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Perry Farrell: Jane's Addiction Tour Inspired by 'Boardwalk Empire' Era

'Great Escape Artist' shows will have 'Twenties surrealist' vibe

January 31, 2012 2:55 PM ET
perry farrell
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction performs at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas in Universal City, California.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Jane's Addiction recently announced tour dates, kicking off February 22nd in St. Louis, in support of last year's The Great Escape Artist. It's taken a minute for the band to mount a proper U.S. trek, but that's because frontman Perry Farrell wanted to make sure everything was right.

"We're starting to go over stage design and put together the stage, and I'm really happy that we're underway," he tells Rolling Stone, adding that video mapping will be a big part of the production. "The style of the show is what I'm calling Twenties surrealist with a Sixties, Warhol pop twist. I'm going through old archival films and finding some crazy stuff, like 1920s stag films."

He points to a couple of projects that have inspired the show's concept. "One is Boardwalk Empire. I love that time period. It's exciting – you had the speakeasies going and the underground people played a very big role in people entertaining themselves. The whole flapper thing was going on, and you had the surrealist movement," he says.

Another inspiration is a theater performance he caught in New York called Sleep No More. "They took over a five-story hotel for immersive theater," says Farrell, "whereby the people there to see the play were allowed to walk through this hotel, and then every once in a while a performer would come through. "

Buoyed by Sleep No More, the singer is planning something similar for the Jane's tour. "We want to do immersive theater, too. We've always had Siamese dancers, but we're gonna add another character, Bubba, who's going to be, in a way, the great escape artist. He's going to be moving people around, doing things in the audience," he says. "But I want the audience members to dress, as I said, with that Twenties surrealist twist if they can, or at least like they're going to a prom, because they're going to be within the show itself."

The band is focused entirely on this theater concept, to the point Farrell says they're skipping the American festival circuit this summer, including Lollapalooza in Chicago, which he founded. "We're not gonna play it, but that's not to say that we won't be in Chicago," he says. The band will, however, be at the debut of Lollapalooza Brazil in April. "I like the idea of christening the place, 'cause Jane's christened Lolla, so I just kind of feel like it's a goodwill gesture."

Ultimately, The Great Escape Artist tour is expected to last two years. During that time Farrell wants Jane's to release more new music. "What I have not seen before is a group that's done a record, had somewhat of a theme – escapism – and then done a second record almost as if it was a follow-up movie. I want to do that," he says. "We have material left from The Great Escape Artist we didn't record. I'm very inspired to keep with the theme. Something's feeling right about it."

Before the band hits the road they have one special show, playing the Rolling Stone Super Bowl party in Indianapolis this weekend before the game. While Farrell is a diehard basketball fan, he does have a prediction for the game. "I think it's Eli [Manning]. Eli in the clutch comes through in the end, and we shut down [Tom] Brady's offense with that great pass-rushing defensive line of the Giants," he says. "I would hate for anybody in Boston to think I don't love them, but I'm a New Yorker and I gotta stand by my state."

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