The Great Escape Artist

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The Great Escape Artist
Studio album by Jane's Addiction
Released October 18, 2011[1]
Recorded 2010–2011
Genre Alternative rock, art rock,[2] hard rock[3]
Length 39:54
Label Capitol
Producer Rich Costey
Jane's Addiction chronology
Strays
(2003)
The Great Escape Artist
(2011)
Singles from The Great Escape Artist
  1. "End to the Lies"
    Released: March 30, 2011
  2. "Irresistible Force"
    Released: August 3, 2011
  3. "Underground"
    Released: 2011

The Great Escape Artist is the fifth album and fourth full studio album (much of the material on their 1987 debut record was recorded in a live setting) by American alternative rock band Jane's Addiction, released October 18, 2011 on Capitol Records.[4] The album is their first since their 2003 effort, Strays, and features multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek contributing bass guitar[5] alongside Chris Chaney.[6] The album's release was preceded by the singles "End to the Lies" which was released as a free download on April 7, 2011, and "Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object)" which was released on August 3, 2011.[7] Regarding the album's title, vocalist Perry Farrell states: "I love being able to escape my past, even though my past was great. I just love the future even more."[8]

Describing the album's overall aestheic, Farrell has noted: "it's a strange mixture of that post-punk goth darkness that Jane's had, with what's going on today with groups like Muse and Radiohead. As much as I want to appease fans and make old Jane's fans love me, I just can't help myself from moving forward."[8] Following the album's completion, producer Rich Costey stated, "This was a real Jane's Addiction record."[9]

Background and recording[edit]

Jane's Addiction began writing The Great Escape Artist, shortly after founding bassist Eric Avery's departure in 2010, with vocalist Perry Farrell stating, "Eric did not want to record. So we took him out of the equation. We couldn't live with not recording."[8] Commenting on the relationship between the remaining three members of the band, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and himself, Farrell stated: "Dave and Steve and I are like brothers. I've got children, and my kid smacked my other kid in the head this morning, but at the same time they hate being separated. On a plane one will say, 'I wanna' sit with my brother.' That's how I feel about Dave and Steve. I hope they'd tell you the same thing."[8]

In January 2010,[10] Velvet Revolver and former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan joined the band for nine months, assisting in the writing process, and performing live with the band. Describing his arrival, McKagan stated: "I went to dinner with Perry. He talked about how he was kinda bummed out. I guess, because Jane's had started the writing process for the record, and then they went through whatever they went through with Eric. He kinda lamented that, and at the end of dinner, he asked if I had any songs or anything like that. Basically, he was asking me for my help. [...] I started coming to Perry's garage with the rest of those guys, where they have a ProTools set up and so on. We just started jamming a few songs, and then went into a bigger room."[10] Navarro noted: "We've been longtime friends, we've played together in a lot of the same scenarios, we're from the same time, the same city, the same scene to a degree. Those elements were in alignment."[11] Upon joining, McKagan phoned former bassist Eric Avery: "I just wanted to let him know that I really respected everything he had done, and that I wasn't in there trying to take his place. We had a really great talk."[10]

Despite describing the songs as "really cool," "really heavy," and "Pink Floydish."[10] McKagan departed from Jane's Addiction in September 2010, with Farrell noting, "he didn't like the idea of electronics at all. That was his complaint."[8] Following McKagan's departure, Farrell commented on the band's morale, stating "there was a moment of silence. Everyone had gripes, but at the same time, it was a sad time because we were building something together. It's like a sports team, then one guy gets traded, or retires, or gets injured. But your team has to go on. That's the state we were in."[12] Navarro remarked, "whether he stayed in the band for ten years or five minutes, he kept us in the direction of being productive. At the end of the day, that's really all I can ask for."[11]

Dave Sitek co-wrote and performed bass during the recording The Great Escape Artist.

