I Learned It From Jane’s Addiction

A post-adolescence primer from Perry Farrell & co.

If you’re a music fan born between 1963 and 1983, it’s hard to escape the impact of Jane’s Addiction. The band’s scorching cover of “Rock ‘n’ Roll” gave many of us our first taste of the Velvet Underground. 1987’s Nothing’s Shocking—a record unabashedly made by people doing drugs for people doing drugs—was so purely hedonistic and libidinous, owning it practically served as a redeemable voucher for a nose ring and a three-way. Ritual de lo Habitual gave the band the alt-rock hit “Been Caught Stealing” and “normal kids” an excuse to stick their big toe into the Alternative Nation pool . . . and of course let us not forget one very long, generation-defining word: Lollapalooza.

Even though it’s been 25 years since their first release, the gentlemen of Jane’s Addiction still play by their own rules. Here are some life lessons from more than two decades of decadence that they lived and learned so you don’t have to:

1. First impressions are lasting. “I saw Psi Com at some private party on a ranch near Magic Mountain. The singer came out and it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. He was absolutely out of his mind on fire, shaking and quivering, every muscle in his body was doing a different dance. It was insane. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘This guy is out of his mind. Who is he?’ and it was Perry.”

—Flea, quoted in Whores: An Oral Biography of Perry Farrell and Jane’s Addiction

2. Know when to hold ’em. “The very first time I saw her come in and shake her . . . ponytail, I hired her and I fell in love with her on the spot . . . “

—Perry Farrell, on meeting his future wife Etty, Blender online

3. And . . . when to fold ’em. “I said to myself a long time ago that I didn’t want to be that hanging-on-for-too-long, aging-rock-musician guy, and that’s why I sort of got away from music.”

—Bassist Eric Avery, MTV News

4. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. “I cleaned it off.”

—Dave Navarro, on his attempt to write his name in blood on the wall of the Playboy Mansion’s “orgy room,” which got him banned from Hef’s boobie palace for life. Quoted in Don’t Try This at Home: a Year in the Life of Dave Navarro

5. Appearance is something one should not overlook. “I’d rather be overdressed than underdressed. I like to have style all the time—onstage, walking through the airport, riding my bike.”

—Farrell, The New York Times

6. Be prepared. “Socks and underwear should always be black. You never know when you’re going to be in a situation where you might have to take them off . . . And if they’re white, there’s a chance they may be . . . less clean-looking.”

—Navarro, Us Weekly

7. “Too good a time” is a relative term. “The beautiful thing about CBGB is that I don’t have a single memory from that place . . . But I think it was amazing.”

—Navarro, MTV News

8. Let the everyday be mysterious. “I love the fact that you can walk by people’s houses and you have no idea what is going on behind the windows.”

—Drummer Stephen Perkins, AlternativeAddiction.com

9. Acknowledge your influences. “People give me credit for starting ‘alternative’ music, but I give Lou Reed credit for starting me.”

—Farrell, Seattle Weekly

10. Trust your gut. “I’m not gonna do this.”

—Navarro, at the very last minute, phone receiver in hand, declining to be interviewed by the American Mustache Institute.

Jane’s Addiction, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Mainstage