Perry Farrell wears many hats: rock star, DJ, entrepreneur, environmentalist, husband, father, and the list keeps growing. Over the years he’s fronted the bands Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros and Satellite Party, created the annual music festival Lollapalooza (which had it’s 20th anniversary in August and will debut in Brazil in April), married professional dancer Etty Lau Farrell, with whom he has two sons, modeled for John Varvatos and also found the time to work on issues ranging from global warming to slavery in Sudan. After 26 years together, with a few rifts in between, Jane’s Addiction has just released its fourth album, “The Great Escape Artist.” WWD caught up with the 52-year-old last week while the band was in Manhattan for two sold-out shows at Irving Plaza. Sitting on a white leather couch in a penthouse suite at the Mondrian SoHo, Farrell opened up on several topics, including his secrets to looking and feeling young (which includes lots of sex, of course). And don’t be surprised if Farrell takes on the role of clothing designer some time in the future. “I would kill to design my own collection,” he says.
WWD: What inspired you to do this album eight years after your last album?
Perry Farrell: It was an organic process. It was quite by accident that we got back together. We left on bad terms in 2004 and I never thought I would record with Jane’s again. But this magazine from the U.K. called NME was giving us the “Godlike Genius Award” and they wanted me to perform “Jane Says.” I didn’t feel good about accepting this award without letting them know and I wanted them to come with me. As soon as we got on the phone, everything melted away. We got together and did that show and so the idea was then let’s get together and do more shows. But of course you need new ammunition for those live shows. We had to go into the studio and record.
This story first appeared in the October 25, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD: What do you think of the fashion sense of rock bands these days?
P.F.: Although I’m a part-time rock musician, I’m also a DJ and I produce electronic music. I look more towards that side of life. Rock music has a ball and chain around its ankle. Most rock musicians are held in the past. I don’t like them coming out with a T-shirt and jeans and standing there looking at you, that bothers the s–t out of me. I look at it like this: wherever you’re going, you have to dress for the room. If you’re playing a rock show and it’s your show, dress like it’s your show.
WWD: Do you enjoy shopping?
P.F.: I really love to. To me a good designer is as great as a great musician. To see their work is a thing of beauty to me.
WWD: Do you have assistants that shop for you?
P.F.: Yes, I do both. I like the assistant to bring in a giant rack of clothes for me to cut through.
WWD: Is that how you pick your tour wardrobe?
P.F.: Yes. But I give them parameters. In this case, “The Great Escape Artist,” I tell them to think of Houdini’s era, like 1920s and 1930s, but of course I don’t want to dress like I’m in a prop store. People design today with glimpses of the past, but I want to find new designers who are touching upon that.
WWD: How about your grooming regimen — do you do anything special?
P.F.: My wife has me on SK-II, so I have a wonderful set-up of the best SK-II products that I use. I used to be quite androgynous and wear dresses, but I find that as you age as a man, there’s nothing worse than an old drag queen. You have to start to go for what you truly are and make the best of it.