After considering a number of producers, including Flood,[10] the band subsequently enlisted Rich Costey to produce the new material. Regarding the decision, guitarist Dave Navarro stated: "Rich is great. I worked with him on my solo album, and we have a long-standing, close relationship. I really trust his instincts and his ears. [...] As it turned out, we all really gelled with Rich. The communication between all of us was there immediately."[11] At the suggestion of Costey, the band continued writing and recording, with TV on the Radio multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek joining the band on bass guitar.[12] Sitek, however, has not joined the band on a permanent basis, with Farrell noting: "He's like a pretty girl that I'm sleeping with but don't have to marry."[12] Initially, both Navarro and Sitek split bass guitar duties during the writing and recording process.[11] Described as "a solidifying element to the line-up,"[13] drummer Stephen Perkins remarked that Sitek's involvement "opened up my eyes to a lot of new ideas as a drummer,"[13] and noted that "There is this feeling we can make something ambitious. There is this ambition we have in us to break ground again. We really want to, as artists, move forward. That's an exciting thing, just like in the old days. We want to capture that danger and excitement again, and it's worth taking our time to do that."[13] Navarro later stated, "it's strange to write with a guy who, by all accounts, is a member of the team, yet has very little investment in the project following the release. He worries only about what we are making; he doesn’t have to tour, answer questions in the press and make this his life for a while. That kind of perspective is both unique, invaluable and hard to come by. He only cares about the music and nothing more, he goes back to TV on the Radio when he finishes working with us."[14]

Perry Farrell recorded his vocal parts at his home studio, sending audio files, by email, to Navarro, Perkins and Sitek. Regarding this method, Farrell stated: "I am enjoying it. I'm not sure if it's because I've finally gotten old enough to calm down, and just let things kind of unfold or what. In the past, there was a lot more friction."[12]

During recording, former bassist Chris Chaney re-joined the band for its live performances, and subsequently began recording bass guitar parts, alongside Sitek, for the forthcoming album. In May 2011, Farrell commented on Chaney's involvement stating: "I have to keep [Chris] away from Queen, who want him and they're not gonna' get him unless we're not doing anything. Then they can have him. I'm getting him on the record and then he's gonna' come out with us for eight months."[6] According to Navarro, "There are a few moments on songs that I am playing bass parts, but overall the bass duties are split between Dave Sitek and Chris Chaney, both creative and talented players. Chaney will be touring with us when the tour to support the album begins. He is the only bassist that has recorded a full length album with us, and is truly a member of the Jane's Addiction family, besides Avery, especially on the road. We are certainly lucky to have him."[14]

Writing and composition[edit]

Duff McKagan joined the band for nine months during the album's initial writing sessions.

Regarding the various line-up changes which preceded the album's recording and eventual release, guitarist Dave Navarro stated that: "All the changes we've gone through are a necessary part of the process this time. This is one of the most enjoyable journeys that I've been on in many, many, many years. [...] It's a completely different direction for Jane's Addiction, however, it still sounds very much like Jane's Addiction,"[13] with drummer Stephen Perkins noting that "it's important to not repeat what we did. We know we can make a rock record with rock riffs and a big drum beat. I don't want to do that. I want to go in and make a listenable onion with layers and layers and layers so you can actually digest it. It's definitely been a good writing experience and a good changing experience. [...] There are songs that take you on a journey, songs that grow from soft to hard to tribal to psychedelic to metal in one song. We're trying to explore that hybrid again."[13]

Vocalist Perry Farrell commented on the writing process, stating that it was "very different" to how the material on their previous albums had been conceived: "We have options now to make music through technology and we're taking advantage of it; we're not afraid of it. [...] We'll write some tracks and send them back and forth, and we'll deconstruct a demo. Everybody's ears need to be excited with fresh sounds, interesting chord structures, arrangements, and compositions. And it's not easy to come up with something original and fresh. What can help you are electronics."[12] During recording, Farrell elaborated further, noting that "Now that we're working with these modern things, our attitude has had to change. Where you're not playing on this part, and that's OK; it's for the greater good of the song. This is what we're doing today. That's what I look forward to, and what I like about writing this record."[15] Drummer Stephen Perkins stated, "When it's the first record that we've made in ten years, it’s got to be perfect, but then again perfect means also having some rough edges. You got to be dangerous with the sound. Me and Dave Navarro played without Perry for two or three months and just blew-up and found a new sound and then to innovate the record we just recorded demos and sent everything to Perry."[16]

