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Interview with Perry Farrell on Jane’s Dependancy and Rising Up in South Florida


On a Saturday night time, hundreds confirmed as much as Arduous Rock Stay in Hollywood to relive their youth. On stage was Jane’s Dependancy belting out its late ’80s and early ’90s timeless different rock classics. The guitar work was ferocious, and the drums and bass stored the viewers hypnotized.

Nonetheless, the most important draw for Jane’s Dependancy continues to be frontman Perry Farrell.

One half charismatic shaman, one half a kinetic pressure of nature, on this specific night time, Farrell’s voice was a bit strained, however no person within the crowd minded within the slightest. Clad in a black sleeveless shirt and pants, Farrell left all of it on stage. This was a particular night time for him. Whereas Jane’s Dependancy may be synonymous with Southern California, the place the band began, Farrell’s early life had been spent in South Florida. Or, as he put it that night time earlier than belting the chaotic ode to kleptomania, “Been Caught Stealing,” “I had a good time in Los Angeles, however I by no means forgot you all. The place do you suppose I discovered to steal? Proper right here.”

Earlier than there was Jane’s Dependancy, and earlier than there was Lollapalooza, there was Peretz Bernstein, a child born in New York Metropolis and obsessive about all of the pop and rock music he listened to on the radio.

“You may think about early ’60s pop, and I can’t solely sing all of the songs, however I can do all of the dances too — the Jerk, the Hully Gully, the Fruit, the Monkey. I can do all these dances, and I can combine up an excellent cocktail too,” Farrell tells New Occasions the day earlier than the present on the Arduous Rock. “My massive brother and sister would let me be the bartender and generally entertain their pals after they had a make-out celebration within the basement in Queens.”

Within the early ’70s, shortly after Farrell’s bar mitzvah, he moved along with his father right down to South Florida, the place he attended North Miami Seashore Excessive College. Whereas he discovered to surf, he continued his music fandom.

“I fell in love with everybody from Bob Dylan to Led Zeppelin to Lynyrd Skynyrd,” he says. “When disco got here in, I obtained myself a second-hand leisure go well with. I can nonetheless keep in mind: It was like a brown polyester leisure go well with. You wanted a go well with like that for those who needed to go to the discos. My dad had a personal membership card that he’d lend me, and we would go to the golf equipment.”

A teenage Farrell would do no matter it took to get his music repair, together with climbing as much as the second story of a Miami Seashore venue to sneak in.

“We might scale up on the water tray as much as the second flooring. If one man might stand up there, then he would go down and unlock the again, and everybody else would come working in, so I obtained to see all of the live shows that got here via,” Farrell explains. “I used to be asking ladies to go to live shows on the weekends. In these days, it was Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Vehicles, Blondie. It was punk rock. Music was so necessary to us.”

If there was one South Florida band that basically impressed Farrell, it was Important Mass, who in 1978 grew to become the primary punk band to press a report in Miami. Nonetheless, Farrell was extra impressed with the band’s cowl of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.”

“If you happen to might play ‘Freebird,’ you had been employed for each celebration that weekend,” Farrell says. “The lead singer was this massive fats child who was simply this wonderful guitar participant. Their massive track, the spotlight of the night time, was after they busted out ‘Freebird.'”

click on to enlarge

Whereas Jane’s Dependancy may be synonymous with Southern California, Perry Farrell’s early life had been spent in South Florida.

Picture by Ralph Notaro

A love for traditional rock covers bled into Jane’s Dependancy repertoire, with the band placing its distinctive spin on Grateful Useless’s “Ripple,” the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Satan,” and the Velvet Underground’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” However as an adolescent, Farrell had no clue he might ever be a rock star. He did, nonetheless, know that he needed one thing extra — one thing completely different.

“I really took a Greyhound bus out to California from Florida proper after commencement,” he says. “After I obtained out to California, I had no concept I would be in a band. I simply knew that I liked music. All of us liked music. I used to be form of a wanderer, as I inform you. I did not have a lot of a plan. I needed to come back to California as a result of I knew the waves had been greater than they had been in Florida.”

