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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 12/13/2007

Catching Up With Dave Navarro

By Liz Kelly

Dave Navarro and 'Spread' co-host Todd Newman. (Spread Entertainment)

Dave Navarro is a little annoyed when I ask him about the "reality show curse."

"If you say there's a reality TV show 'curse' then you're saying curses are real," said Navarro in an interview yesterday. "And if curses are real, all the other unknowns must be potentially real -- such as UFOs, Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. So, maybe we should be looking for those things instead of putting Nick and Jessica through hell."

Point taken. Though the guy who staked his claim in the entertainment business as the Jane's Addiction guitarist does admit that his own experiences in documenting his wedding with then-bride-to-be Carmen Electra may have been one factor that ultimately led to their divorce.

Another may have been the uptick in interest from tabloids (and, by extension, readers) in prying into stars' private lives. In the two-plus decades Navarro's been in the business, he says he's noticed a marked increase in press intrusion over the last five years. Though he does concede that stars like Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears may not be putting their best feet forward:

"I can't begin to be the armchair psychologist for Britney Spears, but what I can say is that every one of these people that may or may not be in trouble that we're 'hypothetically' discussing, they all know that something can be done if they want to change their lives and they all have groups of individuals around them that would gladly help them seek out whatever it is that they need to fulfill their lives. They all have answers. You know what I mean?"

Navarro certainly seems to have the answers. The musician is now a bona fide multimedia entity. He's still playing music -- with his band The Panic Channel and in irregular mash-ups with L.A.'s DJ Scribble -- but in the past few years, he's stretched into blogging, producing and starring in his own Internet talk show (Thursdays at 8 p.m. ETon ManiaTV) and, umm, directing a well-received adult film.

Yesterday, I spoke with Dave about his latest career moves, his frustration with the L.A.'s insatiable paparazzi culture and his thoughts about how Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse can weather their latest troubles. (Oh, and for anyone else out there wondering -- no, that wasn't a real eel he banged on the table in 1989's Jane's Addiction "Soul Kiss" documentary.)

Read the full interview after the jump...

Liz: Can you explain to the readers out there what "Spread" is, how you started doing this and why they should watch?

Dave: Wait, so that's three questions. Ummm, Spread's a one-hour Internet talk show where we have an eclectic group of guests and we aren't monitored by the FCC so we pretty much can get away with whatever we want, but we don't abuse that freedom and it's virtually commercial free with the exception of our sponsor. And not only do we get a chance to talk to some people we've all heard of, but we get the opportunity to introduce up and coming artists and some interesting things about L.A.

Frankly, it's an extension of my love for broadcasting -- I've been working on the radio for about five years now and personally, I just have a blast doing it. It's kind of a love and a hobby that turned into something a little bit more, if that makes sense.

It seems like the Internet is a natural place for it -- your blog does so well, I know I checked it out back when you were hosting "Rock Star: Supernova" and you've got a pretty active community there, so you had a built in audience.

You seem really comfortable being the interviewer behind the desk. You said you did some radio, but I imagine hosting "Rock Star" helped and do you feel your skills growing in that role?

I think that what I try to do might be a little different. I've done so many talk shows and been interviewed so many times, I try really hard to let our interviews be conversational. I don't prepare for them because I feel like any preparation I do will consist of the same five questions my guest is used to answering. So I try to get a general idea of what they're there for and what we're inspired by and then just let it be conversational. So when it turns out to be a conversational exchange it is very comfortable and as far as moving more into that direction ... I don't know. I really enjoy doing it and I think the key is to actually be interested in your guest. I've done a lot of talk shows where you can tell that the host is just thinking about what he wants to say next while you're answering him and that's really uncomfortable.

Is there a set season for the show -- will you guys do this as long as you feel like doing this or is there a firm start and stop to the "Spread" season?

Actually, we don't really ever have down time. Every once and a while we put together a "Best of" -- we've done one so far and I think we're putting together another for the week of New Year's. But so far we've done 33 shows in a row, which is pretty interesting actually.

That's a pretty long season without a break.

