Perry Farrell and Nothing's Shocking Are Still Converting the Masses

Categories: music

Press photo of Jane's Addiction
What has most distinguished Perry Farrell's career is his willingness to experiment and take chances. Over the past 15 years, he has strayed from the unique rock of his groundbreaking band Jane's Addiction to mix genres like rock with dance music in projects like Perry Etty vs Joachim Garraud. Despite the amazing musical journey that Farrell has taken over the last 30 years, on May 8-10, he, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Chris Chaney will celebrate the recent 25th anniversary of Nothing's Shocking, the first Jane's Addiction studio album, with a performance of the entire album in the intimate space of the new Las Vegas venue, Brooklyn Bowl. And while some of the old vanguard Jane's fans will be in attendance, so will neophytes.

Santa Ana native Cindy Arebalo has been a fan since a trip to Lake Havasu in the early '90s, where she and her friends listened to Jane's Addiction's sophomore masterpiece Ritual de lo Habitual for the entire weekend. When she returned, she bought her own copies of Ritual and Nothing's Shocking, and she has not stopped listening to them since. She raised her daughter, 23 year-old Alondra Shields, on the music. Naturally, she too became a fan, and now Shields is accompanying her mother to one of the Las Vegas performances, where she will be properly baptized. To clarify what, exactly, Shields is being baptized into, the Weekly spoke with Farrell. The day after he returned from taking his Lollapalooza musical festival to South America, where he had been introducing hundreds of thousands of Argentines, Paulistanos, and others to their first alternative rock performances, he recalled the humble years.

Ian Curtis performing with Joy Division, as captured by Kevin Cummins
In mid 80s post-punk LA, Sunset Blvd. was occupied by big-haired, spandex-wearing, Heavy Metal bands, but there was a strong musical "undercurrent." Farrell said, "People like Martin Hannett [producer of Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Jilted John, etc.] were doing records that were subversive, and, from a production standpoint, it was experimental and it was fearless." He added, "It was drug music; it was music for the disenfranchised -- suicidal, anti-establishment, anti-pop -- but it was divine. It was gorgeous. It was like a blanket. It was like the feeling of heroin. It took away the blues. It took away your sense of awkwardness. It was awkward, but in its awkwardness, you felt you had a friend; you had a place to go, and that was what was going on when we wrote Nothing's Shocking."

In lofts, warehouses, and in the desert, Farrell threw parties where Jane's would perform. The performances, with his original bandmates (Navarro, Perkins, and Eric Avery), were so intense that word spread and reached the music industry. Farrell recalls, "They couldn't deny us because we were so vicious and dangerous live that people had to come see what they'd heard about. They weren't hearing it, necessarily, on the radio, but they'd heard legends of what we were about." Part of the legend included the fact that, during shows, Farrell would expose himself. This act, Farrell says, was in the traditions of Iggy Pop and Darby Crash.

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