Jane’s Addiction is a band that epitomizes rock ‘n roll. From the notorious infighting leading to multiple break-ups and hiatuses to the triumphant reunions returning the band to the heights of the genre, Jane’s Addiction is an outfit that has spanned some three decades- but somehow has only managed to release four full length albums in that time. Their individual eccentricities are what make them so collectively interesting, while their ability to adapt to a constantly evolving set of consumer tastes to continually reinvent themselves has afforded them this incredible longevity, as younger and less successful acts dissolve permanently seemingly every day.
With their latest release in the fall (October’s “The Great Escape Artist”), the band welcomed the use of new technologies into the studio, experimenting with a cavalcade of equipment and sound to help cultivate a new record. The resulting ten tracks are some of the most melodic and intricately prepared of the band’s entire catalog and showcase a rejuvenated rock band staying true to their original sound. The tracks “Irresistible Force” and “Underground” are especially notable. With a summer tour in the works, Jane’s Addiction has dates lined up locally at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ on August 12th and at Williamsburg Park’s incredible outdoor venue on August 17th.
LocalBozo.com was honored to sit down with Jane’s Addiction frontman and rock music icon Perry Farrell for an exclusive interview. Listen as we discuss his reflections on his band’s legacy, his return to New York after growing up here and his excitement to play in Williamsburg, assembling the annual lineup for Lollapalooza and its international expansion, and utilizing his celebrity toward important social advocacy issues. Plus we talk the band’s plans for the remainder of 2012 and whether or not a potential new album is on the horizon. Unfortunately, with some spotty audio, the interview is a bit rough in patches, but we’ve taken the liberty of transcribing it for you below. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch one of the most iconic alternative and hard rock acts in history at their local summer shows in New Brunswick, NJ or in Brooklyn. And if you can’t make it out to the show, stay tuned to LocalBozo.com for full recaps and pictures of one of 2012’s most highly anticipated tours.
LocalBozo.com: Perry, thanks so much for giving us some time today.
Perry Farrell: My pleasure.
LocalBozo.com: It’s almost unfathomable to think that Jane’s Addiction is now in its third decade. As you look back on the past 25 years or so, in between some different departures and hiatuses,’ what is the lasting legacy of one of rock music’s most influential bands?
PF: Well I guess that the lasting legacy is going to be how we changed the direction of the sound and the look of music. Coming from your kind of cheese ball, hair metal that was pervasive through the late 80’s going into the early 90’s and blasted that, shattered that mold and replaced it with, what they call now, alt-rock- basically the alternative to all that cheese. It was a very wide door that we opened when we opened it with Lollapalooza and Jane’s Addiction, it was a different look and a different sound and we were playing amongst other groups that also had very different looks, very different sounds than traditional blues-based rock, but it was accepted and it was hailed and it was attended by all the people of that generation. And it showed the music industry that there was ‘yes indeed’ an audience for alternative music.
LocalBozo.com: Back in October, the band released “The Great Escape Artist,” the first full length Jane’s Addiction release in 8 years, showing the band’s more melodic and experimental side in writing and recording, but staying true to the band’s signature sound. While the release of a new album is typically the end of the creative process for the artist, what’s been the most rewarding part of finishing up and touring on the last record?
PF: Well I think that it was the style and the– just the kind of vibe– vibration that we had on the record, we were able to transfer that into our live performances. It’s kind of a, I don’t want to call it macabre, let’s call it darkness. Let’s call it embracing the darkness. It’s an embracing of the darker side of life. It’s dancing in that side of life- romancing the darkness. It’s kind of a lovely feeling. It’s a little bit like getting high- you know what I mean? When you just go out there and perform these songs and they just feel so good- they give me a nice feeling of warmth in my body even though some of them are, you know, darker subjects- but there’s something romantic about it.
LocalBozo.com: On the touring front, the band is making stops locally in New Brunswick, NJ at the State Theatre on Sunday August 12th and in Brooklyn at Williamsburg Park on Friday, August 17th- as someone who essentially grew up in New York, what is this sort of homecoming like for you? Is it still special to play here?
PF: Oh yeah it’s very special for me to come to New York City and to perform. I was born in New York and my first memories of music all come from listening to Murray the K (singing) 77 WABC. He was a big disc jockey back in those days and that was during the time of the British Invasion and Beatlemania and just learning about rock n roll through my big brother and big sister who collected .45s and stood out on the porch in the neighborhood and would play music as loud as you could play it. All their friends and boyfriends and girlfriends would come over and I was just infatuated with music at that time- at an early age, I was probably three or four years old, so to be able to return and be one of the people that maybe the next generation or the generation following would have grown up on or fallen in love with- it means a lot to me. It’s like living a strange kind of a dream.
