After three years, one album and plenty of drama, Dave Navarro said on Friday that he had quit the Red Hot Chili Peppers in order to focus on his new band project Spread.
"I still love those guys to death and being a Chili Pepper was one of the best experiences of my life," Navarro said, soon after making the announcement official in a press release issued by his label. "But in making this record [the debut by his project Spread, a collaboration with Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith] I uncovered different areas of creativity that I want to explore."
Navarro, 29, joined the RHCP in 1995, as the band's eighth guitarist since their first record was released in 1984. He recorded the 1995 album One Hot Minute with the group, an album he admitted is not one of his favorite RHCP works. "This is a completely mutual parting based on creative differences. We had fun and I love the guy," said RHCP singer Anthony Kiedis in a prepared statement issued by the band’s label, Warner Bros.
The past year has been a tumultuous one for the band, with a string of scheduled dates being canceled several times, following separate motorcycle accidents that sidelined drummer Smith and Kiedis, as well as the public admissions by Navarro and Kiedis of drug relapses.
The departure of Navarro -- who previously announced that he would not tour extensively again with either RHCP or Jane's Addiction -- continues the revolving door of guitarists who have come and gone from the Peppers. The quartet began its career with the late guitaist Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988, and followed with a string of interim players that included former P-Funk guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, John Frusciante, Arik Marshall and Jesse Tobias, several of whom did not stick around long enough to record a single note with the legendary L.A. funk-punk group.
Asked if perhaps the position was haunted, Navarro said, "I felt like maybe it was cursed when I walked in there, but I definitely left the band feeling blessed. I can't tell you how much I've grown as a musician and human being as a result of being with them."
Navarro's departure has apparently not discouraged the Chili Peppers from carrying on. The rest of the band is busy working on material for its next album, and, presumably, looking for a new guitarist. Navarro said he has only played on one new RHCP song, "Circle of the Noose," a tribute to the late qawwali-devotional singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which he said may or may not appear on the still-untitled and unscheduled Chili Peppers album.
Last December, Navarro described the "totally pop", dirge-like "Circle" as "one of the favorite songs I've been involved with in this band."
In the Warner Bros. statement, RHCP bassist Flea, who also played with Navarro in the reunited version of Jane's Addiction in place of original bassist Eric Avery, said, "We just felt the time was right to pursue other interests. I was honored to play with Dave for the time that I did. He is an epic and a beautiful musician and human being and I'm sure that we will do something again in the future."
The well-appointed guitarist said he plans to finish mastering the Spread project, Unicorns And Rainbows: The Pelican by early next week and hopes to have it released by July. The intensely personal and sonically ambitious album, recorded last year while the Chili Peppers were on hiatus, was described by Navarro last December as "something I needed to make," that deals with a lot of "girl and mother issues," including the stark songs "Mourning Son" and the eerie acoustic track "Cry Myself to Sleep."
The latter song, he said, represents his first public musical attempt to deal with the tragic murder of his mother, which he witnessed as a 15-year-old boy. "That one's about the guy who killed my mom," said Navarro, citing the opening set of lyrics, "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."
One of the reasons for Navarro's departure from the Chili Peppers, he said, was his desire to explore such issues in more depth lyrically, which he said he was unable to do in the Peppers, as most of the RHCP lyrics are penned by Kiedis.
Asked if he felt he'd left his imprint on the band, Navarro said, "I don't know if I left my mark on them, but they definitely left their mark on me."