It's hard being Dave Navarro. He ascended to metal-delic guitar-god status at age 18 as a member of Jane's Addiction, one of America's most influential alt-rock bands. He spent some time playing, recording (1995's One Hot Minute) and touring as a Red Hot Chili Pepper. His savage wit has appeared in the pages of Us as part of magazine's Fashion Police section. Girls--and a fair number of boys--all over the world love him. However, to paraphrase Marilyn Manson, the drugs love him, too, which made all of his creative potential seem as meaningful as a spit in the ocean. Fortunately, these are different times: The cleaned-up Navarro has completed his first solo album, Trust No One, for Capitol; a biography, Don't Try This At Home, peppered with photo-booth images of famous friends and conquests; a summer reunion tour with Team Jane's; a romance with Carmen Electra; and plans to hit the road in support of Trust later this summer. Jason Pettigrew gets verbose with the man who's cut around the edges, but tender in the middle.
Okay, before I ask it, what's the dumbest question you've been asked?
Dave: No dumb questions. Just dumb answers. There's a certain redundancy when you do interviews one after the other, so the answers get uninspired. The last interview I did was with a guitar mag, which is difficult because I could care less about gear. I'm not even remotely interested in it. I haven't changed my gear in 10 years.
So, as a player, you operate solely on feel and instinct? Are you in persuit of happy accidents?
Dave: Creatively or olaying guitar?
Dave: Perhaps, I think you have to learn how to play the thing before you have the happy accident. Maybe not.
Having said that, Trust No One features things that a listener might expect from you, but it also has a lot of sonic power and dynamics that transcend much of your previous work.
Dave: Are you saying that it doesn't sound like the solo record of a guitar player?
That, and that much [of the disc] doesn't sound like the guy who played guitar in Jane's Addiction and the Chili Peppers.
Dave: Oh, that's good.
Some of the disc is comparable to Deconstruction [Navarro's teaming with former JA bassist Eric Avery], but the dynamics are much more powerful. Did you set yourself parameters? Did you think, "Okay, I refuse to write 'Mountain Song 2001'?"
Dave: No, but I', really glad you are asking questions that are ambiguous, because "ive never been asked this. The only intention I had with this record was to express what I was feeling. I've never had the oppurtunity to lyrically express what I was feeling. I wrote all the songs on the album on piano and acoustic guitar. There are versions of the songs that sould like fold songs. The process that enabled them was me being in the studio and getting intellectually involved with the songs. The emotional outlet was writing them.
It seemed like there were a lot of roadblocks that got in the way of the record finally getting released. Did any of that manifest itself on the record?
So you were completely divorced from it?
Dave: Of course not. I just chose not to use my music as an avenue of expression for my frustration with the music industry. I use the music as an expression for my frustrations with life, people, my personal fears and the loss of intimacy. Those are the emotions that are more difficult and complex to recognize. I know why some piece of paper hasn't been signed. I'm going to accept that that is what that deal is. I can always go home and play music as a form of expression if I need to. But I don't think my dealings with corporations is interesting to write about.
I'm not talking in a literal sense. I'm wondering if you felt that you were second-guessing yourself, questioning your abilities, your personal aesthetics....
Dave: The self-doubt comes from personal relations, not from business relations and career-oriented goals. Are you asking me if I made a record that was...
...palatable to the spoon-fed marketplace? No. There has been a lot of talk about this record, back when you were going to credit the project under the name Spread. You were featured in A.P.'s Most Anticipated Reocrds story in 1998, and nothing came out. You were supposed to have your own imprint with another label, and that never happened. I believe at one time there were atleast three versions of the record circulating. There were people you were supposed to be working with in a band, and that never panned out....
Dave: Is there any point where I'm going to be answering a question? [laughs]
At this point, I'm not sure! Seriously, though, there were a lkot of years where nothing happened, which makes people think that maybe there wasn't anything happening with your work in the first place. Meaning, you are already being judged without anybody hearing a note of music.
Dave: As far as somebody second-guessing my work, thats unfortunate in terms of releasing a body of work and making a living off it. The truth is that I'm able to live comfortably and the intention behind [this record] was to write some songs because I felt a certain way.
Because a lot of experiences in my life, I have lived in a manner that has kept me in a state of suffering because I would relive the past or rehearse the future in my head and not stay in the moment. As a result of creating this body of work, I've finally come to the other side where I have found that Living in the moment allows for joy and beauty to happen. The process is getting to that point is what the record is all about.
Having said that, what is your greatest personal achievement?
Dave: It was recent. It was coming to a place in my life where I could trust somebody.
How did it feel?
Dave: It felt great. Obviously, the title of the record is cynical.
In A.P.'s yearly Readers Poll, you constantly pull nearly equal numbers of votes from both women and men.
Dave: Really? Great.
To what do you attribute that?
Dave: I can't even begin to tell you. [pause] The fact that it's both men and women? [pause] Maybe because I'm in touch with both the masculine and feminine within. There's no way to answer a question like that without being arrogant. It's kind of a shock to me, and flattering at the same time. To give you a reason would imply that I think that, too. I just see myself as a bundle of neuroses.
Okay, but there are people who think Woody Allen is the bomb.
Dave: Then I can tell you why Woody Allen is more attractive than I am.