Perry Farrell Is Readier Than Ever For Hanukkah

The Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros frontman will light the Bill Graham Menorah on Sunday night, then head to the Fillmore for a show with his new supergroup, Kind Heaven Orchestra.

(Gabe L’Heureux)

Perry Farrell is a modern-day prophet making messianic predictions. The former Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros frontman and Lollapalooza founder is decrying the wickedness of hate mongers, praising the woke, and predicting that 2020 will be the start of a long-awaited messianic era.

He’s so certain that it’s the end of the world as we know it and that heaven will be a place on earth in 13 months that he’s developed an entire project around the concept. Kind Heaven is the name of his new supergroup backing band, which includes pianist Mike Garson (David Bowie), drummers Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) and Matt Chamberlain (Soundgarden), guitarists Dhani Harrison, Elliot Easton (The Cars), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), and Peter Distefano (Porno For Pyros), and DJ Joachim Garraud (David Guetta).

“Here’s what I see going on,” Farrell tells SF Weekly. “The world is being unmasked, and it’s gonna be painful and eye-opening. What you’re seeing is guys with hatred in their hearts being destructive if they can’t have their way. They’re greedy, they’re perverse, and their way of thinking is just over, so they’re scrambling. But you already see conscious people taking to the streets, getting wiser, and getting together and organizing. They are spreading a message of love, kindness, and peace, and together we can bring heaven down to earth with random acts of goodness and kindness.”

Farrell can see the light at the end of the incredibly dark tunnel, and it’s in this spirit that he returns to San Francisco to help light The Bill Graham Menorah in Union Square along with Rabbi Yosef Langer and Chabad of SF, along with Bill Graham’s sons, David and Alex Graham, on Sunday evening. Later that night, he will debut new material from Kind Heaven Orchestra at The Fillmore.

Perry Farrell spoke to SF Weekly about the important symbolism of the menorah lighting, his belief in miracles, and why in light of the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, a public menorah lighting is more important now than ever before.

(Gabe L’Heureux)

What does the lighting of the menorah mean to you?
It symbolizes the light that is within us, and the light is the love light.  Everybody is made up of the four elements, but especially light, and that’s really what the story of the menorah is about. It’s about the spiritual dimensions of the soul and how we contain light — we refract and we restrict light. Then, when we die, we relax that, and then the refracted and restricted light leaves us. But that’s really what the menorah is. It’s about all of us.

What can we learn from the story of Hanukkah?
Those of us who believe in prophecy, we believe in miracles. We go all the way with this, so the Messianic era, Hanukkah, what happened there, you question how the oil burned. Because that light comes from the infinite and the unknowable, you believe it was there, continually burning the olive oil or you don’t.

I believe it actually happened because God had angels and miracles that He puts here, so we understand that there’s an unknowable miraculous other dimension that everything we receive and what we study is real; you can count your life on it. And these people who don’t actually believe it, they don’t have an imagination. They don’t have great faith, a lot of love in their hearts, or empathy.

What are your earliest memories of Hanukkah?
My family was kind of split up early on, but the one memory I have of Hanukkah is getting this 007 attache case that turned into a gun. That was the best Hanukkah present.

Do you still have it?
No, and these days I don’t wish I still had it. I’m kind of over guns. But then it was so cool.

You walked, acting like you were carrying an attache case, and then you pressed the button and it turned into a rifle. It had a rifle stock come out the back and the muzzle came out the front. I just thought it was the coolest present of all time.

But, of course, now I wouldn’t be into getting my kid one of those. But back when 007 was a super-sex spy, I thought I was pretty cool.

In light of the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, does the public lighting of the Bill Graham Menorah take on a greater significance?
From the tragedy of Pittsburgh, I saw a crazy person, but I also saw people come together as I’ve never seen. Like I heard that there was a Muslim mosque that literally put their arms out and offered money to the Jewish temple to help them from their tragedy.

Do you know that what they were doing in that temple was having a [circumcision] for a little boy whose parents were gay?
No matter what low-frequency or unconscious people think, the reality is we are made of light. And as dark as you can find a place, it’s not without light. And the menorah lighting also speaks about miracles, and there’s a real story attached to it around how the oil meant to burn for one day burned for eight.  But that menorah lighting is all about how we — not just the Jewish people, but all 70 nations — are all made of light and created equal. That’s the highest mindedness that I get from the Festival of Lights. That’s why I’m so happy to have the public menorah lighting.

What can you tell us about your Fillmore show that follows the menorah lighting?
Along with the menorah lighting, in honor of the Festival of Lights, we’re bringing up the Kind Heaven Orchestra, and that’s gonna be beautiful. We’ll have a quartet and have my friends sitting in with me on this night, and we’re gonna pull out some surprises. I can’t say names yet, but there are going to be people that you’ll be delighted to see onstage with us. I promise you, you’ll be very excited to be there in the flesh seeing this.

We jumped out a little prematurely because the album’s gonna drop next year, but because we love Bill Graham, the Chassidim, San Francisco, and humanity, of course we were gonna do it when offered the gig.  

We’ll do five tracks from Kind Heaven Orchestra, and then we’re going into deep house tracks that we play with ancient instruments like the lute and tabla, and the orchestra will add little bits and touches. Then there’s the third part of it that’s gonna be acoustic. We’ll have some orchestra with that and then an encore that’s totally acoustic. There’ll be Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros, and standards. If you love music, you can’t not love it.

Bill Graham Menorah Day: Lighting Ceremony, hosted by David and Alex Graham, and Perry Farrell, with musical performances by Jerry’s Kosher Deli plus very special guests, Sunday, Dec. 2, 4:30 p.m., at Union Square, 333 Post St. Free; billgrahammenorah.org

Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra with Balkan Bump, Jerry’s Kosher Deli, Sunday, Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., at The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd. $75; thefillmore.com

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