Exclusive: Jane’s Addiction on plotting their long-awaited return + new music in 2023
At the start of October, alternative-rock juggernauts Jane’s Addiction embarked on the seven-week-long Spirits On Fire tour supporting Smashing Pumpkins. The tour marked the first time in over a decade that founding bassist Eric Avery would be joining the lineup, an exciting development for both the group and their loyal fanbase. Then, much to the surprise of everyone, and just days before the tour launched, it was announced that lead guitarist Dave Navarro wouldn't be joining, as he was suffering from long haul COVID-19.
“At first, there was a lot of weight on my shoulders. This was our return tour right after COVID, and we didn’t have Dave," frontman Perry Farrell admits. "Jane’s is a unique band, and you can’t just grab any guitar player and they’ll pick it up. That’s Dave Navarro we’re talking about — those are big shoes to fill.”
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With little time and the help of the band's management, Jane’s Addiction quickly secured Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age to fill in for Navarro with a mere two weeks to spare.
“It was wild because, of course, I was flattered and honored to get the call to jump in. I loved the band and guitar playing and knew Dave wasn’t feeling great, so I wanted to reach out to him and ask what he’d like for me to do, and I got his blessing,” Van Leeuwen says.
For Van Leeuwen, it was a full-circle moment, as he had been an early fan of the band and had seen Jane’s Addiction several times since first moving to Hollywood, starting with an early show at the famous Scream in downtown Los Angeles.
“Scream was this underground, magical place. I moved to Hollywood right around the time that Jane’s was lifting off full steam, and that club became synonymous with them. When Nothing's Shocking came out, it just blew the doors off everything that was happening in music,” he says.
[Photo by Andrew Sherman]
Reflecting on their early days, Farrell recalls that time at Scream being critical to the development of the band’s signature sound as well as Jane’s Addiction’s contribution to the Los Angeles underground scene.
“There’s a process. You have to make sure that you start out as a seed in the underground where you can make mistakes but also make sure to bring a sense of culture with you,” Farrell says. “A club can be like a petri dish, and that scene will propel you and dictate your sound, attitude and art. If you do it right, with any luck, one day your seed will be a tree.”
Starting in Dallas, Texas, and ending at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, the Spirits on Fire run also featured special guests Daniel Ash and Josh Klinghoffer in several cities. The tour proved to be an exercise in stamina for the band and in particular Farrell, as he injured his back after several performances. Although five dates had to be canceled, Farrell’s thoughts remained ecstatic, as both the reunion with Avery and the addition of Van Leeuwen proved to be inspirational for the group.
“I had one of the best tours of my life. I just love at the end of the show seeing how many happy people there were. We got to them, and that’s the best feeling in the world,” Farrell says.
[Photo by Andrew Sherman]
After the Hollywood Bowl show wrapped and it was time for everyone to go home, there was an overall sense within the band that Jane’s Addiction didn’t want to stop. Avery, in particular, recalls his reunion with Jane’s Addiction after a 10-year hiatus as nothing shy of euphoric. In fact, it proved to be the inspiration he needed to continue writing and recording with the band he helped start over three decades ago.
“It was a shared sense of [camaraderie], which translated into us really feeling like a band again,” Avery says. “This time out, there was a real connection between the people onstage that I haven’t felt since 1986. We were all pulling in the same direction, and it was surprising in many ways. I think it’s really important for us to write new material.”
Longtime drummer Stephen Perkins couldn’t agree more that the success of the tour helped ignite the group's interest in writing, recording and releasing new Jane’s Addiction music in 2023. This time around, however, with an open invitation to Navarro and all touring guest musicians, including Van Leeuwen.
“That shared experience onstage is what makes me so excited about the future magic of this band. When we get onstage, I feel like we’re 20 again,” Perkins says. “The only reason to do it again is to create new music, and now with Eric involved, we are all inspired again.”
[Photo by Andrew Sherman]
Upon returning from tour, the band booked several days at a studio in Hollywood and tapped producers James Ford and Pete Robinson, with Farrell, Avery and Perkins contributing to the recordings. So far, Jane’s Addiction have three new songs awaiting guitar tracks and are keeping an open invitation to Navarro, Van Leeuwen, Ash and Klinghoffer to make contributions to the songs. This time around, Jane’s Addiction have become more of a group effort to be shared with close friends and those who helped make the Spirits On Fire tour a magical affair.
“I don’t know who will end up recording the guitar tracks, but I’d love to see Dave, Troy, Josh and Daniel contribute — all the guys on the tour that really stuck it out,” Farrell says.
For guitarist Van Leeuwen, he’s just ready to receive his next phone call.
“There’s a connection there, and it’s a no-brainer. I’d like to see what they do with Dave, but if they have a plan, I’m going to show up when I can to be a part of it,” he says.
2023 also marks both the 35th anniversary of Jane’s Addiction’s major-label debut, Nothing's Shocking, and Lollapalooza’s first expansion to Mumbai, India. The worldwide music festival was started in 1991 as a farewell for Jane’s Addiction after their initial breakup. Thirty-two years later, they are poised to come back more inspired than ever.
“If you want to do this long term, you really got to take care of yourself like a professional athlete does. I live for performing, and when I perform, it’s like I’m spraying the audience with my words,” Farrell says. “I’ve never been in a better place than I’m in right now.”