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L.A. BEAT

Big Battle For Jane's Addiction?

March 08, 1987|STEVE HOCHMAN and JEFF SPURRIER

Jane's Addiction, the young psycho-metal band that has caused Los Angeles' most heated bidding war among record companies since the Unforgiven two years ago, is set to sign on the dotted line any day now.

According to Charley Brown of the band's Triple X management company, all that is left is to decide which of the several major labels that have tendered offers will get the nod.

"It's not between right and wrong. It's between the best and the best," he said, comparing the situation to that of a pretty girl having her choice of handsome suitors.

A survey of A&R representatives at a handful of labels confirmed this high interest, but is Jane's Addiction really deserving of all the attention or is it just a case of industry competition inflating its value?

"The danger is if your interest is in the competition vying for the band rather than the band itself," said Elektra's Peter Philbin, who signed the Unforgiven (as well as the Bangles while he was at Columbia) and acknowledges interest in Jane's Addiction.

In the case of the Unforgiven, all the pre-signing hype did nothing to prevent the spaghetti Western-theme band's debut album from being a critical and commercial flop.

Said Geffen Records' Teresa Ensenat of the war for the Unforgiven, "I know for a fact that a lot of people committed hara-kiri when they didn't get that band, but now they're going, 'Yeah, we were right not to sign them.' "

So what makes anyone believe that it will be different with Jane's Addiction? "The problem the Unforgiven have is it was always a one-dimensional approach," Ensenat said. "Jane has a wider range than that. They really have a vision and something to say."

No matter who it actually signs with, Jane's Addiction is going ahead with its own release of a live album recorded Jan. 26 at the Roxy. The half-acoustic/half-electric set is due out at the end of this month.

LOOKIN' GOOD: Heavy-metal concerts these days look like a repository for out-of-date fashions, ranging from the post-Madonna look of a black microminiskirt over fishnets and garter belts to leopard-skin Spandex to punkish skinhead and leather. But the overwhelming clothing choice has returned to exactly what it was a decade ago: shoulder-length hair and rock-band T-shirts.

That observation was confirmed by Ami Nejad, manager of British Imports, a Hollywood store that specializes in outfitting all those heavy-metal kids.

"The only thing we sell a lot right now is T-shirts," he said, identifying Bon Jovi and Metallica shirts as the most popular.

Of course, he adds that these trends can change by the month and are precipitated by what bands are observed wearing on stage. "I think Motley Crue is going to go back to leather and studs, the same as before," he said. "We have to wait and see."

WHO'S HOT: Wednesday Week is turning into one of the hottest tickets in town thanks in part to the band's impressive new album on Enigma Records, "What We Had" (produced by Don Dixon of R.E.M. fame).

The band--guitarist and vocalist Kristi Callan, drummer (and Kristi's sister) Kelly Callan, bassist Heidi Rodewald and guitarist David Nolte (formerly of the Last)--is delighted with the new popularity, but Kristi Callan admits there are still people who just don't get it.

"The worst thing is when we're at a show setting up and you hear people say 'Oh isn't that cute? They have girl roadies.' Or 'Are you carrying your boyfriend's guitar?' They just don't know."

Unfortunately, it's not just members of the audience that can't see past the gender blend of the 4-year-old band. "The comparison (with the Bangles) gets made all the time," adds Kristi. "At interviews it's 'Where are you girls from?' It's like they don't see there's a guy in the band at all. We've always wanted to be known as a band that makes good music, not as a girl band. I'm sure the Bangles and the Go-Go's had the same problem."

Although Callan says she considers Wednesday Week to be substantially different from both the Bangles and the Go-Go's ("I don't mean to be rude, but I feel (our music) is deeper and has more substance"), the band's influences clearly come from similar sources: Beatles, '60s pop and the late '70s L.A. scene of the Gun Club, Plugz, Last, and X.

The band leaves on a four-month cross-country tour in April.

DATE TO CIRCLE: With a joint album titled "So Rebellious a Lover" coming out in April on Rhino Records, Carla Olson of the Textones and former Byrd Gene Clark will team up at At My Place on March 16. Expect a warm, casual mix of old favorites and new material. Joining them on the bill is the country rocking Tin Star and Aidee Gray.

NEWS 'N' NOTES: Al's Bar is open for business despite its Feb. 14 run-in with city fire marshals, who shut the club down when it exceeded the 100-capacity limit that had been granted on a temporary basis only a week before.

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