Published Jun 04, 2019Whether he was fronting Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros or conceiving groundbreaking touring behemoth Lollapalooza, throughout the '90s, Perry Farrell was one of rock's most forward-thinking creative minds.
"We were trailblazers," he says in an Exclaim! interview now, referring to both the original touring incarnation of the festival and the bands that played it. "Things went south in 1998. Money crept in, and it kind of ruins the whole vibe of everything."
Despite the turmoil, it's been a surprise to see the one-time face of Alternative Nation recede from the limelight over the past two decades; between various Jane's Addiction reunions, Farrell has released precious little new music, opting to use the now Chicago-set Lollapalooza as his primary creative outlet.
That should change with the release of Kind Heaven this month. Only his second solo album following 2001's Song Yet to Be Sung (and his first non-Jane's work since 2007's project Satellite Party), the record is a summation of his career in many ways — former Porno For Pyros bandmate Pete DiStefano appears on the album, as do Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins and Farrell's wife, Etty. It's also just the beginning of what he hopes is his next great creative endeavour, one that pairs Farrell the performer with Farrell the entrepreneur.
Over the past four years, Kind Heaven has become the catchall term for an "immersive living theatre" the singer is building in Las Vegas. The "complex," which is set to open sometime next year, is essentially a creative arts incubator for everything from music to theatre and tech, with a regular performance schedule but a flexible cast. The through-line is the loose and ever-evolving Kind Heaven concept of a messiah returning to a modern day Earth.
"It involves the latest technology and sound and vision," Farrell says. "Imagine Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show working in tandem with, say, Eric Clapton working with the musicians — and they're also working with technology experts and fine artists, Hollywood producers and people that know how to build and design sets and know how to put together a 1000-person crew that would be servicing and entertaining you."
The music component would come in the form of the Kind Heaven Orchestra, a loose collective of musicians that double as his backing band.
"We are this kind of snap-in component to it. We can install there in residency or we could take it out on the road."
Farrell started sketching the beginnings of Kind Heaven the album following the 25th anniversary of both Lollapalooza and Jane's Addiction swansong Ritual de lo Habitual, "but the other guys weren't really ready to go into a new project," he says. Farrell still sees a place for his former bandmates from both Jane's and Porno for Pyros in the larger Kind Heaven world.
"I just reached out to [guitarist] Dave [Navarro] today about having a chat with him just about the future. So I can easily see Jane's getting back together, adding to the Kind Heaven Orchestra."
Undeterred, Farrell moved forward on his own: "I can't stop; it's like a steamroller upstairs."
Still, the singer, now 60 years old, admits that he isn't the spring chicken he once was. He's had six major surgeries in the last decade — including three to repair his stomach lining, which he damaged singing.
"At 50, your body, there's some wear-and-tear, but now that I'm 60, my health is very good, because I understand that I can't carry on like I used to," he says.
"I'm very happy with where I'm at. I want to maintain my health because I'm going to need it to get this project pulled off correctly."