When it comes to big ideas, Perry Farrell's certainly had a few. Of course, there's his much-lauded work fronting both Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros, two bands for which he served as the creative force. And that whole Lollapalooza thing, that was his idea. But ideas don't come much bigger than Farrell's next project, Satellite Party.
For months now, Farrell's been recording material he characterizes as a hybrid of electronic, rock, experimental house and hip-hop with guitarist Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme — yes, Extreme — and seasoned world-music percussionist Gabriele Corcos, who is married to "Entourage" actress Debi Mazar. But at its heart, Farrell says Satellite Party's much more than a band. In fact, it's not much of a band at all.
"I've basically created a musical, and the musical involves a group of artists who call themselves the Solutionists," Farrell explained. "What they do is create flash mobs, where the dancers and musicians and fashionistas and fine artists all get together and collaborate and do these flash mobs in the city. They become a nuisance to the city, and one of the flash mobs causes a riot. The main guy in the story gets hurt, and he's brought to a hospital where he meets this beautiful night nurse and asks [her] to have his friends bring a radio. They begin to listen to the radio together at night, and one night they are transported up to the heavens through this radio transmission ... there's a vast visitation of energy that takes them up to the heavens, where they are involved in this lovely gala. That's what we call the Satellite Party."
Again, it's a big idea. Nevertheless, Farrell's project has attracted major-label interest, and he's even lured some of music's biggest names to join the Party. The Black Eyed Peas' Fergie will appear on three of the self-titled disc's 13 tracks, which include "The Woman in the Window" and "You Make My Hard Life Easy." He's also recruited Porno guitarist Peter DiStefano, Joy Division/ New Order bassist Peter Hook and Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante and Flea. Jack Irons, the Peppers' original drummer (and Pearl Jam's subsequent one), pounds the kit on a few tracks.
Beyond the Satellite Party album, which Farrell produced and hopes to release in early 2006, there's much more to this project than meets the ear.
"You're not going to just go into this place and watch it like a regular musical," he said. "I want to make it where it's like a dance party and people are participating in the Satellite Party themselves. The places we're going to go to, we're going to have to build a location, just like we're building Lollapalooza this year. We want to make it a very special occasion that people dress up for and participate in. It will take at least four months to render the visuals, to build the sets. I am combining a lot of different elements."
Farrell will debut his Satellite Party during this summer's two-day Lollapalooza event in Chicago but said it will be an abbreviated Satellite show. "An entire Satellite show would be basically a play with sets and everything else," he said. "We will bring the music, the musicians and perhaps the dancers, and then, maybe do just a short set to set a good vibe for people."
But, there's still one obvious question that needs answering: "Dude, Nuno?" Farrell said he met Bettencourt while attending a party at Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello's pad. "We got together and I come to find out that he, too, is kind of getting into a hybrid sound with his projects," Farrell said. "I'm thinking very carefully about how to choose the musicians for the project, because it's a hybrid of electronics and live playing. Not everybody can do that. He can, and he can deliver an incredible sonic boom with a guitar, but he can also pick up a beautiful flamenco guitar and be romantic."
Farrell also said another Porno for Pyros album isn't too far off.
"What's great about Porno for Pyros is that we never broke up — we just kind of couldn't get it together," he said. "But Peter and I have a whole album's worth of music that we never recorded properly. We have it on cassette tapes, actually, and Pete comes over and we play them. And man, what's kind of cool about it is, you don't have to live through that stuff anymore, because it's already recorded. All we have to do now is get in the studio and remember those days. It's a really cool thing, but it warrants full attention. I think most likely after the Satellite Party, then I would think to do a Porno record."