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.