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Q & A with PERRY FARRELL : Mr. 'Lollapalooza'


\o7 "Woodstock Nation" was the term that defined '60s youth culture. Twenty-five years later, "Lollapalooza Generation" has become shorthand for the alternative-rock movement that has coalesced around the angry music of such bands as Pearl Jam (a "Lollapalooza" participant two years ago) and Nirvana.

Nirvana, in fact, was scheduled to headline the annual all-star concert and cultural fair this year. But Kurt Cobain's suicide in April ended that plan and also cast a cloud that might be expected to darken the mood at the event.

Perry Farrell, the colorful L.A. musician who founded "Lollapalooza," doesn't think so, taking an upbeat view as the annual festival gets ready to roll across North America for the fourth time, starting Thursday in Las Vegas.

This year's 40-show edition (which ends at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 4-5 and includes an Aug. 25 stop at the Aztec Bowl in San Diego) features Smashing Pumpkins, the Beastie Boys, George Clinton, the Breeders, a Tribe Called Quest, Nick Cave, L7 and others on the main stage. There will also be music on a second stage and the midway includes a spoken-word performance area, a visual dating service, a virtual reality ride and an interactive technology exhibit.

Farrell took a break recently from pre-production work for his band Porno for Pyros' second album to discuss the state of this nation.

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Question: What were your feelings about Kurt Cobain's death?

Answer: I really hope that that's the last time that anybody feels so pressured by his business, my business, that you feel like you've got nowhere to turn. 'Cause the world's huge. There's tons of places to hide out. . . . You know, psychic vampires got the guy. I would have taken him to an island in a second. I'd have left him there if he didn't want my company either. That's all he needed. I mean unless he lived in some kind of shame that I don't know about. I'm not gonna say that he took the easy way out, 'cause obviously his suffering had to be very potent to do that. But I will tell you that you can't escape out the back. And you gain courage 10 times for facing your position.


Q: Do you think his death will affect the spirit at "Lollapalooza"?

A: No, no, I feel like people are gonna start really living. It's an exciting time to be alive, on the millennium now, about to cross over it, and we're coming up, we're coming up. . . . We put a President in the White House that wears sneakers. One day we'll have one who wears no shoes. I hope so.


Q: In the main stage lineup, is there a recipe, a certain blend, you want to achieve?

A: More than anything else the recipe is that I want to try to draw youth in from as many different arteries of our cities, so that you're creating an intercultural event. People never go to the same show. I want mine to be the first one that everybody knows that they can go, it's cool. What I try to do is at least make it so there's a possibility that the mix will work here and there and that the people will like each other and start to cross.

I would love to have it where we could have on the main stage a serious band from Asia. . . . It's coming, but I can't go too fast with the festival, because preparation and introduction is a big part of whether or not (the audience) will swallow it. . . . Let's not forget that you got to get 'em in there first and have their trust so that they don't want to miss or overlook anything.


Q: Has it achieved that goal of bringing together different audiences?

A: No. That's good for me though, 'cause I've got a long life to live. It takes a while. I've got a lot of ideas still from the first one I still can't really do. But new ones come all the time. There's a surplus of them.


Q: You've said that you want to present voices from the whole spectrum in the information booths, from the KKK and NRA to the usual liberal causes.

A: That hasn't quite reached its apex yet. People are a little resistant to invite bad company. So they tend to book what is good. I don't blame 'em. You don't want trouble necessarily. They've got Tibetan monks going with 'em this year. As opposed to thinking KKK, they thought Tibetan monks. Beautiful thought. Not a bad idea. . . . Me, I just like to see what happens when you stir in things that are kind of raw.


Q: What part of it is the least fun for you?

A: You really want to know the truth? That first stage. Because, man, there's a lot of money to be made on that stage. A lot of people are vying for it. The most money is right there, and that's the most difficult.

The other stuff is all like brain food. I don't want people to be hypnotized in one direction. The whole thing is, you can go to your left, you can go to your right. You can turn around. And you're still being entertained everywhere, all around you.

There's no reason it can't educate you at the same time. But I still want everybody to have a good time. There's no pressure--no quizzes or tests. I'm interested in bright people, and I'm interested in making them brighter, 'cause I plan on being here for a long time.


Q: Speaking of that, you've been open and outspoken about your drug use. Now you're planning to get married and you'll be helping raise her 4-year-old boy. Has that made you change your approach to drugs at all?

A: Yeah, it has. Put it this way. I'm not gonna let that child out of my sight. In other words, my clarity. Because he's my responsibility. I mean he can go skateboarding all over this town for all that I care, but that's not what I'm talking about. . . . It's just that coming from my previous lifestyle, I had to slow down, you know what I mean. I couldn't make an immediate stop. So it was complicated. But I'm getting it right now. It's a good thing. There's tons of stuff to do in life.

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