STORY BY GARY GRAFF
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Jane’s Addiction has quite a bit to celebrate this summer.
It’s the 25th anniversary of the group’s acclaimed sophomore album, “Ritual de lo Habitual, which the group is playing in its entirety during its short Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour this summer. It’s also the silver anniversary of the Lollapalooza festival tour that the group launched back in 1991 and has since turned into a series of weekend events around the world. So it’s not surprising when drummer Stephen Perkins says there’s a bit of life flashing before the band members’ eyes this summer.
“It really does feel like a lifetime ago, but sometimes I feel like it’s just yesterday,” Perkins, 48, says by phone from New York. The key to that, he explains, is that Jane’s does its best to keep the music sounding current and fresh during the concerts.
“When you play the old songs it’s really about living in the moment,” Perkins explains. “I don’t want to repeat what I did on the record. I want to stay true to the part but I want to live in the moment. And I’ll be 49 in September; I wrote these drum parts when I was 18, 19 years old, so of course they’re going to be different now.
“That’s what makes a great show, playing the songs not flawlessly but to their potentially and make them emotionally connect in a way that’s current. That makes the songs fresh and changes the experience from night to night.”
Perkins remembers 1991 as “one of our best times as a band,” and the “Ritual” album had a lot to do with that. “There were so many peaks and valleys on that record,” he recalls. “‘Nothing’s Shocking’ (Jane’s previous album) was really one volume, and a lot of funk. By the time we got to ‘Ritual’ we were really crafting songs and stepping into a more progressive sound. It was nice to hear that growth.”
Lollapalooza, meanwhile, proved to be a perfect vehicle that summer not only for Jane’s but also for the burgeoning alternative rock movement, proving how large and strong of an audience there was for the music and elevating the careers of first-year participants such as nine inch nails and Henry Rollins.
“Those get-togethers were not only great for the music lovers but for the musicians, as well, that competitive spirit,” Perkins says. “It was one stage back then; It wasn’t a bunch of different things going on, but it really did start something quite powerful in the music business as far as a day of music and fun being the norm.”
Jane’s, meanwhile, continues to have a good time playing together, albeit sporadically. The group’s last album, “The Great Escape Artist,” came out in 2011; Perkins says he and his bandmates “always discuss” a follow-up but he’s not hazarding a guess as to when that might happen.
“It’s hard to say what’s next,” the drummer says. “I would love to record again. For me recording new music is getting into a small little garage for a month and writing; For somebody else it might be going straight into the studio and seeing what happens. We just have to find out how to make music together. Each time is it’s own thing, which keeps it exciting.”