Jane's Addiction helped create the “Alternative Nation” of bands and helped found Lollapalooza as its farewell tour.
The alternative band has gone through lineup shakeups and a couple breakups and has only released four albums, but fans go crazy every time singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins get back together.
The band's current tour, named the Theatre of the Escapists tour after its latest album “The Great Escape Artist,” brings the band to Omaha for the first time since 1991.
We spoke to Farrell by phone from the band's tour bus as he headed from New York City to Baltimore for a concert.
Q. You guys sound like you have a big production even though you're playing a lot of theaters.
A. The easiest way to describe it is a headlining production. If we were to perform at a festival or in a great theater, we would give you a great show. It's like a play.
We're all about drama and giving people a show. It's not just four guys staring at their sneakers. You want to see us? OK, if you're gonna be looking, we're gonna be giving you something to look at.
Q. You've always had a lot of energy on stage. How do you keep it up?
A. I would say that it starts with the music itself. The music that we've written since the beginning has always been dramatic and sensual, yes, but I call it high impact. We come out of the punk rock era — the grooves and speeds and tempos of the songs are at times really high paced. That drives you on stage. When you're hearing a song that all of a sudden takes off like a race horse, you gotta ride that horse.
As a result, I've adapted to the songs on stage and it kinda drives me to get my motor running. I'm now riding and galloping and I've gotta get into that posture.
Q. You injured your hip recently. Has that been bothering you?
A. Not really. I always get injured. I won't say I'm injury prone, but I always do a lot of athletic things even when I'm not on stage. I'm a surfer, you know?
I came onto this tour with a torn ligature in my hip. I didn't think I'd be doing as well as I am. Anyway, you get with some doctors. I'm constantly with sports doctors on the road. (Laughs)
It's no different than a pro athlete. ... I don't mind it at all. I had three operations last year and I might have given myself another hernia on this tour. I think I gave myself a double hernia singing.
Like a pro athlete, you know these things are gonna happen. The good news is that my voice is in great shape. That would be the worst. If I had injured my voice, then I'd be really, really sad.
My knees and my hip and my belly, all that stuff is repairable. It doesn't affect the sound.
Q. You've been performing for a long time. How have you seen things change with fans and the music industry?
A. It does mean a lot. That's what happens when you perform for 25 years. People get familiar. We were lucky, too. We come from an era where people listen to an entire album and albums were important. They got to know all of our music. I get more requests to play songs that were never singles. I get more requests to play “Then She Did” or “My Time” or songs that were never singles.
It shows you that, back in the day, people listened to the albums. Every single song is important to me. We've never been the band that brings in the big producer for two or three songs and then the cheapo producer for the rest of them.
No, that's not how we do it. I delivered the record months later than they asked me to. I don't care because that song has got to be as beautiful as the next track and the track before it. I look at every song as a beautiful creation and a beautiful child.
Q. The latest Jane's Addiction album, “The Great Escape Artist,” has a theme of escapism.
A. It's something about human nature where someone will listen to a song — here's a certain time period in a person's life — and it really meant something. It's almost like you're getting to offer somebody a little bit about their past. That's what it is about: music. It will transport you back to that time immediately. It's why people cry when they hear a song.
Q. You guys were playing shows a couple years ago, but was it hard to convince everyone to get in the studio and make new music?
A. Eric Avery didn't want to. He just wanted to go and do festivals. That's not reality. There's one reality, and then everyone else is just trying to hope that their fantasy is reality and it isn't. If you want to be successful, you have to go out on the road and you've gotta play small places, big places. You've gotta go out across the country and across the world, and get better at your trade. You've gotta go and play for the people.
... You've got to be current. I guarantee there are kids in their teens that have never heard of Jane's Addiction. It moves quick. The industry as they knew it doesn't exist now. It's up to you. You can't sit back.
Q. With the music industry changing, where does Jane's Addiction go from here?
A. The next record we do will not be on a record label. We're gonna put out a record that's not given to daddy and then daddy's not gonna give us money. We're adults now.
We did Lollapalooza and we helped forge that model that's the current model of how people go out and experience music. It's the festival model.
It's changed the music industry. It's changed the perception of touring. They're getting much better fees for the fact that they're not compensating on album sales any more.
That's reality, there.
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