Even Johnny Carson took a break. But the beautiful thing is we do it once a week -- not every day, so once a week talking to cool people is not that difficult of a commitment. I think if we had more days a week we'd probably be tighter and stronger as a show. I'd actually like to step up the amount of shows we do.

But you have a lot of other stuff going on, right? Your band Panic Channel and I hear you've been doing some mash-up DJ stuff.

Yeah, well, music's my number one passion and love. If you think about the show, it's fun and inspiring, but it's not necessarily all that creative. When we put our street pieces together there's an element of creativity and using the mind to put the shows together is a creative process, but in terms of having an artistic creation, music is always going to be that number one passion. So as long as I can do the music or create, I'll feel fine. I think if I did one over the other, I'd feel stagnant.

So what are you up to musically these days? What is the Panic Channel doing? Planning to tour or go back in the studio?

There's talk about doing that. I'm really open to whatever comes down the road musically. I've been working with DJ Scribble where he's working the turntables and I'm playing guitar. Like you said, it's a live mash-up. But even that -- we're doing that out of a love of music that has inspired us. We've not necessarily writing new music.

But after the new year I'm going to get back into writing and recording a new album -- a solo album -- and we're going to put it out through the Spread Group, which is the company Larissa Friend and I put together where we are taking on an eclectic group of artists that aren't necessarily all music-based and just kind of do stuff ourselves because we have the ability now. I'm free from a major label for the first time in my career and I'm very excited about that.

I can imagine that would be freeing and leads me to my next question. I read where you've directed a porno?

Yes, I directed an adult film. I got a call from my friends over at Terravision. I'm friends with Evan Seinfeld and Tera Patric and have been for many years. I also happen to have a number of friends in the adult film industry -- both talent and producers. And I was down at the Erotic L.A. Convention here covering it for the "Spread" show, frankly, and they approached me about the possibility of directing a film and I jumped at the opportunity because here was a chance to call the shots on a feature-length film. So I tried to make it a bit edgier and artistic than the films I've seen.

It was actually a great experience. One thing I like about the adult film industry is how fast it moves. What starts out as an idea ends up being a product in about 40 days.

Instant gratification?

Yeah, so by the time you're doing your phoners about that film you're still interested in it -- whereas when you write a song it can be a year before that thing is mixed and comes out. Certainly not today -- like with my new record, I'm more than likely going to just put the tracks together and put them out [on the Internet] as they are completed.

Now will you be doing the Radiohead model and letting people donate or will these be freebies? Or are you going to charge a specific price?

Well now that's a loaded question right there: Are you going to be as cool as the other guys or are you going to be a jerk?

Here's the thing -- the Internet being the way it is and the recording industry. I'm thrilled I have the opportunity to do the Spread show and have the terrific sponsors that we work with like Nikon or Verizon. And to be able to take a few days off and direct a film or go do these mash-up gigs with DJ Scribble, because I know just as much as anyone else that musicians aren't really making that much money on their records anymore. Unless you're an enormous star. I'm talking about new independent artists and without a body of work behind me that's of the same name, for instance, I have to approach any new project as a new project. There may be some name recognition there, but it's the difference between a Radiohead and a Thom Yorke record. Without that level of familiarity, it's going to be difficult.

And I talked about what happens with a lot of these bands and records now, the public generally buys the song they want and they don't buy the record and that has hurt a lot. Even the "honest" way of downloading has hurt record sales because people aren't buying entire albums anymore. The long and short of it is that I don't necessarily expect record sales to be a substantial source of income and without a major label behind us, we do have a chance as artists to take it back to when it was exciting and new and people weren't looking for the three-and-a-half minute songs you hear on the radio and hopefully get a video played so you could sell records. Now we have the opportunity to do something interesting with the music.

I was a big fan of "Rock Star." I know that wasn't necessarily the biggest hit for CBS and the third season was scrapped before it got off the ground. Is there any chance that it could be revived now that we're living through the writers' strike?

I hadn't thought about that. I haven't heard anything, though. I had a good time working on that show, but we're almost a year away from the last season so I doubt it. Some people loved it. Some people absolutely hated it. Some people were offended by it.

