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Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dave Navarro Speaks Out On Life And Death
Allstar Online Music News - November 1997

Part One Of A Feature Interview

Got a call from Red Hot Chili Peppers/Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro today. And if it weren't for the fact that I must be getting jaded or something, I would've believed him when he said, "Hi, it's Dave Navarro." Instead, I hung on up him. Like so:

"Hi, it's Dave Navarro."

"Who?" [He doesn't speak that loudly and I really didn't hear him.]

"Dave Navarro. Maybe you've heard of my band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers."

[He then plays "Under the Bridge" over the phone, giving rise to my suspicion that this was a crank call.]

"Dave? Really?" [skeptically]

"Yeah, [my publicist] Ken Phillips said you were upset because you asked for my Top 10 list and [the competition] got it so..."

"OK, who is this really?"

"It's Dave, Ken told me to..."

"This isn't Dave. If it was, Ken would've called me and told me I'd be interviewing you. OK, I'm going to put you on hold and call Ken and see, OK?

"It's wasting my time, but.."

[I put Dave on hold, call Ken, the line is busy. Dave then begins playing a snippet of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" and a loop of an MTV news segment with the word "drug" (or something like that) repeating.]

"Come on, who is this?"

"Here, wanna hear how I want to start the next record? [He then plays Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It."]

"Yeah, right."

"Actually, that's what I want played at my funeral."

"OK, now I know this is a joke. GOODBYE." [click]

So I unwittingly hung up on Dave Navarro. It happens, right? I then call Phillips, who says, "Did Dave call you?" [A sick feeling comes over me.] "Shit, it was really him? Shit, uh, I just hung up on him." Luckily, Phillips, after explaining that Navarro wanted to call me directly after hearing that I was a bit irked about the Top 10 list thing, got Navarro to call me back. Today--and in the next few issues of Allstar--we'll run segments from our hour-plus interview.

I can't believe I just did that.

I can't either, I'm kinda not happy about it.

I'm sooo sorry.

You should've let me explain, but you just, like, hung up on me. It was unbelievable.

I know, I'm sorry, but it sounded like a crank call, especially with the Spice Girls playing and that Montell Jordan thing.

Yeah, but to me, Montell Jordan is seriously the song I want played at my funeral.

Are you serious?

Yeah, because I'd rather have my friends and family uncomfortable than sad... Because they'd be like, "What the fuck is he having this played for?" and they'd be thinking about that. My friends who know me would get the joke. I mean, instead of weeping to some organ music...

Why are you thinking about your funeral already?

I've been thinking about it my whole life. It's the one event that's held in your honor that you'll miss, so I've always wanted to have as much control over it as I could. Everyone gets together to mourn your passing, and first of all, you don't know how many people are going to come or who's going to come, or if there's going to be a half-hour special on you or just like a 30-second announcement on MTV.

What would you want?

I want a full hour, prime time, on MTV. But they didn't even give that to Michael Hutchence so I know I'm shooting a little high.

So how would you want the funeral to be?

First of all, I want my headstone to say "I'm Sorry I Did This To You."... Meaning there's been a lot of... put it this way, sometimes I do things that aren't necessarily the best for me and I'm constantly confronted with the question "Why are you doing this to me?"... The thing with the Montell Jordan song, it would be on an endless loop, loud, over and over again. People come in to a showing, and at a certain time the door locks and you can't get out and this would be playing for like three hours, and you can't get out for three hours. It might be nice to have myself propped up in a chair where people get in line and come up and have a picture taken with me, put glasses on me, and it looks like we're just hanging out.

That's kinda sick.

Naaawwww. [He then plays me a soundbite of James Stewart saying "Let me live again."]

How are you going to go?

I don't know.

Oh good, I was hoping you weren't sitting here planning this.

Oh no. This is stuff I've had on my mind since I was a kid. [His mother was killed by her boyfriend when Dave was 15 years old.] I've had so many different concepts, always the cremation one. Also I have a coffin in my house and I've been in it for long periods of time, and I don't think I want to be in it for that long.

Well, you won't be if you believe that your soul leaves your body...

Only if you believe that.

What do you believe then?

My belief changes from day to day. My concept of higher power and what happens to the soul changes from day to day, almost from moment to moment.

