Lollapalooza's Farrell Explains His Taste For String Cheese

'I haven't felt a culture like this since '91,' he says of jam music.

Perry Farrell might be the only one who doesn't see the String Cheese Incident as an anomaly on this year's Lollapalooza lineup.

Morrissey, this summer's comeback kid, seems a natural fit alongside orch-rockers the Flaming Lips, the choral-pop collective Polyphonic Spree, indie darlings Modest Mouse and alternative stalwarts Sonic Youth ("Lollapalooza Lineup Announced: Morrissey, Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth On Board"). And although diversity has always been a cornerstone of Lollapalooza lineups, never in its eight previous incarnations has a jam band been among the headliners.

The idea to include one of the genre's top draws came to Farrell, Lollapalooza's founder and organizer, in January, when he was DJing in Colorado on a bill with the improvisational electronic outfit Sound Tribe Sector 9.

"I just fell in love with the whole [jam] culture," Farrell said. "[After the show] we exchanged gifts backstage, so to speak, and got to talking. After leaving that weekend, I came home thinking, 'This is what I want to build Lollapalooza around.' I haven't felt a culture like this since probably 1991 [the year of the first Lollapalooza], when I felt like there was a true happening in music."

Inspired, Farrell assembled two lineups. One included Morrissey, Sonic Youth and a few other artists that leaned closer to Lollapalooza lineups of the past, which featured bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, the Beastie Boys, Soundgarden, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins and Farrell's own Jane's Addiction. The String Cheese Incident topped the other.

He took both preliminary lineups to promoters to gauge their interest and found them to be equally appealing. So rather than choosing between the two, Farrell merged them.

"Although it was risky, I was absolutely sure we should build one lineup that incorporated the jam culture, because I experienced it and felt it was ready. Maybe once in a decade there will be a musical movement that is indicative of what is really going on. And in the jam community [as opposed to the indie-rock scene], I felt like the music was leading and the media was following."

Farrell's hoping to create some electronic-rock hybrids of his own with an electronic-music tent that will also feature live musicians who happen to drop by.

"This year we're building a place on-site that will be especially for electronic music, but it's going to have a setup that includes Fender amps, keyboards and a percussion area," he said. "Musicians can come and jam with electronic artists, which should add a new spin on things."

With a lineup that promises to expand greatly as the show's first show, July 14 at Seattle's White River Amphitheatre, nears (Gomez and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have been added to the initial list of artists), a single day just wasn't enough. So Farrell is stretching this year's Lolla experience across two days — a plan he expects will enhance the caravanlike aesthetic.

After the first day's festivities are over, Farrell hopes concertgoers will reconvene at a downtown club to continue the party. He's even expecting some fans to attend multiple shows in different cities and is looking into creating multiple-show packages that include hotel accommodations.

"This opens up a whole beautiful world of evenings and traveling and packaging and all these other new ideas that stem from the idea of a two-day package," he explained. "And I think the club we choose should be right near the hotel where the bands are staying. If the talent is nearby and they need a place to have a drink, that's where the club is going to be."