Perry Farrell throws a Satellite Party
By Andy Argyrakis
From the pages of MeanStreet Magazine
Considering Perry Farrell is regularly regarded as the founding father of alternative rock, there’s literally nothing he’s afraid of when it comes to creative expression. It was a trait that could be traced all the way back to his days in gothic rock combo Psi Com through Jane’s Addiction’s unconventional ability to attract throngs of metal heads, punks and goths alike. And from then until now, there’s been a slew of other projects: fellow alt rockers Porno for Pyros, a hit and miss solo career, relatively consistent club work under the moniker DJ Peretz, a few short lived Jane’s reunions, plus the original conception and successful re-launch of the Lollapalooza Festival.
While the man of many hats is never easy to predict, Farrell’s dropped several hints about his latest musical amalgamation Satellite Party, dating back to a sneak peak at Lollapalooza in 2005, which once again defies convention and pairs the performer with a lengthy list of living (and even a late great) collaborative pool. On record, the lengthy list of players include the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and John Frusciante, Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook, Black Eyed Peas’ singer Fergie and even departed front man for The Doors Jim Morrison.
“Oh man, I tell you it gets better and better every minute,” says Farrell via phone of Satellite Party’s freshman effort Ultra Payloaded (Columbia), masterfully walking the narrow line between publicity hounding hype and genuine sincerity. “We worked so hard and it came out fantastic, but the next phase is to go out and perform it live. It opens you up to a whole other world- the different cities, different countries, the stage itself, the lights, how the sound is put together, the live players- and I’m really excited about building and creating the whole picture.”
Before the curious faint with anticipation for the all-star entity, most of the musicians won’t be on tap for the entire tour, nor is Morrison expected to resurrect anytime soon. Still, like any of Farrell’s previous projects, the door is always open for anyone to pop on stage with a moment’s notice, especially in a festival setting. “They all have their own careers and our worlds collided for a brief moment in time,” he admits, slowly switching from unquenchable enthusiasm to a more grounded reality. “I’d love to have [everyone] on the whole tour, but that’s not likely. They’ll be great young musicians- I would say future legends- who will play the parts and maybe even some Jane’s songs with fresh enthusiasm.”
Though the project is packed with eclectic rhythms straddling all the genres of the aforementioned acts, the album has Farrell’s fingerprints written all over it. “Wish Upon a Dog Star” could’ve very well fit in his solo catalogue, though it also simmers with rumbling bass lines a la New Order, while “Hard Life Easy” glistens with a scintillating club beat and the brooding ballad “Awesome” finds the front man merging the enigmatic tones of David Bowie and Nick Drake. Yet the disc’s most intriguing moment comes when he turns over the spotlight to Morrison on “Woman In the Window,” featuring a previously unreleased performance from nearly thirty years ago.
“The Doors have always been good friends of mine, man for years,” he confirms. “It was a very large request to have this material hooked up, but they agreed because the story of Satellite Party in part is about a group of people who want to give back to the world, using art to spread the message. After two years of working to get clearance, it all worked out.”
However, Farrell isn’t taking a breather after the lengthy pursuit, instead turning back to his workaholic ways to put the finishing touches on Lollapalooza 2007 (hitting Chicago’s Grant Park from Friday, August 3-Sunday, August 5). The exhaustive line-up features Pearl Jam, Daft Punk, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Muse, Iggy & the Stooges, along with over a hundred others.
“I’ve had a very strange career that began in the underground and was really into alternative lifestyles, so we didn’t burn up [overnight],” he observes. “It’s been the same with Lollapalooza- an alternative lifestyle with alternative music promoting it. When you take the slow, low road, often times you find that you stick around a lot longer. A lot of the groups and festivals we came up with aren’t around anymore and I think [Lollapalooza’s] lasted because it wasn’t going for that big pop sensation. From here, we can safely assume that like an oak or redwood growing that it’s only going to get bigger and taller.”
Though Farrell sounds quite confident, life isn’t always easy as an innovator, particularly when it comes to conflict with his faithful followers. Sure, they’ve eventually warmed up to whatever project he’s put on the plate (musically or otherwise), but the initial steps are by far the most staggering. “I’ve had resistance every time there’s been change- from Jane’s to Porno back to Jane’s to Satellite,” he admits. “But if you try and stick to it- and you have to be consistent with [that pattern]- then you find when you look back that you have much fonder memories and that other people don’t [remember] that [transitional] struggle, just that it was great.”
While he doesn’t see any reunions happening in the near future since Satellite Party serves as the main priority, it’s impossible to tell what’s coming next. But as he alluded to at the top of this chat, Farrell makes it clear that artistry isn’t everything and outreach is equally essential. “I want to keep Satellite Party going and keep building this group for many years, but this project ties into a cause,” he verifies, citing environmental concerns, traced most overtly throughout “The Solutionists.” “Satellite Party is about spreading that light and message and we have to impart [education to listeners] and make sound business investments in green companies…Now I’m a father, so it’s really up to me. I can’t blame my parents for this because it’s my turn to do something.”
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