Dave Navarro Interview - Struggling with Addiction
Dave Navarro is currently on rock 'n' roll's MIA list, but even if we never hear from him again -- which is highly unlikely -- he's already logged a career of infamy and inspiration that will live on well into the next Millennium. He first gained recognition at age 19 as the guitarist for Jane's Addiction. His playing helped spark the band's avant-metal mix with his unformed creative naivete, which grew into a distinctive style by the time the group broke up after 1991's Ritual De Lo Habitual album and the first Lollapalooza tour. Navarro then moved on to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for one album, One Hot Minute, before returning to Jane's for the band's 1997 reunion. Since then, however, Navarro has fallen off the radar and rumors have circulated about promised solo projects and continued substance abuse (which has plagued him in the past).
Guitar.com: You kind of entered Jane's Addiction with an artistic blank slate, didn't you?
Navarro: Yeah, for sure. When I first hooked up with those guys, I was very young. I'd been in other bands before, but none that made records. I think I was more of a one-dimensional player in terms of, when I would listen to music or play music, all I would listen to was the guitar parts; I'd listen to Hendrix or Zeppelin, and I'd basically listen to the guitar. So when [Jane's] first started playing, I was really only thinking about guitar parts as opposed to the songs. I guess that maturity came about through years of doing it and trial and error, and certainly Perry [Farrell] had a lot to do with that. He was very good with direction and helped me come to realizations about just approaching songwriting.
Guitar.com: Were there particular albums that strongly influenced you either as a player or songwriter?
Navarro: The Lou Reed Berlin album has always been one of my all-time favorites. Musically speaking, I just find it incredibly interesting; I think it conveys emotional depth better than a lot of records that I've ever heard. I think he really gives us a lot of secrets on that album. That, to me, is always what's nice about music -- being able to not share but learn about someone else's emotional place. I feel like he really gives it up on that one in particular. On the other side of the coin, the Who's Live at Leeds is another one of my favorite albums, just from a pure rock standpoint. I think that's one of the better live albums I've ever heard.
Guitar.com:So what kind of growth did you achieve during the first run-through with Jane's Addiction?
Navarro: Basically, I learned how to play guitar to serve the song rather than to serve myself. I think on some things on [Nothing's Shocking], I was still a little bit too showy as a guitar player. I think from Nothing's Shocking to Ritual, just from a guitar standpoint, I'd become a little more aware of taste and the necessity of the instrument in terms of solos and parts. I had become a bit more aware of the concept of letting the music breathe as opposed to cramming it up with notes.
Guitar.com: Why did Jane's break up when it did?
Navarro: (laughs) That's really a multi-dimensional question. There's a lot of different answers I could give you, and I think everybody might have their own separate answer. The only thing I could really tell you and be diplomatic about it is to say that at the time, all four of us weren't looking in the same direction. Far be it for me to tell you what the specifics were; I don't want to disclose anybody's personal life situation. I can safely say there were personality conflicts; a lot of that was probably due to the fact that we were pretty young and green in this business, period, and in life.
Guitar.com: What kind of effect did that have on you?
Navarro: Well, a lot of it was just really overwhelming, for all of us. I know Stephen [Perkins] and I, we were kids when we started doing this. I think, in retrospect, that it kind of got away from us. That, combined with the things that I said before, made for a very uneasy and unsure time, at least for me.
Guitar.com: Did you have a sense that the Ritual album would be the group's last?
Navarro: Not necessarily. But then again, I didn't have much sense of anything. We were just doing what we were doing; I didn't get the sense that was it for Jane's until we were on what ended up being our last tour. It was at that time I got the sense that it might very well come to a close very soon, which it did. Although I must say that, purely speaking for myself, there was never a time when I didn't want to do it. I definitely need a break from it when we stopped, but I don't know if I needed the band to be over. At the time that felt like the right thing, but I've always felt that Jane's Addiction was my home, was where I belonged. I never really felt as comfortable in any other musical project as I did in that.
Guitar.com: What was so surprising about the break up, of course, was that Jane's seemed to be at the top of its game, creatively. What do you remember about that period and about what the band wanted to do with Ritual?
Navarro: I think we wanted to show the progression of the band from the last album. I think that's probably the intention of any follow-up album, really. But I think we, as a foursome, had just become a little bit more cohesive in terms of playing together. We had certainly expanded some of our parameters and I think that we just tried to capture that but still manage our raw, live feel.
Guitar.com: A number of the songs from Ritual were actually written when you recorded Nothing's Shocking, right?
Navarro: Yeah, that's right. When it would come time to making one of those two records, we would go through the songs we had. I remember during the recording of Nothing's Shocking, "Three Days" had already been written, as had "Ain't No Right" and "Nobody's Leaving" and some of the other songs from Ritual. I guess we had to systematically go through them and figure out which song felt better on a [national] debut release and which songs felt better on what I guess at that time was the hypothetical follow-up.
Guitar.com: What's your own creative orientation these days?
Navarro: I think I'm just trying to stay excited about the creative process and trying to get through frustrating moments. That to me is what it's all about.
For more information on Dave - check his site at: http://6767.com/