Jane’s Addiction Perry Farrell
By Mark Guarino
Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell is one of the most intriguing rock lyricists of his day, forging gold out of mundane subjects like pets and shoplifting and strangely sounding like it’s stream-of-conscious.
He admits that he’s currently writing a new album he hopes he’ll record with his Jane’s Addiction bandmates at the end of this current tour. But if not, they’ll make his next solo album. He explained how he gets to the words that match the music.
“As easy as it might seem, to me it’s like climbing a mountain to try to get the right words. You have a limited amount of space and you’re trying to fit them into a musical format. On one hand they have to roll of the tongue, almost like, if you didn’t understand the language, it would still sound good. At the same time, you want to make deep, profound sense. I search for the right words. We all have a feeling inside of us. The first thing you have to do is do it a lot. Like any other instrument or tool or toy or game. It’s like a video game guys are good at because they’re sitting in front of monitor for eight hours.
“You have to write a lot but you don’t have to use all the lyrics. I wake up in the morning and I record my dreams. And I find by doing that, number one, I remember my dreams. I have more vivid dreams and the dreams are always deep insight. Or they might be talking to you from an angel so you have good things to write about.
“You don’t have to write in rhymes. I never write in rhymes. Rhymes restrict you too. So you have to go back and read your writing and you have to be dedicated. If you heard something in the air, it could be a conversation you and your buddy are having, and something witty was said. That could define a good topic for a story or what they call a chorus.
“I never write with the music. Let say the band’s playing. Then I start to attach a lyric that I’ve already got and start to formulate it that way. That’s why, for some reason, it always sounds nice and fresh and unique and artistic. You don’t follow the song around like a mouse going through a maze, you let it breathe. You ever play two different records at the same time and go, ‘wow, you know what, now I see how sampling got invented. Two things unrelated can sound really good together. They sound genius.’ That’s what we do. We leave those little spots of miracle open and you can put them together or you can take them off. That’s how I write.
“By writing without rhyming, you can say what you want. You can bend words. People say I’ve got funny inflection. I really don’t, it’s just that I’ve written something I want to say and I want to fit it into this music. To me, English is a language you might as well bend anyway. It’s not the oldest language, it’s not an exact science. It’s a bunch of slang from Latin and everywhere else. I would prefer to be an instrument rather than the dictionary.