Perry Farrell says that the next Jane's Addiction LP — tentatively titled The Great Escape Artist — sounds unlike anything else the group has ever created. "It's a strange mixture of that post-punk Goth darkness that Jane's had with what's going on today with groups like Muse and Radiohead," he tells Rolling Stone. "As much as I want to appease fans and make old Jane's fans love me, I just can't help myself from moving forward."
The band has been working on the album at a Los Angeles studio since early December with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Interpol) and TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, who plays bass and is co-writing songs with the band. "The first time we got together with Dave Sitek was in my garage," says Farrell. "I played him music and explained to him how I've been working the last few years on music. He was so for it. He was a proponent of my message and I was a proponent of the way he works, so we just decided to get together. Now he's a real important person in my life."
Sitek has spent hours jamming on loose ideas with Jane's guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins. "Then he'd go back and make clips using bits and pieces from the jams," says Farrell. "That requires hours of listening to jams, which I'm not up for. I enjoy writing lyrics and melodies, but I'm not a great instrumentalist, so I leave it up to the professionals."
Farrell has spent a lot of time at his home studio, honing ideas away from the rest of the band. "I spend five to eight hours straight," he says. "I like throwing ideas down, recording, taking shots, taking more shots, taking a break, having a drink and stepping outside of the process...We already have enough material for three albums."
The songs all relate to the general theme of The Great Escape Artist. "It's conceptual," Farrell says. "It could be escaping to the outdoors, or the great escape could be in your mind. We might even be able to escape the expectations of the old Jane's fans and come out with another great record." Farrell hopes to have a single out in March, and the album on store shelves sometime in the summer.
A tour will follow, but it's unclear who will play bass. Sitek is the fourth person to play bass in the past year for the band. In the summer of 2009 they reunited with original bassist Eric Avery, but he quit after an Australian tour in early 2010. "Eric did not want to record," says Farrell. "So we took him out of the equation. We couldn't live with not recording." (For Avery's side of the story, see video interviews with him here.)
Guns n' Roses bassist Duff McKagan replaced Avery, but he left playing a handful of shows with the band. "I couldn't really tell you what his problem was," says Farrell. "You can ask him. He's calling it 'creative differences.' I know he didn't like the idea of electronics at all. That was his complaint. We've got our gripes too, but what's the point?"
Chris Chaney, who played bass with Jane's on their 2003 disc Strays, sat in for a recent New Year's Eve show, but Farrell says he probably won't rejoin the group on a full-time basis. "I've got some ideas," says Farrell. "Amongst them would be Dave Sitek. He's not a guy that likes to go on tours though, so we haven't decided who it will be yet."
Even if Sitek doesn't join the band on tour, Farrell is confident that his contributions to the the new LP will be enough of a gift to the fans. "I want our songs to have a groove impact and hit you like an atom bomb," he says. "We've been doing that, so I feel like I'll die happy after this record."
Jane's Addiction have had countless public spats over the years, and they've broken up three different times — but Farrell says that things are relatively smooth these days. "Dave and Steve and I are like brothers," he says. "I've got children and my kid smacked my other kid in the head this morning, but at the same time they hate being separated. On a plane one will say, 'I wanna sit with my brother.' That's how I feel about Dave and Steve. I hope they'd tell you the same thing."
This article has been updated