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"As a musician, he knows where to put the microphones and what gear to push. He did some great things for us," Perkins adds. "They were fun sessions -- more fun than any of the other records, except for [Jane's Addiction], but that was just a live show."
It's always fun, too, when everyone is on speaking terms. At the time of Ritual de lo Habitual, the band members were barely communicating. According to recently published reports, part of the tension stemmed from Farrell's anger at Avery for hitting on his then-girlfriend.
Things felt different for Strays, Perkins says. Without a record deal or a sniff of major-label interest in place, the members of the band paid for the recording on their own. That kept the project "pure," with nobody from a record label butting in, asking Jane's Addiction to change notes, lyrics, chords, etc., on the album, the drummer says.
"Nothing's Shocking was fun, but it was our first big money record," Perkins says. "We had different things on our mind." Sessions, he says, were frequently interrupted by representatives from Warner Bros., the band's former label. "It was a different kind of vibe."
The band didn't have to wait long after their sessions with Ezrin were completed to reenter the corporate fray, inking a deal with Capitol Records. Perkins says the band found that it had lost none of its chemistry on its extended hiatus and that teamwork remained king.
"As a drummer, my job is to make the pulse and the bounce, but also to be musical and dynamic. Jane's Addiction is the type of music that isn't dated," he says. "The lyrics hold up because Perry cares about what he's singing."
Whether they analyze whores, pigs in Zen, money, sex or love, Perkins says, Farrell's lyrics are "honest." "That's why the album came out so good," he says. "The trick is capturing that energy when the red light is going. It's hard to catch that every one on CD. That's the trick of making a great record."
With an album in the can, the time eventually came to reapproach touring. The Jane's Addiction name, evidently, still carries mass weight, as the handful of bands it approached about hitting the road together all said yes. So, what the heck, why not resurrect Lollapalooza, which lost its alt-nation steam in the mid-'90s after booking Metallica and Snoop Dogg as headliners in successive years?
"It is a huge undertaking, but I think the time was right," says Perkins. "The music right now on the tour is this great West Coast movement of really intense musicians writing good songs. Queens [of the Stone Age] has the fuckin' coolest record. They really care about their instruments.
"People can get your music a month early on the Internet, so what are you going to do?" he ponders further. "Do live shows. They can't take that from you." (Coincidentally, A Perfect Circle will be performing in place of Queens of the Stone Age here in Phoenix.)
Nor can they cripple the right for these folks to be conscientious artists, another long-standing part of Lollapalooza, of course. In addition to the information booths from various advocacy organizations, Perkins says the fest has put a new emphasis on "alternative energy," which comes in handy when Mother Nature is ripping through your venue.
"The whole show [in Noblesville] was run on soy," he says. "We had the whole thing running on biodiesel. Information about that is there for people. That to me is exciting. There is information for you to take home if you want it. If you don't, you don't have to.
"It's always great to have good conversation, though."