L.A.’s alt-rock and festival forefather leaves a permanent mark
Jane’s Addiction has seen its fair share of shakeups since the group’s inception in 1985. Yet despite the history of backstage brawls, the breakups, the multiple reunions, and the revolving bassist position that has seen Guns n’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek all wield the four string for spells, core members Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins have found their way back to each other time and time again. The group’s current reunion has been ongoing since 2008, with Chris Chaney recently replacing original bassist Eric Avery.
Because the band has now been together for the longest period of time since its creation, guitarist Navarro says the stability of its union is a non-issue.
“I know that I’m in great hands with Perry, Chris and Stephen, and because of that, I don’t have nerves anymore,” he says. “I’m absolutely certain that I’m with the strongest three guys that I could be with, and if anything is to happen, those guys will catch me and vice versa.”
While Jane’s Addiction’s lineup may be subject to change, its reputation as godparents of the alternative nation has remained rock solid. First emerging on the Sunset Strip scene when Los Angeles was tangled in hair metal, Jane’s Addiction’s precedent-setting early albums “Nothing’s Shocking” and “Ritual de lo Habitual” paved the way for the alt-rock takeover of the 1990s. Its biggest hits, like “Been Caught Stealing,” “Jane Says” and “Stop!” still receive regular play on modern rock radio alongside rockers who were toddlers during the band’s heyday, and the group’s polymorphous sexuality and arty influences went a long way toward puncturing the showbiz careerism of the 1980s rock scene.
Yet Navarro certainly holds a soft spot for Hollywood Boulevard and all it represents, and the Walk of Fame honor holds emotional ties to his upbringing and Jane’s early days. At age 7, Navarro would spend Saturdays walking down Hollywood Boulevard with his father. As a teen, he would visit its souvenir shops and collect Lucille Ball and Vampira artifacts, and early Jane’s shows saw the group hit stages all along the street. Navarro now lives on the boulevard.
“(Hollywood Boulevard) is a celebration of entertainment, a celebration of celebrity, yet there is a darkness to it, and almost a haunted nature about the whole thing,” he says. “For millions of people to tread upon the names of faces that have come and gone and walk over them on a daily basis and get washed over by the rain on the street in this celebration of celebrity is a strange (juxtaposition).”
After releasing studio album “The Great Escape Artist” in late 2011, the band dropped “Live in NYC” in July of this year — its first fully live album in more than 25 years — followed by a new single, “Another Soulmate,” the next month.
“In terms of making a live album when you’re in the middle of a tour … you’re on auto pilot at that point,” Navarro says. “In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that I wasn’t even aware that it was being recorded for release, nor was I aware that it even came out.”
The band just completed the last leg of a long tour, and Navarro says the band is more than likely to record another studio album, but its “plate is certainly full at the moment.”
To say that Jane’s Addiction is active in the music festival scene would be an understatement. Farrell co-created alternative rock haven Lollapalooza in the early 1990s and it became a farewell tour for the fest headliners when they disbanded for the first time that year. Farrell first reunited Jane’s at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2001, reviving the desert fest after its bleak 1999 debut. And the band’s current iteration went on to re-debut at SXSW in 2009.
Although he says the band loves eclectic audiences and thrives in the festival environment — aka “a touring musical version of the Warhol factory” — Navarro says the concert venue is insignificant.
“I’ll play the Roxy and I’ll play Lollapalooza; I don’t care,” he says. “If I’m playing guitar for people who want to hear our band, I’m happy. It’s not about cities, it’s not about festivals, it’s not about name branding. It’s about the music and the people that are there seeing it.
What: Jane’s Addiction receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
When: 11:30 a.m. Oct. 30
Where: 6436 Hollywood Blvd.