“I turned 21 with these guys. My first ménage trios, I think Dave (Navarro) was there. Everything happened with us. And when you get together in a room and start doing the old catalog, that’s a great thrill, but making new music is really the exciting thing. It’s like planning a date with your girl to somewhere you both never been. It’s an experience for both of you to get in there and then you have something new to talk about in your relationship. That’s what it’s like in Jane’s Addiction.” – Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction
“Please meet at pool at days inn for janes addiction intvw at 7:30”
Thirteen abbreviated words that appeared as a text message on my cell phone at 5:36pm on the second day of DeLuna Fest. Thirteen words giving confirmation that this amazing day was going to get amazingly better.
Day 2: Covered in sunshine, I walked into the gates of DeLuna Fest straight into the arms of music, crowds and laughter. They call these affairs festivals for a reason. Local group Paloma had already started their set when the realization hit that history is being made. When years roll into decades, DeLuna Fest will have inked its name in time.
An afternoon of Kevin Devine Main Stage domination, Still Corners, the raging red mohawk of Nicos Gun frontman Barney Cortez led to Big Boi not only rocking his solo work but also throwing in some Outkast fireworks for good measure.
As the ride continues, I received the text, but the festival keeps driving with will, with spirit, with life. Keeping the pace of this crazy/amazing day as it danced into night were Manchester Orchestra on the Main Stage playing the way to Jane’s Addiction.
Security scattered about the Days Inn as I walk a lonely path of the patio to the gated pool, opening the entrance to one lone soul sitting at a table, Paste Magazine journalist Tyler Kane who would be interviewing Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. As soon as we started talking about the adventures ahead, we were joined by the Pensacola News Journal crew of Julio Diaz and Phillip Bailey.
7:30pm had gone by and we were greeted with the announcement that the band was running late. A necessary trip for Starbuck’s was the guilty party. As we all sat around discussing Jane’s Addiction, the group’s tour manager greeted us with the news that the band had returned.
Within a few steps of our congregation, Dave Navarro, shirtless and in tight black pants walked by with the pace of a lion, fast and focused into the hotel room that had been converted into a play space for the group. Perkins followed into the rehearsal room as their tour manager entertained us with stories of the road while the jam session doubled as the soundtrack to each episode. If this were the only event I witnessed all festival long, I wouldn’t be disheartened at all. Artists at play, artists at work, the fabric of friends playing and working together.
It wasn’t even a question. Perry Farrell was walking our way, to us, through us. The frontman didn’t really walk, dude just floated to the table with Kane for his interview. Wine glass and white shirt relaxed on his body as he reclined in his chair almost shoulder to shoulder with the Paste magazine journalist. If the details weren’t known, the scene looked like Caesar and friend, side by side watching the events of the Roman Coliseum. As I watched from across the pool, two men together under the dark of night with nothing on the horizon but the DeLuna fest mainstage and a football field’s distance of beach between, I knew my turn was near.
As fluid as Farrell’s movement, the minutes floated by and the interview ended. Farrell passed us and for whatever reason, I couldn’t even courage a hello or eye contact.
With the clock closing closely to their performance time, would there be enough time for my interview? The question was quickly answered as Stephen Perkins entered. Farrell floated, Navarro paced and Perkins exploded. With subtle intensity, the drummer was all grin and dynamite. Like a friend with a handshake and smile, the mohawk and black leather jacket could barely bottle the energy of this man. Immediately Perkins and I sit at the same Roman Coliseum table and he starts talking about the hotel room jam session I had listened to earlier…Off We Went.
***Stephen Perkins Interview***
Perkins: …Doing Iron Maiden, the guys of Jane’s Addiction playing with Queens of the Stone Age doing Scorpions. It’s hilarious stuff backstage. You know what’s cool is, you heard about that during the Grateful Dead days (mimics a saintly old rocker) “Oh we were on tour and the jams were jamming backstage!” That’s where everybody wanted to be. And I always thought it would be great to be in a scene like that, but you have to create that scene. You can’t just be in that scene. You have to actually set up the gear and invite people back to jam.
TCAS: What’s the coolest part about being in Jane’s Addiction?
