Jane’s Addiction Celebrates The Silver Anniversary Of Ritual De Lo Habitual With Dinosaur Jr.
“Been Caught Stealing” is probably the weakest link on Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual de lo Habitual. It’s a mildly catchy, somewhat goofy, three-minute track amid a record of alternative anthems, phenomenal songwriting, relevant social commentary, and crushing ballads like “Classic Girl.” But a quarter century ago, when radio play and video rotation were relevant, that was Jane’s breakout hit. That’s just how it went.
1990 was a strange time for underground music. The punks of the “American Hardcore” era felt the scene had died. The sweeping alternative movement was still a few years off and the information age wouldn’t kick in until 2000. Cliché songs and artists ruled this MC Hammer pant-Mariah Carey-Ice Ice Baby-era. But Jane’s Addiction was doing its own psychedelic power thing, defining the soundtrack of the counter culture. The following year, they headlined the first Lollapalooza. The entire rock landscape would be changed, and continue to evolve at a pace no one could imagine.
“I was down on the technology, but then I adjusted to it really fast,” admits Jane’s riveting frontman, Perry Farrell. “I realized that people were going to get music online for free and I just made my trade the live performance. It used to be that the recording was everything, but now it’s more important to be a great live player. When we started out, you played shows for five years before you ever recorded anything, so you learned to play for a crowd. Today things happen so quickly. Bands appear, get big, and then disappear. They don’t get a chance to do what we did. We lived it and breathed it.”
Farrell, legendary guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins, and bassist Chris Chaney, kick off the tour in Coney Island this Friday, then rock Asbury Park on Saturday, as part of the tour with Dinosaur Jr. (and later Living Colour in support), to celebrate the “Sterling Spoon Anniversary” of Ritual.
“I love the road. I get healthier. When I don’t play, I feel old and aged. The live shows pump me up. Now, I take my kids with me. We research where we’re going to be and what we’re going to visit when we get there. Back in the day, I used to just hole up in my room and party or sleep, but these days, I’m really excited to see things.”
Farrell explains how he’s currently fascinated by parametric architecture, a style of design based on algorithms. On his last tour through Europe, he was blown away by the juxtaposition of the contemporary design next to historic churches.
Post-Ritual, Jane’s released Strays 13 years later, and then The Great Escape Artist in 2011. Farrell fronted Porno For Pyros in the ’90s and Satellite Party in the 2000s, with Jane’s occasionally making festival appearances. Dino Jr., who played Lollapalooza in ’93, have been consistently busy, releasing three albums in the last decade with the original lineup. They sold out NYC’s Bowery Ballroom in December for six nights and have Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not dropping in August.
But how do such creative minds celebrate their seminal work without just rehashing the $1.10-gallon-of-gas days?
“I was never one to just put on a pair of jeans, go out on stage and call it day,” Farrell says. “We’ve worked on an amazing set design. It’s a combination of contemporary style with old analog tube components… lots of shadows, and dancers that are going to really light your eyes up. In the ’70s, the people I was looking up to were Iggy, Bowie, the Velvet Underground and even Alice Cooper. Their sets were so dramatic. It’s not so much a concert as a dramatic performance.”
He explains that there are now two generations that listen to Jane’s Addiction but have likely never seen them.
“Of course I love meeting people who come out and say, ‘Hey, I saw you back in ’88.’ But it excites me to be able to perform for young people. I’m lucky to have the health and well-being to pull it off.”
Of course they’ll play “Stealing,” but the rest of the set could blow minds.
Jane’s Addiction will be playing at the Coney Island Amphitheater July 15, the Stone Pony Summer Stage July 16, the Capitol Theatre July 17, and The Fillmore July 20. For more information, go to janesaddiction.com.