Jane’s Addiction Mark I displayed a dedication to decadence that even Keith Richards would struggle to muster. Yet beneath the mushroom clouds of one chemical or another (or more likely... and another) were a wondrously weird heavy rock outfit, as comfortable drawing in funk and folk influences as they drew in their toxic breath. To many people’s surprise and no doubt their own, they didn’t all just die from excessive fun-having. They did though part their ways with only a mere two LPs in the can, ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual’ and ‘Nothing’s Shocking’. A pure, perfect legacy or a premature ending, leaving both the fans and the founders forever questioning what if they’d cleaned up just a little and plugged their guitars back in? Well, such pondering is now rather superfluous. A newly revitalised Jane’s Addiction returned with a new collection, ‘Strays’, earlier this year.
It seems not only do they seem capable of churning out greatness that doesn’t trample over their back catalogue, but they all look fitter, healthier and well... less likely to die on stage and Dave Navarro looks at least ten years younger than he did way back then. They’ve also recruited a new bass player, Chris Chaney. And is he happy with the new job? Well wouldn’t you be? “Dave and Stephen have been playing together since they were 13 years old, they have quite a synergy or chemistry and for me as a bass player to be able to come into that is really remarkable, it gives me a great opportunity to shine. I did a record with Tommy Lee and we needed a drummer to go tour with and what better drummer than Stephen Perkins. I was only able to do it for about 6 weeks because I was playing with Alanis Morrisette and I had to go back to that, but in that short time, Stephen and I had a great relationship and last August he called me and asked me to do some shows. “
Way back in the early 90’s, an invite to join the carnival that was the band would have been something of a faustian pact, if you got out alive, you’d at least have pink hair and be left staring at the ceiling in a state of semi-catatonia. In contrast, the Jane’s Addiction of 2003 are a considerably more sober prospect. “Perry’s got a family now. Dave’s getting married to Carmen in November. They talk about having a family. I think everyone’s got a little bit wiser. You get the best out of Jane’s Addiction when everyone’s not on drugs! If you’re on drugs, you break up.” The zen-like influence of Chris will no doubt help maintain the equilibrium, he sounds to be the archetypal mental anchor for a band renowned for its fruit-loop contingent, even if such wisdom seems to be odds with their wild lineage. “Jane’s Addiction worked so hard in the early 90’s that they never really had a chance to refuel and refresh. You can be around your best friend every day and eventually you might crack, especially if you add drugs into the mix.”
Despite the added catalyst of having clear heads, reformations are notoriously ripe for producing lacklustre records, for reigniting old squabbles and for doing little more than lining the pockets of those involved. Were the band not the least bit concerned they may just not to be able bottle up the old magic? Well, it seems not. “Everyone just looks forward. Dave has a really healthy attitude of not trying to compare or model yourself after what was done because that was just a moment in time. You just always have to do what you with the moment and not try to force anything that’s unnatural, just make the best music that you can possibly make. I do believe there’s a certain chemistry when Perry, Steve and Dave are together and you add me into that.”
Recording sessions for ‘Strays’ were not only relatively free from the pressure of matching past glories, Chris even seems to have had a really good time. “For me, it was the most gratifying because I wasn’t so under the gun in terms of time. I’ve done a lot of records and a lot of sessions for other bands. Usually you’re crunched for time. If you don’t get it that minute or that hour, you don’t get another shot at it. With Bob Ezrin, we were afforded the luxury of another day if we wanted to change something.“ Now as a member of Jane’s Addiction, he can also afford to be a bit more circumspect about taking session jobs. “I did Celine Dion’s single. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but they called me to do it and I love the challenge. I always like the challenge of working with other musicians because I believe it keeps you fresh and pushes you in new directions.” Even Celine Dion?
The pull of collaborative efforts with Canadian chanteuses will have to wait now anyway. Coming to a city near you, Chris and his cohorts are bringing Jane’s Addiction cast of crazies, waifs and strays. “It’ll be little more of a club vibe, a little bit more broken down than Lollapalooza or the bigger shows.” Light shows and enormo-domes are being cast aside for the display of two ridiculously lithesome thirty-somethings monkeying about. “Perry and Dave are just jumping beans, man! They’re all over the stage. Perkins and I just hold the sh*t down.”
As far as Chris is concerned, ‘Strays’ though is just the beginning. After a dozen or so years on ice (excusing the odd show together with Flea stepping in), Jane’s Addiction are back to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. This is no quick cash-in tour to pay a tax bill. “We plan on doing what Zeppelin did without a break. We would like to do 2, 3 more records after this one and then maybe take a break and ten do more. It’s hard to predict that far down the line, but we talk about doing several more records. Zeppelin, they had such a beautiful catalogue of music and they left that behind. Jane’s Addiction to me died prematurely. They still had more to say, they were never done. What was obvious about that was that everybody went off and did solo projects, Porno For Pyros, Dave joined the Chili Peppers, no one ever stopped making music.” Music perhaps is the true Jane’s Addiction.