Festival Special: Jane’s Addiction
After 17 years apart, all four original members regroup to tour with Nine Inch Nails (definitely), release new music (probably), and headline the festival they invented (naturally).
Since bassist Eric Avery left Jane’s Addiction in 1992, the band have re-formed occasionally, even releasing an album, Strays, in 2003, with Chris Chaney on bass. But this summer’s tour with Nine Inch Nails — including a headlining gig at Lollapalooza — marks their first with Avery since then.
Perry Farrell: I don’t like the word “reunion.” We have, as everybody knows, a tumultuous relationship. I look at us like a farm — you’ve got a goat, you’ve got a pig, you’ve got a bull, and you’ve got a rooster, and sometimes the bull doesn’t like the goat, but when you put these animals together, it’s a great farm. I’m the ram.
Eric Avery: For a long time, I looked at the whole idea of a reunion as a negative, as being an older, fatter version of my younger self. But I’d already thought to myself that I’d come back and play if we were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then the NME gave us an award last year.
Farrell: I didn’t want to go up there and accept it myself, so though I hated everyone, I called them, and that got us talking. I didn’t want to wait till we’re 65 and don’t have the chops anymore.
Dave Navarro: I’ve been in and out of this band throughout my entire career, so not much surprises me. We are so full of surprises that when they happen, I’m not surprised.
Stephen Perkins: I met Eric when we were 17; I took his younger sister Rebecca to the prom. So my relationship with him is 20, 25 years in the making. His simple, melodic bass playing gave me a lot of room to find myself as a drummer, and it’s a great musical reminder of where we came from and how we got our personalities to come out on our instruments.
Avery: For me, I didn’t want to just tour playing old songs and collecting a paycheck. I said I wanted to write new material and do a tight, stripped-down version of us. I was on Dave’s radio show in L.A. years ago, and he asked me what I thought of Strays. I told him I didn’t think it sounded like Jane’s Addiction, and he said that was fair because all the old songs were written off bass riffs. So I thought we could make new music that sounded like that.
Perkins: The challenge isn’t just being onstage, it’s the 23 hours you aren’t up there fuckin’ blowing minds. The challenge is all of us being on a bus together. For us to play music is simple and it feels good, but for us to band together as a team and hang out, that’s what has to happen.
Farrell: We’ve started writing. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the material exactly. Well, actually, I do, but to you I’m just going to act like I don’t. I can just tell you this: We don’t look at it like, “Let’s write an album.” There’s not that kind of pressure. If I can rock your boat with one tune that goes onto your iPod playlist, that’s fucking great.
Avery: It’s been 17 years since I was in this band, and there’s a lot of information and history that’s happened that has nothing to do with me. One thing I do think is different is that Dave’s and Stephen’s voices are more prominent than they used to be. Before, Perry was the leader and I was sort of a First Lieutenant. It’s more of a conversation now.
Farrell: The ambition is to be a creative force — the last time we all played together, we came up with Lollapalooza. In this day and age, you want to give extra value to everything you do — extra service, extra value. When we started Lollapalooza in 1991, we had one headliner. Now it’s six. Not every kid is going to be able to attend every festival, but this summer they’re going to come to mine.
Perkins: Festivals are a great way of getting people excited about new music. When we first did Lollapalooza, I was out there at one in the afternoon doing drum circles because I couldn’t wait until we were on at ten at night. Seeing all the other bands playing raises the level of competition: Queens of the Stone Age just blew everyone’s minds — what are you gonna do?
Navarro: To be honest, I’ve been to two Lollapaloozas: in ’91 because we played it and in 2003 because we played it. I’m not a big travel-to-see-bands kind of guy. I’d rather be working on music than watching it, I guess.
Farrell: People party differently than they did in the ’80s — there were a lot more hardcore addicts than there are today. The ’90s had Ecstasy. A lot of America is into meth now because it’s cheap and people can make it themselves. I think this generation has learned to do things in moderation — they want to keep their teeth in their mouths. My thing is, pick your spots. My business is partying; I have to become an expert at partying. It’s what I do.
Avery: What have I missed the most? The first thing that comes to mind is “Three Days” [from Ritual de lo Habitual]. Every time we play it, I go, “Gentlemen, we made this.” You know?
Perkins: The goal is, at the end of the tour, to look at each other and say, “Job well done, we all had fun, everyone came home and got laid.”
Read the entire Festival Season package in the May issue of SPIN, on newsstands now!