Guitar World - August 2001
Dave Navarro plays double duty with a Jane's Addiction reunion tour and a dark new solo album, Trust No One.
Dave Navarro has played guitar in two of the most influential and quintessentially "L.A." bands of the past decade, Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yet there's very little about him that says "Southern California." He's more like some dark, slightly debauched pirate--the Captain Morgan Spiced Rum guy!--than a buff, blond beach boy. He lives in a house up in the Hollywood Hills that's decorated with coffins, skeletons, crucifixes and heavy velvet drapes.
The few times I've seen him in broad daylight, he's looked slightly out of place. This isn't a pose either. The guitarist has known real darkness. At an early age, he witnessed the murder of his mother and aunt, and he's struggled with serious heroin addiction.
Much of this inner strife is reflected in Navarro's new album, Trust No One (Capitol). The disc shows there is more to the guitarist than a pair of nipple tings and some wicked wah-wah licks. he emerges as a confident, tuneful vocalist and a capable songwriter. The arrangements are full of vertiginous twists and hear-attack bursts of noisy mayhem.
"Are they?" Navarro demands. "I was just doing what felt natural. I think part of my neurosis is what's captured in the arrangements. And my neurosis is sporadic."
While Trust No One takes us on a journey into the troubled and uncertain midnight of Dave Navarro's soul, the experience of making the album was highly cathartic, according to the guitarist. Currently busy with a Jane's Addiction reunion tour and promoting his new book, Don't Try This At Home (HarperCollins), Navarro seems almost actually cheerful--well, as cheerful as you can be when you're Dave Navarro--and pleased with his new album.
"I'm almost 34 years old," he says. "This is something I've been wanting to do a long time and never had the oppurtunity to do before."
GW: Do you really trust no one?
DN: The album was done at a time when I didn't trust anyone. I was spending the majority of my time running away from love and from uncertainty, and focusing on potential negatives. My problems are usually based on rehearsing the future or reliving the past, and when you do that, you defeat the purpose of being in the moment; you miss the beauty. It sounds so simple, but it took me a long time to come to this. And writing a bunch of songs about how sad I am is one of the ways I cam to it.
GW: You went through some pretty heavy shit at an early age.
DN: Yeah, and it was really hard, but that experience brought me insights that I wouldn't have had otherwise. It also put me on the path of becoming a musician, because it's one of the events that was very difficult for me to talk about or free myself of. So I turned to music and darker forms of expression, because I didn't know how to deal with that event. But I feel better now. Things do get better. At the same time, though, I'm not trying to be peachy or suggest anyone should feel the way I do.
GW: But I think a lot of listeners will identify with the lyrics. Adolescents, in particular, will understand because they're going through a lot of confusion and anger. Like that line in "Rexall": "I hate my life..."
DN: I'll tell you about that line: "I hate my life./I never want another wife./I want the life you think I have." I've had friends who say, "What are you so sad about? If I were in a successful band, if I had your money, I'd be happy." And it's just, like, how can you say that? You don't know another person's reality.
GW: What you were saying a moment ago, about not rehearsing the future or reliving the past but being in the moment--that's what the Buddhists tell you.
DN: Yeah, it does. I don't know much about Buddhism. For me there are a lot of spiritual concepts that I try to practice. I don't belong to or practice any particular one. I think that they're all pretty much saying the same thing. I mean the definition of enlightenment is "the end of suffering." And I'm certainly not enlightened, but I can see the moments of enlightenment are attainable. I'm certainly more comfortable when I'm not suffering.
GW: You make you vocal debut on this album. What was that like? Were you shitting yourself in the vocal booth?
DN: It wasn't as difficult as I expected, but it was more demanding. Sometimes hearing myself back over the monitors was really exciting. Sometimes it didn't sound like me at all, or what I thought I sounded like. Sometimes it was like blaring my deepest insecurities back to me. So my experiences with it were diverse--a rainbow of experiences. But ultimately it's something I enjoyed doing. I think that's a key reason why this body of work is less guitar-orientedthan even I might have expected--because guitar wasn't my only avenue of expression. This is the first time I've had the oppurtunity to express my feelings vocally. I didn't have to put it into the playing so much.
GW: But there are a couple of nice guitar solos in there.
DN: Yeah, there's definitely logs of guitar on it. But to me it doesn't sound like what I would expect a guitar player's solo album to sound like.
GW: That's true. It isn't widdly-widdly-woo.
DN: Yeah. There were versions of songs that had a lot more of that kind of playing, because, secretly, I love that! But when it came down to it, that style didn't fit with what was going on creatively.
GW: Will you be doing any material from your solo album on the current Jane's Addiction tour?
DN: I can't say for certain, 'cause I plan to do my own tour behind this album. And to be honest with you, it's such a pure joy for me to play guitar with Jane's Addiction that I like to keep that avenue as free of any excess baggas as I can; I don't wanna cross the worlds. I know Perry's got a record of his own coming out, Stephen's [Perkins, drums] got his own band and Martyn [LeNoble, bass] plays with a lot of different people. We all have our own worlds of creative work to attend to. But whenever there's an oppurtunity to come together and play as Jane's Addiction, we all want to do it. It's literally just the payoff side of playing, and it's a lot of fun. That music means so much to us.
GW: What's up with your new book, Don't Try This At Home? Basically, there's a photobooth in your house, people who come to visit and you take their picture. And the book contains all those photos with text that you've written?
DN: Well, [hournalist] Neil Strauss and I wrote the text. We basically covered a one-year period in my house. My record is a metaphorical expression of how I came to freedom, if you will, and the book pretty much documents what I went through in order to get to that.
GW: So now that you've come to this new feedom, as you say, is your house still decorated kind of dark, with the coffins and skulls and all?
DN: Sure, yeah. It doesn't look like a New Age place, you know, with yogi meditation banners. No, I'm still the same guy. I still struggle daily.