Dave Navarro is clearly not used to facing the press. Settling down in a chilly Los Angeles conference room at Capitol Records to discuss "Trust No One" (due out June 19), his first solo recording, he
Dave Navarro is clearly not used to facing the press. Settling down in a chilly Los Angeles conference room at Capitol Records to discuss "Trust No One" (due out June 19), his first solo recording, he initially fidgets as if he's about to be interrogated by the police.
"I'm not a rock star. I play guitar," he firmly asserts. After years in the relative background as a member of Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers, he adds that being the one who is shaking hands and schmoozing "feels totally weird. I'm not sure it's my bag. But here I go, diving in head first."
Indeed. "Trust No One" thrusts Navarro front-and-center of the proverbial rock'n'roll stage, effectively showcasing him as a tunesmith of remarkable depth-not to mention as a formidable vocalist. "Most people don't believe it's really me singing at first," he says, laughing. "I guess that's a compliment."
Navarro started putting together songs for the album in 1998, while the Chili Peppers were on hiatus. With just piano and acoustic guitar, he began to delve into memories and experiences from what he describes as "one of the darker periods" of his life. "Putting things into words and music was like an exorcism at times. Once it's out of your mind and body, the pain of the experience lessens."
After a while, "Trust No One" became as much an act of personal catharsis and therapy for Navarro as it was a musical statement. "Each song brought me closer to the light; closer to the emotional state I wanted to be in."
Many of the songs on "Trust No One" deal with what the artist calls his "misperceptions regarding love and relationships. Through the exploration of those misconceptions, I've come out on the other side with a whole different outlook."
One of the key tracks is "Rexall," which is also the album's first single. Named after the Los Angeles pharmacy where Navarro's parents met, the track is a hypnotic, ultimately shattering rocker wherein the artist paints a heartbreaking portrait of a man at the threshold of a nervous breakdown.
Equally intense is "Mourning Son," which, Navarro explains, is "me dealing with the loss of my mother, which is a pivotal part of where my initial issues involving trust come from. She was killed by someone I trusted, and that led me to believe that even people close to you are capable of the most inconceivable things."
Writing the songs of "Trust No One" was only the first step of Navarro's journey. Handling bass and keyboard duties -- in addition to the requisite guitar work -- Navarro says that the recording process was fairly isolated until he invited multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion (Macy Gray, Aimee Mann) and percussionist Matt Chamberlin (Tori Amos, Fiona Apple) to join him in the studio. Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith later joined the party for a daring revision of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs."
"After holding these songs to myself for a while, it felt good to share them with people," Navarro says of the set, which he consciously split between the aggressive hard-rock style that he's well-regarded for and a more introspective, almost psychedelic rock sound. "The outside feedback from people I respected became crucial to its outcome."
With the music in place, the artist says he's "quite happy to let the people who know better" take "Trust No One" to the public. The first step in Capitol's marketing plan for the project? Position Navarro as a larger-than-life rocker.
"He's more than simply a guitar-hero, and this album proves it," insists Rob Gordon, the label's VP of marketing. "He is wildly charismatic. And most important of all, he's got a point of view as an artist."
The album was launched last month, when "Rexall" was shipped to rock radio. The track is complemented by a music video directed by Honey (Rage Against the Machine, Crazy Town) that recently began airing on MTV. A teaser of "Rexall" is now posted on Navarro's site (davenavarro.net), along with a flash piece of Navarro playing the national anthem.
On May 21, Capitol also launched a Navarro channel on upoc.com, a service that enables users to exchange text and voice messages with friends and receive up-to-the-minute information from a cell phone or text pager. On May 23, Navarro started leaving fans personal messages on their cell phones or two-way pagers every day for 10 days about a different song on the album. The messages included a preview of that day's song.
"Trust No One" will be released and promoted in conjunction with Navarro's book, "Don't Try This at Home" (due July 2 from ReganBooks/HarperCollins), a collaboration with New York Times writer Neil Strauss that contains short stories and photo-booth pictures of every person who has visited the musician over the span of a year.
Navarro plans to make personal appearances throughout the U.S. in support of both projects, while also touring as part of the reunited Jane's Addiction this summer. Navarro will play several songs from "Trust No One" during the show.
Interest in the album is gradually building abroad, thanks largely to Navarro's recent promotional visit to the U.K. and various parts of Continental Europe. Capitol will release the project overseas July 2, with "Rexall" as the lead radio single in mid-June.
"It's kind of cool to take a second to sit back and see what lies ahead for this little record that I've made," Navarro says. "It's taking on a life of its own, and that feels good."
While Navarro says he's happy to get back into the rhythm of playing guitar in a band like Jane's Addiction, he's not likely to stay away from the solo path for long. "I now realize the importance of getting your thoughts down onto tape. I'll always be a guitar player. But I'm going to be one who has a few songs up his sleeve, too."