1994 July RAW (153)

Interview:

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, LA’s kings of Funk Metal, have a new guitarist, Dave Navarro, formerly of the legendary Jane’s Addiction. Things are already sizzling as Navarro blends in with his new bandmates. ARTIE NELSON gets the first, exclusive lowdown, while elsewhere, we get up-to-the-minute facts on the Chili’s latest album.

“WHAT’s The sound pick-up like?” good. “I can edit… that’s part of the deal,” he says, and we’re off. I’m with Dave Navarro, formerly of Jane’s Addiction, now of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and we’re indulging in some last-minute shopping on the eve of Navarro’s departure to the Isle of Kona.
Lunch. We’re sitting in some diner where the help gets paid to dress blue-collar and the tables are filled with people who pay a lot of cash to dress like junkies. It’s noisy, it’s fake and the LA smoking laws get taken with a pinch of salt.

Everywhere I look, tattoos, life on the edge, vegetarianism, born to die in the apocalypse-ridden, smog-shrouded dessert-turned-lie that is the city of angels. You can say what you like about this town, but one thing is that really f**king good music has come out of here in the last couple of decades. I came here with a mission: talk to Dave Navarro before he goes off to completely submerge himself in the Chili Pepper creative process.

“I’ll have a protein blast,” Dave says to our daffodilish waitress. We look around. Thirteen girls looking like blue jean models have circled around the pay phone. One of the new hip jeans companies is having an open audition for the next girl who looks like a really famous dead starlet and hair appointments have to be made. The only problem is, all of the girls are named Tia or Sonja and the bookings get all mixed up.

So Dave, why are you going to Kona? (just off Hawaii- Ed)

“To write music, we’ve been writing, but not, like, for a month. I don’t think I can eat anything on this menu. I don’t want a salad. I want something substantial, fat-free and filling. Nothing bloating.”

What bloats you?

“Everything. Everything’s bloating.”

“I’ll have some water ‘sans gas’,” Dave tells the waitress. Dave tries to bum a smoke but gets refused by the couple next to us. The food comes. It’s good. We eat, we laugh, we talk about people we know and movies we want to see. The salad tastes great. Dave doesn’t like his soup. Then we have dinner and jump into Dave’s truck to go to Rexall for supplies. A tape goes into the deck. It’s Dave playing Led Zep with 4 Non-Blondes. ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ if I remember correctly. Dave can play some guitar. Basically, he can shred a six-string the way other people who get paid to play only talk about. 4 Non-Blondes sound good. We go shopping. We get shaving cream, a pen and a notebook. We stop for a veggie drink.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“Are you serious with that?”

No, I think that’s what they say in bank job interviews. Do you still have those big silver boots from Jane’s Addiction?

“I basically threw everything that I had.”

The cape?

“Yeah. I got rid of all the garb.”

The old clothes from Jane’s Addiction are a good segue into the past.

How do you feel about playing these days?

“I’m digging it a lot. I wear jeans, no shirt, and just Rock.”

“I wanna ride bikes, I wanna be with my girl, I wanna read here and there, experience relationships, all that shit. That’s all I care about, really, being in touch with all my family.

“We’re (the Chilis) gonna go to Hawaii for a month, take a break, go back to Hawaii for another month, then we’ll come back and cut an album, probably. It’ll be a long process.”

We leave the mall, and end up at Big Tall Books for a final question and answer session. The waiter looks more like a Rockstar than anyone we’ve seen all day. A woman approaches the table and claims conversation time. I turn off the recorder. It’s all very hush hush, and then I let Dave rip again.

“I’m pretty comfortable these days. I’m basically concentrating on learning how to be a human being, which I know nothing about.

“You see, the thing is (back In Jane’s Addiction) my life was so chaotic and the band element was so chaotic that it was hard not to judge myself. Granted, the chaos really fed what the band was all about, but I always feel like there’s gonna be chaos to tap into. For that, no matter what’s going on, it doesn’t have to run my life, so it’s like, I can start to enjoy the creative process as opposed to being affected in a negative way.”

Getting out of the petty chaos and getting onto other things, like being a vulnerable person?

“Absolutely. I’m relearning how to do all those things. It’s made my life more enjoyable. That’s the bottom line.”

And the Chili Pepper process is different to Jane’s?

“It’s an oranges and apples thing. Two different things about different things. I haven’t really gotten that deeply involved in the Pepper process to articulate what the differences may be…”

Hawaii’s going to be like a training school almost?

“yeah. A crash course in Pepper-dom. I’ve kinda just put aside all feelings and expectations. At first I was really nervous about it, and then, I was insecure about it, and then I was really excited about it, then I was convinced it was gonna be the greatest thing in the world.

“But then, when I get too comfortable feeling it was gonna be so great, I get nervous again. Then I get bored of being nervous… it’s a never-ending cycle. I’ve kinda gotten out of that. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be.”

“I’VE DECIDED not to feel the pressures, and the magnitude of the expected new album… Just do it, and if it works, that’ll be fabulous and if it doesn’t, that’ll be that. I’ll do something else.

“Doing the Deconstruction thins (with Eric Avery, former Jane’s Addiction bassist- an album that still awaits release on American Recordings), it got more into the creativity and more into the artistic side, and it wasn’t so much about the playing. That’s what was missing for me, you know, I wasn’t playing like I love to.”

Lots of experimentation?

“Which is cool, very cool. I’m happy and proud of it, but I’m happy to get the best of both worlds.”

Deconstruction was like a catalyst?

