Perry Ferrell (a pun on 'peripheral') was one of those musicians who was never in a hugely popular band but always won accolades from critics and had a faithful cadre of fans that followed him from band to band. Born in New York City (Queens) with the moniker Peretz Bernstein, Farrell's mother committed suicide when he was three. Surviving that traumatic event, though at times it was difficult, Farrell actually managed to graduate from high school. He then headed to California becoming a surfer (which turned into a major passion). To eat he worked in construction and waited tables.
By the mid-80s, Farrell was singing with Jane's Addiction, which had influences ranging from Punk to Funk with Heavy Metal and Prog Rock tossed in. The drug-fueled and wildly spontaneous shows sealed the band's, and Farrell's, reputation. By the end of their run in '91, the group was generally acknowledged as the godfathers of Alt. Rock.
From there, Farrell launched the short-lived (only two albums), Porno For Pyros, who are best remembered for the smartly sarcastic hit "Pets" (speaking of the human race there's the line "we'll make great pets").
Farrell undertook some solo ventures, including work as DJ Peretz, which did little to raise his profile. Then in '05, Perry Farrell's Satellite Party (with Nuno Bettencourt - guitar, Carl Restivo - bass, Kevin Figuerido (Figg) - drums and Etty Lau Farrell - backing vocals) arrived. Almost immediately, the seemingly odd pairing of Farrell and the ex-Extreme guitarist drew attention.
The band/theatrical entity made its debut appearance at The Key Club in LA. Less than two years later ('07), Satellite Party released their debut album, "Ultra Payloaded," containing debut single, "Wish Upon A Dog Star." Farrell said Satellite Party had a broader range of lyrical topics than his previous bands.
"I think we've got more of a universal sound," he claimed. "I'm not just speaking about heroin and ménage à trois, which at the time was an interesting subject to me, but I think I'm thinking about things on a grander scale now."
Before Satellite Party could really go into orbit the band took a hit when it was announced that Bettencourt and Figg had left (prior to the group's North American tour). "Although I am very proud of the music and production of "Ultra Payloaded," I have always felt uncomfortable with the direction of the line-up and live show," said Bettencourt. Nick Perri (guitar) and Jordan Plosky (drums) were their replacements.
2007 Ultra Payloaded
Jane's Addiction fans and/or those of Farrell's generation will be entertained by the snippets of Rare Earth and the Bee Gees that show up on "Ultra Payloaded." But the album's ultra-retro touch is the appearance of the late-great Jim Morrision (Doors) on "Woman In The Window." Morrsion's voice is still effective, almost mystic. The title is from a film-noir flick from way back. Fortunately, Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) makes an appearance for a contemporary touch. The album's concept has to do with environmentalism but here the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
"Ultra Payloaded" opens with the propulsive "Wish Upon A Dog Star." Good start. "Only Love, Let's Celebrate" lifts the hook from "I Just Want To Celebrate" while "Mr. Sunshine" grabs a few lines from "Lonely Days, Lonely Nights." In both cases, these insertions fit easily within the context of the song. Hey, why write a whole song when you can sing time-tested hooks? Smart of Farrell to figure that one out
Additional surprises are the hard charging "Insanity Rains," the near falsetto, almost ethereal, vocals that sit atop the dense title track and the pop-oriented "Kinky." Of course, the title alone takes it out of the pop realm but the song possesses a clear melody and "whoo" backing vocals.