Jane's Addiction's 'Relapse' A Year In The Making

Dave Navarro remembers it like this:

The place: a barbecue at Perry Farrell's House. The time: summer of '96. The subject: the reunion of Jane's Addiction.

"(Perry) mentioned it in passing, and said, 'Hey, Dave, would you ever want to do some Jane's stuff again?' and, in passing, I said I'd definitely be into it," Navarro explained over the phone from his L.A. home.

Although fans are just now learning about the Jane's Addiction second coming, the band's guitarist Navarro, who also plays with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, told ATN plans for a reunion have been brewing for more than a year.

From that passing question asked at the barbecue, Navarro said things just snowballed into what is now being termed a "relapse," since the band feels they can't really dub it a reunion without original bassist Eric Avery, who has declined to be involved. He has been replaced by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea.

"I never really lost complete touch with those guys," Navarro said of his one-time bandmates Farrell, drummer Stephen Perkins and Avery. "We went through times when we weren't hanging out, but we have never not been friends."

Navarro said a number of projects led to the decision to resurrect Jane's, one of the most beloved hard rockin' bands of the late '80s and early '90s, among them the Porno For Pyros song "Hard Charger," which appeared on the soundtrack to Howard Stern's Private Parts movie earlier this year. Although credited to Farrell's new band, the song was actually the work of Jane's. Both Flea's, and Navarro's own participation on some tracks on Porno's last record, Good God's Urge also led to the decision to give it another go, Navarro added.

The new challenge for the revived Jane's is a still-untitled fall album of outtakes, live recordings and one new song, "Kettle Whistle," based on lyrics Farrell wrote during Jane's heyday. The album, expected out Oct. 14, is being compiled mainly by the band's unofficial historian, drummer Stephen Perkins, who admits to being the most obsessive member of the group, which broke-up six years ago at the peak of its popularity, after headlining the inaugural Lollapalooza festival.

"It's basically been me listening to, like, over 500 tapes that I had in my closet at home," Perkins said. "I've always had a huge crush on the band and I taped every show. I went to my hotel room after every gig and listened to the sound board recording every night."

Perkins said he's spent the past five months listening to an average of 50 versions of each song to be included on the collection, narrowing each one down to the 15 best versions, then five, and finally two. "Some tapes are decrepit, but they have the right attitude," Perkins said. "Some are board tapes, or house tapes, but if I remember a show having a fantastic vibe, or if the right energy was there, even if it's not the best recording, that's what we're looking for. We want the songs to represent the energy that was going on around us."

In addition to "Kettle Whistle," (until now available only on the widely-distributed Paraphernalia bootleg recording) Perkins revealed that the album will contain three other never-before-officially-available songs from Jane's, some of which were performed a few times in concert, but never released. "'Macio' is a really cool track that was named after Perry's cat, but also after (onetime JB horn leader) Maceo Parker," who Perkins said is on the band's wish list to play a little horn over the already-existing recording.

The other two rare tracks that will be minimally cleaned-up and likely included on the set are "Slow Divers," also on the bootleg, and "City Song," previously available only on the band's 1989 home video Soul Kiss. With the exception of "Whistle," which the band will enter an L.A. studio to re-record on Friday, the other three tracks will be presented as is, with just a bit of tweaking by the album's mixer, Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Jeff Buckley).

"We're going to put as much music as we can on this thing," Perkins said. "One of my favorites is a board tape of 'Whores' from a show at the Pyramid in 1986. Dave and I weren't 21 yet, so we had to wait outside until they announced the band, and then we ran onto the stage."

Perkins said three songs will be taken from a Dec. 19, 1990 show at the Hollywood Palladium, all previously available on the Live and Insane bootleg: "3 Days," "Stop" and "Up the Beach."

The version of "Ocean Size" scheduled for inclusion is a one-song demo the band recorded for Warner Bros. in 1988 to prove they could co-produce their own songs, Perkins said. "The version of 'Had A Dad' is killer. It was an outtake from the Nothing's Shocking days that Warner's declined because they said it was too produced! It has lots of cool textures, as opposed to the more rock thing that Warner's was looking for," Perkins said. Both songs were released as b-sides to singles from the band's last album, 1990's Ritual De Lo Habitual and appear on the Live and Rare compilation released by Warner Bros. Japan in 1991.

Similarly, he described the outtake of the hit song "Been Caught Stealing" from Ritual De Lo Habitual as a quirky version that was pulled from one of the tapes he collected and listened to at the end of every day in the studio. "This version only has a little guitar and Perry sang it in this cool, loungey way."

Another demo on the album is an early 1986 version of one of the band's signature songs, "Mountain Song," which Perkins revealed is the version Jane's used to get signed to Triple X Records, their first label. "We paid for it and it just captures the most basic seed of Jane's Addiction because it's just a few months after Dave and I joined. Perry sings in a lower register and it's a lot slower, with some piano on it. It's a little more original."

The other two songs currently slated for inclusion are live takes of "Ted Just Admit It" and "Summertime Rolls," the latter from a June 24, 1991 show at Irvine Meadows, the first-ever date on the first-ever Lollapalooza tour.

The band's publicist, Heidi Robinson, said the previously-announced Jane's appearance at this year's sole ENIT date is actually unconfirmed. The Oct. 25 date in San Francisco had been reported as Jane's Addiction's return to the stage, but Robinson conceded that announcement, which came from her office, was a bit premature.

"The band is looking to tour from mid-October until the beginning of November," she said. Though a name for the "relapse" album has been chosen, Robinson said it'll remain a secret for at least two more weeks. That's when Farrell and friends plan to announce a list of tour dates as well.

(ATN's New Jersey Correspondent Jon Vena contributed to this report.)