interviews

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Red Hot Chili Peppers
A Chat with a Chili Pepper
by Jeff Jenkins
InPress - May 1, 1996

Dave Navarro has packed a lot of living into his 29 years. At 15, he saw his mother and aunt stabbed to death in front of him by his mum's ex-boyfriend. The guy was on the run for eight years and was only caught by an episode of America's Most Wanted. Dave was a key witness to the trial, which ended last year. Still in his teens, Dave joined Jane's Addiction. After that band ended, he did the Deconstruction project with bass player Eric Avery. Their album has been called both "dreadful" (Spin Alternative Record Guide) and "woefully overlooked" (Guitar World). He joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1993 and played on their latest album, One Hot Minute. He has also made an unreleased solo CD, and has recorded with a group called Honeymoon Stitch, appearing on the Joy Division tribute album. Dave Navarro, in Australia with the Chili Peppers, gave this exclusive interview to Jeff Jenkins.

The Chili Peppers were on the road in the US with Silverchair. What was that like?

"Those are some pretty rockin' kids. We had some fun."

Do you think it's weird that they're so young?

"It's not that weird. Not for them. It's working real well. You'll have to ask one of the Silverchair kids, man."

It's great that you've finally made it back to Australia. You were meant to come for last year's Alternative Nation, but Anthony was sick, and then you were meant to come at the end of last year, but Chad (drummer Chad Smith) broke his wrist. It's almost like the Red Hot Tour Jinx.

"Well, I'm really looking forward to it. As for the jinx.. I adapt pretty well. I was just told to have a vacation. I'm only a Chili Pepper when we are being the Chili Peppers. I'm always a musician, but after that, I'm a human being. I do normal human being things."

This is obviously your first time in Australia with the Chili Peppers, but you came here with Jane's Addiction.

"Yeah, I have some foggy memories of that trip. I spent a lot of time in Kings Cross, do you know that area? Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my money there, if you know what I mean. But I'm really looking forward to it this time. The only thing I don't like about trips like this is the flying. I really hate the flying. I get claustrophobic. I don't like staying in an environment where the air is recycled. I get kind of sick, and I'm worried about getting sick. It's not a fear thing, but I fear getting sick."

How keen were you to join the Chili Peppers?

"I just wanted it, but I didn't consider it till I was asked. All I was really wanting was to join another touring rock band and to make music that I was proud of."

Was there any initiation when you joined the band?

"I made them give me $1,000. No, I'm only joking. There was no initiation."

On the Chili Peppers record company bio, the guys are asked if it was difficult integrating a new member in the group. You're quoted as saying: "Well, it's been different for me because for the past thirteen years I've worked by myself and now I have the input of these guys." What did you mean by that?

"I never said that. Thirteen years, I don't know where that came from, and I've always worked with other musicians. That's not something I would say. I'll play music with anybody, I see it as an opportunity to expand."

When you joined, it was written: "Kiedis now has to share the band's sex symbol duties with the fatally handsome Navarro". Have you killed anybody with your looks lately?

"Just myself when I look in the mirror. Seriously, I personally don't see it. I don't think Anthony's got anything to worry about."

Is it a wild experience playing live with the Chili Peppers?

"Well, it's never planned. We do wild stuff if we're feeling wild, but we don't put it on. But even the most mundane Chili Peppers gig is a wild experience."

How does it compare to gigs with Jane's Addiction?

"A big show is always exciting. It's obviously different, but I can't explain it. How are your last two girlfriends different? You can't compare two singular relationships."

England's "Q" magazine said: "In an election to find the world's cheeriest soul, Dave Navarro would lose his deposit." How do you feel about that?

"How do I feel...? I don't agree or disagree. I'm a very introverted person at times, but at other times I am very outgoing. The only thing not truthful about that statement is that it's not true all the time. I'm never just simply okay, I'm either really thrilled or really bummed out."

How are you feeling at the moment?

"At the actual moment...I have been better. But don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled with the band. But my personal life has been better. I want to make it clear that the state of the band does not taint my personal life. My personal life is very personal and sacred. One of the reasons I play music is to escape from my personal life. It's almost like therapy. I'd probably die if I was not creating. It's something I personally need."

Are the Chili Peppers enough for you creatively?

"Um, no I don't think the Chili Peppers are enough. They're a huge part of what I do, but my moods change. I don't always want to play Chili Peppers music. But if I had to be stuck with three people forever, it would be the Chili Peppers. But since I have the choice, I enjoy playing with just about anybody. You don't want just one friend."

Is there a future for Deconstruction?

"That was just a one-off."

And what about Honeymoon Stitch?

"They're a group of guys that get together for different things. We do some club gigs in LA and sometimes we record. As for the Joy Division thing, I've always been a big fan."

Is it true that you keep the unreleased copies of your solo CD in a coffin in your lounge room?

"Yeah. I printed up CDs. I wanted to put it out. But when it came down to it, I realised that I made it for myself as a way of getting through a certain time in my life (a marriage break up)."

What does it sound like?

"Um, artsy, art damaged. Primarily acoustic guitar and voice with some electronic sounds. Nothing earth shattering. It's the kind of music I like to make when I'm on my own. It's from the heart. It's not intended for anyone to really like, it's not for radio or MTV. It won't be released, but others like it will."

What happens after the Australian tour?

"I really couldn't tell you. I just play the shows, I don't book 'em. I remain in the present."

What do you do when you're on the road and not playing?

"I see nice films. Babe was great. I go shopping, I like food, museums. Every once in a while, a nightclub. And I spend a lot of time looking for Cuban cigars."

The Red Hot Chili Peppers play Melbourne Park on Monday, May 6 (sold out) and Tuesday, May 7.

transcribed by Gaby