Guitarist Dave Navarro stated: "We are utilizing other instrumentation and new technologies, but our mental approach has remained wide open."[11]

Describing his guitar contributions to The Great Escape Artist, Navarro noted that his "approach has become more melodic and simplistic. I'm not doing tons and tons of overdriven rhythm guitar tracks, and not a whole hell of lot of soloing that doesn't add to the melodic nature of a track. I've really been enjoying exploring different guitar textures in the studio."[11] During recording, Navarro also stated: "My favorite guitar players from the '80s are probably the simplest players around, and I’m pretty inspired by them right now."[17]

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Farrell noted that the band has "enough material for three albums," and that he wants the tracks to "have a groove impact and hit you like an atom bomb. We've been doing that, so I feel like I'll die happy after this record."[8]

Three of Duff McKagan's collaborations with the band will appear on the album ("Broken People", "Words Right Out of My Mouth," and "Ultimate Reason").[18] McKagan commented on his writing contributions stating: "My biggest concern was that if I was gonna' be involved, it had be darker, and heavier, and more vicious than they've ever been before. I can't be seen as the bass player who came in and made them light, or made these really crappy songs. [...] We've got some really, really cool songs, some really heavy stuff. Really Pink Floyd'ish type stuff that meanders and goes out. I think with the right producer, these songs could be really, really special."[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (55/100)[19]
Review scores
Source Rating
The A.V. Club F[20]
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[21]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[2]
Los Angeles Times 2.5/4 stars[22]
NME (8/10)[23]
Pitchfork Media (5.0/10)[3]
PopMatters 3/10 stars[24]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars[25]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[26]
Spin (6/10)[27]

The Great Escape Artist received "mixed or average" reviews based on 26 critics, according to Metacritic. Jason Heller of The A.V. Club was among the most critical, lambasting the album as "a bold, erratic, pathetic attempt to recontextualize Jane’s for the 21st century".[20] Stuart Berman of Pitchfork Media described the album as "mired in the not-quite-rock/not-quite-ballad purgatory that defines so much post-grunge alt-radio" and lacking "Jane's Addiction's sense of playfulness, absurdity, and rhythmic verve."[3] However, the album did obtain praise from some corners, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic describing The Great Escape Artist as "often touching upon the dark, boundless exotica of Nothing's Shocking yet managing to avoid desperation; instead of re-creating sounds, they've recaptured the vibe".[21]

The album debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart. It dropped to number 67 during the second week.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins, and David Sitek, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Underground"     3:07
2. "End to the Lies"     3:31
3. "Curiosity Kills"     4:29
4. "Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object)"     4:00
5. "I'll Hit You Back"     3:48
6. "Twisted Tales"     4:29
7. "Ultimate Reason"   Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins, Duff McKagan 3:49
8. "Splash a Little Water on It"     5:13
9. "Broken People"   Farrell, Navarro, Perkins, McKagan 3:39
10. "Words Right Out of My Mouth"   Farrell, Navarro, Perkins, McKagan 3:49
Total length:
39:54


Personnel[edit]

Jane's Addiction
Additional musicians
Recording personnel
  • Rich Costey – producer, recording, mixing
  • Perry Farrell - co-producer
  • David Andrew Sitek - additional production
  • Chris Kascyh - recording
  • Charlie Stavish - recording
  • Dustin Mosley - recording
  • Chris Steffen - recording assistant
  • Vlado Meller - mastering
  • Mark Santangelo - mastering assistant
Artwork
  • Matthew Goldman - album art direction
  • Perry Farrell - cover art, character design, fabrication
  • Adam Lawrence - miniature set design, fabrication
  • Jedediah Cowyn Voltz - miniature props, art
  • Jed Hathaway - on-set artist
  • Tom Hester - additional character fabrication
  • Brian Capati - additional character fabrication
  • Bela Temesvary - cover photography
  • Eliot Lee Hazel - band photography


Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
Position
Polish Albums Chart 22[28]
U.S. Billboard 200 12[29]
U.S. Top Alternative Albums 2[29]
U.S. Top Digital Albums 3[29]
U.S. Top Rock Albums 3[29]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Timeline". Jane's Addiction (official website). Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Mongredien, Phil (October 16, 2011). "Jane's Addiction: The Great Escape Artist – review". The Observer. 
  3. ^ a b c Berman, Stuart (October 17, 2011). "Jane's Addiction: The Great Escape Artist". Pitchfork Media. 
  4. ^ "Jane's Addiction Eyes Summer Comeback". FMQB. March 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Jane's Addiction Singer Admits They 'Annoyed' Duff McKagan". Blabbermouth.net. March 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Baltin, Steve (May 20, 2011). "Perry Farrell Battles Queen for a Bassist, Plots Dream Lineup for Lollapalooza 2012". Spinner. 
  7. ^ "Jane's Addiction: New Song Available For Free Download". Blabbermouth.net. April 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Greene, Andy (January 12, 2011). "Exclusive: Perry Farrell Opens Up About Dave Sitek Joining Jane's Addiction In The Studio". Rolling Stone. 
  9. ^ Florino, Rick (September 9, 2011). "Jane's Addiction 'The Great Escape Artist' — A Preview Peek Behind the Curtain". Artist Direct. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Velvet Revolver: Jane's Addiction 'Songs Could Be Really Special'". Ultimate Guitar. July 21, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Bosso, Joe (January 21, 2011). "Interview: Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro on new album, Duff, Dave Sitek". MusicRadar. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Goodman, William (February 4, 2011). "Perry Farrell Talks New Jane's Addiction LP". Spin. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Graff, Gary (January 13, 2011). "Jane's Addiction Headed in 'Completely Different Direction,' Says Dave Navarro". Billboard. 
  14. ^ a b "Hi Dave, who will be credited on Bass for the new record?". Random Stuff From My iPhone. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  15. ^ Hill, Cole Garner (April 27, 2011). "Farrell gets set for Edgefest action". QuickDFW.com. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ Rachel, T. Cole (September 15, 2011). "Progress Report: Jane’s Addiction". Stereogum. 
  17. ^ "Dave Navarro: 'The Acoustic Guitar To Me Is An Entire Band Within Itself'". Ultimate Guitar. December 3, 2010. 
  18. ^ Gallo, Phil (September 9, 2011). "Inside the Listening Party: Jane's Addiction's 'The Great Escape Artist'". Billboard. 
  19. ^ "The Great Escape Artist - Jane's Addiction". Metacritic. Retrieved October 8, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Heller, Jason (October 18, 2011). "Jane’s Addiction - The Great Escape Artist". The A.V. Club. 
  21. ^ a b Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "The Great Escape Artist". Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  22. ^ Diehl, Matt (October 18, 2011). "Album review: Jane’s Addiction's 'The Great Escape Artist'". Los Angeles Times. 
  23. ^ Allen, Jeremy (October 21, 2011). "Album Review: Jane's Addiction - 'The Great Escape Artist'". NME. 
  24. ^ Ramirez, AJ (October 28, 2011). "Jane's Addiction: The Great Escape Artist". PopMatters. 
  25. ^ Dolan, Jon (October 18, 2011). "Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist". Rolling Stone. 
  26. ^ Cole, Matthew (October 16, 2011). "Jane's Addiction: The Great Escape Artist". Slant Magazine. 
  27. ^ Walters, Barry (October 18, 2011). "Jane's Addiction 'The Great Escape Artist'". Spin. 
  28. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży" (in Polish). OLiS. October 31, 2011. 
  29. ^ a b c d "The Great Escape Artist: Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved February 4, 2012.