Jane’s Addiction, the band that singlehandedly relit rock’s fuse in the 90s, is back – just when they’re needed most.
“STRAYS,” the first all-new Jane’s Addiction collection in more than a decade, is set for release in July 2003, coming as the band’s most extraordinary expression to date. Driven, as ever, by Perry Farrell’s flamboyant lyricism, guitarist Dave Navarro’s flash virtuosity, and the inspired engine-room of drummer Stephen Perkins and new bassist Chris Chaney, “STRAYS” is Jane’s Addiction at the peak of their potency.
“It’s been a process like making wine,” says Farrell says of the band’s return. “As a team, we are stronger than ever. The objectives we have to work with are much greater. And there’s a necessity – the world is more desperate, so in a bizarre way, it’s more exciting, and much more challenging.”
Jane’s Addiction exploded out of L.A.’s gritty music scene onto an unsuspecting world in the mid-1980s with their larger-than-life amalgam of punk, metal, indie, prog, folk and anything else that struck their fancy. They released a self-titled live album in 1987, followed the next year by the seminal “NOTHING’S SHOCKING.” 1990’s “RITUAL DE LO HABITUAL” was a full-fledged commercial phenomenon, going platinum and sitting in the upper reaches of the Billboard 200 for months. Most remarkable, the band had sacrificed none of their aggression and attitude to reach a huge and ever-growing audience. The band called it a day in 1991, celebrating their farewell with an unprecedented North American festival tour – the one and only Lollapalooza.
In Lollapalooza, Jane’s Addiction left with an enormous bang, not a whimper. And though the band had come to an end, the individual members most certainly did not go quietly into that good night. Rather, they struck a path onto a variety of new musical frontiers – including Farrell and Perkins’ Porno For Pyros, Navarro’s Deconstruction (with bassist Eric Avery), as well as Perkins’ Banyan project and Navarro’s 1993-1997 stint in Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Jane’s suffered a temporary relapse in 1996, when Navarro (and RHCP bassist Flea) joined his former mates in Porno For Pyros to record a song – the awesome “Hard Charger” – for the soundtrack to Howard Stern’s Private Parts. The collaboration proved so fulfilling that Jane’s Addiction officially reunited – with Flea on bass – in the fall of 1997, playing to SRO houses across North America on the “It’z My Party” tour. “KETTLE WHISTLE,” an odds and sods collection of demos, alternate takes, live recordings and two new songs were released in November that same year.
The members continued on with various individual projects – including Banyan’s acclaimed 1999 collection, “ANYTIME AT ALL,” as well as Farrell’s “SONG YET TO BE SUNG” and Navarro’s “TRUST NO ONE” (both released in 2001). In April 2001, Jane’s Addiction decided to reconvene – with Porno For Pyros’ Martyn LeNoble on bass – headlining the 2nd Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, followed in the fall by the Jubilee 2001 Tour of North America. It soon became clear to all involved that Jane’s Addiction V.2 was more than just a traveling greatest hits jukebox – it was a still-powerful force that begged further exploration.
“None of us think of this as a ‘reunion,’” Navarro says. “We’re a brand-new band that has a huge history together. We’ve been working together on and off for a bunch of years now. I just feel like it’s been evolving in this direction. We’re gone off and grown, both as people and as players, and now we’ve been able to put something special together.”
“I think musicians have a biological clock, like baby makers,” Farrell says. “You know in your tummy when you’re music needs to come out, when it would be critical to get together and make your best music. We just felt it was time to get serious and pop out more records. Knowing that when the music mattered most in my life, it would be with these guys.”
Jane’s entered L.A.’s historic Jim Henson Studios in March 2002 and set about writing new material. Though they had some sense of the intended sound and vision, the band began working on a completely blank canvas.
“There’s never been a single way we put this music together,” Navarro says. “In a lot of ways, I don’t really understand it. It’s organic and it’s intuitive, it comes together for whatever reason it comes together. It’s very difficult to try and explain it. It just is what it is.”
The band’s not-so-secret weapon for the “STRAYS” sessions was legendary producer Bob Ezrin. Renowned for his work with such artists as Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd (among many others), Ezrin – and his longtime engineer Brian “Gummo” Virtue – brought a wealth of experience and wisdom to the proceedings.
“He’s got more musical angles than anyone I’ve ever met,” Farrell says. “That’s where it became really exciting for me. I’ve always been able to see where things are coming from and where things are going musically. So I’ve had a bit of an attitude, like, ‘Look, man. Don’t tell me how to write a song; but when Bob makes a suggestion, I think, ‘Ah! I hadn’t thought of that!’…I still think I’m smarter than him.”
Bassist LeNoble opted out a few months into the sessions, but the position was soon filled by Chris Chaney, whom Navarro calls “perhaps the most intense musician I’ve ever worked with.” The bassist – whose resume includes stints alongside artists ranging from Alanis Morissette to Rob Zombie – was an instant fit, quickly becoming part of the band’s extremely collaborative songwriting process.
“It’s a more song-oriented approach,” Navarro notes. “There are no eight-minute opuses, though some of these songs really are pretty epic – they just don’t have to be nine or ten minutes to get that feeling across. We’ve learned how to be epic in three-and-a-half minutes, which is much harder to do.”
“Jane’s Addiction is like driving a Porsche or a Ferrari,” Perkins says. “You get in it and you’re going to go fast. We went into the studio thinking fast, hard, and to the point.”
Always outspoken in political matters, Jane’s Addiction now look to raise the public consciousness once again.
“I try to keep things as positive as possible,” Farrell says. “My first priority is to make sure everybody’s having a good time, but within that bubble of bliss there has to be the serious moment. As town criers we’re very interested in promoting alternative fuel, which is what the title track is about. We’re in danger of losing every environmental law written in this country, and the voice that reaches out furthest to people is a musical one.”
Of course, much of “STRAYS” chronicles the classic Jane’s Addiction worldview of what Farrell describes as “good times, wild times, who’s car am I driving in?” “Wrong Girl” is about “getting into a fight with an oversized lunk and watching a kickass babe take over the battlefield and finish the guy off,” says Farrell, while “Price I Pay” is “about a fella who goes out into the streets of Korea and meets the strange and exotic people who frequent the bars before surrendering to the calming tub of his hotel to question his ability to make his plane flight.”
Jane’s Addiction will also sit atop the bill for Lollapalooza once again, having brought back the tour for the summer of 2003. Joining them on the main stage will be Audioslave, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus, Jurassic 5, the Donnas and A Perfect Circle. Just like the original, the goal is to exhilarate and inspire a sense of community in an increasingly disparate rock audience.
With “STRAYS,” Jane’s Addiction have crafted a glorious return that represents far more than a comeback – it stands as a high-water mark in an already remarkable career and a throwdown to yet another generation of believers.
Jane’s Addiction – Now more than ever.