If the headliners of this year's biggest summer festivals, Sasquatch included, make you want to shout ''the 90's were great and I hear they're making


Why Jane's Is Still an Addiction: My Show Review and Phoner with Perry Farrell


If the headliners of this year's biggest summer festivals, Sasquatch included, make you want to shout ''the 90's were great and I hear they're making a comeback!"--you are not alone. Some of this summer's acts (Pearl Jam, the Dave Matthews Band and Green Day), have managed to hang around and merge into the new millennium like the cargo pants that became fashionable around same time. Meanwhile, others (the Beastie Boys, Tool and Depeche Mode), reunited just in time to cash in on the nostalgia. In the summer of 2009, it seems, everything old is new again-- giving a sense of validation, however temporary, to anyone who still rocks a nose ring or impulsively got a tattoo of the "Alive" guy on a conspicuous body part back in the day.

A prime example of this revival is the current NIN/Jane's Addiction tour. This is a seemingly sensible enterprise, as both bands are famous for their edgy nature, compelling front men and devotedly loyal respective fan bases. As I pointed out to an acquaintance at the recent NIN/JA show in Austin: "If you had a three way in the '90s, you did it to one of these two bands." But in actuality, seeing these artists back to back does more to highlight their inherent musical differences than any commonality, and showcases why Jane's Addiction are far and away the tour headliners.

Not that the NIN show is lacking: Trent Reznor was beefed up, fit and looking as healthy as anyone that pale possibly can. He commanded the stage, the spotlight and the audience's rapt attention by delivering right off the record renditions of early classics, only losing them briefly when he slowed down the fist pumping proceedings for a semi-self indulgent, mid-show instrumental interlude. The lighting was impressive, the sound good as it could be in the upside down punch bowl that is the Frank Irwin Center, and the NIN devotees, who were dressed in black and dripping eyeliner, retreated to the beer stands sweaty and satisfied. But the performance, while technically well executed, evaporated any sense of danger NIN once possessed and drove home the hard point that even though he utilizes some of the best side men in the business, Nine Inch Nails was, is, and always will be the Trent Reznor show. He's the star, and likes it that way. Thank you very much, and good night Cleveland.

And Jane's Addiction? Well, Jane's Addiction are a BAND. An electric sum of equally charismatic parts, the recently reunited members buzz off each other from the moment they take the stage. That hot night in Austin TX, Dave Navarro was the first figure to emerge. Perched shirtless atop a monitor he played a mere note and responded to the crowd's cheers with a hand gesture meant to indicate he wanted them to roar before he would give them anything else. Navarro is one of the rare rock 'n roll figures who can take repeated hits to his credibility and come out gleaming. He's married a Prince ingénue, played on an Alanis song, dabbled in the equally murky worlds of porn and reality TV and has somehow managed to come out with his cool still intact. It doesn't hurt that he is still ridiculously beautiful; seeming to have discovered the "Joe Perry anti-aging program," named for another hard living guitar player who got better looking with age. I'm not sure if it's an actual potion or a contract with Satan, but either way I'm convinced it somehow involves guitar wax, heroin and the menstrual blood of virgins. More likely, Navarro resonates because he is a guitar powerhouse whose style is both effortless and instantly recognizable. At that show, he put his signature model white PRS to the test, receiving a restrung guitar after practically every song.


Stephen Perkins, who took to the stage sporting a kilt and a Mohawk reminiscent of Joe Strummer's when the Clash played Shea, may be the only drummer to ever emerge from LA who employs a double kick drum without coming off a wanker. After seeing him manage Jane's complex beats-- tribally methodical rhythms that grind with trudging hedonism-- it's no wonder Perkins is one of the most respected drummers in the biz. His enthusiasm infectious, he was the last member to leave the stage after the band's encore, continuing to wave thanks to the crowd as the house lights came up.

The most visually low key member of the JA crew was recently returning bassist Eric Avery. Unassuming in a t-shirt and plain, fatigue style trousers, he began the show hunched over his bass in a "Novoselic" slump. Shoulders forward and feet set wide, swaying while he plucked away, he was soon overcome by his own band's sexual ferocity and his pelvis moved accordingly. He is in Jane's Addiction after all, a band whose music for many fans was created solely for the purpose of fornication, due in great part to Avery's snake charmingly dense, downright slutty (and often replicated) bass style.

