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A Tequila-Laced Conversation with Perry Farrell

We talked to Jane's Addiction frontman about his decision to become a tequila spokesman, why he's bored with entertainment industry people in favor of abstinence, how he's been drinking tequila since the third grade, and why he doesn't want to be like...

Working in media, I get a lot of strange emails. The weirdest one that I recently received was an opportunity to have a drink with Perry Farrell, founding member of Jane's Addiction and mastermind behind Lollapalooza, to discuss Maestro Dobel, the tequila brand he’s repping these days. But this is not your shitty uncle's Cabo Wabo. Maestro Dobel is pretty serious tequila—a blend of añejo, extra añejo, and reposado that's aged in Hungarian oak barrels in Jalisco, Mexico.


I didn't end up drinking with Perry due to some scheduling conflicts, so I settled for a phone conversation instead. I’ll admit that I was a touch nervous speaking with a singer who is like the P.T. Barnum of alternative music, but as the conversation unfolded, it felt like we were actually sitting across from one another at some bar, sipping on tequila. In fact, maybe one of us was.

VICE: When did you take your first legal shot of tequila? 
Perry: Legal? It was probably the first month of my legal birthday, but the first time I ever took a shot of tequila was probably in the 3rd grade. We had a great bar in the basement of my house in Queens, and I was kind’ve the bartender. I would perform for my big brother and my big sister, and stay down in the basement and watch them have make-out parties while drinking. That’s all there was to that.

Did tequila become your drink of choice once you were legal? 
Being brought up on the East Coast, it wasn’t really on my radar for drinks. I always thought that tequila was just something that you took a shot of, but it wasn’t until I hooked up with the guys from Dobel that I really started to appreciate drinking tequila. You don’t need much with this tequila. It’s got such a nice flavor. I drink it at rehearsal, and I drink it at shows. We recently did a show for Adam Sandler’s Hannukah party with Slash and Joe Walsh. We were all rehearsing over at Adam’s house, and I brought the bottle, as I do when I record. I really enjoy opening the bottle and pouring it out and asking, “Anybody wanna do some?” Everybody usually starts out by saying, “Yea, I’ll do a shot,” and I stop them and I say, “No man, this is sipping tequila, you could shoot it if you want, but it’s delicious enough that you just want to have it on your amp, just sipping it with ice.”


Both Adam Sandler and Joe Walsh were doing shots of Dobel?
Joe Walsh doesn’t drink. Joe Walsh stayed far away from that bottle. Adam immediately said he would like to try some, and believe me, after I poured him a little glass of it, he followed me around for some more. He befriended himself to me. I liked the way that he was ready to go.

Are there any artists that you have performed with who have made you a margarita or a memorable drink?
At the top of my list, I would say Sean Parker, the Napster and Facebook guy. Man, this guy, he is a connoisseur. You know, he has an understanding of the internet, but he loves to party. He’s a really good guy who loves a good quality drink, a quality wine, a good quality tequila, a good quality cigar, we could go on and on… He really loves to put people together and serve them cuts of meat and incredible things. The other guy I can think of is Robert Smith. When we were hanging out at Lollapalooza, he was drinking Perry’s Pear Cider, which I thought was kinda cool.

Robert Smith of the Cure? Did this happen at the most recent Lollapalooza?
Yea. It’s funny, at this point in my life, I have come to appreciate people who drink because this whole idea of abstinence bugs and bores the shit out of me. I get with some people that know how to have a good time, and I really appreciate them. You know, I’m in entertainment, right? You’d think that people would know how to have a good time since they’re supposed to be entertaining people. You’d think that they would know how to entertain themselves and have a good time. It’s bizarre, but in the entertainment business there’s a certain group that I feel bad for.


I appreciate your honesty. How did you get hooked up with Dobel? 
I was performing in New York, and my manager, Peter, hooked me up with this cat, Al, a sponsor agent. He brought a bunch of people along, and one of them was from Dobel. They told me that they were interested in me for the brand, and I said, "Look, I like the idea, because in my line of work, alcohol plays a role, a very prominent one at that." However, I wanted to taste it first. They told me about how much Puffy makes off of repping spirits, and I said, “I don't care, that stuff tastes like crap, and I don't want people to think of something that tastes like crap and think of me!” I was very fortunate that Dobel is good. It’s more than good, actually.

It sounds like you practice what you preach, since entertainment and alcohol go hand in hand. 
Have you been to Lollapalooza lately?

I haven’t been lately. My first one was in 1993.

The headliners were Parliament-Funkadelic and the Beastie Boys. Or was that in ’94?
Beastie Boys was ’94. I think Alice in Chains, Primus, and maybe Sound Garden were in ’93.

My cousin went to the first Lollapalooza, and I was so mad that I missed Body Count, so I bought a poster. That was my favorite band when I was 13. 
Wow, so I am older than you…[laughs]

Just a little bit.