to help sell their tequila. I told them to let me taste it and if I like it, I’ll move forward. And when I tasted it, I thought, “Wow, this is really good.”
I know people expect tequila to burn down your throat and that you should chase it but it’s the cleanest flavor and this stuff made to sip. It tastes like vanilla.
What does music mean to you?
It’s everything. I love it. It brings us all together.
All I can say is a conversation with Perry Farrell was everything I hoped for as a writer. He’s candid, funny, has that voice that I can still hear through the mic that sounds like no one else – and being able to have dinner and see him and his wife together? Seriously, they redefine love for rockstars. They are what’s right in the music industry.
Thank you to DOBEL and Tayo Otiti at TARA, Ink. for setting this up. It was an honor.
(Of course now I’m chomping at the bit to go back in time and see a Jane’s concert but instead, I’ll just open my bottle of DOBEL …)
Photo Gallery by DOBEL Tequila + ATOD Magazine
Perry Farrell is quite simply, one of the most important and original musical figures of the ’90s. Born Perry Bernstein in New York City on March 29, 1959, Perry moved with his family to Miami, FL as a youngster, and eventually wound up in Los Angeles, CA, where he discovered the liberating punk rock movement. By the early ’80s, goth rock was sweeping across L.A. — as a result, Perry changed his name to Perry Farrell (“peripheral”) and formed the goth-alternative band, Psi Com. While the group was an important musical stepping stone for Perry (his trademark heavily effected vocal style, ethereal music, etc.), the band eventually fell apart before they could sign to a major label. Years later, in 1994, Triple X Records would issue a self-titled, five-track Psi Com compilation. Undeterred, Farrell put together what would become one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Jane’s Addiction. He hooked up with a pair of young metalheads, drummer Stephen Perkins and guitarist Dave Navarro, plus alternative fan Eric Avery on bass. The quartet was harder rocking than Farrell‘s previous outfit, and injected their rock with unpredictability — unafraid to touch upon other non-rock musical styles and making great use of dynamics. The band was also different in that it was against the testosterone-heavy image of other rockers at the time, the bandmembers would often kiss each other on-stage and Farrell would sometimes dress in drag. All of the hoopla paid off for the band as they became an instant favorite on the L.A. club scene, issuing their self-titled debut on Triple X in 1987. Like its music, the band’s audience was varied — metalheads, punkers, and goths all worshiped them. A huge bidding war ensued, with Warner Bros. eventually signing the up-and-coming band. Although Jane’s Addiction would only be together for two more albums, 1988’s Nothing’s Shocking and 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual (both platinum-certified), they were a major reason for alternative rock’s eventual mainstream acceptance and success. Both albums are widely considered classics, proving to be incredibly influential on the ’90s alt rock scene. Eventually, drug-fueled bickering helped break up the group, but not before they would headline the inaugural Lollapalooza tour in 1991 (Farrell was the founder of the eventual annual tour). Perry also tried his hand at filmmaking around this time, with the hard-to-decipher Gift. Perry went straight into his next project, Porno For Pyros, which included ex-Jane’s drummer Perkins, as well as guitarist Peter DiStefano and bassist Martyn LeNoble. While the new outfit contained some of the same musical trademarks as J.A., it proved to be not as musically adventurous or abstract. A pair of underrated albums were issued, 1993’s self-titled debut, and 1996’s Good God’s Urge, and while the band was a popular concert attraction, Farrell split the band up in 1997, shortly after an appearance on the Private Parts soundtrack and a performance at the movie’s premier. Later in 1997, Farrell did a brief reunion tour with Jane’s Addiction (Eric Avery, who refused the invitation, was replaced by Red Hot Chili PepperFlea on bass), releasing a spotty live/outtakes collection, Kettle Whistle, the same year. A year later, Farrell became a father and swore off drugs and drink for good — focusing on a new project, dubbed Gobalee. Before the new project could get off the ground, Farrell abruptly abandoned it, concentrating on recording his first solo album, which featured contributions by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. In November of 1999, the retrospective Rev was issued, containing hits and rarities from both Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros, as well as a pair of solo tracks. In 2001, Farrell’s solo album Song Yet to Be Sung arrived, marking his first new material in five years, as well as a more global, spiritual approach to his music.