One of my fondest summer vacation memories with my husband is from a trip we took to Seattle from DC the day after we got engaged. (Little did we know then we’d be moving to this beautiful city a few years later.) At the time, we were flush with our new decision to spend the rest of our lives together and happy to be visiting good friends on the west coast.
After backpacking on Mount Rainier, we went to an outdoor music festival called WOMAD where we heard Perry Farrell, the former lead singer of Jane’s Addiction, DJ a set of dance music. It was awesome. He was a great performer and we had a blast dancing. The memory reminds me of how much freedom we had back then and how fun life could be.
Fast forward six years and now we have two kids and no freedom. Farrel, I just learned, has three boys, Hezron Wolfgang, Izzadore Bravo and Yobel. Babble.com has a Q&A with him in which he talks about life as a rock star parent and his most famous project happening again this weekend, Lollapalooza, which now also hosts Kidzapalooza. Here are a few highlights.
Babble: There’s a lot of kids’ entertainment out there, but the quality definitely varies. How do you decide on the attractions for something like Kidzapalooza?
Lollapalooza itself is sixteen years old, so all these people that went to the original Lollapalooza are going to come back, and I guarantee that most of them will have had children by now. And we want to have credibility; we want to have things that are compelling and intriguing for children; but we also want kids to be able to say, “I was there, and guess who my first concert was? Patti Smith.” We want to bring them the real deal. When I was a kid, the real deal, to me, were people like the Stones and the Doors: I could separate them from Seals & Crofts. You can’t put your finger on the real deal, but even a little kid can sense it.
Babble: You and Peter DiStefano [from Porno for Pyros] are playing together on the Kidzapalooza stage this year. Are kids a tough audience?
They are, because they’re so brutally honest. If they don’t like something, they’re simply not going to react to it. I’ve had some practice with it, having kids, and I’ve performed at my kids’ birthday parties. You get a sense of what kids like and don’t like. They like a more melodic, even sound; they don’t like things to be too jarring or start-and-stop. But when you see them start to move back and forth, it’s probably one of the best reactions you could ever get from an audience, even above adults, to see a little kid just honestly digging your stuff. [Laughs.]
Babble: For a lot of us who grew up in the Lollapalooza generation, you represent a sort of idealized Dad figure: this sort of anything-goes spirit grounded in a strong, civic-minded sensibility. How does that differ from the parent you actually are?
I personally don’t like listening to people preach, but if you can create a living example, show somebody and inspire somebody, those kinds of things stick with you for your entire lifetime. I had a friend, Timothy Leary — and I know it sounds like he’s somewhat of a dangerous friend to have — but he was also a person who knew about the World Wide Web and helped to create awareness for it and make use of it; he was on the forefront of those kinds of things. From hanging around with Tim, I learned about the Web and its power and its usefulness, and I learned how to be young at heart forever and surround myself with musicians and artists and forward-thinkers. And, you know, he never sat down and told me to do that. I saw a man who was seventy-five years old living like a college student, which, for me, meant he was always interested and always ready to adapt and change and go and contribute to life. And so I try to be that type of a dad: By living the example, I hope my children will want to be like me. And I guess that’s the best way I know how to parent.
I like this idea of living the example. Although maybe I like it more in theory. There goes my fabulous witty self modeling fabulousness and wittiness for my adoring children. Instead, however I fear it will go more like the scene in our house this morning. Sage is playing with one of his toys and I hear him yell, “Jesus Christ! Call the firetrucks!” Hmm. Not so good. Maybe I better watch my language. Apparently the little guy is taking notes.