We recently had the pleasure to interview rock legend Dave Navarro, guitarist for Jane’s Addiction and Camp Freddy, as well as host of the hit reality show Ink Master. We asked him about music, The Walking Dead, Ink Master and much more…
Inked Angels: How did you find out about Inked Angels?
Dave: I’m not sure, I’m pretty certain someone I follow on Twitter either tweeted to you or re-tweeted something you said and frankly, the name and the avatar were enough for me to sign in. I really support alternative sub culture sites that are down on their own and I tend to lately, in the past couple of years, to sway away from mainstream press and interviews. But when it’s something of this nature, where it’s kind of a counter culture site, that’s more interesting to me than someone who’s going to ask me where we got the name for the band.
Inked Angels: We absolutely love the new album, ‘The Great Escape Artist’, and the song ‘Underground’ is almost worn out on my playlist.
Dave: Yeah, we’ll be opening our shows with it.
Inked Angels: You’re a fan of The Walking Dead TV series and we saw you on The Talking Dead talk show, what’s your thoughts on the upcoming season?
Dave: I’m pretty excited about how season 2 ended, so I’m really looking forward to season 3. I was on Talking Dead and if you watch that program, a lot of people just have fun and talk about the show, I was pretty much the only voice of discontent. In fact, I had to tone down my discontent, the seasons prior to my appearance were pretty uneventful in the terms of zombie apocalypse footage. It’s funny because I voiced that and I had the creator and producer there, they definitely heard what I was saying, but the reaction I got from the fans of the show was unbelievable, people were so up in arms and angry with me. Then from that day forward every single episode was like blood lust. The reality is, I wasn’t off base. Clearly the producers and creators of the show agreed with what I was saying which is why in the pre-interview they allowed me to be somewhat the voice of discontent.
Inked Angels: What I liked the most about you on The Talking Dead was you asked the questions I had as a viewer at home and a fan of the show. It seemed like the rest of the people on the show just played nice and weren’t too critical of the show to that point. It was nice to have you on there to ask where the zombies are, and all the killing and that kind of stuff.
Dave: I love what they did with the remainder of that season and I’m super psyched about the next season. I don’t watch a lot of television, but the shows I do watch, I’m super passionate about.
Inked Angels: We really enjoyed Ink Master, were you able to get any tats by any of the contestants from the show?
Dave: I haven’t and for no other reason than I haven’t been in the same city as them long enough. I have plans to get tattooed by Lea Vendetta, Shane O’Neil, Tommy Helm, and Billy Vegas. I’m actually going to get tattooed by his girlfriend, believe it or not, who’s also an artist. She specializes in Hello Kitty tattoos which is an interesting side love of mine. I got tattooed by Oliver Peck quite a bit in the backstage area. The contestants work so hard during the day, so to throw another job at them when they have art to do overnight and tattoo a client for 8 hours, I wasn’t going to ask them to do that.
Inked Angels: Now you’ve done other TV shows, Rockstar: INXS, Rockstar: Supernova and interviews on the red carpet for the AVN awards, where does Ink Master rank among your favorite?
Dave: I have more fun on Ink Master. To be honest, the Rockstar shows were fun, I met great people and had a great time, but the subject matter being music was a little too close to home for me. You’d think I’d gravitate more towards the music one because I’d have more of an educated opinion about stuff, but the reality is, on Ink Master, it’s not my job, it’s not my profession, and my voice is that of a client, so I feel more free on that show. I get to hang around really great artists and watch them do their craft all day long everyday. With the Rockstar show, the musicians went and did their rehearsal on their own, where as Ink Master is a little more immediate. We give some directions, then they go to work and I get to walk around and go to the different shops and talk to the guys and I got really close to the contestants.
Inked Angels: Was it tough on Ink Master to give the negative reviews on the tats?
Dave: Not really. When it came to technical critiques, that was on Oliver and Chris. I was a little more free with my critiques, and a lot of it got cut out of the show. We went on for a long time with each artist, but time does not allow for it on TV. We spent 5-7 minutes with each artist with critiques and each of us spoke for a long period of time. I just had to say what I thought as if I’m a guy in a tattoo shop either getting art done or hanging with someone getting art done. That was my voice and a lot of people didn’t understand that. I’m going to try to make that a little clearer next season, that my voice on the show was that of a collector and basically of the guy sitting at home watching the show. You can’t judge things purely based on technical, ultimately you have to take into consideration how happy the client is. We don’t have any idea of what the memory or what the meaning behind the piece is for the client, so I take that viewpoint. I have some really shitty tattoos that mean the world to me, ones that Oliver and Chris would go “that is awful” but I’d be like, I got that the day I went swimming naked with dolphins off the coast of Hawaii and it means a lot to me.
Inked Angels: Do you have any favorite new up and coming bands that you like?
Dave: I really love Die Antwoord. They aren’t really up and coming, but we really tried hard to get them to open for us and they’ll be doing some east coast shows in August. I think they’re really interesting, innovative and have a sense of humor. I also like Big Black Delta. Believe it or not, because we tour so much, the last thing I do when I come home is listen to music. I’ll be on stage Sunday night thinking about the fact that a new Mad Men is coming on.
Inked Angels: Has touring changed much now from back when you guys first started in the late 80’s?
Dave: Completely a different world. When we got started, it was all of us and our crew and our equipment in a passenger van and if anybody had to make a phone call, we had to find a pay phone, find change, call somebody at home on their home phone and hope they are there to answer. With computers and cell phones, it made the world ten times smaller. Now we go to Europe and we feel like we’re right across the street. The ability to stay in touch with your own life away from home, it’s become a lot easier.
Inked Angels: You’ve done a lot of collaborations with many artists from Marilyn Manson to Nine Inch Nails and many many more. If Jane’s Addiction didn’t exist and you could pick any band past or present, which would you join?
Dave: That’s a really tough question. The reason it’s so tough is because one of the reasons why certain bands are my favorite band is because they present an emotional viewpoint that I’m not a part of. As soon as I step into that band, my baggage comes with me and it doesn’t mean the same to me anymore. I’ve done solo work and been in other bands, I’d probably just start something else. The bands that come to mind of course are Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails but at the same time those bands mean so much to me on an emotional level that I don’t want to dilute them with my own sense of self. I’d rather have their music remain important to me.
Inked Angels: What artists influenced you growing up?
Dave: As a guitar player, it was always the big three, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. My tastes have always shifted, but I’ve never lost interest in bands I was originally into. I grew up a child of 60’s music, then got into the punk scene, got into the heavy metal scene, got into the goth scene. Screaming Banshees, Robert Smith, The Cure, but all the love I had for the previous bands I was into and I had been influenced by remained, so as a guitar player today I kind of approach everything from all those schools. I know a lot of artists are pretty steadfast in what they like and what they don’t like. I love Van Halen just as much as I love The Cure, just as much as I love The Buzzcocks, or just as much as I love Pink Floyd. If I step back and listen to my own playing, I can hear that in my playing. It allows me to be a little more expansive on the instrument as well if you don’t shut yourself off to different influences.