“Definitely, and a way of re-tapping into what I like to do. Like, I kinda lost all perspective of the music thing, and I didn’t know if that was what I wanted any more. (Deconstruction) was just a great experience all the way around. It just hurled me back into that world, at my leisure, which was cool, and it was also a training ground for what I’m about to embark on.”

Was it getting pretty rigid being in Jane’s Addiction?

“Yeah, and it wasn’t fun any more. What ends up happening, it seems at least , you deal with a million phone calls and a million people, management, etc. criss- crossing, and the end result is that you get the opposite thing to what you wanted. Spend all this manpower and energy to get the opposite thing done. That becomes a nightmare, and you start going, this isn’t what I wanted to do. This isn’t what my dream was. You know what I mean? It gets really f**king frustrating, and that’s part of the whole game.”

The nightmare of dealing with it.

“Yeah, it’s almost like, let’s see how I can describe this. You get used to it. Like you move to LA and you’re blown away by the traffic, but you get used to it and it becomes second nature. You end up getting where you need to go anyway. You can either let it take control of your life or you can give it its two cents and just go on with what you wanted to do anyway.

“The end result is that things still don’t get done the way you wanted all the time, but luckily most of the stuff does.

“With the Deconstruction project, it was a good learning tool for me, ‘cos on the Jane’s business thing I had the accountant and the manager, but I didn’t run any of it. It’s that simple. There’s still stuff going on with Deconstruction that’s taking forever to get accomplished; it kinda becomes a joke. Sometimes I make phone calls just to see what kind of obscure, nonsensical thing is gonna be thrown at me that has nothing to do with anything, but somebody’s losing sleep over it!”

NOW WITH the Chilis, I always think of Dave as coming from a real Hard Rock base, like a Led Zeppelin… Jane’s always had that full sense of apocalypse about them. With the Chilis it’s more a Funk thing.

“That’s the thing. I think there’s more of a diversity to those bands you’re talking about, in terms of what they did. They did a lot of different types of music, whereas the Peppers kind of do one thing really well, and they’re starting to embark on other things pretty well too…”

‘BloodSugarSexMagik’ definitely showed signs of change and diversity. So the timing could be perfect for your style to show up.

“Yeah, and how that affects my personal playing is that I feel like I’m a diverse guitar player and I can play a lot of ways, but I don’t play any one specific way. I just play several different ways, and that’s gonna be interesting to bring to them because I’d like to mix it up on the next record, a little bit more than they already have.”

Like on @Breaking The Girl’?

“I loved that tune. To be honest, I can’t listen to a band that’s the same all the way through. I can’t listen to a whole record. That’s why those Led Zeppelin albums are still great.”

Unless you’re Meat Loaf, you can only do the sequel thing so long.

“And then you gotta wait ten years before its good again. I gotta roll.”

WE get up to leave. A day spent, places to go, like Kona, or maybe just East Hollywood. The traffic’s building, the sun’s nearing last call, and it’s time to give up trying to figure some of it out.

Text from Green Background:

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, LA’s kings of Funk Metal, have a new guitarist, Dave Navarro, formerly of the legendary Jane’s Addiction. Things are already sizzling as Navarro blends in with his new bandmates. ARTIE NELSON gets the first, exclusive lowdown, while elsewhere, we get up-to-the-minute facts on the Chili’s latest album.

CAN DAV E NAVARRO SURVIVE?!?

The RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS have a history of getting extremely careless with their guitar players. Here are the guys who preceded Dave Navarro into the hottest seat since the Spinal Tap drumstool…

HILLEL SLOVAK

(1983-’88)

HILLEL JOINED with Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Jack Irons to record the band’s self-titled LP in 1984, and also played on ‘Freaky Styley’ (1985) and ‘The Uplift Mofo party Plan’ (1988). The band’s bad boy, Rock ‘n’ Roll reputation was capped tragically when Slovak died of a heroin overdose in summer 1988.

JOHN FRUSCIANTE

(1988-1992)

ARRIVED In tandem with Chad Smith, who replaced Jack Irons (the man who put Eddie Vedder in touch with Pearl Jam, now in a new band, Eleven) to cut the Chili’s breakthrough LP. ‘Mother’s Milk’ (1988). However, success had its price. After ‘BloodSugarSexmagik; (1991) went through the roof, Frusciante quit while on tour in Japan, unable to cope with the band’s unrelenting schedule. By all accounts, it was an amicable parting.

ARIK MARSHALL

(1992- 93)

A LONG-time friend of the band, Marshall stepped into the breach and completed the Chilis’ touring programme. However, things didn’t work out after that, and Marshall took his leave, again amicably by all accounts.

DAVE NAVARRO

91994-present)

SOUNDS COMFORTABLE at the moment. Any man who can survive Jane’s Addiction should surely find life as a Chili Pepper a piece of cake! If you wanna check out just how good this guy is, he appears on the three classic releases by ‘Jane’s Addiction’ (Triple X, 1987) , ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ (Warner Bros, 1988) and ‘Ritual De le Habitual’ (Warner Bros, 1990).

 

News Item

Also slated for some Stones support work are the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That aside, the Peps have entered the studio with new guitarist Dave Navarro (ex-Jane’s Addiction) to begin recording the follow-up to their multi-platinum ‘BloodSugarSexMagik’ release. Four of the songs set for inclusion recently debuted at a brace of live performances in Los Angeles, the first at the Viper Room and the second at Dragon Fly (see feature, page 28)

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