Perkins: Being creative with old friends. That’s the best part about being in Jane’s Addiction. I met(Dave) Navarro when I was 13 or 14. I met Perry (Farrell) when I was 17. So these are guys that I’ve obviously been playing music with. I turned 21 with these guys. You know what I’m saying. My first ménage trios, I think Dave was there. Everything happened with us. And when you get together in a room and start doing the old catalog, that’s a great thrill, but making new music is really the exciting thing. It’s like planning a date with your girl to somewhere you both never been. It’s an experience for both of you to get in there and then you have something new to talk about in your relationship. That’s what it’s like in Jane’s Addiction. We’ve got the old tunes, we love em’. We got the performance tonight. It’s going to be epic. But the fun stuff is making new music and breaking ground, and sometimes it hurts and sometimes you listen and it didn’t break ground. So don’t use it. But we do have the option to put…that’s why we take a year and a half, maybe even ten years between records…we have the option to say “You know what? It’s not done, it’s not ready. Let’s not show it to anybody. I read The Beatles would do 25 versions of “Penny Lane” before we heard the version. And so I think Jane’s Addiction is not afraid of that. And that’s the great part about being in the band is being creative and trying new ideas and doing it all without a net. If we fall, we might break a leg. We might break up, but we’ll try. We’ll try things. Of course, if we’re not friends, we don’t continue on as a band. That’s why we break up so many times because if the friendship’s not really great at the moment; we’re not talking and the communication is not there, life’s too short to be spending the time with each other. We’ll find some people we can work with. And when it’s really good, it feels right and there’s no stopping us. And when it’s not good, we look at each other and we say “let’s not make it fake. Let’s not make it and fake it.”
TCAS: I know with the projects you’ve done before, I was a big Porno for Pyros (music project of Perkins and Farrell from the early 90’s) fan…
Perkins: Thank you.
TCAS: Is there any chance that maybe you…Perkins: There’s always talk of that between me and Perry; I always hang out and I have a band with (Peter) DiStefano and Mike Watt called Hellride and we do all Stooges. So I hang out with Pete a lot, I see Martyn (LeNoble) once and a while…of course me and Perry. Navarro has even hinted to us as Jane’s Addiction doing “Cursed Female” (from the self-titled album “Porno for Pyros”) on stage because that’s one of his favorite Porno tunes. Me and Perry love it. The band Porn was, just like Jane’s, pulled from its environment. You could tell we traveled to the islands to write our music. You can hear it in the music and even some of the titles, “Tahitian Moon,” “Bali Eyes” etcetera, were taken from those trips and those actual experiences were the highlights of Porno for me. It wasn’t the work ethic and it wasn’t the most exciting thing, it wasn’t just rehearsing and getting songs, it was being on a surf trip and writing a tune at two in the morning, you know…on mushrooms (cracks a playful smile)…That was Porno. So, if we’re going to do Porno again, we have to be prepared to go into that world. (wild laugh) That’s a different world.
TCAS: What song on tonight’s set gets you off the most?
Perkins: Well, I mean different songs for different reasons. As a athletic drummer and like a consistent soldier “Ain’t No Right”, “Ted, Just Admit It” the songs that are very rhythmic, very powerful and there’s no room for error. As far being creative, “Then She Did” or “Three Days” because there’s a lot of, not for error, but for changing things. Kind of melting into a different direction and playing off each other. The new songs, because the excitement of actually playing new tunes in front of people and the challenge of what I did in the studio, trying to recreate that live. So there’s all of these different moments in the set that really turn me on. Last week we played two shows in L.A. The highlight for me was “Ted, Just Admit It.” I was telling Chris just now backstage…the beginning, the reggae (Perkins animates his mouth to sound out the intro and his parts of the song)…I felt like we were in a pocket like (the slightest of pauses with another bump of excitement) it’s been years since I felt that groovy. And then the hard part, Perry just dropped the mic and f*cking boogied for like five minutes while we were just doing the hard part, he didn’t even do the lyrics for a long time. And it started to get into this real hypnotic, relentless thing and I went down and brought my head down and wasn’t thinking about the tempo, I wasn’t thinking about the energy that it took to get through it. Just thinking about the music and what people were feeling. And then before I know it…the song is eight, ten minutes long and we’re still playing and Perry’s dancing and people are screaming and I’m like, this is what Jane’s is about. It’s unpredictable, even for the musicians. (with a laugh of rising intensity) We don’t even know what the f*ck’s going to happen. That’s fun. Yeah! At high volume, at high power. It’s like a subtle improvement.
