For the better part of the last two months Perry Farrell has been confined to a bed in his Los Angeles home, the result of recent surgery. But as the Jane’s Addiction frontman tells Rolling Stone, the extensive time “holed up” allowed him to flex his songwriting muscle in ways he hasn’t in years. The singer says he’s written over 60 new songs in recent weeks, and he plans to begin mapping out the alternative band’s follow-up to 2011’s The Great Escape Artist as early as January.
“I haven’t written this much or been this prolific since I started when I was in my 20s,” says the 53-year-old. “It’s been coming out fantastic. I’m super excited. Everything will really start to jell and come together probably this time next year.”
Earlier this year, Farrell told Rolling Stone he was interested in continuing The Great Escape Artist‘s themes of escapism for the band’s next studio effort. But now, with the new batch of songs in tow – ones he summarizes as “a nightmare, a fairy tale, all mixed in one” – Farrell has moved on from the idea.
“It’s not going to be [a continuation of] The Great Escape Artist,” he says of the forthcoming album. “I had thought that it would be a great idea. However, I just came up with this other twist to doing the next record. At this point I want to start fresh with a fresh angle.”
Farrell also admits The Great Escape Artist – the band’s first studio album in nearly a decade – was not as well-received as he had hoped. “It didn’t make a big enough splash,” he says. “If it would have made a bigger splash I would have continued [its themes].” One element that he does say he wants to carry over from TGEA is its emphasis on theatricality in the live setting: “I’m going to bring that to another level. I want to do things and have experiences for the audience that they’ve never had. I want them to go home and tell people ‘You have to go and see them.'”
Another recent undertaking that Farrell talks about with pronounced excitement is Jane’s Addiction’s contribution to the most recent Sons of Anarchy soundtrack collection: a murky cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” a song the band covered early in its career, on their 1987 eponymous debut live album.
“I thought I was gonna go in and basically do a rehash of what we’d done [in the past],” he says. “But I was wrong.” Instead, the band’s reimagined rendition is driven by a mesmerizing guitar loop that underpins Farrell’s seductive take on the Stones’ séance to Lucifer. “There’s a strange minor sadness to it,” he says of the song’s long-scrutinized lyrics, “where the devil is admitting that he’s somehow in pain over the things that he does.” Farrell pauses.
“There are times when I feel like I understand the devil very well.”