There may be a Jane's Addiction reunion tour in the offing and a revealing new book about to hit the shelves, but for Dave Navarro, it's his years-in-the-making solo debut that commands center stage
Dave Navarro holds the distinction of being in two of the most influential rock bands of the last 15 years. A founding member of Jane's Addiction, his atmpspheric guitar textures helped spawn what would by the early '90s be referred to as "alternative rock." Jane's records, including 1988's Nothing's Shocking (Warner Bros.) and the 1990 commercial breakthrough, Ritual de lo Habitual (Warner Bros.), have had direct influences on the scene that would soon explode in the Northwest. But before the alternative nation entered the mainstream, Jane's Addiction disbanded.
Oddly enough, at the same time the Red Hot Chili Peppers, featuring guitarist John Frusciante, were making their initial run on the Billboard charts. By 1992, however, the Peppers hit some rocky times and Frusciante exited. Slated to play Perry Farrell's Lollapalooza festival that same year, they set their sights on Navarro as Frusciante's replacement. His decline of the band's initial offer was reportedly due to the nature of his relationship with Jane's former frontman Farrell. But in September of 1993, he relented and, after a lengthy bonding period with RHCP, appeared on their 1995 offering, One Hot Minute (Warner Bros.).
In the fall of 1996, RHCP canceled their last seven U.S. tour dates and went on hiatus. Though recording sessions for the follow-up to One Hot Minute were initially scheduled to begin in April 1997, that date would be repeatedly delayed. During this time off, it was reported that Navarro, who had been working on a solo project called Spread (with a release schedules for late 1997), would rejoin his Jane's Addiction bandmates (with Flea replacing bassist Eric Avery), for their Relapse tour. Navarro's participation in such ambitious projects, combined with the "up in the air" status of the Chili Peppers, prompted questions about his future with that band. Those questions were answered in April 1998, when Navarro announced he was leaving.
Fast Foward to 2001... Dave is again heading out on the road with Jane's Addiction, and relishing in the release of his solo debut. (This project "formerly known as Spread" has been released under his own name.) Four years in the making, Trust No One (Capitol) is a no-holds-barred confessional depicting Navarro, in his debut as a lyricist and vocalist, playing virtually every instrument but drums. An oftentimes dark journey driven by Dave's own demons, Trust No One is a harrowing document of Navarro's failed relationships and personal tragedies. In Navarro's words: "I went into the writing of this record with a lot of misconceptions about love, relationships, and trust. Through the process of writing these songs, I've come to understand that my interpretations of those things were inaccurate. The whole record deals with my expectation of negative outcomes and the suffering that goes along with that king of living. I've since learned to not dismiss the beauty of the moment."
There's some deep stuff on Trust No One. How tough was it to put together such an uninhibited and uncensored package?
Putting it together wasn't nearly as tough as it is talking about it [laughs]. It's something I didn't foresee happening. To me, the "putting together" of such a personal thing was what music has always been. The goal that I had was just to simply complete it. I wasn't really living in the "results"--how it would be perceived or how it would do.
I tend to write the music, the melody, and usually the lyrical content all at the same time because it just seems to flow naturally for me that way. I don't have any other experience; I've never personally had to put music to words that I'd written or vice cersa. But because I wrote the music and the lyrics at the same time, within the spontaneity, I said things, thought things, and felt things that I wasn't necessarily aiming to feel. It kinda came out almost on its own. In my mind, that makes it a healing process, because it was uninhibited. I really was able to stay "in the moment" throughout the process.
I understand these tracks originated from an acoustic format. Can you talk about how some of them eveolved from that skeleton?
Sure. Basically, the songs were written on an acoustic guitar and on a piano; that's just how I write--especially when I'm doing vocals or melody lines. So the initial recordings were primarily acoustic. Because there were some different forks in the road that led me to Capitol, I was able to go back and reevaluate some of the soundscapes and production quality of the work.
At the time I wrote some of these songs, I was in other bands. I was doing a reunion tour with Jane's Addiction and I was also in the Chili Peppers, so my intention of making these songs full-scale, production-oriented pieces of work was not as intense. I just wanted to make the record for the sake of making it--for the sake of the expression and basically for the sake of not having done it before. I had never sung before, I had never written all the parts to songs before; I'd always been a contributor. So it was challenging and exciting to do. But because of the time it took to get to where I'm at now, I was able to go back and, at various times, pick apart the production.
Both Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers records are released on Warner Bros. What's it like being on Capitol?
It's really exciting to be here. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and as a kid, listening to records and being facinated by music, this was the one building that I was certain was a record company. [The Capitol Records building resembles a towering stack of 45s--Ed.] So this building was always really magical to me, because of that. And when you walk in these doors, you can feel the history. There's a men's room down the hall from this studio [Studio C]--you're standing there by the urinal, and you gotta say to yourself: "Frank Sinatra stood here!" It's kind of intense.
I imagine that would be pretty heavy.
Well, go take a piss and you'll feel what I'm talking about [laughs]
Where did you record Trust No One?
The question is: Where didn't I record? We did some work at NRG studios [North Hollywood], at Larrabee Studios [Los Angeles], and at Looking Glass in New York. Because of the amount of time that's gone by, there have been many different incarnations of this. It wasn't like I went into one studio and began and finished. There was a couple weeks here, a month there, and a year in between, and so forth.
That probably also provided you with extra time for the tunes to gel with you.
I don't know if they ever will [laughs], because I'm the kind of guy who's gonna work on something until it's taken away. I've never truly been 100-percent happy with anything I've worked on. That was the cool thing about having bandmates in the past: There would be other voices of reason. This time it was my own insanity running the show.