Perry Farrell, The Eternal Optimist

Arts & Celebrities

Most good conversations are not linear. As someone who has done thousands of interviews, I can attest to that fact firsthand. Take the case of talking with Perry Farrell. The iconic frontman of Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros will lead you on a fascinating winding road through history, religion, rock and roll, humanity and more.

With Porno For Pyros going out on their first tour in 26 years next month and the world in chaotic turmoil, Farrell, a deep empath who impressively has never lost his faith in humanity, has a lot to say about the role of music and Porno For Pyros in 2024.

I spoke with Farrell, who I have known for many years, about saving the world, the environment, revisiting Porno For Pyros a quarter of a century later, and so much more.

Steve Baltin: What is the place of Porno For Pyros in 2024?

Perry Farrell: We’re going out, we’ve got a great song, we’ve got a great group around us, the energy is so good and the art community falls in with that, the true music community falls in with that. When you have those messengers altogether, great things are going to happen. Then you put in your charity focus, which is going to be fresh water and ending the war. Ending all war, we are on our way.

Baltin: A lot of these Porno songs you haven’t done in a long time. Are there songs you are really excited about revisiting?

Farrell: I’m going to smile about some of these songs, doing them. Some of them I don’t know if I’m going to do because I’ve got a song about guns. A few blocks from here, the school where my children went, we can walk to this school. Just last week, they cleared the school out because some crazy person was threatening that he’s going to shoot up the school. So, they cleared that school out. I thought, “Oh, my God, it’s right here.” So, I got to experience that feeling. Thank Jah, nobody did it. But I got, for a few hours, that feeling of like, “I cannot believe we can’t get our s**t together with gun control.” So I’m at the point I don’t know how to get around it other than maybe I talk about how that we have to constantly be on our toes as parents. Those of us that are parents have to be on our toes about things that are harmful. There’s no need for them, and that is, there’s no need for people to have those automatic f**king weapons of death, military weapons of death. There’s no reason why don’t we start getting into the bow and arrow again or the knife or the bat, and just say, “Fellas, sorry. If you want to go and bash at each other, you can have a hand weapon, but you can’t have these weapons of mass destruction like this, because you’ve proven you can’t deal with it. You can’t control it.” Anyway, I’m sorry but again, it’s just because I felt the pangs of stupidity.

Baltin: Serj Tankian and I were talking about this last week. If aliens came down and said, “Can you defend the human race?” It would be very difficult to do so. And I think we’re only getting worse at that, not better.

Farrell: No, I think the exact opposite. I think we’re very close to talking with the aliens, as you put it.

Baltin: But could you defend the human race?

Farrell: I could. I would say that we’re very close. We need to remove corruption from our midst, and we need to know Jah. Really know Jah. And I can tell you the two principles. I read them this morning. This comes from the Gospel of Mark. So, the Gospel of Mark. I don’t know where it can be found because I don’t normally read the Gospel, but I happened to this morning, read something that comes out of the Gospel of Mark. But I agree with it wholeheartedly. In fact, this is the roadmap to peace. This comes from the mouth of Yeshua ben Miryam, I believe, that would be Jesus of Nazareth. He said there are two principles if mankind would live by, we would reach the kingdom of heaven. In other words, there could be a heaven on earth again, that is what the prophecy is. But first, we have to, “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” If we would truly understand that, truly know Jah. And then the second principle is to love your neighbors. So, if we were to truly love our neighbors, we would reach heaven on earth. We would all be in heaven. Those are the two principles. You love Jah, you love yourself, and you love others, your neighbors, specifically. If we can do that and everybody can see there can be peace. There you go.

Baltin: Do you think that we, as a civilization, can do that?

