Tom Morello’s Induction of Jane’s Addiction at Guitar Center’s RockWalk on 6/1/11
When I moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to pursue my rock dreams, hair metal was king. The bands playing the Sunset Strip all looked the same, sounded the same, pouted the same. Then one night I went to a downtown joint called Al’s Bar and some odd tattooed fellow gave me a bootleg cassette of a local band called Jane’s Addiction. It blew my mind, jolted the axis of my understanding of rock music, and convinced me to extend the lease on my apartment on Normandie.
I had never heard anything like it. It was like a punk rock Led Zeppelin. Jane’s provided all the testosterone fueled guitar riffage that my suburban upbringing required but mixed it with gorgeous acoustic songs and an underground artistry that was completely original and completely awesome. They didn’t look or sound like any other band in the history of rock and within a short period of time they absolutely owned this city.
I found myself sneaking into Jane’s rehearsals, sitting on some nasty carpet in the corner wide eyed with wonder. But it wasn’t until New Years Eve 1988 that I got to actually meet the band. Perry was friends with the singer of my local band Lock Up and asked us to IMPERSONATE Jane’s Addiction at their New Years Eve show. We dutifully learned “Pigs In Zen” and in full Jane’s outfits stepped onto the stage (thankfully there were no cameras rolling because my Dave Navarro wig was an unholy nightmare). In the dim lighting the crowd went wild. I’d played a lot of rock shows, been to a lot of rock shows, but I’d never seen or felt anything like THIS. It was like grabbing a live power line with a million volts coursing through it. People didn’t just love this band, they believed in this band and were ready to go apeshit. We played a few minutes of the song, the lights went out, the real Jane’s Addiction came on, and I went back to my apartment on Normandie. But I vowed that night that one day I was going to be in a band that felt like THAT onstage.
It is fitting that Jane’s Addiction are being inducted into the Rock Walk on Sunset Blvd. because Jane’s are a quintessentially Los Angeles band. From The Doors, to X, to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns n Roses, and later Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down, they are a band that could have happened nowhere else and a band that sounds like the city in which they formed. You can hear the violence, the drugs, the beauty, the ocean, the hope, smog, fear and redemptive power of this city in Jane’s music. And while, like all the best bands, Jane’s Addiction are greater than the sum of their parts, each member of the band is extraordinary in his own right.
Stephen Perkins’ tribal whirlwind of drumming and his great sense of dynamics propelled Jane’s music into directions other bands could only dream of. Dave Navarro’s shirtless power riffing, wild astral solos and subtle strumming gave metal heads like myself a reason to love the band and challenged indie rock snobs to deal with the presence of an undeniably great ROCK guitarist in a underground band. Eric Avery’s murderously heavy grooves formed the backbone of some of Jane’s Addictions greatest songs and rank among the most badass riffs of all time. Flea and Chris Chaney maintained a level of bass playing excellence in later incarnations of the band. And Perry Farrell is unlike any other frontman, singer or lyricist in the history of rock. His voice, sometimes child-like and innocent, sometimes bone chillingly urgent, pulled gorgeous twisted melodies out of thin air while he spun deep and true poetic tales of life in this city. He presided as the furious Santeria shaman over their legendary live shows as the band destroyed venue after venue around the world and single handedly forged the Lollapalooza Nation, smashing barriers between genres, bringing the fringe into the mainstream, and allowing rockers and rappers to share the same stage for the first time.
Nirvana often gets credit for being the first “alternative” band to break through, the band that changed music and led rock out of the hair metal wilderness of the ‘80’s. That’s just not true. It was Jane’s Addiction. Inspiring, intelligent, furiously rocking and artistically deep as fuck. As their number one fan I’m happy to report that my good friends Jane’s Addiction are just as great today as that day I snuck into their rehearsal space long ago. And so without further ado:
Senores y Senoras Nosotros tenemos mas influencia con sus hijos que tu tienes, pero los queremos..Creado y regalo de Los Angeles…Juanes Adiccion!
Tom Morello’s Induction of Jane’s Addiction at Guitar Center’s RockWalk