By STEVE MASCORD
“Camera’s got them images,
Camera’s got them all,
Showed me everybody, naked and disfigured,
– From “Ted, Just Admit It”, Jane’s Addiction
PERRY Farrell may not be a weirdo. He may not be a freak, a pseud, a genius, a madman or a lunatic. By his own admission, he may not even be a singer. But he is one thing, and that is a liar. Because some things are shocking. To me, Perry Farrell is shocking.
When I first heard the debut album from a bunch ot Los Angeles underground space cadets, I didn’t understand it. When I read
the accompanying prees biography, it made no sense. It wasn’t shocking.
Reaching for another Motley Crue tape, I figure this was all a bunch of pretentious pseudo-artistic compost. At least it you sing
about being drunk and bored. you’re honest. Farrell says his song ‘I Had A Dad’ is about God. What does that make him?
On a boring Saturday morning, Farrell calls me tram Los Angeles and talks. And talks. And talks. He convinces me of my own naivety. Suddenly, it all starts to make sense
“It’s kinda frustrating for me,” he confides in a weird hybrid New York-Florida-Californian accent, “cause I see a lot of faces in the crowd now that I just know I could never be friends with. I look at them and go ‘what the f— are they doing here at 1am in the morning giving me the number one sign?’ It’s like, they don’t understand me and I don’t care to please them. It gets ready frustrating, but what can you do? You know, as a man you have to keep progressing. I’ve slummed it and I’ve been f—king down and out and it’s a great experience and I know I’ll be down and out again, because you’ve got to keep trying things and taking risks.
“I ready don’t went to be accepted. I don’t want to be popular and I want people to like my music but I don’t want everybody to like my music. It’s a bad sign to me.” Farrell’s frenetic thoughts are reflected by his expansive, often rambling speech. He appears to undergo a painful process of self-evaluation with each quote, , almost as if he’s not so much worried that I will find him out will find him out as that he may find himself out.
A former medical student with a tested IQ of 139 (“What does that mean anyway? IQ tests don’t fool me”), Farrell was brought up in Queens, New York in the early seventies before his family relocated to Florida The result Is a muffled, almost wacky speaking voice.
He took off to California as a teenager in 1980, forming a band in LA he describes as being “like The Cure, fring stuff. It was called Psi-com. That band was oven stranger than this one. It was made up of , like, really odd people. We had a guitar player from the
Philippines who weighed about 80 pounds. They all got into the Krishna trip. They all ended up going off to a Krishna farm in Arizona. How sad.”
BEING alternative Is sometimes the best way of becoming mainstream. Perry looks gawky. with bushy eyebrows, plaited hair, and a ring through his noticeably protruding snozzle. Guitarist David Navarro, bassist Eric A and drummer Steven Perkins don’t dress like Guns N’ Roses. But then again. Guns N’ Roses didn’t dress like Ratt.
Nothing’s Shocking is strangely unfriendly to the ear but stimulating anyway. Hypnotic? There are songs about being as fat as an
ocean, about a mass murderer, God, and standing in the shower thinking. If that’s what they really are about.
The cover shows two female Siamese twins, joined at the shoulder and hips, naked
sitting down with earrings in their nipples and their hair on fire. As you’d expect, it was banned from someAmerican record stores.
Then Perry told them it was artistic, not pornographic, and they stocked it again. America’s like that.
“I don’t give a shit about what’s happening in rock’n’ roll,” the man of the moment volunteers.
“In fact, I’m not impressed with rock n’ roll those days. I just go after what makes me laugh. I bet everybody’s got the same emotions, jt,et that nobody’s taken time to come out and say ‘I’m not gonna give them the same billshit snare sound’. That was last year. As a result, everything on the radio is so safe. If you try and you don’t sell, look what happens? You lose your recording contract. You’re in your twenties, you don’t have a band, you don’t have any money. Luckily, for me. I’m half out of my mind so it never really bothered me. I never started to think “Holy shit, what am I doing?”
They don’t have clips on MIV for ethical reasons, but they do have groupies. “I look into their eyes and see it they can think for themselves. What if they can’t? Well it depends how good looking they are? If they aro absolutely gorgeous, but they haven’t graduated tram high school, I still might ask them back for a drink.”
Farrell gleefully accepts my suggestion he has just destroyed thousands of people’s image of him. “We should try not to be too much of
anything,” he shrugs.
“Then he came,
Now sister’s not a virgin anymore,
And her sex is violent,
Sex is … (etc)”
From “Ted, Just Admit it”
PERRY has a sister. “You wanna meet her? She’s about 21 and, of course, she’s not a virgin. Isn’t it funny how all brothers want their sisters to be virgins? ‘I’d like to strangle the guy who broke my sister in;. ‘The songs not about her, although I suppose I had herin mind. It’s a kind of a sarcastic way of talking about rape.”
Perry still has a dad too. And a mum as well. Problem is, they keep showing up at gigs “I’ve tried to frighten them off by whipping my cock out a couple of times but they keep coming back They bring their friends. They must be proud of me.”
Jane’s Addiction are not shocking because of tongues or tits or dicks. Not even even for originality, art, eccentricity, talent or
energy. What is shocking is they have all these things people like, and they’re from Los Angeles.
I wonder if Iam one of those people Farrell would have seen in the audience and known instantly that he hated “You can look
a person in the eye end know they’ve got no artistic bone in their body, and they don’t understand what’s going on. But they’re
there for the whole parade. They have no clue. If you told them to march left or march to the right, they would do it and not even
care. I don’t really care to impress people like that.”
‘But at the same time, 90 per cent of the whole earth is covered with morons. They’re everywhere. What can you do? You can’t
fight it. The best you can hope for is if it’s really good, a lot of people might like it. That’s not always the case, especially in the
music business, because the music business seems to be one of the biggest businesses where you can have shit and do really well. That and politics. You can have shit for a brain and do really well.
“It didn’t start off that way (in music). It started out when rock was a fun thing, only the greats ware making it, so in the span of 25 years we’ve got ourselves a real predicament on our hands, and I don’t know what lo do about it myself because I kind of fear being a number one band. The idea doesn’t sppeal to me because most of the bands that are nimber one stink. I want to do my own thing, so what do you do if people happen to like it..?”
Despite his obsession with credibility, Perry Farrell need not worry. He is safely in the right 10 per cent of the population As
for me, I’m not sure. After all, I once thought Perry Farrell was a moron.
On the press biography which purports to be written by Perry. journalists’ questions are purported lo be “tiresome” Farrell
hastily adds in untidy type, ‘’WE LOVE BEING EXPLOITED. A matter of equal use, wouldn’t you say? A bottle and a drinker, watching each other empty out.”
Hmm. Farrell is smart enough to be a writer. Except he’s not that stupid.