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Jane's Addiction Is Back; Dave Navarro Talks Their New Album and Why He Fucking Hates The Media

Jane's Addiction Is Back; Dave Navarro Talks Their New Album and Why He Fucking Hates The Media

Lina Lecaro

See also our review of Jane's Addiction at the John Anson Ford Theatre, 10/3/11

Jane's Addiction play the Ford tonight and tomorrow. The venue is an important part of their history. Back in 1989, the band performed seven straight nights there, launching Nothing's Shocking. They also offered a glimpse into the colorful visual influences and rhythmic experimentation of their release the following year, Ritual de Lo Habitual.

As a young music fan and budding critic, we found these shows seminal. We remember hearing them announced as "Juana's Addicion," the wild, folkloric stage d├ęcor, flying dreadlocks, and thunderous music. And so we caught up with guitarist Dave Navarro to talk about the shows, the group's new album -- The Great Escape Artist, out October 18 -- and why the media generally annoys the crap out of him.

Jane's Addiction has come a long way, baby

Jane's Addiction has come a long way, baby

I was at two of the seven Ford shows back in '89, and remember them well. What did they mean to you?

Glad you remember them, because I don't. The John Anson Ford shows were at the height of my experimentation, let's say. As I recall I did have to be revived one of the nights, like maybe a half an hour before we went on.

So it's a blur?

I don't know if it's a blur because I was altered, or it was a long time ago, or both. While you're doing it, you don't really know that the shows are going to go down as ones to remember.

Those dates are legendary as far L.A. live shows go, for sure.

Well, the beautiful thing about that space is, it's intended for theatre. It's not necessarily a rock venue. Bringing a rock show into a space like that is a neat thing.

All of the venues on Jane's upcoming tour have special significance don't they?

Yeah, Irving Plaza in New York and The Metro in Chicago were where we launched Nothing's Shocking. We haven't announced them all yet.

The band has such a long and sometimes tumultuous history. In making a new record were there differences that had to be worked out or was it all smooth sailing?

I get asked this so many times and I always fail to come up with a good answer. I've been with this band almost 25 years and I've worked with all these guys in one way or another over the years on different projects. Also keep in mind we'd done extensive touring with Nine Inch Nails in Europe in 2009. We'd essentially been a working band for 2 years prior to even thinking about this. Relationships were well established and we just went in and did it. It was pretty natural and a lot of that comes from intuition. You gain that by spending a lot of time together.

What about the writing and recording process?

There was a number of ways we went about it but that's the way Janes Addiction's always worked, in terms of not having a formula. Some came from jamming, some from working on multi-track... It's difficult for me to describe a process which is primarily felt.

I get it. Even just imaging you guys jamming and something coming out of that is interesting.

Well, "Underground," the first song, actually came about from an electronic jam that Perry [Farrell] was working on. We re-worked it as a band. "Irresistible Force" started literally with me playing an acoustic guitar against a click track because I found a tempo I liked. I pretty much wrote the music to that in a kind of stream of consciousness style and everybody jumped on it and added parts. We gave it completed to Perry who worked on it in his own studio at home and wrote the melody and lyrics. "Splash A Little Water" came about through a live jam session. So there are three extreme examples of songs on this album that were written in entirely different ways.

What made you decide it was time for some new music?

At that point, after doing the Nails tour and the European dates, we were really enjoying the band and being on the road and playing shows. It was about keeping our fans satiated and we wanted to keep going. It's like any relationship. If you're in a relationship and you and your partner don't create new experiences and have new things to bring into it, it's gonna die. I think that another tour just playing "Mountain Song" and "Jane Says," wouldn't be of interest to us, and wouldn't be of interest to anybody else. It's evolve or die. We love playing the old songs, don't get me wrong, but we've added the new stuff, and already it's ignited a sense of urgency and made the flow of the sets feel fresh and new.

Today

Today

Tell me about your bass players. Eric Avery is the original of course, and you've had Duff McKagan, and even Flea for a little bit. Now it's Chris Chaney. Is he the permanent bassist at this point?

He pretty much always was. The only reason he wasn't on the Nine Inch Nails tour was because Eric came back for that. Chris has been and is a member of Jane's Addiction.

How has having different bass players affected the band's music?

There's only been two, Chris and Eric. There's no recorded music with Duff. As for playing live, I believe that having different influences on stage helps one become a more well-rounded player. I've played with hundreds of different musicians, just with Camp Freddy alone. And don't forget Martyn LeNoble played with Jane's for a couple years too.

Always a Jane's highlight: shirtless Dave

Always a Jane's highlight: shirtless Dave

Tell me about playing smaller places and particularly, the secret, small club shows you guys were doing for a while there. Plans for any more of those?

Those shows were warm-ups because we were about to embark on a tour. These upcoming shows are to celebrate the release of the new album. The shows we are doing now aren't secret, but it's the same kind of philosophy; before we embark upon an official album tour cycle, we give our hardcore fanbase the opportunity to see us in the places where they fell in love with band to begin with.

I will tell you that when Nails played at the Echo, those kinds of shows were much more exciting for me to go to. Even though I had just done months of touring with them and saw them every night, I went to that. With any band you love, it's always special to see them in a smaller venue like that.

I know you have a lot of things you do outside of the band. In fact, we both have shows on internet radio station Moheak.com. Tell me about yours, Dark Matter.

Cool. Yeah, it's Wednesday night from 9-11. It's music but it's mainly conversational and phone calls and listener-generated content. If I'm touring, my co-hosts Todd Newman and Jessica are always there. The diehard listeners love every member of the show. I do it because I have a love for the medium. I love the immediacy. I love the looseness. I feel that it allows me the opportunity to say what I really think about a number of things. Certainly in this day and age where internet and press are so deeply intertwined.. .we have websites, Twitter, Facebook and ways to connect with our fanbases, but there's something about speaking directly to somebody at home that can't be beat.

And I love the idea of being able to respond to some of the media slant out there which is generally inaccurate and unfair most of the time.

The music media?

Just press in general. I have a real love/hate relationship with it and over the years it's become more of a hate relationship.

Really? [Nervous laugh]

Oh yeah, you would be surprised how many times I spend half an hour talking to somebody only to have a story come out and it be completely slanted and one-sided.

One of the things I've taken to doing -- and I'm not doing it right now -- but if I'm home I'll record the interview while I'm doing it so when the piece comes out I'll play it over the radio and show, "Ok this is how it actually went down and here's what you're reading." Then let the listeners go after the writer. I know it sounds paranoid, but it's entertaining

Yikes.

You know anyone can call themselves a writer now. It seems the new generation of writers... they're looking for the buzz words to get the pull-quote. You could easily spin this whole interview to, "Navarro reveals he was unconscious for the first string of shows in 1989-90." Like, that would be the headline...

Yeah, it definitely happens...

I'm a writer myself. I just take it seriously and I wish more people did.

Well, it is kind of funny that were nearly unconscious during those legendary shows and hey, you were still really good.

Yeah but probably 90 percent of the audience was too. That was the time.

Yes it was.

Jane's Addiction performs at the John Anson Ford Theatre tonight and tomorrow night, Oct. 3 and 4. Both are sold out.

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Related Location

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre
miles

2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East
Hollywood, CA 90068

323-461-3673

www.fordamphitheatre.org