Mas Influencia

Jane’s Addiction was one of the first bands that I remember having a tremendous impact on me. Sure, I remember Agnostic Front, Dead Kennedys, JFA and all the bands I listened to when I was riding a skateboard more often than I was walking. Those bands meant something to me, but they didn’t speak to me the way Jane’s or Nirvana did.

I vaguely remember the first time I heard Jane’s Addiction. There was this guy that was in the Jewish youth group I was in. His name was Brent Zacharia and lived in Omaha. He was a die-hard fan and Perry Ferrell was God to him. I still don’t understand how some kid from Omaha knew about Psi Com. It was barely making it’s way out of the confines of Southern California. I had no idea what was going on in Los Angeles and neither did he. Psi Com never impressed me at all, truth be told, but I certainly thought it was cool that Brent knew anything about them. Brent turned me and Kevin into the second and third biggest Jane’s fans in the Midwest and it was our mission to spread the gospel.

When I heard the first Jane’s Addiction album, namely the song “Trip Away,” that was it. I finally found a band that I could relate to and call my own. Mind you, this was a few years after it was actually released. The chronology is all a bit hazy. Shortly thereafter, I bought Nothing’s Shocking, and to this day I regard it as one of the best albums ever made, especially in my lifetime. Nirvana may get a lot of credit for starting the whole “alternative” thing, but there probably wouldn’t be Nirvana without Jane’s.

Here’s what I remember from Lollapalooza 1991: Ice-T or The Rollins Band (or maybe both) were talking about how drugs weren’t cool, but I was tripping so hard on LSD that I don’t even remember it very well. Living Colour was a total blur. I think they were wearing masks of some kind. Nine Inch Nails just trashed the stage and there was a lot of green light. Trent Reznor was The Hulk. I swear. Siouxsie and the Banshees? I have no idea. Jane’s Addiction…I’m sure it was the acid, but it was one of the most magnificent shows I have ever seen or heard. I don’t even remember the crowd. I was so transfixed on Jane’s. Perry knew the kids were eating acid, and he played directly to us. Well, that’s what it felt like. And I remember crying when they played “Summertime Rolls.” It was just a perfect song with perfect timing. Every once in a while if I’m feeling especially sappy, I can listen to that song and get choked up.

I don’t remember where I got it, but I have a cassette of some Jane’s demos that included a spoken word track by Perry called “Letters To Xiola,” that just kills me every time I listen to it. I’m sure every Jane’s fan has heard it, but at the time it felt like I was one of the lucky few that had it. And it wasn’t until a few moments ago, while reading the Jane’s Addiction & Porno For Pyros FAQ, that I realized it was/is available. I’m too lazy to start looking for it, but it’s cool to know that it’s out there. I remember being stoned out of my mind listening to that. All I could think was, “WOW!” Perry just sounded so profound and intelligent and…wasted. At the time I had no idea who Xiola was, and now that I do, it just makes me kinda sad. I still have that cassette tape.

8 thoughts on “Mas Influencia”

  1. in this recent move I uncovered my old Nothing’s Shocking shirt that I wore to the absolute death when I was younger. it’s one of my band shirts that I don’t think I could ever get rid of (it stays with my old Nirvana, PJ, Mother Love Bone and Meat Puppets shirts). it always brings back tons of memories finding those shirts. different memories than the music itself for some reason. some of those shirts were thrift store finds, and I remember feeling like I had come across some sort of gold on those t-shirt racks.

    uh-oh, I’m talking about t-shirts

    I wasn’t/am not nearly as big a Jane’s fan, but I love your story…

  2. I went to the 1991 Lollapalooza in San Diego. Janes Addiction’s performance was one of the most amazing live shows I’ve ever seen. I was amazed by the power of their performance. Every element (bass, drums, vocals, guitar) was so unique, different, creative, fresh and powerful — they could have each almost stood on their own and been great. But each element combined seamlessly into an even more powerful, coherent and complete whole. It seemed historic to me. The word “historic” kept coming to mind as I was watching that show.

    No one plays drums like Stephen Perkins. No one sings like Perry Ferrell. No one plays guitar like Dave Navarro, no one plays bass like Eric Avery. Together they are just the perfect pieces that fit together into an amazing puzzle.

    Some bands speak to me on deeper levels than Janes Addiction, but that show in 1991 is still the best live performance I have ever seen.

  3. The Hulk, huh? That must’ve been the KC Lollapalooza. Trent was really angry that night. I’ll bet the sound crew still has nightmares about his stage demolition. I do.

    That really happened, right?

  4. Travis – I think you are the only other person who would know, considering you were right next to me. Wow. I haven’t heard from you or spoken to you since I was driving to LA and stopped in Tucson. Send me an email or something.

  5. talking about miss xiola bleu…sometimes i am amazed that anyone else knows that name, even though i know there are thousands of fans. she is a legend that i think about even know, rifling through the pages of ben is dead, playing three days and then she did….

  6. It’s so bizarre to read another JA fan’s perspective. I couldn’t even begin to comment on how much that group mean to me and how much they literally changed my life.

    I got into them in 1989, when I was maybe about 15 or 16, and the first time I heard them they just blew me away. That phrase doesn’t actually do justice to how I feel about their music.

    I saw them live in Glasgow, Scotland on 8th March 1991, and when I got home that night, I wrote down everything about the gig in my diary. When I read it nowadays I can still remember every little detail about it. When I went to that gig, I was so ecstatic about actually seeing Jane’s Addiction live in the flesh that I made my sister and friends wait outside the place for 10 hours before it started!! And I was rewarded with the best gift i’ve ever been given – Perry & Casey both said hello & shook my hand.

    Then, it was another 11 years before I got to see them again. Last year they played in Glasgow again and I was so happy to be there I cried all the way thru their set. My friend will tell you, I was in tears when i knew they were about to come onstage, and in tears all the way thru the set. I couldn’t help myself!! And i’m so glad that they were just as good last year as they were in 1991.

    And just to comment on the xiola part of the twin daughters are called Xiola & Casey-Jane, my son is called Perry, and I have a god daughter who is also called Xiola Jane.

  7. Janes had a huge impact on me as well. The first time I heard ‘Nothings Shocking’ blew me away. I agree with you that it has to be one the best albums ever. the only time I was fortunate to see Janes was at that first Lollapolloza tour in chicago. When Janes came on the whole place just erupted. The whole lawn became pits, with people going round and round around fires made up of toilet paper stolen from the portapotties. It was so Dionysian with Perry being the ring master of this amazing circus.

  8. Hi, I am seeking anyone who knows how I can get in touch with someone that might have known Xiola Bleu. Or someone that may have info on her (more than what Ben is Dead had). Actually, if anyone knows how i can get my hands on the celebrity issue that would be great. I am trying to do a story on who Xiola really was, but surprise, I keep running up against walls…

    Thanks a mil,


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