On the Road With Jane's Addiction, Reminded of Some of Mankind's Troubling Detours

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Jane's Addiction Drummer Stephen Perkins
Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what music is circulating through his space every Monday.
I've been on a brief two-show European run with Jane's Addiction that started with a gig in Amsterdam. It certainly is interesting, the things that life will throw your way. If you had told me six months ago that I'd be playing with JA, you would have certainly received a sideways look back from me.

I have been extremely blessed as far as how long my career in music has lasted; this shit just isn't the norm. I love music, though, and my passion for what I do has yet to wane. As a matter of fact, my lust for this thing I do has grown.

The guys in Jane's are really great too. Stephen Perkins has a huge heart. Perry is a true "artist" and an original with no equal in his form. Dave Navarro is a virtuoso. Me? I just hope that I don't fuck up! That part in the song "Stop" where it's just bass chords and Perry's vocal has got me a bit wigged out. I just keep saying to myself, "Don't fuck it up, Duff." Those words have become my silent and constant mantra, as it were.

Jeff Rouse (bassist in Loaded) is out here with me as my bass tech. Luckily for me, he could do these shows. If nothing else, knowing that he is there on stage left will keep me from getting too inside of my head. Jeff and I have traveled the world together in Loaded, and share the same insane sense of dumb humor ("What do you call a donkey with three legs? A wonkey!").

When we got to town, Jeff and I went out on the streets of Amsterdam with his little Flip video recorder to make a new "Loaded/Jane's Addiction version" webisode. We of course drank too much coffee and tried to make a semblance of cohesive conversation with wary tourists. I get why people are scared of us--two tall tattooed guys with a camera, jabbering and asking questions like idiots. In our eyes, we are just being friendly and curious. To them, I am sure we appear as some sort of grievous threat.

Our hotel happens to be right next door to the Anne Frank house, a sobering thing for sure. Anne was the age of my own daughter, Grace, when she wrote her heartbreaking, brave, and hopeful diary as the Nazis closed in on her hideout some 65 years ago. That is not that long ago, is it? I am glad all that shit is over with . . . or is it? Back in my hotel room, the first story that came on BBC was of a growing and very visible Nazi party in Lithuania. Really?!!

While I was waiting in the lobby the other day, a very nice gentleman who works at the hotel approached me. He asked how I was enjoying my stay in Amsterdam. I assured him that things were as great as ever. I have been to this city probably a dozen times and have always enjoyed the liberalness and feeling of safety, not to mention the beauty of the architecture and the quaintness of the many canals and the bicycle traffic constantly whizzing past. My new friend's name is Landers.

Landers and I got into a lengthy conversation about society and government (it's not uncommon here to have detailed conversations with strangers). Now we all know that pot and prostitution are legal here . . . and taxed. AIDS and teenage pregnancy are also extremely low because of the amount of sex education in the schools here. Gay marriage is legal. Euthanasia is also legal to those too sick to go on in dignity or in too much pain. All of these things make so much plain and logical sense to me.

I've heard about the hilarious notion of a new country being formed whose southern border would be San Francisco and northern border Vancouver B.C. (I think the name bandied about is something like Cascadia). I'm sure the laws in this new Eden would mirror Holland's, and our natural and tech resources would be huge. Can you imagine that?

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