Satellite Party

Silent Uproar: Hey, Perry.

Perry Farrell: What do you say?

SU: Not much. How are you today?

PF: Doing pretty good.

SU: Am I at the end of the interview list or towards the beginning?

PF: Just the second one.

SU: [laughs] OK. Hopefully I won't rehash stuff too much for you then.

PF: OK. We'll see how it goes.

SU: [laughs] All right. The first thing I'll jump into is you've been recording the Satellite Party songs for a while, and I think the first time I heard about you being in the studio with it was back in the beginning of 2005. What took so long to get things to a point where they were ready to be released?

PF: I'll tell you something, man. Today you've got to do things really, really right. You have to really follow your guts and not just throw things out there, if you don't feel right about them. It seems like the world is much more critical. There's less room. So for me, when I felt something wasn't right yet, I slowed down and I went back, and made sure that it was right. That's one thing.

The other thing is setting up a record today takes a lot longer. Getting your music up and out [to] radio takes a lot longer. There are a lot more facets to the business. You've got internet now to consider and setting up websites. There are multiple websites now. You know that.

So, I equate it all, it's like sex. You have people that are quick, fast comers or you have people that take their time and they do it slowly. You ask any woman. She prefers the one who takes their time and does it slowly because you can build it up to a good orgasm rather than just "shoot your wad real quick."

I've seen guys go out there and try to do it. They're just in a hurry. They thought their reputation would take them out there and lead them towards success, and it doesn't happen at all. Your product has to be really amazing. It's harder and harder to come up with something new and fresh, and so I wanted to make sure that my product was just really sound, so that's why it's taken me this long.

SU: I agree with your first point, too. People consume things so quickly now that, you're right, it has to be better in a sense because people are giving it such a limited amount of time to decide whether they enjoy it or not.

PF: Exactly. Then they'll just pass it right up, but if you really put your time into it and there's really a quality to it, you're right. It's such a disposable world, and the temptation is just go ahead and follow that. But the story of the solution is this elite group of people is all about quality.

They're all about a returned quality in a world now that is going so fast that it's destroying itself, because it's not considering how it produces its products. Its industry is just a very wasteful industry. They're a very considerate group to begin with, so I had to make sure that the music fell in line with the story and the characters.

SU: How did you decide who to pull in as guests on the record? Is there something each artist brought specifically to the plate?

PF: Yeah, it was a natural development. These people were by and large my friends. While I was writing the music by myself, I either met them through introductions. In the case of Fergie, I had not met her before, but friends introduced me to her. While I was working on the music and the story, I invited her to come over and do some recording because I appreciated her talent.

In the case of the other guys like Flea, Peter Hook, Hybrid, Thievery Corporation, and Peter DiStefano from Porno for Pyros, they were people that I had known -- except for Peter Hook. I had not met Peter Hook before. Again, they were just running around and thinking about making music. As we were meeting up from time to time, we would get together and record. So I started the project as an unsigned artist. I had no idea.

My dream would be to develop this into a film and a theater piece, but it has to start with the strong roots and a live performance in the music as I was writing it. Of course, now we're up to the point where we've been signed by Columbia and we're about to start our first tour, which is going to be through Europe for a few months.

You never know when you start a project out if you'll even have a good song that anybody will like or if you're going to get signed by anybody. Today a lot of people are either putting music out or they're sharing their records with these record companies now, and they're not putting them out on majors or anything like that.

You never know where it's going to end up I guess is what I'm saying. You have to hope and pray, and I really think [you have to] put a lot of hard work into it to get it to where you really want it to be.

SU: With all the connections and resources at your disposal, why did you choose to go ahead and put it out with a major label instead of doing something yourself or working with somebody on a smaller label?

PF: When I was approached, my manager introduced me to Steve Lillywhite. I had really just loved all of Steve Lillywhite's work as a producer, so the chance to work with Steve Lillywhite, I felt that the collaboration was going to be a good, strong collaboration, you know what I mean? This guy has a great set of ears. And he, more than anything, convinced me to work with Columbia. Also, the history of Columbia, the artists that they had on there, Duke Ellington and Bob Dylan, and artists like that, of that caliber -- Billie Holiday. And so it was a very romantic notion to be on that label.

Due to the fact that the history was such as great history of Bob Dylan. And so, that, with Steve Lillywhite, I figured they know what they're doing. And even in these tough times, I know that there's a lot of avenues to go, but I like going with the history and with the art.

SU: Cool. All right. Well, jumping back to the guests on the record real quick: one person that kind of caught me off guard at first was the Harry Gregson- Williams...

PF: Oh, yeah?

SU: How'd that come about?

PF: Well, Harry's an old friend of mine. I worked with him on a Jane's Addiction record, "Kettle Whistle." I worked on the lead track with him. At the time, he was working underneath Hunt Zimmer. At Hunt Zimmer's studio, they make these great scores for film.

SU: Right. Right.

PF: Harry went on to -- now he's his own man -- and he owns a building in Venice Beach. He's allies of the Hybrid crew, and he, as a matter of fact, has Hybrid working on [some of] his films. And so, we all decided to work on a few songs together. Again, I said to them, you know, you guys can use it for whatever you want. I have this project that I'm developing -- Satellite Party -- and if I can use it for mine, it could be very interesting. Because we could be putting out, I guess in their case, it could look like, or sound like, remixes. But Harry, he's just a great guy who lives in Venice.

Originally, he comes out of the UK. And [has an] amazing music sensibility, again. And a very, very dear man, as well. He gave me time in his building to work out of before I was signed, and, as a matter of fact, when I met Steve Lillywhite, I invited him down to Harry's place in Venice where I played him the material. And that's when he decided he wanted to sign Satellite Party.

