Perry Farrell Lays Out Lolla Lineups, Plan to Save the Music Biz

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David Bevan WRITTEN BY
David Bevan

This morning Perry Farrell announced the lineups for Lollapalooza Chile (Foo Fighters, Björk and Arctic Monkeys) and Lollapalooza Brazil (Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys and Jane's Addiction), two massive events that'll take place March 31-April 1, 2012 and April 7-8, 2012, respectively. When SPIN caught up with the always-chatty Jane's Addiction frontman a week ago, he talked about bringing his Lolla dream to South America... then expanded on plans to create an NBA for rock stars, dissed the Jonas Brothers, sort of praised Britney Spears, and revealed his love for Bon Iver.

While planning these festivals in South America, how much have you been reminded of the first few in the early '90s?
A lot! The people down there are so enthusiastic about music because they're starved for all the talent that we almost take for granted here. When I first got down there, they were asking, "Can you get the Cure?" The Cure? I mean, even 15 years ago they were kinds past their prime. And after this year, when we deliver Calvin Harris and Skrillex, it's over. They're going to be shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world as far as musical sophistication is concerned.

You've talked about wanting to help restore the music industry through some unconventional means.
I have ideas I want to develop that would bring music into the schools again. Because they don't teach music. All day long you hear music. You hear it on television, you hear it behind movies. Music is there but there's no respect. You know whose fault it is?

Who?
Rolling Stones.

The Rolling Stones?
No, not the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine. It's their fault because they don't respect music. That's a joke, but there's truth in that.

Well, hasn't music's role changed as well? It's moved to the background, it's not something people sit down with so much anymore.
We've associated music, just like we've associated acting, with commerce. My ambition, before I die, for the rest of my life, is to make music healthy and important. Because right now I see people losing their respect for that art form, because they get it for free. My ambition is to create an association, like a sports association, but for music. We're failing because we have a broken model. It's going to be Netflix and iTunes and Spotify. That's the model.

I do record and am involved in recording, but the other side of my business is festivals and great parties. I can tell you I'm throwing a Lollapalooza and you'll say, "Who's headlining?" If I gave you some bad headliners, like if I gave you the Jonas Brothers, I'm dead. So that shows you that music is important in your life. And music, if nothing else, is a congealing factor. It brings people together, en mass. So why shouldn't the music industry be run by the sports/entertainment industry? They have a National Basketball Association, a National Football League. And they have owners — these guys with their own stadiums, their own teams. The same thing can happen with music. But we can do things differently than they do.

What kind of teams are in the league?

You have Pop Warner and you have Little League, then you have junior high school and high school. There's always these organized teams in school, and these guys hoping to get into college and perform, then they're hoping to get into the pros. We with music are completely unorganized. We're always against each other. The promoters are trying to fuck each other. The musicians have no money because they're relying on recording. If we looked at it like, "OK, you, young man, you like music." So how are we gonna get the money for this young man to practice and even study music? They're cutting all the school programs. I'll tell you where you get it: you get it from the league, or the association.

What's this group called?
Let's call it the Scene Maker's Association, the SMA, Scene Makers because there's always been a music scene, until now. So how do you get that scene back? You get it back by supporting the arts. And you're not gonna support it by depending on the recording industry. They're not gonna support you for shit. I just had a record out. I haven't seen one poster. As far as I'm concerned, if I didn't schlep for myself, you wouldn't know I had a record out. You bring them all the way up, but the SMA waters it and puts music into schools. And those young people go into the clubs, because the clubs are in the association as well, on a certain night of the week. So tonight it's gonna be eighth grade students, and those eighth grade kids will go out and play. Of course you gotta make an appeasement for the liquor. Maybe the parents have to show ID.

Is the business model in your mind still based on touring?
Definitely. Here's what you do: You get together a certain group of people and it's only the people who really want to be there, and want to participate. It's that simple. You have a club, you want to participate. You have a record company, you want to participate. You have a festival, you want to participate. You have people that you manage, you want to participate. So we can get together and say, OK, we're now an association, and we will get together and go around the world and not only transform cities — because Lollapalooza transforms cities — but I'm not done there. My work, I want to transform young people and cause great music at the earliest levels, so that 20 years from now we at Lollapalooza have these incredible musicians that we're actually supporting through school. It's going to be better. Or, let's say Coachella wanted to come in with us, or Bonnaroo wanted to come in with us. I say we can take this concept and tie ourselves in with, I don't give a fuck, the United Nations. We'd really be doing some incredible work. Transforming the world through music is almost like this kind of saccharine, Dudley Do-Right, goody two-shoes notion. When you think about it, it's actually this very serious possibility. But what keeps it from working is greed, and power, and ignorance. It's not enough for people to just earn a living. They try to fuck each other. They don't want to work together. And as a result they're all suffering, just from not cooperating.

But how do you, at this point, with the way the vast majority of people value and consume music now, approach giving them music in a way that's translatable in the same way we're talking about?
How do you bring it up to the value? If you honor the musician again. I'm going to be pretty blunt here. The reason they stopped respecting musicians is because the money went out of the music industry. If we all were making as much money as Led Zeppelin, everyone would be putting Jane's Addiction on the back of their leather jackets. They don't do that anymore. Because Jane's Addiction doesn't have their own plane. You know who does? Britney Spears. That's why Britney Spears is on the front page of Yahoo!. Or Kim Kardashian. It doesn't matter what you do, "Wow, you've managed to earn yourself $65 million. I respect you." And to a degree, they are worthy of that respect. But there's a lot more to the picture than that.

Well, which young bands or new records this do you really like right now? This year, a feeling of '90s nostalgia can be heard in a lot of indie rock.
I've heard a lot of stuff like that this year. There's a lot of throwback stuff. Girls? They're pretty cool. Do you like Bon Iver? I think he's good.

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