Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Janes Addiction: Shock Rock.

20 January 2003 | 1:00 am | Mike Gee
Originally Appeared In

Creatures Of Habitual.

More Janes Addiction More Janes Addiction

Janes Addiction play the Orange Stage from 7.45pm at the Big Day Out at the Gold Coast Parklands on Sunday.

My black Jane's Addiction Ritual De Lo Habitual cloth voodoo doll is watching. It's always watching, ever since 1990 when it came with that wonderfully perverse and corrosive slice of avant rock. It's survived two major relationships and their break-up, moving interstate, then another four times. It's been locked in an old early 20th Century chest and not seen the light of day for four years. It hasn't had a wash the entire time and looks a little dusty but my black Jane's Addiction Ritual De Lo Habitual cloth voodoo doll has survived. And now it's watching.

Drummer Stephen Perkins is like a speed freak who's sworn off speed.

"Wow man, you have one of those. They're so cool. I've got one tucked away at home with all my other mementos, man, and Perry (Farrell) definitely has one too. We had some nice stuff for that record. Like how great was the cover, hey."

Very. The artwork by lead singer and arch looney/genius, Farrell, featured a sculpture of himself and two women lying naked on a bed, surrounded by occultish trinkets and icons representing the Santarian religion (a belief system incorporating voodoo). The cover was immediately banned by several US chain stores, leading Farrell to design an ironic substitute about freedom of speech: a plain white cover with the First Amendment printed on it.

So Jane's. So right. So they imploded publicly in 1991 on the first date of Farrell's excellent Lollapalooza Tour. That night in Arizona should have been a triumphant headlining performance, instead the band's four members, Farrell, Perkins, Dave Navarro (guitarist) and Eric Avery (bass) were so wasted they could hardly play, while additional technical problems resulted in an astonishing punch-up between Navarro and Farrell.

They soldiered on for a few final - remarkably splendid - gigs and then bowed out leaving their audience desperate for more. Three classic records - the taut and ferocious self-titled debut (1987), its scary art-rock successor Nothing's Shocking (1988) and the truly essential Ritual De Lo Habitual - not only set a benchmark that Farrell and Perkins' further adventures as Porno For Pyros failed to reach but also left that great answered question - what might they have done if...

In 2003, the answer may be forthcoming with the brand new fourth Jane's Addiction album, likely to be called, Hypersonic. History has a way of bringing its errant children back together again. The original Jane's Addiction without Avery - and with bassist Chris Cheney (Alanis Morissette) - reunited for the six-week Jubilee 2001 Tour. And just kept going. Now they don't want to stop. And the doll has a new life. It is smiling.

"I'm very, very fuckin' proud of the new record," Perkins motors. "In six months between the Fuji Festival and Reading we got 20 new songs done. It's just awesome and we're still writing songs, even though we probably have enough songs for the record. But why stop!”

"In 1986 when we wrote the songs for the first album, we were feeling a certain way. So you got Whores and Pigs In Zen." Furious, angry, completely hedonistic and weirded out. "Yeah, that's why the show featured transsexual strippers, fire-eaters, snake-dancers and porn films."

"This new music is so fuckin' heavy but has the same intensity of emotion. A million bands could have recorded You Really Got Me but The Kinks had the attitude. And that's what excites me. This music has the Jane's Addiction attitude."

And if he sounds essentially up his own arse, Stephen Perkins has reason to. Jane's Addiction were one of the few seminal bands of their time; Farrell - as screwed up as he's been at times - is nothing short of a musical avatar when he puts his mind to it; Ritual De Lo Habitual alone contains four songs that put Jane's in the legendary/hall of fame category - Ain't No Right, Been Caught Stealing, Classic Girl and Three Days; Nothing's Shocking is one of the most important rock albums of the last 15 years - as terrifying and demanding as it may be; their mission to corrupt and enlighten with refreshing honesty - and outstanding musicianship and songs - inspired others to take up the cudgel, although few with such success.

"Jane's is a Porsche, a Ferrari, not a Lincoln Continental," Perkins oozes. "It's a fast car. When we're in Jane's Addiction we're ready to blow. It has to do with gelling. Why does it sound so creamy, crazy, psychedelic, shiny? Because we're gelling! It's 10 years later but the attitude and excitement is like 'Here we go, 1,2,3,4, smash!' It jumps off the CD player like it's ready to blow up in your face. Jane's is a dark band but it's positive. When you leave a show you want to go make love to your wife not go and break something."

And they're friends again. "Yes, we are. That's what's exciting. To be together and laughing. We're a team and this is definitely a long-term thing. It's weird: the world is falling apart at the fingertips and we're getting stronger and stronger. I want to do this for three or four more records."

"We've had lots of drug problems in the past but everyone has survived them, nobody went to jail and we're all healthy. It's great. It's amazing. Now we're gonna go and go and go..."