Because of how it put together a band or commercialized that process?

Yeah, I guess. For me sitting on the couch, I didn't view it as -- my role was more on an entertainment level, not a creative level, so I don't really have the answers for that. I don't think it's coming back and I don't know why there were such polar opposite reactions to that show.

It's interesting that "American Idol" can be such a big hit, but when you try to do the same thing with a band it just never seems to catch fire.

I can understand to a degree that rock fans -- and I'm probably going to get a horrible reaction for saying this -- but rock fans tend to be a little more interested in the artistry behind the music whereas pop fans are more interested in the song and I think some people felt that the artistry was stripped away on that show.

To a degree I can understand that. As a viewer of television if there's something I don't like or find offensive, I just don't watch it. I don't spend a lot of time screaming from rooftops why I didn't like it.

Now you talked about your role on that show being as an entertainer since you were co-hosting. Would you have wanted to be in the role of Tommy Lee or Jason Newstead -- one of the guys signing up to perform with a custom-made band?

I've been asked that question a bunch and the answer is no. That's not the way I like to work -- that's not the optimum way to put a creative project together. But who am I to stand in the way of people who want to do it?

A couple of weeks ago Hulk Hogan's wife left him, which again raised the specter of the reality show relationship curse -- that couples who put their relationship out there for the world to see are asking for trouble. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Britney Spears and K-Fed, you and Carmen Electra and now the Hogans. Is there anything to that "curse?" Did the show have any role in ending your marriage?

No, I don't. I think if there is such a thing as a "curse" and any validity to -- if you say there's a reality TV show "curse" then you're saying curses are real. And if curses are real, all the other unknowns must be potentially real -- such as UFOs, Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. So, maybe we should be looking for those things instead of putting Nick and Jessica through hell. You know what I mean?

I know you're looking for a real answer. And to a degree that is a real answer. As far as my experience, no that wasn't what happened. Marriages are vulnerable and people change, people grow -- whether it's on TV or not. Let's look at the divorce rate for people who didn't have reality shows. It's pretty high.

But ultimately what happens is that it's not the show. What does happen is if you put your relationship on television your life changes dramatically and I would say that plays a factor because now the public is viewing that relationship under the microscope and the couples get busier and start doing things separately and going to appearances and makes what was once a very simple personal life suddenly very hard to manage.

So it's just an added stressor?

I think it is an added stressor. I feel fortunate because our show was just about putting our wedding together. It didn't follow us around in our life. At the same time, I would never in a million years blame our television show for why we separated.

Would you do it again?

A reality television show? Not based on a relationship because of the taste factor. I wouldn't do it with one woman then do it with another. I just think that would be in poor taste. I think that would be a bad choice and potentially hurtful to either woman. It would be like asking a musician to re-record the same album with a different band.

But would I stray away from appearing on a television program? Absolutely not. It depends on the subject matter. I'm open to doing pretty much anything I find interesting and fun.

To be honest with you, I get a lot of [expletive] over the choices that I make, but the truth is that I really just enjoy trying my hand at different things. The hardcore music fans would rather see me just do music. The bottom line is that I feel that if I don't do certain things that I'm interested in because of public reaction, that's even more of a sellout move because now I'm operating on fear.

Ultimately, when I do take on different elements of entertainment or work they inspire my other creative outlets. So spending time with Tommy Lee and Jason [Newstead] and Gilby [Clark] over the summer was really inspiring for my musical endeavors and working on the adult film brought a lot of ideas together for my Internet show and the show and seeing musicians I have on as guests is inspiring as far as getting back into music, so all I'm doing is creative new relationship that intertwine and work together.

You've navigated your career pretty well. I know you've been through some darker times and struggled with some addictions and you seem to have come out the other end of that okay. What do you say to someone like Amy Winehouse, who seems to really be having a hard time holding it together?

Anything I'd have to say to Amy Winehouse, I would say it to her.

I hear you. It's just that I pay a lot of attention to this stuff and you see somebody like that who can't seem to make a right move right now. You've been through all this and you seem to live your life pretty much out of the spotlight, except when you want to be in that spotlight. So, how do you walk that line?