The face most associated with Jane's Addiction is of course lead singer, artist, activist, and entrepreneur Perry Farrell. The internet rumor mill had been speculating that Farrell would be sidelined from that evening's performance due to a torn calf muscle he sustained during the band's previous show in Atlanta. The injury, the rock 'n roll equivalent to throwing out your hip during sex, served as the night's brief reminder this is a reunion show and the guys are not exactly in their '20s anymore.

Not one to be kept down, he danced out on to the stage all swagger and attitude, living up to his well earned reputation as the Pied Piper of perversion. He wore a midnight black unitard, a rack of rhinestone belts and a fox tail covered briefly by a fabulous and equally black kimono. The tail was a playful accessory that took on a life of its own when PF leaned over to hump an amplifier and sing about his knowledge of pain, suffering, being cold and still just wanting to fuck during the break in "Whores". Thoughts of the tail still lingered when I got the opportunity to speak briefly with Farrell via phone as he geared up for the west coast leg of the NIN/JA tour.

SW: Your last full tour with the band (in 1997, with Flea on bass) was a rather epic production, featuring dancers, dual stages and various multimedia. This tour seems to be scaled down, was that intentional to showcase the band, or was that more for the practicality of touring as a package?

PF: Well I think it's more the latter...First of all, we didn't have a great idea of what the capacities were going to be, now we are averaging ten thousand a night which is amazing, but first I just wanted to get the band back together, focusing on the music and surrounding them with lights and video. We'll work ourselves up , maybe by Lollapalooza, to full production with the dancers and everything else, and we are touring with Trent as well and you can't very well ask him to have the dancers and all... it's just not his thing.

I just saw the show in Austin and it was great. How are you feeling these days?

Thank you for asking. If I wasn't dancing on my legs for 70 minutes a night I'm sure I'd be feeling better. My calves, like my voice, are stressed, but my spirits are high.

Also since the last tour you've become a parent. Jane's is a very...umm, "adult" band. How do you marry those two worlds?

Well, I try to take my children to school in the morning, even though I have to get up at 6:30. I alternate with my wife doing that, and then in the afternoon, I get down with the fellas and get back to business. My boys (Farrell's sons) are in school and I find spots when I'm on the road where I can take them out of school for just a little while. They come on the road with me and watch me perform and learn the tricks of the trade. I try my best not to swear when they are they are watching me, but I guess that is where I really fail.

Do they grasp the content at all, or have questions about it?

They just kind of admire what I do and ask me about it. Recently I've been wearing a fox tail (on stage) and my son asked me if I could get him one to wear to school, and I told him I'd get him a fox tail, but, no , you can't wear it to school. They grasp it, man. They are very mischievous kids, just like I was a mischievous kid, and I figure there is really nothing to hide, because although I am mischievous, I have good intentions.

So, Perry, is that fox tail real?

No, (Laughs) it's a faux fox tail...faux on me!

Let's talk a little bit about the costuming on this tour. You're someone who has a strong sense of wardrobe. How does it all come together?

I hire a stylist to go out and pull as many things as she can, I also thrift shop, and then I'll go to costume houses and pull things. I'll have a tailor knock off some of the best things you can't take from the costume house collection. So, in total, I'll spend around $40,000. I put it all together and I spend every day looking through the wardrobe and combining to make outfits that feel "Jane's Addiction" savvy and up to snuff.

So, what are you listening to on the bus right now?

Well, you know I'm writing right now, so my own stuff. I'm listening to a track that Etty (Farrell's wife) and I have done with this producer, his name is Danger (pronounced Dain ja) [and] he's a very hot producer. I just finished it before I left on tour and I'm remixing it now. It's called "All or Nothing." We do dance parties backstage. We play a lot of "Bitch Better Have My Money" '90's old school rap.

Lollapalooza has become a destination festival; tantalize us with some things that will make us want to drive to Chicago...

Well, the lineup is just killer and with all the clubs and the after parties, it's filled up from day to night. And it's not like you're in some remote area. You're in downtown Chicago, and the festival just kind of takes over. As far as Lolla itself, the dance area is expanding this year with the greatest electro/DJ artists that are going right now....along, of course, with the legends, Tool, Jane's Addiction, Beastie Boys....

And Lou!

Yeah, Lou Reed! People give me credit for starting "alternative" music, but I give Lou Reed credit for starting me.

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