When former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Dave Navarro completed his
first solo effort, it was as if he had created a reflection of himself,
an album that speaks for who he is.
But it's something more, he said.
"Spread is more or less like a child that was raised in a
one-parent household, just like I was," Navarro said. "The whole record
was initially about tackling my mother/girlfriend/wife issues, but it's
become more universal as it's gone on."
Spread is presented as an album of intensely personal songs on
which Navarro plays most of the instruments and, for the first time in
his career, takes on lead vocals. In addition to co-producing the album
with Jimmy Boyle (Rasputina) and Dave Schiffman (Alanis Morissette),
Navarro plays guitar, bass, keyboard and percussion.
The Spread album, from his solo project of the same name, offers
heavily processed, studio-manipulated songs dealing with the guitarist's
feelings about the most traumatic events in his life. The eerie acoustic
track "Cry Myself to Sleep" represents Navarro's first public attempt to
deal with the murder of his mother, which he witnessed as a 15-year-old.
"That one's about the guy who killed my mom," Navarro said, referring to
the opening lines, "There was this man I knew/And he came to move in
with us/He took all my youth away/By taking my mother away/Cry/Cry
myself to sleep at night."
The way Navarro describes the process of seeking out a new home for
Spread is enough to discourage any budding musicians with dreams
of rock stardom. "I essentially felt it was like asking myself which
fork I wanted to stab myself in the eye [with] this time," Navarro said,
referring to his experience in dealing with the music industry.
After ending a 10-year association with Warner Brothers -- for which he
recorded two studio albums with his first major band, trippy
alternative-rockers Jane's Addiction, and one with his most recent,
punk-funkers the Chili Peppers -- Navarro said he was in search of a new
home that would allow him to explore his multimedia vision.
Having just inked a deal with Sony Records through the Clean Slate
imprint, Navarro said he plans to launch the first salvo in what he
hopes will be a stream of film, literary and musical projects with the
self-titled Spread debut. The album is due on Navarro's own in-house
custom imprint, entitled Spread Entertainment, in early 1999.
One of the reasons for Navarro's departure from the Chili Peppers
earlier this year, he said, was his desire to explore personal issues in
more depth lyrically, something he said he was unable to with the
Peppers, whose lyrics are mainly penned by lead singer Anthony Kiedis.
Considering that Navarro is best known for his incendiary,
heavy-metal-like guitar work with Jane's Addiction, the subdued, nearly
solo-less sound of many of the Spread tracks is surprising.
"When I was finally able to communicate what I was feeling, I found I
didn't need an instrument," Navarro explained of several of the album's
tracks, which substitute layered, programmed beats and electronic
effects for guitar pyrotechnics.
Spread began as a band of the same name, a side-project
collaboration between Navarro and Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. The
album was recorded during the summer of 1997 while the Chili Peppers
were on hiatus. Although Smith was originally a full partner in Spread,
Navarro said the drummer is no longer involved in the project and is
putting his efforts into the Chili Peppers' latest recording work.
One of the unknown factors in Navarro's stepping out on his own is how
long-time fans -- and perhaps more importantly radio -- will react to
the guitarist's first solo venture.
"Face it, this guy has done it not once, but twice," said Sky Daniels,
general manager of the music-industry trade magazine Radio and
Records. "You don't have to qualify or substantiate his alternative
credibility because he has what most guys can't buy or fake, a true
Navarro hasn't completely severed ties with his past. Lately, his focus
has also been directed at finishing an hour-and-a-half-long film
chronicling last year's Jane's Addiction reunion tour.
"It's live material and special, behind-the-scenes stuff that isn't like
the majority of home videos," Navarro said, adding that he'd like to see
the film released early next year in a series of midnight screenings
similar to those of the long-running drag comedy "The Rocky Horror
Picture Show." The film was directed by the unknown team of Carter Smith
and Kevin Ford.
Among the bands Navarro said he hopes to sign to his "artist-driven,
creatively inspired" label are a young L.A.-based "goth/metal act" whose
name he did not want to reveal. The guitarist said he is also looking
into other film projects, as well as multimedia and literary releases.
The current track listing for Spread is: "Mourning Son,"
"Everything," "Rexall," "Sunny Day," "Angel," "Venus In Furs" (a Velvet
Underground cover featuring Leah Andreone on backing vocals), "Not For
Nothing," "Somebody Else," "Morning Sun," "Hungry," "Easy Girl," "Whore"
and "Cry Myself To Sleep."