Founded in 1985 by Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Eric Avery, Jane’s Addiction was one of the first “alternative” bands to dominate the mainstream rock stations on the FM radio dial. When the band decided to call it quits in 1991, instead of throwing your standard farewell tour, they invented the modern music festival by founding Lollapalooza. Since then, Jane’s Addiction have reunited for several tours and two studio albums.
On December 8, the band performs in L.A. for a special gala at the Hollywood Palladium to benefit the programs of Rhonda’s Kiss, a charity which serves the families of those battling cancer. Tickets for the event, which also features Hellcat Saints, are on sale now. In advance of the show, we caught up with Dave Navarro to talk about the benefit show, rock history, and three decades of Nothing’s Shocking.
Your first studio album, Nothing’s Shocking, turns 30 years old next year. How do you look back at the longevity of that record?
Okay, so here’s what I’m going to tell you about Nothing’s Shocking turning 30. First of all, I can’t even believe that I’m 50. Then I think, I can’t believe we made that record when we were all so young. Some people argue that it’s our best record. Others argue that Ritual is. I’m torn between the two.
What’s interesting about asking about it now is that, of course, I hear those songs from time to time, and I play them every night on tour, but it’s been probably 30 years since I’ve listened to it as a record. Just this year, I really got back into vinyl and started collecting old vinyl records. I missed the experience of sitting down with the intentions of listen to an artist and studying it. Taking it out of the sleeve. Looking at the artwork and the liner notes and just listening. I got a hold of Nothing’s Shocking on vinyl and, man, if I can’t tell you the flood of memories that came back. Even takes and versions of songs that didn’t make the album, or the way certain moments made me feel, put me right back in the studio, almost.
What are some other things you discovered or rediscovered by listening on vinyl?
I’ll tell you what, I went to see Roger Waters this year and that brought up so many emotions about music that are so powerful to me. I grew up on that. Pink Floyd is my all time favorite band and David Gilmour is my favorite guitar player of all time. After, I immediately got all the Pink Floyd albums on vinyl and that has lead to a complete rediscovery and appreciation for music that I may have lost touch with many years ago.
Jane’s Addiction was recently a nominee for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Did you ever expect to be accepted into that kind of rock canon conversation?
I didn’t. At the time we didn’t have that in our minds by any means. One of the things that resonated with our fan base at the time is that we were very much counter-culture, very against the grain. Being honored by something that appears from the outsider’s point of view to be something very much of the grain, seems like kind of a conundrum.
But, if you look at some of the bands who have been inducted, it’s an incredible honor to be named alongside bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin–bands that we really admired and looked up to. I was actually there, with Ozzy, when Black Sabbath was inducted, and that was the same year that the Sex Pistols were inducted and they didn’t show up. They basically wrote a “fuck you” letter to the Hall of Fame that was read at the ceremony. So they stayed true to form.
You’re playing a charity fundraiser for Rhonda’s Kiss. What was it that got you involved with the organization?
I’ve been involved with the foundation for several years now. Christine Kushner, who promotes the event, is married to one of my good friends, Dave Kushner, who is the guitarist of Velvet Revolver. For a couple years in a row, we put together a kind of all-star cover band. We’ve had people like Juliette Lewis and Mark McGrath join us to play at the events. It’s a really cool charity. It helps to raise money for those who can’t afford to take care of their loved ones when they’re going through crisis and trauma treating cancer. It’s the holiday season, so to be able to help put a smile on peoples’ faces and help raise awareness and money at the same time is a great way to do it.
Why is giving back such an integral part of Jane’s Addiction as a band?
I really feel that we have been given gifts as musicians and artists, and given the opportunity to create and express ourselves in pretty unique and challenging times, but in a more-often-than-not fun way, and I think you can’t keep what you’ve been given. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it’s a huge part in our wanting to give back since we feel so blessed ourselves. To sit back and do nothing is just the wrong suggestion for us as a species.
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