That must make you a really unsettled person.

Yeah, but that is what I would imagine is the nature of most of the artists that I know. That's what makes them artists -- because they are unsettled.

So then do you think you have to be a little messed up to be a true artist?

Not at all. I'm just saying the people that I know and have spoken to about such things are a little, but I would just say "uncentered."

Do you think you'll ever get centered or would that take away what makes you you?

Well, I can't say, because I don't really know what centered is. I've never been centered... Since I was a child I have had difficult times with some things and chose music as an avenue to articulate what haunts me sometimes... I honestly don't believe I can never make my life so that the things that troubled me never took place. But I can look it in the eye and get through it, and I can do it musically or in the written form, or lyrically or whatever it might be, and that's basically a way to strip the fear away of that particular situation. The point is, I didn't turn to music because I was really happy and had a great day at Disneyland so I wanted to go home and lock myself up in a room and write a song about it.

Check out Part 2 of our interview with Navarro on Thursday (Jan. 8) when he talks about why he issued a statement about drug use and his album/movie project with fellow Chili Pepper Chad Smith.

PART 2:

A week or so ago, Red Hot Chili Peppers/Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro had a press release issued which explained some drug-related comments he made to a journalist. However, even the explanation ended up getting twisted a bit by the press, so Navarro is offering these words to further (and hopefully finally) explain the true meaning of his comments.

"I don't know how that thing got to the place it did," Navarro tells us.

"My side of it was... what I told [the reporter] is that I've been working on a film wherein drug use takes place, and I describe one of those scenes, but I in no way indicated to them that I was in drug rehab, or had a problem or all the stuff that came afterwards in terms of hearsay and press. It just got so blown up, I don't know how to respond to any of it.

"My press release said that I'm not going to deny the fact that I've used substances and I'm not going to lie to anyone, but I'm also not preaching to anyone about anything," continues Navarro. "My point was that I was offended that...[He logs onto his computer to get his Press Statement About Drugs file and reads from it.] '... The fact that another entertainer falling off the wagon, in my opinion, shouldn't be considered news.'

"Now what I'm saying with 'falling off the wagon' is I've been flat cold sober for five years, so if I had a sip of beer it's falling off the wagon. I'm not saying I had just a sip of beer either, I'm just trying to define 'falling off the wagon' in this sense.

"And then I go onto say [in the press release], 'In an effort to bring this topic to an end, I appreciate the concern people are showing and I am taking steps to eliminate drugs from my life.'" When asked what those steps are, he said they "are of a personal nature" and that he is not in a rehabilitation clinic.

Consider this topic "at an end" now.

Check out Part Three of our interview with Navarro about his project with Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith on Friday (Jan. 9).

PART 3:
Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dave Navarro Discusses His Side Project & Film
Part Three Of A Feature Interview

Unicorns and rainbows and pelicans, oh my! Sounds like a fanciful new nursery rhyme, but it's actually a hint of what to expect on the side--sort of solo--project by Red Hot Chili Peppers/Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and fellow Pepper, drummer Chad Smith. Their group is called Spread, and the album's tentatively titled Unicorns And Rainbows: The Pelican, with a long-form home movie to accompany it.

Navarro explains the album's title: "The pelican is a symbol of the great mother and her offspring, and represents the continuity of life and inheritance of blood uniting all forms of nature. And, in addition to that, pelican is a word that Chad Smith and I use as a code word for something. And the unicorns and rainbows part is just the antithesis of things for us. In that sense it becomes very bizarre and almost the darkest image we can dream up. But, to be perfectly honest, we're not stuck with this album title. It's subject to change." Bizarre indeed. But title aside, this project--born out of Navarro and Smith's frustration over the Chili Peppers lazy work schedule lately--is a chance for Navarro to express his innermost feelings and accomplish yet another goal: completing a record of his own.

"It's very eclectic musically," he says. "It's not the goth sense of dark and it's not the metal or industrial sense of goth or dark. It's the feelings that are being expressed in the material that are dark--my fears and the things that brought me a lot of pain and discomfort in my life...the things I'm afraid of and my most intimate thoughts."

