Former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro is currently wearing many hats.
In addition to co-hosting CBS' "Rock Star: Supernova" — which concludes Wednesday with the assignment of a lead vocalist to the rock outfit featuring Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke — Navarro is co-creator of "The Product," an hour-long drama that will center around a fictional rock band. The show, which has been picked up by FX, was co-created by "Entourage" wordsmith Cliff Dorfman and journalist Neil Strauss, who co-wrote Navarro's book "Don't Try This at Home: A Year in the Life of Dave Navarro."
And music is still much more than just a hobby for Navarro. His new band, the Panic Channel — rounded out by vocalist Steve Issacs, ex-Jane's kitman Stephen Perkins and former Jane's bassist Chris Chaney — released its debut album, (ONe), last month. Navarro is also working with Camp Freddy, a cover band to shame all cover bands, featuring Chaney, the Cult's Billy Morrison, Donovan Leitch and Velvet Revolver's Matt Sorum and Scott Weiland.
"I have my hands full right now," Navarro observed, adding that, on top of all this, the Panic Channel will be heading out this winter with Supernova for a U.S. tour that launches December 31 in Las Vegas, with dates scheduled through February 27 in Long Beach, California (see "Dave Navarro's New Addiction: The Panic Channel").
"We did like a month of touring in June, and we just had a blast," explained Navarro, who hasn't been able to tour with Panic since, due to his "Rock Star: Supernova" gig. "We did little clubs and got our feet wet with the touring thing, and I remembered just how much I love playing in the smaller venues" — something Navarro didn't experience much during Jane's Addiction's heyday and subsequent reunion tours, or his stint with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"The audience didn't know any [Panic Channel] music because there was no material available," he continued. "So it was pretty much rooms full of diehard fans that had been following us online — we took our time recording the album, and documented every step of the recording process and the band's formation on our Web sites. There were a lot of online followers, and I guess people who were curious came out for those shows. The response was great and we had a really positive experience out there."
The response to (ONe) was less than great. To date, the LP has sold just over 13,000 copies. But Navarro is not going to let that ruin his day.
"If I'm playing somewhere with these guys, I'll be happy," he said. "Music has to be something you love, because it's such a f---ed up business right now that, if you don't love it, you're just going to spin your wheels and make yourself crazy. Fortunately, I love it to the point where I care less about outcomes."
Recording the album took Navarro back to his Jane's Addiction roots, when he and the rest of the band were struggling just to get noticed, playing the Los Angeles club circuit.
"Every record has its own unique experience," he said. "We took our time writing the music, and we went into the studio knowing exactly what we wanted to accomplish and knowing how the songs went. It was very little experimentation in terms of songwriting in the studio, which saves a lot of time. It came out in some ways sonically grander than we had anticipated. This band really did start because we just sort of got together with nothing to do, and wanted to play music. The next step was we found ourselves with a body of work, and then we went out and played it live. We recorded some stuff DIY in Stephen Perkins' garage for an EP, and we decided to make a full album. Before we knew it, we had a name and a band and an album.
"When we started out, it was more or less going to be a real simple DIY collection of songs from four guys who like jamming together," Navarro continued. "We had no anticipation of becoming a working, touring entity. The fact that we've done a tour and made a video and had a record come out, already we're far and away beyond where we thought we would be."
Navarro is also hammering away on Camp Freddy's forthcoming album, which is taking much longer to complete than the guitarist had expected (see "Yet Again, Dave Navarro Surveys Life After Jane's Addiction"). The music for a dozen tracks — all covers — has been recorded with producer Mike Clink. But Navarro said the LP has been held up because of a laundry list of guest vocalists signed up to sing on the disc.
"Camp Freddy is a lot of fun because there's no emotional connection to the music, because it's not our own creation," Navarro said. "It's literally five guys who get together because we like to jam and play songs we love and its nothing but fun. There's no room for egos in a situation like that, even though you're dealing with well-known musicians. Everybody comes to it on an even playing field, because nobody wrote the music."
There is at least one Camp Freddy track available for digital download: a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." The song will also be included on the soundtrack to "Employee of the Month," which opens nationwide October 6. Weiland handled lead vocals for the tune.