The last time Jane's Addiction released a studio album, a Bush was President, we were at war in Iraq, and rock radio sucked. In short, nothing much has changed since 1990, when Jane's fired the first salvo in that decade's alt-rock revolution with their second album, ''Ritual de lo Habitual.'' Thirteen years later, the long-dormant band (who broke up in '91 and reunited briefly in '97) has finally picked up where they left off, releasing a third CD, ''Strays.''
So far, it's spawned good reviews (a B+ from EW), a radio hit (''Just Because,'' featuring now dreadlock-free lead singer Perry Farrell howling as androgynously as ever), and strong sales (it's expected to debut in the top 10 this week). At the same time, Farrell has revived the dead-since-'97 Lollapalooza tour, along with Incubus, Audioslave, and Queens of the Stone Age. Farrell, 44, tells EW.com about his dissatisfaction with Gen-Y audiences, his high hopes for the band's future, and why he prefers ''balance'' to sobriety.
Is this the first Jane's tour where everybody's sober?
I'm not sober! Sorry to burst your bubble. I am high and giddy and I like to party. But some guys in the band are [sober], and what I say is you can always count on me in the morning. I keep a nice balance. Before there was no balance.
Right. So you're going to stick around for a while?
We have a commitment to do another two records. And I like that number. I think we're between a five- to seven-year commitment, and in that time I'm planning to do the most focused, beautiful body of music that I can imagine. And we'll see from there.
How did all the time you spent doing electronic music on your own affect ''Strays''?
I had planned that we would incorporate some of the electronics, and it would have to come off sounding like maybe where Prodigy would have been if they had virtuosos playing with them. But I found that with Jane's Addiction, they were too good for the machine. We as musicians outgrew following a loop. We had to let the music become organic and flow freely. But I did use loops to give people ideas for grooves. ''Just Because'' is a groove that came off my computer. When we first got together [guitarist] Dave Navarro, who was very open-minded, said, ''That's great, we need to use that loop.'' And I said, ''No, you have to PLAY that.'' You're not gonna get the loop to do all the beautiful things that Dave Navarro does as an instrumentalist.
You recorded the album at Jim Henson Studios. Which Muppet best matches the spirit of Jane's Addiction?
[Laughs] Wow. I can actually see three different characters for three of our players. But I can't say it -- if you're compared to a Muppet, that's gotta be embarrassing, and I know they'd get mad at me. But how about if I say that drummer guy?
Yeah, that guy.
How is Lollapalooza different for you this time around?
I had so many friends the first time, but none of them were in the band. Now I have friends all over, including in my band. We're having a great time, man. We're headed to Central Park this afternoon, and we went shopping in the morning. I didn't used to know where anybody was [offstage]. I didn't even know where I was. [laughs]
So what changed?
I mean, c'mon, man. I had a kid, so I have to know where I am. I think also you go away from people and you learn the importance of them in your life sometimes. In some cases you go, Wow, man -- maybe I should have more respect. Maybe I should try harder and pay more attention and try harder for the greater good for the sum of the parts.
How do you feel about the audience at the new Lollapalooza?
It's gonna take some time to refamiliarize ourselves with the audience, because they're a good 10 to 15 years younger. It's a lot of fresh eyes looking slightly bewildered, witnessing a Jane's show for the first time -- they don't know what to expect. And I will tell you that there's a big difference between Generation X and Generation Y. The Gen-X people were a lot freakier in every aspect of their life -- they dressed freakier, they looked freakier, they acted freakier. Gen-Y is a lot more regimented. They're not looking very different from each other -- there's a lot more similarity to their look. There's a lot less willingness to step out of line. That's unfortunate. So we're gonna have to do a little bit of work on them. [Laughs] But we'll get to them.