Perry Farrell Talks Basel, Bombs, and Big Plans for a Precision Guided Musicians Fest in 2011

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It's not like Perry Farrell needs a hobby. He's already got several part-time jobs: rock hero, Lollapalooza boss, social activist, E! reality star, and expert wearer of very glam gear.

Somehow, though, Farrell's cleared a corner of his schedule for yet another gig. Launching this Thursday at Bardot with an invite-only Art Basel bash, Precision Guided Musicians is a project with two parts: a new music festival and arts grant program.

Last week, Crossfade spoke with Farrell about Art Basel, bombs, David Guetta, and big plans for next year's Precision Guided Musicians festival.

New Times: Is smart art better than smart bombs?

Perry Farrell: In a way, yes. But it's tough to overtake a bomb when it comes to pure excitement. I think we've got a chance, though.

Well, Precision Guided Musicians is a pun on precision-guided munitions.

Yeah, I love the idea of turning it on its ear and having demolitions going on during the course of the event. To me, the military is an outmoded idea. Trying to fight people for territory ... You can't really do that anymore. They've tried in the Middle East, I suppose. But it seems to me like we should have already drawn our lines and all accepted where we all belong. Party, music, and sharing ... That's what the world should become now.

Is there something specifically pacifist behind this project?

Well, I'm definitely not for war. I do realize sometimes it is important to take a stand. But I'm not for coming to blows or destroying people. I'm the guy you call in when the war is over. [Laughs] We're not putting our heads up too high. We want to be a symbol of peace and community in a musical sense.

In the dance community, I think you'll find some of the most intellectual musicians. And I feel that community has such an amazing progressive lifestyle. I think the music is a very inclusive sound. It might be the last bastion for music that actually invites people to dance.

When you think about it, we had big bands and swing, even the '60s had the Monkey and the Jerk and everything. There hasn't been a new dance besides breakdancing. And not only do I think house is keeping dance alive, but I think it will evolve and generate a new style of dancing. And it's coming very soon.

It's interesting that you mention the relationship of house to dancing and pop culture. That seems to be one of the things that's kept it freer ... It hasn't been entirely subsumed into the mainstream.

You know, it's about to be. It is currently being consumed and I, for one, am OK with it. Pop music does tend to overtake the sound of the day. And if that's going to be the case, I'm actually very happy the people they're calling on to produce pop music are amazing house producers. Having David Guetta and Deadmau5 and Martin Solveig getting in there ... These guys really make great house music. And I think they're allowing pop to borrow their talent, so in the end you get really good pop music. I don't think pop's ever been at such a great level of expertise and talent. And it's not because of the vocalists. It's because of the producers.

What is a precision-guided instrument? You've previously mentioned synths, drum machines, computers. Is it exclusively digital?

In this case, I will tell you ... Yes. But you can play a guitar. It's just that you take the guitar and, instead of running it through a Marshall that weighs 100 pounds, you can run it through a guitar rig, which weighs nothing. It's basically guitar software. So your guitar can still be in the game as a precision-guided instrument if -- Yes! -- you're dealing with digital instrumentation.

In the past, you performed as Precision Guided Musicians. But what is PGM? Is it a band? A collective with a rotating roster?

Now we turned it into an event. The setup party will be happening in Miami during Art Basel. But the great event will be happening next summer. We're working with Paul Tollett, who does Coachella, to do a Precision Guided Musicians event. It will take place somewhere in Southern California. We have the location, but I prefer to keep it a secret for now.

How much crossover, if any, will there be between this Thursday's Basel party, 2011's big PGM event, and the earlier Precision Guided Musicians appearance by you, Moby, and Paul Van Dyk?

I just want to clarify. You probably got some information off the internet, right?

Yeah. [Laughs]

OK. So let me clarify ... Probably seven years ago, I can't quite remember what year it was, I did a performance in Miami for the Winter Music Conference under the name Precision Guided Musicians. And at that time, Moby performed with me and we wrote an electronic version of "Walk on the Wild Side," and Paul Van Dyk performed too. I held onto the name, but that was really a one-off.

So, yes, I have performed with a group called Precision Guided Musicians once in my life and it was in Miami. But this event is not my group. It will be much more expansive, so you can have groups like Daft Punk or LCD Soundsystem, not that they're actually going to perform. [Laughs] And you can also have the best pop artists, like Will.i.am, who are working with electronic music. That's what Precision Guided Musicians is going to sound like.

Precision Guided Musicians with Perry and Etty Farrell, and DJ Chris Cox. Thursday, December 2. Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m., but it's invite-only. Call 305-576-7750 or visit bardotmiami.com.

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