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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perry Farrell interview

I was lucky enough to interview Perry Farrell, who proved himself to be an extraordinary, intelligent and earnest man:PERRY FARRELL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MAN WITH GRAND INTENTIONS AND, AS ROB TOWNSEND DISCOVERS, HIS LATEST PROJECT IS THE GRANDEST OF THEM ALL

When asked what their aspirations are, your average musician will invariably come up with the same old cliché about how they’re simply making music for themselves and they’ll be happy as long as they can afford to do it for a living. However, Perry Farrell, legendary former frontman of Jane’s Addiction and the brains behind the Lollapalooza festival, is not your average musician. With his new band, Satellite Party, he has far more worthy ambitions than merely shifting a few albums. He wants to save the world.

“I’d love to create and transform communities around the world using music, our words, technology and the strength of the individual,” he explains. “We need to go away from fossil fuel and those old forms of industry into a new era where we work with the world in the same way that the American Indians were conscious of the earth and conscious of how their decisions affected generations in the future.”

Farrell has always been at the forefront of environmental issues. He has given millions of dollars to worthy causes and is strongly involved with Greenpeace, Stop Global Warming, Global Cool and the Natural Resources Defence Council. Now, with his new musical direction, he is further tackling issues such as carbon emissions. It is his most revolutionary project to date, and Satellite Party’s conceptual debut album, Ultra Payloaded, tells the story of the Solutionists, a collaboration of visionaries who aspire to solve the world’s environmental problems through the arts.

“Musicians get hit up a lot to do non-profit work and I found that having the opportunity to do charity work and make music can really work very well together, because we’re bringing people together to spread a message.” Just like Bono, Thom Yorke and Chris Martin, Farrell believes that celebrities have the power to make the world sit up and pay attention. “People want to be fashionable, and so, if it’s fashionable to be green, you get green. We can organise and unify people on a massive level in the same way that a politician can, but we’re more trustworthy than politicians because there are no private-interest groups behind us.”
In the endless search for a solution to the world’s environmental problems, Farrell has inevitably spent plenty of time in the company of politicians, which can sometimes be a frustrating experience. “I honestly believe they pat me on the head,” he says disappointedly. “Because I’m a musician, I don’t think they realise how informed I am and how important I could be. What they don’t know is I have allies that have a lot of power and a lot of money. Not only that, but I’m a creative soul, and there is no accounting for the power of one’s creativity.”

Creativity is certainly something that Farrell has in abundance, and he brought some top-name collaborators onboard for Ultra Payloaded, including Flea, John Frusciante and Peter Hook. The result is an impressive fusion of musical styles including rock, pop, funk and dance which, while still carrying a strong manifesto for his brave new world, is not the doom-laden preaching that one might expect from such a project, but rather an optimistic, fun, and upbeat listen. “I try to stay away from being negative because the negative rock music that I’ve had to listen to in the last decade sounds very frustrated and masturbatory. I’ll listen to music if it makes me want to dance. I know that sounds simple but if a song makes me want to rock, or thrills me, or makes me want to have sex, I think that’s plenty. Most songs today can’t do that so I’m looking for any excuse to do those things. But you can have all those things and you can have direction and a vision, then I think you’ve got it all.”

During our phone conversation, the way Farrell talks with such sanguinity and conviction about his vision of inspiring change in the way we live our daily lives is impressive and life-affirming. Far from pontificating from his ivory tower, he is prepared to spend the next decade actively spreading his message and, brilliantly, he wants to do it through the medium of partying. “Ideally I’d like to travel the world consistently for the next ten years, with my allies, my fellow artists, musicians, ecologists and philanthropists and bring events, parties and people together on a massive level,” he says with infectious enthusiasm. Who knew that saving the world could be such fun?

“We have a lot of power behind us - meaning a lot of creativity, a lot of money and a lot of political influence. It is going to happen. We’re just on the forefront. I would say that this next ten years is going to be a beautiful, wild ride, and you’re going to see this world change like never before in the history of mankind.”