TCAS: Along that same note, what has been your greatest moment as an artist and as a fan?
Perkins: Well growing up, my first concert was Queen, 79’. I was only 12. So after seeing that, I mean nothing compared to Queen. That was f*cking the best concert you could ever see as your first show. Songwriting, musicianship, performance, lightshow, everything was there. It was just epic. So I can still feel and smell that show. About five or three years ago I saw Van Halen do a dress rehearsal before they went on tour with David Lee Roth. 600 people were there and I was lucky enough…that took me to another f*cking state because I’m just a huge Van Halen fan and to see them…especially the dress rehearsal because later on in the tour, they seem to be doing it more by the numbers and at dress rehearsal they were stretching it out and they were just getting to know each other again. For Porno, I think one of my favorite shows was a concert called the Bizarre Festival when our…it was New Order, Hole and Porno, and our bass player Martyn passed out on the stage and it wasn’t the greatest musical show, but the memory and the laughs we had and to see everyone’s jaw drop and all the bands that came to see us and our bass player full face plant…that to me was one of the greatest Porno moments. And of course Woodstock (94’ )wasn’t bad. Dave was in the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers right on the side of the stage; hadn’t seen him in years and Porno was playing, we had the clown cutting off his own head and all that crazy sh*t. And then for Jane’s was the night after Paul McCartney played…I think it was October 10th or 11th right after September 11th when McCartney did his benefit at the MSG (Madison Square Garden), we played the next night and that was a great night for us because we were in New York…the spirit was sad, but we brought the music…you know what I mean? So that was a good moment for me. And then tonight…(Perkins starts grinning and his smile infects my mood and I start giggling) I’m looking forward to playing, it’s outside. It’s my favorite type of shows. On the beach, it’s f*cking sexy.
TCAS: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Perkins: I tell you, the truth is, this has always stuck out with me. When you get a review say, and you’re a young drummer and you get a review of your band or your drumming. You hold everything into that one paragraph; this means everything. If they tell you you’re great and you start believing that, next year that same reviewer will tell you you’re sh*t. That means you have to believe that. So for me, just believe in yourself. Don’t believe in what they tell you, don’t believe in what they think. Believe in yourself, especially as an artist. Because you might like one song and not the other, does that mean I’m better or worse? No. It’s just your opinion, right? A lot of people hear that review and crumble. They hate my voice, they think I’m ugly, this or that. And they take that to heart. Who are these people sitting at a computer writing about you? They’re haters or they’re lovers that don’t like you at that moment. So I just believe in myself. I don’t believe in what they tell me. If they tell me I’m great…thanks. If they tell me I’m crap…thanks. It doesn’t make a difference. There’s got to be black and white, there’s got to be good and bad, it’s got to be yellow and red. Everything’s got to appear separate from each other, so I think, why even…I’m just the guy in the middle. I’m a musician that’s here to play.
(Throughout the entire interview, Perkins never breaks eye contact, it seems as if he doesn’t even blink as every word from his mouth is a gift of excitement wrapped by wide open eyes where anything is possible.)
Festival P/R Representative: We need to wrap it up, please. Thank you.
TCAS: Crunchy or Cream Peanut Butter?
Perkins: I’m creamy. (Starts cracking up)
TCAS: Why so?
Perkins: (Crazy laugh and eerily sounding like Richard Dreyfuss) Well I don’t like shit in my teeth. Let’s just go there. So peanut butter’s enough in your teeth, you don’t need anything else. You know, and it’s like shaved or not shaved…you know, I don’t like anything in my teeth.(Very Naughty Laugh)
TCAS: Stephen, I thank you.
Perkins: You got it man. It’s a pleasure. Enjoy the gig, I’m going to go off tonight. I really am. Have a good night.
Interview by – Michael L. Smith
DeLuna Fest Day 2 Artists photographed: Paloma, Kevin Devine, Nico’s Gun, Still Corners, The Dirty Heads, Big Boi, Manchester Orchestra, Jane’s Addiction, Ghostland Observatory, Diplo