Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction Biography
JANE'S ADDICTION, the band that fertilized the seed that eventually sprouted into mass-marketed "alternative rock," was the best-known and best-selling of the influential bands who were truly "alternative" before the label became a buzz word. Over the course of its initial five-year, three-album history, the band's energetic, decadent hard-rock served as an inspiration for the Nirvanas and Soundgardens of the world, bands that would have to wait another few years for the music they loved (and played) to gain mainstream acceptance. Though the group disbanded just as alternative rock was breaking into the mainstream, Jane's Addiction left an indelible mark on the face of music, both in terms of the groups it inspired and in the form of Lollapalooza, the annual circus-like traveling music festival masterminded by Jane's frontman Perry Farrell in 1991. Ironically, now that alternative rock itself is on the wane, Jane's Addiction has reformed--temporarily--for a new album and tour.

Hailing from Hollywood, Jane's Addiction merged the visceral elements of classic arena rock with the menacing image and approach of punk in a manner that late-eighties metal bands did not. Over this tonal landscape, vocalist Perry Farrell's nasal rantings and at once offensive, hallucinatory, and self-indulgent lyrics roamed free. Farrell (born Perry Bernstein) had moved to Los Angeles from New York in the early eighties, and had changed his name to a play on the word "peripheral," and formed Psi Com, a goth group that released one indie-label EP in 1985 before splitting up. (The EP was reissued in 1993 by Triple X records.) Farrell hooked up with guitarist David Navarro and bassist Eric Avery in 1986, and the trio named the band they subsequently formed Jane's Addiction, after the woman who first introduced them. Drummer Stephen Perkins was brought into the fold soon thereafter, and the quartet started playing the Hollywood club scene.

Farrell and his bandmates created a powerful musical persona that eschewed the histrionics preferred by the rash of style-over-substance bands toiling in Hollywood at the time in favor of crafting hard-edged songs that were propelled by Navarro's razor-sharp riffing and girded by Avery and Perkins' throbbing rhythmic presence. In 1987, Triple X released a Jane's Addiction eponymous live album that effectively captured on disc the energy of the band's incendiary club performances. Jane's Addiction featured early versions of the future hit "Jane Says," the fan staple "Pigs in Zen," and a reworking of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."

Soon after the album's release, Warner Brothers won a bidding war to sign the band and subsequently released 1988's Nothing's Shocking, a record that would go on to become an underground favorite. For that album, the band refined its edgy, hard-hitting musical attack within the scope of Farrell's provocative, esoteric, and--by his own admission--substance-addled artistic visions. ThoughNothing's Shocking only peaked on the Billboard album chart at No. 103, it did gain the band entrée into hip college-radio circles and quickly garnered them a substantial cult following.

Farrell and company followed Nothing's Shocking with what would be their commercial breakthrough, 1990's Ritual de lo Habitual. Ritual contained only nine tracks, but it was far more expansive and ambitious than its predecessor, which had only hinted at the epic capability the band brought to fruition on its sophomore effort. While characteristic rockers like the first Ritual single, "Stop," still had their place, atmospheric, multiphasic pieces like "Three Days" and "Of Course" (the latter incorporates Eastern musical influences with Perkins' vibrant, tribal drumming style) gave the album its unique flavor. Ritual's stature was immeasurably boosted by the inclusion of the band's biggest hit to date, "Been Caught Stealing"--the upbeat, hip-hop-flavored song catapulted the album ontoBillboard's Top Twenty (thanks in part to heavy MTV rotation of the song's video), and the band to the brink of stardom.

By 1991, it appeared that Jane's Addiction was poised to make a huge commercial breakthrough, and that same year, Farrell was instrumental in the creation of the first Lollapalooza festival, which Jane's headlined. The success of Lollapalooza (which also featured Living Colour, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Butthole Surfers, Body Count, and Nine Inch Nails) brought the band tremendous attention, making it all the more surprising when Farrell announced that Jane's Addiction would disband at the end of the tour. Yet, somehow, it seemed oddly fitting that a group known for its unconventionality would choose to break up at the height of its popularity.

After the split, Navarro took over lead guitar duties for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of Jane's Addiction's peer bands from its L.A. club-scene tenure, while Avery moved on to play in Polar Bear. (The pair also collaborated on a 1994 album under the name Deconstruction.) Farrell continued to oversee the Lollapalooza festivals for several years, and he formed Porno for Pyros with Perkins, bassist Martyn LeNoble, and guitarist Pete DiStefano in 1992. The Pyros scored a minor hit the following year with "Pets," a single off their self-titled Warner Brothers debut. They released a follow-up album, Good God's Urge, in 1996.

Today, with the so-called alternative nation Jane's Addiction helped foster arguably dissolved, the band's original lineup--minus Avery and plus Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player Flea--has reunited, or, as Farrell puts it, "relapsed." Signs that Jane's might reconvene surfaced in early 1997, when Navarro and Flea played on Porno for Pyros' contribution to the Private Parts soundtrack, "Hard Charger"--a song that sounded more like Farrell's former band than his present one. By the summer, plans for a full-fledged Jane's reunion were underway, with Flea officially taking the place of Avery, who declined Farrell's invitation to participate. The new Jane's lineup went into the studio to record two new songs for an "odds and sods" collection of demos, outtakes, and live tracks titled Kettle Whistle, which was released in November of 1997. The I-Itz M-My Party Tour, which kicked off in Los Angeles a month earlier, has seen the band playing to sellout crowds and earning stronger critical praise than it did in its heyday.