Farrell: Yes, we’re going to do it. I see indications. I’m convinced it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen because the key to all of this is communication. And nobody communicates better than a musician. Also, you’ll have to include artists and anybody in any art form. And that would even include martial arts. There’s a place for even martial arts in this whole thing. They can teach people how to take care of their own bodies because I can’t think of a person that is in better shape than a person like Bruce Lee. So, martial arts. So, there’s going to be a fight for water, it’s already started. And when people are at war, the first thing they think to do is take away their opponent’s power by taking away their water, their electricity. We see it happen. Interesting thing about the Middle East, it is a desert. It has very little water to begin with. Now you throw in the oil companies and what they’ve done to the environment, and you have severe droughts coming. They’re already started. They’re certainly going to be widespread throughout the Middle East. I figured these fellas and ladies need to figure out, and parents need to figure out a way to share water so that their children can grow to be adults and have children, and have a life that they can look back on and remember fondly. We’re close. But that’s where I see the message for Porno for Pyros, what we’re going to be talking about, we’re going to be talking a lot about indigenous people, indigenous rights, because the indigenous people care about the land, first and foremost. If you notice, again, it has to do with the oil companies. They go and they destroy, certainly, in America, the clean water supplies that were, for centuries, looked over and cared for by indigenous people, indigenous to the Americas. So, I feel another key component, something that we need to meditate on as a society, as a global society, we have to focus on the indigenous people and even more specific, the tribes. The tribes. Starting with the 12 tribes. The tribe of Judah is my tribe. So I want to focus on the land that I came from and the land that I should return to, and how to make that land a great land, where I am loving my neighbors. So that’s what I’m going to try to focus on.

Baltin: Talk about how you’ll be able to bring all these components in. Because as you’re talking about this stuff I would love to see, a speaker series and do things that go beyond.

Farrell: I like that idea a lot! We’re working Surfrider Foundation. So easy enough, local Surfrider Foundations we can definitely install in there. The other one is Global Citizen. We’re going to start working with Hugh Evans in India. So, these collaborations or partnerships, it’s just unifying the art community, the music community and, I don’t want to call them nonprofit, but the Mitzvah community.

Baltin: In the ’80s, you had those big Amnesty tours with Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others. So it’s a natural, music and philanthropy have always gone together. You can go back to ’79 and the No Nukes concert, or George Harrison and The Concert For Bangladesh.

Farrell: That’s the one. I love that story about George Harrison. Do you know the story of George Harrison? When the Beatles were recording Magical Mystery Tour, he picked up a sitar that happened to be on the set of the movie. He played the song on a sitar. “I once had a girl” [“Norwegian Wood”]. I think it was that song. I don’t remember the song, but maybe it was. Anyway, Ravi Shankar heard it, and they were on the Mike Douglas show together, and Mike Douglas asked Ravi Shankar, “What do you think of George playing the song on a sitar?” He said, “Well, it’s pretty good, but he’s just following the melody of the words, and he could do so much more.” He said, “You should come and I could teach you the sitar.” Which he went and he did. And he got deep into it and deep into Hinduism. But isn’t that a cool story? So, it happened from a way of a challenge, like learn about the culture, “Come and jam with me.” And then when he was teaching him The Concert For Bangladesh happened, they were, at that time, fighting. Bangladesh was, there was a civil war going on there. And so, Ravi said, “Would you help me, my people?” which I think they’re Bengalis. He said, “You’ve got to help me. Nobody I can think of that could bring such light to the situation as you.” And George Harrison did the most amazing concert. I certainly, when I was a little boy, listened to The Concert For Bangladesh over and over, because I loved Leon Russell and I loved George Harrison and Ringo and Bob Dylan. Oh my God, what a great gathering. And it was the best I’d ever heard Ringo sing.

Baltin: I think the idea of giving back and being able to incorporate education into this stuff is so interesting and so important.

Farrell: It’s exciting, too, man. That’s where to get that fire. I’ll leave you with this. There are two properties on Earth that create fire. One of them is coal. One of them is flint. But flint is much harder to get fire to start. It has the apparent entity of fire. Divine light. It permeates coal. Not so with flint. Flint, there is no fire inside at all. Yet, when you strike it, when you strike it, it animates and turns into fire but it is the most difficult of methods to forming fire. However, it is attributed to kingship. Why? That’s for another discussion.


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