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

On a Saturday night time, hundreds confirmed as much as Laborious Rock Dwell 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 saved the viewers hypnotized.

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

One half charismatic shaman, one half a kinetic drive 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 youth have 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 assume I realized 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’ll be able to think about early ’60s pop, and I cannot 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 cocktail too,” Farrell tells New Occasions the day earlier than the present on the Laborious Rock. “My huge brother and sister would let me be the bartender and typically entertain their buddies once they had a make-out occasion 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 Seaside Excessive Faculty. Whereas he realized 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 acquired myself a second-hand leisure go well with. I can nonetheless bear 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 non-public membership card that he’d lend me, and we might 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 Seaside venue to sneak in.

“We might scale up on the water tray as much as the second ground. If one man may rise up there, then he would go down and unlock the again, and everybody else would come operating in, so I acquired to see all of the live shows that got here by means of,” Farrell explains. “I used to be asking women to go to live shows on the weekends. In these days, it was Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Automobiles, Blondie. It was punk rock. Music was so essential to us.”

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

“If you happen to may play ‘Freebird,’ you have been employed for each occasion that weekend,” Farrell says. “The lead singer was this huge fats child who was simply this superb guitar participant. Their huge music, the spotlight of the night time, was once they busted out ‘Freebird.'”

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Whereas Jane’s Dependancy may be synonymous with Southern California, Perry Farrell’s youth have 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 a teen, Farrell had no clue he may 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 acquired out to California, I had no concept I would be in a band. I simply knew that I beloved music. All of us beloved music. I used to be sort of a wanderer, as I let you know. I did not have a lot of a plan. I needed to return to California as a result of I knew the waves have been larger than they have been in Florida.”

It took a couple 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 Scorching Chili Peppers and Fishbone, offered a funk-based, grimier Southern California different to the polished glam rock of Mötley Crüe and onerous 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 pondering when he wrote every a type of traditional songs greater than 30 years in the past.

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

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

However make it huge 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 Seaside Excessive Faculty within the early ’70s.

Picture by Ralph Notaro

“You may say I used to be a idiot. If you happen to take a look at it purely from that viewpoint, I actually had one thing good occurring right here. If it was solely concerning 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 possibilities anymore and repeating myself as a result of I had this assured recipe nearly. To me, it is boring to reside life that manner.”

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 data 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 reworking, and I am nonetheless reworking. We’re all consistently reworking, and that transformation exhibits up within the music,” Farrell notes. “It exhibits up within the lyrics, and I nonetheless have much more reworking to do.” He provides that does not imply he cannot look again, which these profitable reunion excursions permit him to do. “It is lovely to have the ability to rise 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 will bear in mind the place they have been when the file got here out and the way it sang to them.”

He is particularly passionate concerning the new musical undertaking Heaven After Darkish.

“I am writing much more about issues I’ve realized lately, what sort of man I am changing into,” he says. “They’re much more digital of their composition, of their association. I take advantage of much more trendy devices, synthesizers. I like what’s occurred in dance within the final 20 years. I like what dance has completed for the world. It’s a tradition all its personal that’s consistently 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 Seaside Excessive, browsing, and sneaking into exhibits. 

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