So what are his fears? "I'm afraid of everything," he says. "But what this record is focusing on conceptually is mother issues and relationship issues...I'm dealing with the fact that at seven years old my parents got divorced, so I saw relationships not work. When I was 15 my mother was killed by her boyfriend, so there's another relationship that obviously didn't work. My father got remarried and that relationship didn't work. And, I've been in countless relationships that didn't work."

The album has been recorded for some time (Allstar, Dec. 11, 1996) and features Navarro singing and playing guitar, bass, and piano, and Smith on drums. Although 13 songs have been completed, Navarro says a few are still going to be remixed by Jimmy Boyle with engineer Dave Schiffman and the four of them producing. While Navarro speculates that it will be a Warner Bros. release, nothing's official yet, and he says he's not yet sure how the movie will be released either. "The thing with this record is it's not full of hits or radio or MTV songs," he says. "I basically just wanted to finish a project that I did. When Anthony and Flea were doing whatever it was they were doing, we just got tired of hanging around, so we went into the studio and wrote these songs."

"What I'm trying to do with this [movie] is show what I'm whining about," he explains. "The music will be in the film, but there will be scenes that have nothing to do with the music. The camera will just be on in my house or in my hotel room with inserts of real vulnerable moments. I don't want to write a song and say 'the clouds are coming in and I'm locked in my home' and show that. I want to say, 'OK, let's see why he is saying that.' Well, here's a shot of me at 6:30 in the morning curled up in the sink crying about something, or let's look through the photo album. Who knows? Show some of the damage we can do to ourselves. Then it jump-cuts to interviews that were intensely difficult to deal with because at the time I was very emotionally unstable. Stuff like that."

Navarro admits that segments of the film may be difficult to watch, and because of this "some of my friends think it's a terrible idea. But it could change, because I'm that kind of guy. A month from now, I could say 'What video?'"

PART 4:
Dave Navarro Addresses Next Red Hot Chili Peppers Album, Jane's Addiction Questions

Anyone who thinks that the Red Hot Chili Peppers don't exactly have their hearts in the band anymore--because of the band members' recent lackadaisical approach to working on their next album--mustn't have heard from guitarist Dave Navarro lately. He's quite excited about some of the material on the eagerly- awaited, not-yet-finished next album.

"One of the songs we've done is the greatest pop song I've ever been a part of," says Navarro of a new Red Hot Chili Peppers song, which has the working title of "Circle of the Noose." "It's pop in the sense of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, hook. I really love it and we use a loop of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It's really nice. The best way I can describe it is it's like pepped- up '60s folk with '90s ideals, but I would hate to label it as folk because it's not, it moves."

There's not much further news about the album, for which several parts have been laid down, and there is "a lot of stuff that is in progress," according to the guitarist.

"The thing is, we all have pretty intense personal lives," explains Navarro of the delays in finishing the album. "It's bound to be that one of us is going through something, whether it's a drug problem or a broken arm or a fatigue problem, or whatever, someone's going through some kind of crisis. That's one factor, and the other factor is we don't have any deadlines to produce a product. As soon as we were ready to record, the Jane's thing came up and Flea and I had a really good time on that."

However, while he says he feels quite lucky ("one of the luckiest musicians in the world," to be exact) to be in two important bands (Jane's Addiction being the other), he says he's not too antsy to cram another Chili Peppers album out immediately. "I care very deeply about the members of the band and doing music with them, but as far as having a product to push right now, that's not really what it's about for me. But I will play music with these three guys or the three guys in Jane's any time.

"I've gotten to a point in my life where it's all about the process; it used to be about the outcome," he continues. "Honestly, I used to feel that I want the music to be amazing, I always have, but I wanted the recognition and I wanted the money. But in the past few years, I've gone through this change where it's more about the creativity and the excitement of having ideas and having them realized...In terms of cramming out a new Chili product, I would love to have one, of course, and I'd be very proud to take part in that, but it's not my priority. My priority is just to play music with people I like."

The other big question these days is the future of Jane's Addiction. Unfortunately, Navarro doesn't have the answer to that right now. "I haven't spoken to anyone, so I don't really know," he says. In fact, he won't even disclose his feelings about the band's status. "I wouldn't feel comfortable discussing that until I speak with them. I wouldn't want them to read about it. Perry, reads Allstar every day." He laughs.