Jane's Addiction has been my favorite band since I was 12 years old.
When I was in seventh grade, I stayed up late on Halloween and taped their reunion performance on MTV's Live From the 10 Spot, then subsequently wore out the VHS tape re-watching it. When my dad bought me my first guitar in eighth grade, I sat in my bedroom trying to play along with Nothing's Shocking from start to finish. I have sat alone at night and listened to “Three Days” on repeat countless times, and that fourth scream at the end is still the most haunting, emotional outburst I've ever heard laid to tape. They are the first band to have taught me about self-reliance in the face of adversity, and self-reflection during times of suffering.
Jane's Addiction is one of those rare bands that can seamlessly mix art and energy, pairing crushing riffs and pounding rhythms with spectacular metaphor and poignant social commentary. In this vein, every Jane's Addiction show is an extension of their artistic vision, as well as a testament to their commitment to showmanship. Elaborate lighting and set design complement exotic dancers and professional acrobatics, and they spare no expense in providing their audience with their vision of The Great Rock Show.
Jane's is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their sophomore studio album Ritual de lo Habitual this year, as well as the 25th anniversary of the first Lollapalooza, the music festival founded by vocalist Perry Farrell.
I chatted with Farrell earlier this month, and he shared with me his thoughts on the upcoming tour and what the future holds for Jane’s Addiction.
NUVO: Your last show in Indy was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at Carb Day last year.
Perry Farrell: Yeah, I remember it, sure.
NUVO: Do you have any thoughts on returning to Indianapolis?
Farrell: Well, it's a lot more fun than you would expect, especially if you're going to the Indianapolis 500. I hope I get to return… wait, you just had your hundredth anniversary, didn't you?
NUVO: Yeah, we had the 100th running this year.
Farrell: Who performed, do you mind me asking? What musicians performed? I thought — sometimes, you know, I get some insider information, and I heard tell that they were trying to get Paul McCartney.
Farrell: Journey, oh, okay. People like them, sure. Well, then, it should be an exciting time when Jane's Addiction comes back to town then, I guess, right?
NUVO: The tour this year is focusing on Ritual de lo Habitual, is that correct?
Farrell: Yeah, we're gonna do the entire record at the beginning, at the opening of the show. A lot of times you don't hear those deep cuts when the band gets out to perform, usually they only play the hits. We were never really a “hits” band. We were more like a band like the Grateful Dead or the Velvet Underground, you know? You heard of us, and the legend of Jane's Addiction, but we weren’t a pop sensation by any stretch of the imagination.
NUVO: I would say that Jane’s Addiction is definitely a band that you have to consume on a per-album basis, not necessarily a per-song basis.
Farrell: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when people still considered albums. ... If you think about it, what's the last group that you can think of that put together an album that is considered a “classic” album? It’s kinda sad that's the way things are, but the good news is that we're alive, we're excited, and we're in great shape and great state of mind. We've got a beautiful set, great stage design, dancers; everything that was there was there in '91. But yeah, the [last] show we did with you, it was just "get on/get off,” you know? We didn't have the whole set. We didn't have dancers. It really was a quickie, but [with this tour] you'll really be able to get into Jane's Addiction and what we are about.
NUVO: I was fortunate enough to catch you on the Escape Artist tour a couple years before, and that was, in my opinion, the definitive Jane's-type show with the full, elaborate stage show. It tells a story in and of itself, I think.
Farrell: What I'm looking forward to. ... I love seeing the old gang, and I love meeting people that will tell me, “Oh yeah, I saw you in '90,” or “I saw you in the late '80s,” but I really get off on seeing young faces that have never seen us live, never seen a group like us live. That, to me, is the exciting aspect of going out and putting together a show. I tell you what, man, a lot of people claim that the road kind of tears them down, but for me it's just the exact opposite. It energizes me, and it gives me this great will to entertain people. Putting together a new set design, and new choreography, and with this classic group. ... It's a little bit like what cities are doing now. They're putting classic architecture in parametric designs; that's kind of like what Jane's Addiction is. It's like a modern city.
NUVO: How involved are you personally with the creation and the design of the sets and the stage show?
Farrell: I sit down with the set designer and we start hatching plans from the get go. This set is one of the best sets that we've ever had. We've got these life-size tube amps that dancers can get inside and dance in, and we can light them up. [It’s] one of the core elements to the set. And the lights themselves are reminiscent of 1920s theatre lights, and they create these giant shadows. It almost creates like a film noir effect. You'll really be impressed.
NUVO: I'm really looking forward to it. I come from a punk and hardcore background, so I'm used to seeing shows in garages and basements and things like that with zero set dressing. So I like what bands like Jane's Addiction do when they bring the huge show to town.
Farrell: Yeah, I mean, my heroes were Pink Floyd, the Velvet Underground; Alice Cooper, even. I always appreciated when there was drama and theatrics. It just made it- to me, that was what a rock show was. So it's nice that we take the time and effort and put the money into it, because there aren't a lot of groups that do it. Most groups today would rather just put the money in their pocket.
NUVO: You're also celebrating 25 years since the first Lollapalooza.
Farrell: That's right.
NUVO: Was the decision to go out with Living Colour and Dinosaur Jr intentional? (Both bands played Lollapalooza in the 1990s)
Farrell: Yes, exactly. We invited others, but not everybody is together. Some people are actually sick. But it's nice to go out and perform with Dinosaur Jr. and Living Colour and reminisce. They're great musicians and, you know, time has flown by. Twenty-five years is just... it really feels like yesterday.
NUVO: Is there any new music that we could expect from Jane's Addiction coming out of this tour?
Farrell: Yeah, when we get off the road we're gonna start recording. We started laying some tracks down. I [also] have a new project that's going into Las Vegas, and it'll be ready within two years’ time. We're literally building an entertainment complex in the heart of Las Vegas, and it’s music-centric. But it's going to be in a surrounding that you've never felt or been a part of before in your life. We're hoping that we can utilize technology, music and Hollywood, the film industry. We're all going to come together to create a new feeling, a new scene, a new type of nighttime experience. That should be completed in 18 months to two years. I can't tell you the name of it yet. It does have a name. But Jane's is going to be, I guess you might say, "test-piloting." We're going to be giving monthly residencies to artists, and Jane's is going to be the first group chosen. We'll have original music with it and we'll be recording year-round.
NUVO: It seems like there are a lot of bands and artists that are getting back together and doing "throwback" type tours or reunions; Guns 'n Roses is on tour right now, LCD Soundsystem played Coachella, At the Drive-In tried a reunion tour this year. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Farrell: Well, listen, you can't get enough good music, so any of these groups that have created great music, [I would take] a chance to see them again. We've also lost a lot of artists this year and that really hurt.
NUVO: That's true.
Farrell: You know, losing David Bowie and Prince and Glenn Frey. The thought that you'll never be able to see them anymore? To me, it's a crushing feeling. You love music, and listen, great music is not easy to come by. When you have somebody who is great, you want them to be around forever. So while they're alive, my suggestion is go and see them. It'll be something you'll never forget, you know? It's like something you must do. It's like a pilgrimage to see some of these people.
If you go:
Jane's Addiction and Dinosaur Jr. with Living Colour
Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St.
Monday, July 25, 7:30 p.m.
prices vary, all-ages