That's such a tough question. The way it has become today with the media and tabloids and paparazzi and press -- for instance, we just went to the Spike Video Game Awards where I was a presenter and the question came up -- when you arrive at these big award shows the car generally pulls up to the top of the red carpet and you walk down the carpet and you take your pictures and do your interviews and you go into the show. This year I was very hesitant to even bother with the carpet part and just wanted to go in and do my job. Someone asked me why and I said that anytime you step into that arena these days it's simply an opportunity for people to talk [expletive] and make up stories.

Actually there was a story from the Spike Awards that Steve-O was too drunk to present, so he was kicked out.

I ended up doing it anyway because I do pride myself on trying to not let fear run my life. I was there and wanted to be a part of that event and didn't want to let comments of people I don't even know ruin it. But it is a fine line. It is incredibly difficult.

One thing that I will say is that when I was getting high, I didn't leave the house for starters. I don't know why these people insist on going places. You're asking for it.

But ultimately I don't have an answer for that. I've been in entertainment for 22 years and when we got started back in the 80s, the first 15 years of it -- it wasn't like this. You could go eat dinner and get to your car without being swarmed. And if there was a photographer, he'd say "Hey, Dave, mind if I get a picture." And you'd say "Yes, thank you, go ahead" or "No, thanks, not tonight" and they'd respect that. That's how it used to be and, I don't know, it's an epidemic.

It's really become a problem. How do I walk the fine line? I don't know. I think that by realizing I could go out into the world and randomly select any anonymous person walking down the street, right, and I could grab a camera and follow him long enough until he looked bad, was dressed poorly, did something that looked like they were doing something shady -- any person in the world, I could do it. So I have to take it all with a grain of salt.

For the most part there's a handful of celebs that nice things get reported about them and the rest of them, they're just waiting to jump on them.

I saw journalists talking about Will Smith! He's honored at the Chinese Theater, has the cleanest record you can think of and I see they're talking [trash] about him.

I know he was criticized recently for admitting that he'd dabbled in Scientology.

Who cares? What does that have to do with whether or not I enjoy "I Am Legend?" I don't care. That, to me, is a sore spot. The whole press and paparazzi angle. At the same time, I'm glad I'm not at the level of some of these people who are in [the tabloids] every single day.

Yeah, but you're also not going into the Hustler store and taking off your undies, like Britney Spears apparently did last week. There's another topic -- do you think in some ways that what Britney is doing is a cry for help. I mean she's presenting herself in the worst way she possibly can with full knowledge that she's being tailed by paparazzi.

I can't begin to be the armchair psychologist for Britney Spears, but what I can say is that every one of these people that may or may not be in trouble that we're "hypothetically" discussing, they all know that something can be done if they want to change their lives and they all have groups of individuals around them that would gladly help them seek out whatever it is that they need to fulfill their lives. They all have answers, you know what I mean?

Let's put it this way -- every junkie knows that rehab exists, but it's up to them whether or not they want to go. Is it a cry for help? Who am I to speculate?

Okay, so in the Jane's Addiction "Soul Kiss" video. Was that a real eel you banged on the table?

No. It was fake. That's why we played it in slow motion.

So how are you spending your holidays?

Every Christmas I end up going and spending it with my family. I love this question -- as though I have some alternate universe that it takes place in. I go spend it with my family and we open presents and have dinner and spend time together.

Any gifts on the top of your wish list?

Absolutely not. I don't like to own things. If you come to my house you see I have my computer, my furniture, my clothes, my car -- that's it. I'm really super streamlined.

As far as giving gifts, I think I'm going to pick one of my favorite charities and do the old "a donation in your name" thing.

Get more Dave Navarro at 6767.com.

By Liz Kelly  | December 13, 2007; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Catching Up With..., Celebrities  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Mix: Crowe and Kidman Top List of Overpaid Celebs
Next: Morning Mix: Sneak Peek at Brit's New Video

Comments

I would like to nominate Dave Navarro for a pony, but since he doesn't like things, he might not WANT a pony and in that case I would donate to my favorite pony charity in his name.

