interviewsthis page was updated on 2014.08.14 @ 23:51:01 CDT
by Dave Daley
Alternative Press - April 1998
Everybody's got something to hide, 'cept for Dave Navarro and his monkey. Dave Daley gets to the bottom of those disturbing rumors about relapses, Fiona Apple and more.
These days, Dave Navarro can sympathize with Robert Downey Jr. and Christian Slater. He merely scrawls a message in blood outside Fiona Apple's dressing room at KROQ's Christmas extravaganza, or describes to a journalist a call for help he made to a drug-rehab clinic during which he tied off with the phone cord to shoot up, and then he wonders why his behavior makes USA Today and MTV News headlines. Navarro claims the press has it wrong. The rehab call he described was just a scene from a film that will accompany the tentatively titled Unicorns And Rainbows: The Pelican, a dark, revealing album he recorded with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith under the name Spread. As for the bloody message to Fiona...well, here Navarro does his best to clear up that and other nagging issues his behavior has raised.
I'll tell you right now what I don't want to talk about. Drugs. I'm not getting into that. That's about it, I guess. This is when you ask, "So what about the drugs?"
Exactly. So what's up with the drugs?
That's something that's being handled right this minute. So I don't really want to say anything else. Next?
Well, not speaking of relapses, why don't we start with your thoughts on the Jane's Addiction relapse.
It was truly one of the most incredible tours I've ever been a part of. Working with those guys again, it was just as magical as it had ever been--except we were happy to be around each other this time. I don't believe I'll ever make music as enjoyable to listen to or to play as I did in Jane's Addiction. It spoke through me, for me. It's home.
So you'd do it again?
That's a tough question to answer. As for touring again with Jane's Addiction, I probably don't want to do that. I'm getting really into production and filmmaking, and as much as I can, I want to remain in Los Angeles. Somewhere deep inside of me I feel, as great as it was, that we had our window. I want it to be a window I can look back through. As far as more recording with them, I would always do that.
Right now you're working with fellow Chili Pepper Chad Smith in Spread. Will Warner Bros. put out an album that's already caused such controversy?
I have faith that Warners will release it. If they opt not to, someone else will or I'll put it out myself. First, I've come to the conclusion that it is mandatory to remix most of it. That's why I haven't slept in three days. The entire album was written in a couple weeks and recorded in a month. Since that time we've had the chance to look back, reflect and review. It's a good piece of work, but I think it could be a lot better. I don't think it's really decided what it wants to be. There was this one song, the most metal, industrial, hardcore song we have, and I re-recorded it, just voice and acoustic guitar. The lyrics translate much truer when it's quieted down. It seems more remorseful.
You've said you want this album to be as revealing as possible, especially lyrically--talking freely about your drug use and your mother's murder, which you witnessed as a teenager...
The goal was to see if I could hold the reins for a whole project. I do want to be fully expressive as far as my thoughts and feelings, fears and ghosts. There's a lot regarding relationships with women, my mother, girlfriends. I've been able to move through some stuff I haven't ever expressed. It's been quite cathartic. However, sometimes the process of moving through those feelings and emotions can suck you in deeper. Sometimes all I'm doing is sitting in my room for hours and hours thinking about those things.
Following the Jane's dates you seemed fed up with touring. Some rescheduled Chili Peppers dates around the holidays got scrapped not long after you said you didn't feel like playing them.
That wasn't the reason they were canceled. I had just been out with Jane's Addiction, and I was tired. As for the [new Chili Peppers record], we have some completed stuff. I think some of it--one song in particular--is some of the best stuff the Chili Peppers have done since their inception. Some of it's a little more pop-oriented than we might like, but it's good. It's the strongest material we've done since I joined. We want to finish it this year.
Will you tour then?
I don't necessarily want to get into that one.
You can print it just like that: "I don't necessarily want to get into that one."
How about getting into that Gap commercial you did. Why'd you do that?
I don't know. That's proof positive I've been on drugs. That's a joke. I looked at it and thought, "Gap: sell-out; I don't wear the stuff." But it's pop art, pop culture. I figured if it's something Andy Warhol might have considered, then it's fine. I'm torn between the artist and the whore. I have a hard time deciding between the dollar sign and the self-esteem of doing something for the right reason, self-expression. I looked at [the commercial] as both; I was able to do what I wanted to do with the ad, and they paid me. I got to act--I acted like I wear their jeans. I did a second one, too, and became so dead set against it that I called them and asked them not to air it. I offered to give back all the money they paid me, and they could keep the first one free. They said no. So I told them I would fill a Gap bag with syringes and go to an elementary school and sell needles to all the kids. Of course, I was totally joking.
Your sense of humor must get you in trouble.
To me, the things that are funny tend to be the most inappropriate things one can say. My humor is so dry it gets taken seriously. Half of what I say is complete bullshit. I'm just trying to amuse myself and people I know, to get as close to the boundary as I can. Sometimes I step over the line.
Like scrawling "I love you, Fiona" in blood outside Fiona Apple's dressing room at the KROQ Christmas show?
When I get an idea in my head, I go so overboard, in every element of my life--people, exercise, shopping, music, video games. I had my girlfriend with me that night, and somebody said, "There's Fiona's dressing room." So we decided I should leave a little message. Supposedly, it got washed off before she got there. Funny thing was, they called in people in head-to-toe biohazard outfits, all rubberized suits, to do the cleaning, like there was an outbreak or something.
What kind of reaction were you looking for?
Any action demands and deserves a reaction, but I don't care that there wasn't one. It wasn't a romantic gesture in any way. Behavior like that coming from me is seriously no big deal. Nor is it a surprise among my circle of friends. In my world, that's like saying hello.
So what about the drugs?
Listen, I'm doing fine. Everybody's going on about something that's a scene in a film, that's half-documentary, half-fictional. It got crazy and turned into a situation that disrupted and terrified my friends and family beyond all comprehension over the Christmas holiday. I mean USA Today, New York Post, L.A. Times, KROQ, MTV News. Each story got more hideous than the next. It made me think about what people like Robert Downey Jr. and Christian Slater must be going through. If it's that difficult for me at my level to have a personal piece of information be distributed around the world in the news and not have it be correct...
Let's just clear things up. So there was no relapse? No call to the rehab center?
This is why I don't want to talk about it. Why would I want to? I've seen the ramifications. I sleep in one day, and there are people banging on my door wondering what's wrong with me. I can't talk to anybody, basically. This is pretty much where it is. The rehab story is not true. It's a scene in the film, the opening scene. It is what it is, and it's up to the viewer to decide whether it's a fictional moment or a real moment.
That doesn't quite answer the question of whether you're using drugs again after five years of sobriety.
If the question is have I used drugs in the last year, the answer is yes. I'm not going to label it as a relapse. I'm not going into specific terms. I don't feel I have to use [drugs]. Ask me if I recommend [drugs]--the answer is no. But that's like asking me if I drive a car. Yes. Ask me, "Are you really careful about it, or are you running down people on the sidewalk?" The answer is no. I just drive. I'm doing my own thing, and that's all I have to say about it.