SU: Cool. All right, well, how is it having your wife in a live band? Has that presented any challenges that you didn't perceive when first making that decision?

PF: Well, I've been working with Etty since 1997.

SU: Right.

PF: She began as the prime dancer for Jane's Addiction. And she has a lovely voice. But she's been trained as a ballerina, and a modern dancer, since she was a child. So she never sang because her prime interest was always dance. But when we were recording Satellite Party, and I would need female parts, she was actually the first person to actually participate in the recording. I would just call her in from the house, and she would record female checks for me. So, it's been interesting but I really, really love it because I think that Etty is a star. She was the muse for the story.

The story, in part, it is a love story. [It] centers around this fellow who, he's called the Chief Solutionist, of the group The Solutionists, and he falls for a night nurse, because he gets beaten up. And then sent to the hospital where he meets this night nurse. And she is the muse behind the part of the night nurse. And all the songs that the Solutionist sings to the night nurse is really in my heart, we sing to Etty.

So it's been really, actually very fun. We're right now in Hong Kong, which is where she is from, and having a great time here in Hong Kong. And I expect that the people of China and Hong Kong, by this time next year -- you know, as we walk the streets, she's pretty much the only blond Asian here in Hong Kong right now. And so we're getting some very curious stares. We have two beautiful boys that we walk the street with. But I feel that at this time next year, all the young people in Hong Kong are going to know who we are, and maybe they'll say hello to us at this time next year.

SU: I know your original plans for the Satellite Party live shows were pretty grand, and involved a lot of theatrics, but it seems that you maybe toned down those aspirations at least a bit for now? How were you convinced to approach the shows as a more normal or a reduced vision of that?

PF: Yeah. Well, it's a good question. You see, when you start a project, today -- well, just myself, I can only speak for myself. But, when you start a project up, you don't have all the money in the world. Because you're starting, you don't know if you have a hit record. And so, your fees, your live fees, you have to expect that your live fees are going to be humble. Initially, I have an 18-month plan. But, initially, when we get going off the road, we're not going to have all the luxuries like a video screen in walls and a quartet and dancers. Those things cost money to take out on the road with you.

Initially your fees are very low and scaled back. So although my ambition is to have eventually this story told in film and told in theater, I have to be realistic. To lock it in to make sure that it all goes forward, the next stage is to do a great live performance with great songs and a great group.

This group eventually could develop into the very group -- that is when we do the film -- they could end up to be in the film and playing the parts of themselves. Right now, we have to go out there and live it. So that's why it's not going to be...

We're not at a Reno level yet. We're at club level. But we're getting graced to be invited to play festivals. But festivals are not a very realistic account of what you actually are -- you could be playing for 60,000 [or] 80,000 people, but that's not exactly who your audience is yet.

SU: Right.

PF: So although we are going out there and we are going to be playing big shows, our audience... We're building it. We're a new entity. That's why you see us at this level. That's why I've come out with this arrangement.

SU: Lollapalooza has been able to come back and be successful despite numerous other festivals that have failed. What do you think you're doing right with Lollapalooza that other festivals that have failed haven't figured out yet?

PF: I'm not really sure about what the other festivals are doing necessarily wrong. But I can tell you with Lollapalooza the one thing -- it's with anything you do in life -- you have to keep your integrity. You keep your integrity, and you have to have the ability to persevere.

Perseverance is a very underweighed, overlooked attribute. I think, you look at some of the cultures that are survived. I look at them. I look at let's say the Jewish race -- Israel -- for example, is a culture that has been able to endure over a thousand years of being overtaken and overrun. There that little country stands. It is still known as the Holy Land. I think it's because it's kept its integrity.

I look at life itself. I try to assimilate and use some of the things that I see, specifically even with Israel. I see that if you can endure some of these hard times, it makes you stronger. People have said that in the past, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's very true.

You keep your integrity through it all and don't sell out. The groups that we've worked with, with Lollapalooza, have always been cream of the crop, great groups, groups with integrity. We've never shot for pop or 'tween groups.

We've never done what some of these record company executives have done, which is try to fill up their roster with crummy acts that are selling to children that don't know better. We've always kept it right where we started it... It's alternative, and we've included always alternative lifestyle.

We've never wavered from that, so people trust us. They know that we're out there, and we're going to deliver to them great music and a great time. I guess that's all I can say. I don't know what the others have done to fail.

SU: Right.

PF: I know what we've done to succeed. That's it.

SU: Well, the last thing I'll ask you real quick is -- I don't think an interview would be complete without asking you about the likelihood of a Jane's Addiction reunion. Do we see that happening at some point in the future?

PF: Well, listen. I have no intention of getting together with Janes now. I'm just getting off the ground with Satellite Party. I see really amazing things for Satellite Party.

Next year, I see us going around the world and doing some great work, building this party, putting this party in strange locations, and developing this sound itself for the live format. We're putting our group together. We are going to have a sound that is very exciting to me, because for years I tried to even do it with Janes. I wasn't able to accomplish it, because the musicians just -- they're great musicians -- but they just were not able to play with electronics.

It's something that, it's a hybrid of sound. There's not that... There have been some great groups that have been able to do it -- groups like New Order and Nine Inch Nails and Beck. But very few groups are able to do it. Thievery Corporation is [also] able to do it.

I want to be in that collective of people, because it's rare air to breathe. Massive Attack is another group that does it well, but those groups are far and few between. We're developing, and we have a chance to be in league with these groups if we hang in there and continue to develop. Jane's Addiction is a wonderful thing. I'm very proud to have put that band together and been a part of that group.

SU: Thanks so much, Perry, for your time. I really appreciate it.

PF: No worries. Good speaking with you.

Apr 7 2007