Posted by: sunnydaze | December 13, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

sunnydaze, you took the comments right out of my mouth. that interview really altered my view of him. one pony for navarro. good work outta you, liz kelly!

Posted by: methinks | December 13, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I didn't have much of an opinion of Dave Navarro good or bad, except that he might be a bit of a weirdo (based on his reality show with Carmen Electra, which I didn't actually watch), but I was really impressed by this interview. He seems articulate and intelligent and has a very balanced attitude about things. I also like the fact that he refrained from criticizing other celebs, when there are so many celebs who will complain about the paparazzi being overly interested in their lives in one breath and then use the next one to deliver their views on Paris, Nicole, Britney, et al. Great interview, Liz!

Posted by: impressed | December 13, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

one of your better interviews Liz...

the callout i'd make is the question on downloading and musicians and money - because ultimately, whether by intent or not, here's a guy who's figured it out... the nike/verizon sponsorship is a great way for artists to make money. They need to find ways to bring themselves, as entertainers, into a place where the market can try to brand-bridge to their product/image. The DMCA only serves to support the coke-snorting A&R types (seen a LOT of that at SXSW over the years) - and that whole side of the industry is in serious trouble. That, of course, ties back into why we're looking at a writers strike - but let's leave it there...

well done

Posted by: Quintilus Varus | December 13, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Very nice interview - he's a remarkably civilized and respectful person, both of himself and other others. Not what one would have expected.

Posted by: bogota | December 13, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy his blog and I enjoyed this interview, kudos to Liz for the latter. :)

(And to those who are surprised by this, there are several tattooed, rock-type people out there one might not expect to be as well-spoken as they are. A few come to mind offhand, and while I may not necessarily agree with them, I've been quite impressed with the way they carry themselves in interviews and the way they express their ideas, which I sometimes find interesting even if I don't like their work....)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 13, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Please stop with the tats, though. Not good for the developing baby. The chances for infection and insufficient immune response are great -- your immune system is depressed now during pregnancy, otherwise your body would treat the fetus as a foreign substance and reject it. Same reason you should stay away from cats and sushi until after breastfeeding. And if you need a book, stick to The Girlfriend's Guide. Stay away from What to Expect.

Wonderful news!

Posted by: Chat Etiquette | December 13, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it was Liz Kelly who announced her pregnant, I think it was someone else who posted that.

Am I wrong or am I right, Liz Kelly?

Posted by: byoolin | December 13, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think it was Liz Kelly who announced her pregnant..."

Me, fail English? That's unpossible.

Posted by: byoolin | December 13, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

When did Liz Kelly announce a pregnancy?

She did, however, ask that we stop mentioning onies-pay so much.

Posted by: methinks | December 13, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I just read the end of the online chat and Liz Kelly did include a commenters pregnancy announcement, not her own. I can see where one might be confused, but Liz Kelly is not pregnant. At least she hasn't told us yet.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 13, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Of course because Liz Kelly asked we will refrain from discussing the onies-pay but, blow back? Really?

Posted by: jes | December 13, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Ohmygod. Robin Givhan reports that Obama wears *pleated* pants. Does Oprah know?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/13/AR2007121301787.html?hpid=artslot

Posted by: Kly | December 14, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Does this mean he has a small waist and fat hips?

Posted by: omni | December 14, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I didn't know it was possible to love Dave Navarro even more than I already do!

Posted by: Bored @ home | December 14, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Dave has always been the coolest. Ben a fan since the first Jane's triple X release.

Posted by: Kny | December 21, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Great interview...its probably one of the best I've seen with Dave in a while. Thanks Liz :)

Posted by: Amber | December 21, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Great article Liz, its been a while since I've read an interview with someone I admire and actually felt like the inverviewer was trying to conect with the person being inerviewed.

Posted by: satch72 | December 22, 2007 3:26 AM | Report abuse

Dave Navarro is one of the best artists out there. great guitarist and has a great personality. i met him before a panic channel show and he was so nice he let me and a couple friends come in and listen to the sound check. he is an awesome dude.

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