Kinship in the Kind Heaven Orchestra
Perry Farrell and Taylor Hawkins help a friend 'Mend' with a new song
When it’s brought up, the duo seems unaware of the potential honor. Perry Farrell looks at Taylor Hawkins, who with his rambunctious energy, is the personification of Animal from The Muppet Show. “I don’t think it’s me,” Farrell says.
The irrepressible drummer looks momentarily befuddled. “We’re up!? I don’t know, I just play drums.”
A day later, Foo Fighters would get the call from the Hall. But on this day, the duo isn’t concerned with accolades. In short, they wanna rock.
Next to Hawkins’ ebullience, Perry Farrell is elegant and calm next, even as onstage Farrell’s often-shirtless punky persona — in Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros and The Kind Heaven Orchestra — is deliriously passionate.
Their combined talents have created the new single “Mend” under the Kind Heaven moniker. The band is a seemingly amorphous lineup of talent, who, in 2019 (with some different members), performed the spiritual, esoteric and ambitious songs on Farrell’s Kind Heaven album, produced by Tony Visconti of David Bowie fame.
Bryan, who was not on that LP, seems the wild card in this current musical conglomerate. Bon Jovi and Farrell’s brand of indie/art-rock make odd bedfellows. Not so, explains Farrell.
“Dig a little deeper into David Bryan and you’ll find that not only is he a founding member of Bon Jovi. but he’s written three Broadway plays, including Diana (the musical about Lady Di),” Farrell says. “He’s a classically trained musician.”
“Me and you are not!” chimes in Hawkins.
“And he’s a sweet man,” continues Farrell.
The duo first met at a Jane’s show in New Jersey with Farrell (obviously) onstage, Bryan in the pit. “I saw him and said, ‘Yeah, man, Bon Jovi in the house.’ And then he came back, and you know, we became friends.”
“That NEVER could have happened in 1988!” Hawkins bursts out.
“Exactly,” says Farrell with a calm smile.
“But that’s the neat thing about getting older,” furthers Hawkins, “those kinds of musical lines and stuff get kind of blurred.”
“Mend” is seemingly the beginning of the next Kind Heaven phase, as Farrell explains. “We’re just getting started. I want to revive the music industry like it’s never… I want to fire it up and make a fire that, like, goes to the heaven.”
Of course, to that end, the groundbreaking festival he founded, Lollapalooza, is back for 2021, in its 30th year, with full capacity. Plus there’s music and/or tours from Jane’s and Porno for Pyros. But, like the frontman in Hawkins’ day job, Dave Grohl, Farrell has boundless energy and enthusiasm for myriad projects.
“Mend” was written right where the pair are sitting… “on this guitar,” says Hawkins, jumping out of frame to grab an acoustic. The tune, on its surface, is about mending a broken heart. Not Farrell’s. His wife/collaborator, singer-dancer Etty Lau Farrell, has gone into another room, while their sons are working on music elsewhere in the home.
“We have a mutual friend, one of the great living musicians who’s getting a divorce now from his musician-wife,” Farrell says of the song’s genesis. “They met on the Lollapalooza tour. I felt like a matchmaker, a yenta, I got them together, they actually got married. You know, I thought I did such a great thing, right?”
The divorce, termed “messy and not cool,” hasn’t changed Farrell’s feelings toward either one. “I love both of these people so much and so does Taylor.”
“Taylor said, ‘we’ve got to write a song about our buddy that should be called ‘Your Broken Heart,’ but ‘mend’ was somewhere in there,” recalls Farrell. “I was, ‘Alright, come on over, I definitely want to do it.’ Taylor had some grooves [which he plays on the acoustic version] and I instantly started writing.”
“Mend” is a four-minute gem of lyrical longing, a vignette told musically with trippy shimmering moments, Easton’s penetrative yet understated guitar solos, and even some Spanish acoustic guitar flourishes. “I must see her again so my broken heart can mend,” Farrell sings in his instantly recognizable style.
Some of the lyrics even came from something Farrell actually texted his heartbroken friend. “I said to him, ‘When a man, he goes through heartache, God will bless him then. With a wisened rhyme and truer voice, his broken heart will mend.’ I literally wrote that to him.” And now it’s in the song.
“Mend” is the beginning of something newer and bigger, as Farrell says, “We’re riding a wave. We are the wave.”
He’s feeling super positive. “I haven’t felt this good in a little over four years,” Farrell admits. “Not only was the pandemic a super bummer, but what was going on in the country [politically]… the great divide was a super bummer.”
The frontman’s years of distress were further compounded by other social ills. “I mean, Black Lives Matter. And then Asian hate, Oh my God, people’s deaths and ill health,” he says. “What us artists do is we reflect, in our case through music, and we’ve been reflective and I want to say prolific, through this.”
As things in America slowly improve, the duo is more than eager to share that musical prolificacy live. Farrell and Hawkins are thrilled to be part of what they view as unprecedented personal and musical recovery for themselves and the world at large, as post-COVID reopenings spread.
“The whole world shut down; we don’t open up and it’s business as usual,” Farrell says. “No, it’s hyper-sonic. Everything is hyper now. The performances, oh, man, everything is going to change. Real fast. I look at this as a year and a half planning.”
That pent-up energy is explosive, it’s been building, as Farrell explains. “Like, this is what we want to do now?’ No, this is what we wanted to do a year and a half ago! What do you think of that?!
“We’ve gone freaky, wait til you see us,” he promises. “We are freaks.” Always seeking to break new ground, Farrell offers an abstruse but provocative nugget before he signs off to help his kids with their music.
Hawkins observes that the re-opening and future of music is at once wide open and unknown, “like a wild ride off into the Wild West.”
Farrell concurs. “Yeah, it’s gonna keep evolving. And keep your eye on it,” says the frontman, with a Cheshire Cat grin. “You never know, we might change the world.”
Or maybe they already have.