It’s an age-old story. Band gets together, writes a couple critically acclaimed albums and then breaks up just as their star is burning hot. Fans have been salivating for a full-blown Jane’s Addiction reunion for years, though they were mildly satiated with tours in 1997 and the early 2000s (producing one album, Strays, in 2003 and followed by subsequent breakups), but this is the first with the full line-up of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Stephan Perkins since 1991.
Prior to this summer’s NINJA tour—a clever acronym of tourmates Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction’s initials—the band entered the studio with Trent Reznor with the intent of doing some recording. Out of it, previous cuts that were only available live, “Whores” and “Chip Away,” were recorded and released on a free tour sampler, but brand new material that was expected didn’t make it past the demo stage due to disagreements among the historically volatile group.
Nevertheless, spirits are high in spite of Farrell tearing a leg muscle early on in the tour. He recently took some time to talk about the touring experience, the decision to record new material, and his views on cutting new tracks versus cutting new albums in the future.
You’ve had your first few dates on the NINJA tour already. How have the crowds been?
The crowds have been amazing. Honestly, it’s what I expected, not everybody expected it, but it’s been a gorgeous kind of love affair, full house, everybody moving and grooving to every one of our songs. Very good energy.
I’m thinking it’s been almost 20 years since you’ve been on a tour with Trent Reznor, I’m guessing things are a little quieter backstage.
Well, I think that at this point we’ve tried to ensure that everybody’s comfortable, happy, healthy, eating well, getting places to rest and relax. It’s been a very good tour all the way around, we’ve got nice amenities. Though you’d expect we would be flying around the world and staying up in hotels, we really are busing around the country. We wake up at the venues for the most part, we sleep in hotels probably two days a week. Everybody does their own thing throughout the week. Some people have skateboards, some people have mopeds, some people have computers and audio equipment that they mess around with.
Have you been working on any material while you’re on the road?
Just personal electronic stuff. I write off of my laptop. I’ve got the most badass laptop in the world.
Tell me about the decision to go in and record ‘Whores’ and ‘Chip Away.’
The idea was that if you want to get together and perform, that’s fine, but to me, the counterpart to that, to balance out this whole thing is to record music and make new music. I would have loved to have had new material for this tour but it wasn’t to be. We started out with two songs that we had recorded live back in the day, this was back in the ‘80s, from a live show that we did at the Roxy in Los Angeles, just to kind of get our feet wet. Then we went on and recorded a couple more and that, as everybody knows, caused kind of a flare up which was unfortunate because I thought they were very good songs and we should keep working on them and finish them off. People would hear some more bad ass music from Jane’s Addiction. So we have those in the can and that was the premise. To be honest with you, I don’t know how successful it was. I tell you one thing, the tour’s going great.