As for what happens after the scheduled relapse, the members say they plan to return to their respective current bands, leaving Jane's Addiction to resume its standing as a major footnote in the annals of rock history. But success has a funny way of changing the best-laid plans, which could mean this relapse will evolve into a rebirth.

Jane's Addiction All Music Guide Biography
Jane's Addiction were one of the most hotly pursued rock bands when they gained notice in Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, with record companies at their feet. Flamboyant frontman Perry Farrell, formerly of the band Psi Com, had an undeniable charisma and an interest in provocative art (he designed the band's album covers), and Jane's Addiction played a hybrid of rock music: metal with strains of punk, folk, and jazz. The quartet, comprised of Farrell, bassist Eric Avery, drummer Stephen Perkins, and guitarist Dave Navarro, had already released its debut album as well, in the form of a live recording from the Roxy in Hollywood. Finally, Warner Bros. won the bidding war and released Nothing's Shocking in 1988. The band's abrasive sound and aggressive attitude (typified by the nude sculpture on the cover) led to some resistance, but Jane's Addictionbegan to break through to an audience -- the album spent 35 weeks on the charts. Ritual de lo Habitual followed in 1990 and was the band's commercial breakthrough, reaching the Top 20 and going gold. Farrell designed the travelingrock festival Lollapalooza as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction. After the tour was completed at the end of the summer of 1991, the group split. Farrell would continue to be involved with the organization of the annual Lollapalooza festival for the next several years; he also formed Porno for Pyros with Perkins in 1992, releasing their debut record the following year. After a couple of quiet years -- which included forming Deconstruction, a band that didn't release any records until 1994, with Avery -- Navarro joined Red Hot Chili Peppers at the end of 1993. By 1997, Perkins and Farrell had dissolved Porno for Pyros, while Navarrowas about to resign from Red Hot Chili Peppers. After Navarro began playing with his two former bandmates again during Porno for Pyros' final tour, a Jane's Addiction reunion tour was announced for the fall of the same year. The only catch was that Chili Peppers bassist Flea replaced Avery (Avery refused to participate, as he concentrated on his new band, Polar Bear). To coincide with the short tour, the newly reunited Jane's Addiction issued the album Kettle Whistle, which compiled classic live performances and demos alongside a few newly recorded tracks. The album didn't fare well on the charts, but the reunion tour was a rousing success. It didn't lead to a permanent re-formation, however, as members went their separate ways once more after its completion. A planned film documentary of the reunion tour failed to materialize, as a best-of compilation that chronicled Farrell's work (with Jane's, Porno, and a few new solo tracks) was issued in 1999, titled Rev. His first solo full-length, Song Yet to Be Sung, saw the light of day in 2001. Navarro's debut solo effort, Trust No One, was issued a month earlier than Farrell's, as another Jane's Addiction reunion was announced the same year. Avery again refused to participate, with his spot being filled by former Porno for Pyros bassist Martyn Lenoble. Several years later,Jane's Addiction readied themselves to do it again. In mid-2002, Farrell, Navarro, and Perkins headed back into the studio for their first album of new material in over a decade. Bass player Chris Chaney (Tommy Lee, Alanis Morissette) was added to the group and Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Kiss, Aerosmith) signed on to produce the new record. Capitol prepped for the release of Strays in July 2003 while Farrell resurrected Lollapalooza after a six-year break. Around 2004,Jane's Addiction announced they had broken up yet again and the members began work on several other music projects. Navarro, Perkins, Chaney, and vocalist Steve Isaacs formed the band the Panic Channel, and released the album (One) in 2006. Also in 2006, Navarro co-hosted the CBS reality music competition Rock Star: Supernova, in which contestants vied to become the lead singer for a supergroup featuring drummer Tommy Lee, bassist Jason Newsted, and guitarist Gilby Clarke. In early 2007, the Panic Channel and Supernovatoured together. Meanwhile, Farrell and his wife Etty Lau Farrell, along with former Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, formed the band the Satellite Partyand released the album Ultra Payloaded in 2007. In 2008, Jane's Addictionreunited, this time featuring the original lineup including bassist Avery, who had not performed with the band since 1991. The band quickly re-recorded two tracks, "Whores" and "Chip Away" -- which had never officially been recorded in a studio -- and joined Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails on tour. The lavish box set A Cabinet of Curiosities appeared in 2009. In 2010, Avery announced he was leaving the band and was replaced by former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan. Originally added as a temporary member, McKagan ultimately signed on full-time and the band began working on new material. In May of 2010, the new-look Jane's Addiction with McKagan on bass premiered the song"Soulmate" during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Hollywood. McKagan left the group the following year, and was replaced by TV on the Radio multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek, who also appeared on the band's fourth proper studio album, 2011's The Great Escape Artist. ~ William Ruhlmann & Greg Prato, Rovi