Perry Farrell holds all the aces in Jane's Addiction
Based on the reasonable assumption that you’re never too young to learn how to bluff, Perry Farrell has been teaching his preteen sons how to play poker—and picking up a few life lessons of his own along the way.
“I said to them, ‘This is what’s known as a hand. You’ve got five cards, and that’s your hand,’ ” the Jane’s Addiction singer explains, calling the Straight from a New York City hotel. “And I said, ‘You ever hear the expression “This is the hand you’ve been given”? You know, “This is the hand you’ve been dealt”?’ Well, this is the hand in life I’ve been dealt: I am a musician, I’ve been a musician for 30 years, and I’ve made music with [guitarist] Dave Navarro and [drummer] Stephen Perkins for 30 years. And it’s the best music that I’ve ever made, working with these fellows. These guys are among the greatest musicians alive today.
“So I was given a great hand, and when you play poker, you don’t want to throw cards away, especially when you get a couple of aces,” Farrell continues. “You don’t throw those aces out—and that’s the way I look at Jane’s Addiction. I’m not going to throw away my aces.”
This wasn’t always the case. After three sonically provocative and commercially successful releases, Jane’s Addiction imploded in 1991 amid on-stage fist-fights and off-stage drug abuse. Sporadic reunions followed, with Farrell’s third ace, Chris Chaney, settling into the bass chair in 2011. The reinvigorated quartet recorded The Great Escape Artist that year, and seems set to continue with the blend of subversive lyrics and widescreen rock that’s been its trademark since 1985.
“I don’t have to sleep with them; they don’t live with me; whatever they want to do on their own time, that’s their business,” the philosophical Farrell says of his bandmates. “But when we all get together, I know that they’re up for making great music, and that’s all I can ask for.”
With a group as volatile as Jane’s Addiction, there’s always speculation about how long this seeming amity will last. Farrell doesn’t rule anything out, but he has good news for the band’s followers: there will be another album of new material, and it won’t be a collection of leftovers from the last, as has been rumoured.
“We’re going to go and write another record when we get off the road,” he says. And while The Great Escape Artist featured a number of songs about celebrity crackups—“Curiosity Kills” references Kurt Cobain’s suicide, while “Broken People” was inspired by a fast-fading actress and tabloid staple—the next one could be more upbeat.
“I really want to write more about love, that climb up the mountain to get to love,” Farrell says. “It’s not an easy climb, and just like climbing a mountain, it can be fatal.
“Most murders have to do with people that were, at one time, in love,” he adds. “At one time, they couldn’t wait to see the other person. They’d look in the mirror and they’d clean themselves up and go, ‘I hope I’m good enough to be with this person.’ And the next thing you know they’re choking them to death. It’s a bizarre thing—and it’s definitely compelling.”
Jane’s Addiction plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday (August 31).