It took a number of years in California earlier than Farrell discovered himself because the lead singer in Jane’s Dependancy. Paired with guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Eric Avery, Jane’s Dependancy, together with the Purple Sizzling Chili Peppers and Fishbone, supplied a funk-based, grimier Southern California different to the polished glam rock of Mötley Crüe and laborious rock of Weapons N’ Roses that was dominating the charts.

Farrell mined his previous to search out the inspiration for his lyrics. He says he has a photographic reminiscence of precisely what he was considering when he wrote every a kind of traditional songs greater than 30 years in the past.

The lyrics for the epic “Ocean Dimension,” off the band’s 1988 album Nothing’s Surprising, had been impressed by Farrell’s love for the ocean that was first nurtured in Florida. “You have a look at the ocean and the way a lot I really like the ocean. Again in these days how a lot I needed to guard the ocean, so I wrote ‘Ocean Dimension.’ The ocean is so massive, so smart. I need to be as nice because the ocean, and once I come to Florida, I get an opportunity to sing these songs to my high-school pals. I attempt to write songs the place the subject material is timeless.”

Positive sufficient, Saturday night time at Arduous Rock, Jane’s Dependancy completed its set with “Ocean Dimension,” the one night time on the tour the place it carried out the track. Farrell appeared to have a really nice time on stage that night time. As he pointed at and known as out his childhood good friend Kenny and reminisced about driving up on weekends to catch massive waves in Sebastian Inlet, he was reveling in being the native boy who made good. “I by no means thought a child like me could be up right here. I left right here with nothing however a surfboard and artwork provides,” he advised the gang.

However make it massive Jane’s Dependancy did, and simply because the band was at its essential and business peak, Farrell determined to disband in 1991. He attributes the choice to the identical wandering spirit that had him depart Florida all these years earlier than.

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Perry Farrell attended North Miami Seashore Excessive College within the early ’70s.

Picture by Ralph Notaro

“You could possibly say I used to be a idiot. If you happen to have a look at it purely from that perspective, I actually had one thing good occurring right here. If it was solely in regards to the cash, then yeah, I used to be undoubtedly a idiot,” Farrell says. “We ended Jane’s Dependancy seemingly at our top. The rationale I broke up Jane’s was as a result of artistically, and as a person, I wanted extra. I wasn’t able to be some wealthy man sitting on a sofa, not taking any probabilities anymore and repeating myself as a result of I had this assured recipe virtually. To me, it is boring to dwell life that method.”

As a farewell for Jane’s Dependancy, Farrell organized the primary Lollapalooza tour, a touring circus with an exhaustive lineup of other music. It was the precursor for the festival-obsessed tradition we’re at present within the midst of, which Jane’s additionally helped set up because the headliner for the primary profitable Coachella in 2001. Farrell additionally put out two improbable information with the band Porno for Pyros, however then he put the kibosh on that undertaking within the hopes of continuous to look ahead.

“I used to be remodeling, and I am nonetheless remodeling. We’re all always remodeling, and that transformation exhibits up within the music,” Farrell notes. “It exhibits up within the lyrics, and I nonetheless have much more remodeling to do.” He provides that does not imply he cannot look again, which these profitable reunion excursions enable him to do. “It is stunning to have the ability to stand up there now and sing my songs and know that folks know them and might sing alongside to them, and it is develop into part of their life. They’ll keep in mind the place they had been when the report got here out and the way it sang to them.”

He is particularly passionate in regards to the new musical undertaking Heaven After Darkish.

“I am writing much more about issues I’ve discovered just lately, what sort of man I am turning into,” he says. “They’re much more digital of their composition, of their association. I take advantage of much more fashionable devices, synthesizers. I really like what’s occurred in dance within the final 20 years. I really like what dance has performed for the world. It’s a tradition all its personal that’s always altering.”

After I present appreciation for the way a lot Farrell’s music has meant to his followers during the last 30-plus years, Farrell expresses gratitude for the flattery whereas additionally acknowledging how a lot issues have modified for him since he was a boy going to North Miami Seashore Excessive, browsing, and sneaking into exhibits. 

“Each time anybody comes as much as me and says, ‘You have helped me. You helped me once I was in school, and I used to be that awkward child,’ I really feel nice as a result of you recognize I, too, was that awkward child,” he says.



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