Interview Date: 10/11/2011
Run Date: 10/20/2011
Well, this was a first. An artist has a new album to promote – in this case, it’s Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, who are releasing The Great Escape Artist, their fourth album and first since 2003 – and he agrees to an interview…but wasn’t expecting to talk about music. He thought we were supposed to talk about guy stuff, while we came armed with a bunch of questions about music and, ahem, one question about porn. Somewhere in the middle, though, we found common ground.
Bullz-Eye: Maybe it's just me, but it does not feel like it’s been eight years since the last Jane’s Addiction record.
Dave Navarro: It doesn't to me, either. But you know, we've been doing extensive touring in the interim. [We did] a pretty long tour with Nine Inch Nails, and we've been to Europe a bunch, so we've been pretty much a band for the past two or three years. It doesn't feel that long. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I agree. (Laughs)
"I'm astonished with how many people I've come into contact with that are really looking for fame, period."BE: I listened to the new record, and my first instinct was to describe it as dark, but I don't really feel like that's 100% fair.
DN: Mmm-hmm. (Pause)
BE: I feel like I'm missing another adjective, I don't know if it's minor-key, or what. How would you describe the record to someone who hadn't heard it before?
DN: (Pause) Well, that's interesting, because you're the writer, and you're asking me for the adjective. And secondly, I don't really spend a whole lot of time describing music, because the whole idea is for music to be descriptive within itself when played, and it's supposed to speak differently to different ears. Maybe I would say introspective, if that works.
BE: Sure. And then you finish the album with “Words Right Out of My Mouth,” which reminds me of the Pixies...
DN: Oh, that's a nice compliment.
BE: ...and their song “Planet of Sound.” More in the verses than the chorus, but it definitely reminded me of that.
DN: Okay. (Pause)
BE: I’ve had musicians downplay the significance of a producer in interviews, but I refuse to believe that Rich Costey is one of those guys. Tell us what he brought to the table.
DN: Um… (Pause) wait, which outlet are you with?
BE: Bullz-Eye.com, it's a men's magazine. Did you think I was going to ask you a different set of questions?
DN: Yeah. I didn't know we were going to talk about record stuff.
BE: I figured we'd be talking about your new album. I thought that’s why they set this up.
DN: I didn't know that.
BE: Okay, well, I was going to ask you some other things, but I thought we'd talk primarily about the new album.
DN: (Answering the Rich Costey question) It's really hard to define what particular things people bring to the table, especially when you're talking about a year-long process of working on a collective effort, you know what I'm saying? I would just say that Rich became fully integrated as essentially another member of the band, as did Dave Sitek [bassist for TV on the Radio, who performed bass on the album], and the three of us. I would say it was a collective effort on all of our parts.
BE: I covered Lollapalooza for the past few years, and every time I saw Perry in the media section, all I could think of was how much he looks like Ray Davies circa 1985. Your thoughts?
DN: I don't see it, but...
BE: I wanted to ask you about "Rock Star."
DN: Mmmm, nah. That's old news.
Publicist: Can you try to focus on maybe men's questions, and the album?
BE: Well, I was focusing on the record, but I seem to have caught him by surprise.
DN: It's cool. I'm going with it, no worries. I just, to be fair, after working on a record for so long, and creating songs, and writing and recording them, sometimes the last thing you want to do as an artist is talk about them. It's streaming now on iTunes, and pretty much anything I have to say about the record is on the record, so I struggle with those types of questions. In order to be fair to you, I want to give you something usable.
BE: I'll be honest, I didn't prep a lot of ‘guy’ questions. I saw the note [from your spokespeople] advising me to talk about men stuff [Note: they also instructed us not to talk about former Jane’s bassist Eric Avery, Duff McKagan, and Carmen Electra], but I wasn't sure what they wanted from me.
"My idea behind my character on ['Z Rock'] was to portray myself as the way that some people seem to think I am, which is over the top, egotistical, and unaware of crossing boundaries."DN: I don't, either. Let's keep going and see what else you got.
BE: I was going to ask you about "Z Rock," but now I feel that's in the same territory as "Rock Star."
DN: Well, what's your question?
BE: How much fun did you have playing the typical rock star asshole on that show?
DN: That was fun for me to step outside of my comfort zone and into an ensemble cast that already existed and did fictional work. And they allowed me to create my own persona on that program. My idea behind my character on that was to portray myself as the way that some people seem to think I am, which is over the top, egotistical, and unaware of crossing boundaries. I had a lot of fun amplifying that whole dynamic. That show was a great time. I did one episode the first season and one episode in the second season.
BE: What is the number one piece of advice you would give to someone starting a band today?
DN: I've answered that before, and to be perfectly frank, in this climate and the way the music business is, I would say the number one piece of advice is to do exactly what you love, and make sure you love doing it. I think back to when Jane's Addiction started in the late '80s, and we weren't really aware that we would amount to much. We thought we were doing something special, but given the climate and what was successful at the time, we just felt that it was best to do what we wanted to do and stick to who we were, and as a result of that, we were able to gain some attention. The climate has changed so much, and the media has changed so much over the years, I'm astonished with how many people I've come into contact with that are really looking for fame, period. And those are all the wrong reasons to do this. You'd just be chasing some dream, and once you've reached a certain level of success, their whole life will be okay. But the fact of the matter is, they're still stuck with themselves at the end of the day.
BE: So music's not the end goal for a lot of these bands? It's just celebrity that's more important to them?
DN: I don't want to say that, because there's a really great rock movement happening, and there are lots of great artists out there. I'm saying that, and I'm sure you can understand, if you look in the more mainstream/pop world, there are a lot of people just chasing the notoriety. And hey, they're happy doing that, I'm not saying anything negative about them. I'm just saying to upcoming bands, make the goal to work on the music that you're most proud of, and the rest should fall into place.
BE: I was going to ask you how you got involved with the AVN Awards, and then I thought, “Do you really need to ask the rock star why he’s hanging around with porn stars?”
DN: Well, actually, I won an AVN for my feature film "Broken," which I co-wrote and directed, starring Sasha Grey. And working with Sasha and working with Terravision, and having a lot of friends in the industry, I've come to be a part of the AVN for Showtime. I like to do their red carpet interviews. It's just a lot of fun, a fun celebration of their business. And not being in that business, it's a lot easier for me to come and work on the fringe and have a good time, and hang out with a lot of friends. So out of curiosity, what was the "Rock Star" question?
BE: What was the greatest moment on that show that the audience didn't see?
DN: Hmmmm. (Long pause)
BE: I was also going to ask you what you thought of how INXS is handling J.D. Fortune. They seem to be treating him kind of poorly.
DN: Oh, I don't even know what's going on with that.
BE: They dismissed him without even telling him. He found out [he was out of the band, again] from his mom, or something.
DN: Oh, my God. That's the first I've heard of it. Yeah, as soon as those seasons wrapped, I moved on with my life. (Laughs) I don't know if anything really went down off camera that didn't make it to air, nothing earth-shattering.
BE: And I'm not looking for anything salacious. I was just wondering if there was one really cool thing that didn't make the cut.
DN: Not that I can recall. Everyone worked on their performances, and it was shot relatively live, a couple of hours before air. That's not really a whole lot of time to reinvent, I guess, in the editing room.
BE: To change the narrative?
DN: Yeah. Once that was done, I went back into music.
BE: Well, best of luck with the new record. You'll probably be on the road for the next year, right?DN: I hope so. That's my favorite part of this whole job.