Here’s the thing you have to understand about Perry Farrell: The dude’s a dreamer. A genuine pie-in-the-sky, I-can-do-it-because-I-can-feel-it, people-have-the-power, life-is-for-the-living eternal optimist.
So when he tells you that, after successfully reviving his Lollapalooza festival three years ago as a once-a-year destination festival on the Chicago waterfront (see “Lollapalooza Bill Boasts Modest Mouse, Roots, Snow Patrol” ), he’s now working up a plan to take Lollapalooza around the world, who are you to tell him that’s crazy talk?
“I’m about to put it into 3.0,” said the perpetually enthusiastic leader of Satellite Party, whose dance-rock debut, Ultra Payloaded, is slated to drop May 29. “I’m going to look to take it global. I want to put together an event around the world in the next 10 years that will refashion, redress and transform.”
Farrell, who co-founded the granddaddy of alternative-rock festivals in the early 1990s, said the current plan he’s sketching would have Lolla “following summer” around the planet in an attempt to bring the show’s fresh-air groove to other continents for the first time. “I like the idea of being outdoors,” he said. “It’s something I’m looking into now, and if it happens, it will happen quick. That’s my ambition.”
In the meantime, he’s chatting up the launch of Satellite Party, the long-gestating project that began more than three years ago with the former Jane’s Addiction/ Porno for Pyros leader fiddling with drum machines, keyboards and loops in his garage. After years of tinkering, the basement project ended up featuring a galaxy of cameos from the likes of the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie, Porno for Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano, Joy Division/ New Order bassist Peter Hook, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante and Flea and the ghostly voice of late Doors frontman Jim Morrison reciting what are believed to be some of his final recorded words on the spooky album ender, “Women in the Window” (see “Perry Farrell Jams With Fergie, Jim Morrison On Satellite Party Debut” and “Flea, Frusciante Contributing To Farrell’s Next Big Concept” ).
The sound is a combination of Pyros’ Polynesian rock vibe, Farrell’s eternally spacey come-join-the-fun exhortations and a whiff of New Order’s throbbing new wave mixed with the techno-beat-driven dance-party groove from Farrell’s under-appreciated 2001 solo debut, Song Yet to be Sung.
“When I was in Porno for Pyros, we began to experiment with electronics in a rock band, and in the original setup we had a DJ in the group, a cat who will remain nameless,” Farrell said. “He was always junked out and he would nod off behind the deck, and every time it was his turn to scratch, we’d have to throw a drumstick at him to wake him up. Then, [when Jane’s got back together], they weren’t really set up as musicians to play that way, so when I had a chance to do a solo piece I wanted to learn as much as I could about electronic music.”
One of the best parts about the project, he said, apart from working with his hero Hook and his unexpectedly fertile collaboration with former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, is the chance to have his wife of five years, Etty Lau Farrell, step to the microphone.
Etty, who has been a backup dancer for Farrell since 1997, gets a chance to sing onstage and on the record, which Farrell said gives his new group a fresh vibe. “We’ve always used her voice for backing vocals, but she’s never done it onstage because we didn’t have female background voices [in Pyros or Jane’s],” Farrell said. “But this time we had that big, clear palette, and I wanted a unisex chorus and women in the group to make a fun party and balance things out … plus, it’s not a bad thing waking up with a hot chick in your bed every morning!”
Satellite Party are slated for Lollapalooza in August and will also play New York’s Highland Ballroom on June 4, according to a spokesperson for the group. The band will then head to Europe for festival dates and tour the U.S. in the fall.