Assembling a promotional campaign for a veteran band that has been out of the spotlight is a tough enough feat. But Capitol Records is facing the daunting task of reintroducing a group that hasn’t released a new album in 13 years.
Luckily, the campaign behind pioneering alternative rock outfit Jane’s Addiction’s “Strays,” due July 22, has had a huge prerelease boost from first single “Just Because.”
The song is No. 4 on Modern Rock Tracks after four weeks, returning Jane’s Addiction to the top of the format at which it scored five top 15 hits between 1988 and 1991.
The tremendous response bodes well for the fortunes of “Strays,” as well as the revived Lollapalooza tour, which the band will headline for the first time since the event’s inaugural 1991 run.
“We had to make sure we brought Jane’s back to its core base,” Capitol senior director of marketing Ricky Riker says. “We distributed several hundred thousand stickers in rock clubs and tattoo parlors to remind kids that Jane’s is back together.”
Once “Just Because” went to radio in early June, Capitol “moved into making the band accessible,” according to Riker. Jane’s made surprise appearances at festivals sponsored by WBCN Boston, KROQ Los Angeles and WHFS Baltimore, ensuring that fans were aware that “Jane’s is headlining Lollapalooza, they’ll have a new record out soon and they already have a huge song on the radio,” Riker says.
As an added incentive for buyers, a limited-edition pressing of “Strays” will include a bonus 30-minute DVD, featuring live versions of three new tracks, interviews and studio footage. “We wanted this to be something the fan of Jane’s Addiction would look at as a prime piece to add to their collection,” Riker says.
And although Lollapalooza’s July 5 launch in Indianapolis comes more than two weeks before “Strays” hits retail, Capitol hopes to have in place a promotion wherein fans who preorder the album will receive a download of the full album that times out at street date.
“The band is on the road, and we want people to know the new music,” Capitol VP of new media Ted Mico says. “But we want to do it in a fashion that still allows us to sell records.”
BACK IN THE GROOVE
The first incarnation of Jane’s Addiction – frontman Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Eric Avery and drummer Stephen Perkinssplintered in 1991, just as alternative rock was exploding into the mainstream.
Its members pursued various side projects before reuniting for a 1997 tour minus Avery, who was replaced first by Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and then by Porno for Pyros’ Martyn LeNoble.
According to Navarro, the band did not get serious about returning to the studio until its 2001 Jubilee tour.
“We saw how it was going, and we were really digging it,” he says. “It was then that Perry said, ‘What do you think about making another record, because we can’t continue touring without new songs. We’re going to go crazy.’ I said, ‘I agree.’ I mean, I love our catalog, but come on. Let’s play something else.”
Remarkably, the music on “Strays” in no way betrays the decade-plus layoff since Jane’s Addiction’s 1990 swan song, “Ritual de lo Habitual,” which has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Kiss, Lou Reed), the new set is awash with the group’s signature heavy, psychedelic sound.
Highlights include the groove-rooted “Wrong Girl” and “The Riches” and the intense rock of “Price I Pay,” “Just Because” and “To Match the Sun,” which Farrell describes as “a deep love song about a fellow who has to travel an awful lot and leave his loved ones behind.”
Aside from “Suffer Some” and the acoustic-tinged “Everybody’s Friend,” all songs were written in the studio. Navarro says sessions “kicked up to another hyperspeed notch” once bassist Chris Chaney joined the band (tracks recorded with LeNoble were scrapped). The guitarist also credits Ezrin with helping the band “turn songs around that we didn’t really believe in.
“I think it is possible that 13 years ago, we wouldn’t have approached the level of musicianship that we did here,” Navarro admits. “Something comes from just playing our instruments for this long. We have limitations on what we want to present, but when it comes to trying stuff, we’re completely open guys.”
ON THE ROAD
Farrell says that the new material will have a major presence on the band’s Lollapalooza setlist. “We want to give the people who have never seen Jane’s some old songs,” he says, “but at the same time, we’re extremely excited to play them new material 13 years in the making.”
At each Lollapalooza show, audience members will have the chance to meet the band or have their tickets upgraded by participating in the interactive “Mindfield” game.
In a further element of interactivity, Mico says fans will be able to remix tracks from Jane’s and other Lollapalooza bands using raw materials found on the soon-to-relaunch janesaddiction.com.
Riker says Capitol has four different street teams mobilized to spread the word about the album and tour, including one that will visit other major summer package treks. On street date, Jane’s will make its first-ever in-store appearance at a location to be determined in New York, and it will also perform on CBS’ “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
Capitol expects the “Strays” campaign to last well into the fall, when the band will tour Europe and then return for a North American headlining jaunt.
“We have gotten unbelievable feedback,” Riker says. “No one was really aware of how many big hardcore Jane’s fans were still out there.”
Indeed, both Farrell and Navarro insist “Strays” is not a one-off venture and say they are reveling in the fact that Jane’s is once again a full-time, functioning band.
“I went and I thought I made some good records, but I came to find after that journey that there’s no place like home,” Farrell says. “It has just been a matter of time for us to get to this point. By all means, this is not another reunion. This is where the band is right now.”