Jane’s Addiction’s Stephen Perkins on Writing With Duff McKagan
This week Jane’s Addiction will release ‘The Great Escape Artist,’ their fourth studio album since they formed in the late ’80s. Produced by Rich Costey (Atreyu, Muse), the 10-song collection finds the legendary Los Angeles band collaborating with bassists Duff McKagan and Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) and the result is their best work since the ’90s.
Since the veteran rockers’ last studio album was 2003’s ‘Strays.’ Noisecreep asked Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins why there was such a long gap in between that release and ‘The Great Escape Artist.’
“The truth is that the friendships within the band have to be really solid for us to be able to get into a studio and concentrate to make a great record. This new album took a year and a half to finish. We don’t work that fast [laughs]. So yeah, it’s really about where we are as friends. We would never do anything with this band just for the money. “Here’s a million dollars, go out and tour.” No, I don’t think so.
“That’s why we keep breaking up. We think life is too short for us to go on a tour hating each other. There are so many other great musicians to play with and be around, than just do something to make money. I love these guys. I met them when I was 13. It’s just not always the right time for us to do a Jane’s album,” admits Perkins.
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Noisecreep then asked Perkins to explain the contrasts between the material they wrote with McKagan and the later songs they collaborated with Sitek on. “The Duff stuff we wrote in someone’s house on acoustics, so there’s what I call, a tamed-down drum thing, since I wasn’t playing on an actual drum set. With Dave Sitek, there was more of a journey to find a new sound. We would jam for months, trying out different effect pedals, keyboards, turntables… all of that kind of experimentation.”
McKagan was actually a full-time member of Jane’s Addiction for the first nine months of 2010, but he and the band amicably went their separate ways. “When we worked with Duff, we didn’t have that kind of time. So Duff’s stuff on the album is the more straight-ahead rock style you would come to expect from that kind of collaboration. I’ve played with Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE) a lot through the years. With him, whenever you lock into a groove together, he’ll change it up on you to try and come up with something cooler.
“Sitek has that kind of attitude too. “Cool, you’re digging that groove? OK that’s good, now f— it up!” That’s really fun for me as a drummer. I wish we had more time to work the material up with Duff, but I think there’s an urgency in the songs we did with him that really gives the album an edge.”
Jane’s Addiction’s ‘The Great Escape Artist’ is out this week via Capitol Records.