Jane's Addiction Escapes the Past

Sharing a Los Angeles rehearsal studio space in the late ‘80s during the formative years of Jane's Addiction gave singer Perry Farrell enduring memories of "people in weird costumes who I hung out with on a daily basis."

So while the influential alt-rock frontman has insisted the theme of the reunited band's latest album, The Great Escape, is all about escaping his past, there are strong elements of the group's legendary theatrical tradition at work in its recordings and tours.

Farrell said the stage production for the Theatre of Escapists tour, which kicked off in February, aims to recreate a theater environment from the 1920s, something reflected in the band's dark, mysterious and sexy video for the single, "Underground," spearheaded by well-known rock video director Robert Hales.

"I've never viewed [Jane's Addiction] as a music project," Farrell said. "I've looked at it like a project that has a great deal of work on rock stages ... a group that is great live."

Now, that group — Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and tour bassist Chris Chaney — is in the midst of a tour that focuses on cozier venues.

"We are going into great American theaters to be more intimate," Farrell said. "You enter an environment and the environment is the theater. The audience is in the show. They don't have a choice, they're kind of involved."

Jane's Addiction
DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids
March 21, 8 p.m.
$29.50, $45, $59.50
devosperformancehall.com, (616) 742-6500

The 2012 tour comes after October's release of The Great Escape Artist, the band's first album in eight years and fourth studio recording overall. And, Farrell insisted, the group is "getting along better than ever."

"That's one of the things I didn't like about the past. It was really uncomfortable being out on tour because we basically didn't like each other," Farrell said. "You don't want to be traveling with people you don't like. It's really helpful when you find some people that you get along with that ... have come to appreciate each other and give each other space."

Farrell, the mastermind behind Lollapalooza music festival, conceded the concept for The Great Escape Artist may have some basis in past road experiences as the group toured behind classic albums such as Ritual de lo Habitual and Strays.

"Maybe the funny thing about it is I'm escaping the past because I don't want to be held to it. I don't want to be held accountable," he said. "I enjoyed myself because I didn't have the pressure."

The singer seems particularly buoyed by the "Theatre of the Escapists" tour because the band will play many cities where Jane's Addiction hasn't performed in years. The band last appeared in Grand Rapids back in 1988, when it played Club Eastbrook, now the Orbit Room.

"The trick to booking is going to places I hadn't been to in a long time. I want to see America now," Farrell said. "I want to see places that have culture and have maintained their own sense of style. So that was part of it. I wanted to go out there and see the restaurants and go shopping. I want to grab some Americana."