LocalBozo.com: You’ve managed to co-brand yourself as a rock star but also as a guy who wears many different hats as it pertains to business- including spawning and being a major player in the Lollapalooza festival year after year, not to mention your involvement in different advocacy issues- how important has it been for you on a personal level to utilize your celebrity for good because it certainly seems like more high profile people could learn a thing or two by following your lead?
PF: Well you know I kind of go back and forth about that because on one hand I like that fact that I’ve got some muscle and some flexibility going into philanthropic work because of my celebrity. At the same time, I feel a little awkward because I was taught that when you do charity you should pretty much do it anonymously. So I’m really still trying to find my way around and about doing philanthropic work and charity work because on one hand, I realize that I did get the leg up by being the celebrity I am and at the same time, I feel a little awkward to be honest with you, throwing the celebrity around or taking credit for anything, as an example. To me, the best form of charity would be- and don’t think I haven’t done this- but the best way is to do it anonymously and it should hurt a little bit. It shouldn’t be so easy- in other words, you shouldn’t gain something from it additionally for having done the charity. So there you go.
LocalBozo.com: Well at the very least, I think your impact has drawn national attention to issues that wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise. So I think there’s definitely something to be said for that as well.
PF: Sure. Sure. I mean, like I say, I’m still finding my way. But as I get older I think that one way to look at it is ‘you don’t have much time left, so you better get busy.’ That might be my approach (laughs).
LocalBozo.com: Speaking of Lollapaloooza, it returns to Grant Park in Chicago this year on the weekend of August 3rd and it’s once again a sellout. And it’s got as eclectic a lineup as any in recent memory from the Chili Peppers to B.o.B to Frank Ocean and M83, plus a special Jane’s show at the Aragon Ballroom on that Saturday- you guys have really seem to hit your stride in putting together a wildly respected festival year after year- what’s been the biggest challenge for you in being able to pull this off every year?
PF: Well I guess the biggest challenge is to try to stay on top of it. You know, now we’ve gone international with it- we’re in South America and we’re just about to announce yet another location where we’re going to be putting Lollapalooza up next year. So maintaining the quality control has been difficult because there are so many of them and – you might not know this but we have in Chicago, 160 acts. So that’s a lot of talent to kind of organize and select. So you do that times four, so now we’re going to be in four locations, and staying on top of the meetings and who’s available and that’s a bit of a challenge. Also the production- the production around the world, you have to stay on top of the production as well. We want our patrons to feel as comfortable as possible, to have the best food that they possibly can and we also want our artists to have the same great experience. So you know, there’s a lot of work that goes into it and all that, I’m staying on top of while I’m out on tour with Jane’s Addiction. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming.
LocalBozo.com: Jane’s Addiction has dates lined up through the middle of September- where does the band go from there- can we expect a worldwide tour in the late fall, or are you guys itching to get back into the studio?
PF: Yeah the plan is, as soon as we get off the road, we begin writing our next record. I’d like to give it a six month window and just get another Jane’s record out, coming off the heels of “The Great Escape Artist.” I think that’s the way to do it for us. I don’t think we’ll wait eight years (laughs) to do another record. You know, we didn’t plan on getting back together, so that was part of– we had broken up. That was part of the reason that we took so long, but these days, the best thing that an artist can do or a group can do is stay busy and stay on the trail. And that’s what our plan is.
LocalBozo.com: Perry, can’t thank you enough for a few minutes today. Anything else you’d like to leave for the readers of LocalBozo.com?
PF: No I think we’re good for now man. I just can’t wait to see you all in the flesh. Those moments- I mean recording is fantastic- but nothing is going to replace the memories of having witnessed and having been a part of the community of music. Getting together, we all are getting high together with music and whatever else.
LocalBozo.com: Awesome. Well, we can’t wait to have you guys here. Fans, “The Great Escape Artist,” the latest release from Jane’s Addiction is available now wherever you pick up your rock music. And make sure to catch the band locally at Williamsburg Park on Friday, August 17th. Tickets are available now. For more information on where you can catch the band and tour dates, check out janesaddiction.com. We’ve been speaking with rock icon Perry Farrell, thanks so much for your time today on LocalBozo.com and all the best of luck with everything you’ve got in store in 2012.
PF: My pleasure- and say a special hello to Bensonhurst, which is where my family comes from.
- Jane Van Arsdale