Perry Farrell inspired by Joe Namath
Perry Farrell is one of rock's most flamboyant, theatrical performers.
On Feb. 22, his band Jane's Addiction is embarking on the "Theater of the Escapists" tour, the band's first venture in support of an album ("The Great Escape Artist," released in October) since 2003. Described by Farrell as "immersive theater," he says the show will encompass the entire theater at each tour stop.
"It's a little different from going to your average rock concert. The audience is going to be within the show from time to time," he said. "We're using the entire building, rather than just the stage. We're using the foyer and the backstage."
So where did Farrell get his flair for the dramatic?
"My role model is Joe Namath," said Farrell, who was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island as a Jets fan. "When I was a kid, I used to laugh at the gall Joe Namath had. He was running around with a raccoon-skin coat. He had the Bachelors III nightclub. He's like a ladies' man, you know? He took women into account."
That might sound surprising coming from a counterculture rock star, the man who started the Lollapalooza tour. But to Farrell, it all makes sense.
"I loved him, man. The athletes then were sexy guys. They had big sideburns and longer hair," he said. "When he went up against Johnny Unitas with the flat top, you know ... I thought it was epic."
Now, having lived in California for many years, he's a massive Lakers fan, although for his NFL team, he's adopted his hometown Giants, who he says surpassed the Jets many years ago. Jane's Addiction is playing Rolling Stone's party on Super Bowl Sunday, which Farrell said is no coincidence.
"Why do you think I took the gig?" he said. "I wanted to go to the Super Bowl. I'll bring my kids. I'm gonna try to get onto the field, man. I'd love to be down onto the field and bring my boys [Hezron, 9, and Izzadore, 7]."
And just maybe, as a father, his taste in sports heroes has mellowed a bit.
"I like Eli [Manning]. I think he's cool as s---," Farrell said. "[Tom] Brady is too good-looking. Eli is the guy you could be friends with. He's not too good-looking. He's more durable. He takes shots and gets up and never gets down on his team. He never lets the team know he's hurt."
What of the other big Indianapolis event, the Super Bowl halftime show? The mastermind behind Lollapalooza says he has a lot of respect for what Madonna's done with her career, but that he'd like to see the halftime event be a little more like the game itself.
"I'd put together a show that would be like a competition. It'd be goalpost to goalpost ... two different acts, battling each other with massive production," Farrell said. "I would have a battle, pair people up. Could be like Kanye West versus 50 Cent. Jane's Addiction versus the Foo Fighters. Van Halen versus Bon Jovi."
Now 52 and about to head out on the road again, Farrell has a great deal of respect for the athletes he admires.
"I was an athlete when I was a young man," he said, adding that he realized he wasn't going to make it into the NBA and instead chose "surfing, music and chicks."
"I've used sports as an analogy. Being in a band, it is a team, and you have to kind of build a team, and you look at the players and have to assess their talents," Farrell said. "And also, we're a very physical group. It's kind of like high-impact aerobics when we perform.
"As a result, I've injured myself, much like sports athletes. I had Dr. [Steve] Lombardo from the Lakers actually perform the surgery on me for a torn meniscus [in his knee]," Farrell said, adding that he recently gave himself a double hernia trying to hit his trademark high notes. "You have to heal and come back. It's no different from the NBA. I can completely sympathize with these players who are performing with nagging injuries."
Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN Music and Page 2.
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