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Breaking Down the Wall: Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction Tells Why He Loves Pink Floyd

Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction talks about his love for Pink Floyd’s The Wall in this exclusive interview Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction talks about his love for Pink Floyd’s The Wall in this exclusive interview

Dave Navarro is the very definition of a rock star: exuding black-leather cool when he walks into a room, all tattoos, eyeliner and silver skulls. The innovative guitarist from the seminal L.A.-born rock band Jane’s Addiction, Navarro has inspired many a kid to pick up a guitar and start a band of their own. For Navarro, that same inspiration came from the classic rock of his youth — Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Grateful Dead and most importantly, Pink Floyd.

Listen to Navarro talk about Pink Floyd and that rock-star cool melts away. The passion and enthusiasm in his voice reveals a hardcore fan who still gets excited by his favorite group. With former Pink Floyd songwriter and bass player Roger Waters bringing his massive production of The Wall back to North America for a run of stadium dates this summer, we asked Navarro to discuss all things Pink Floyd and why he thinks The Wall is the greatest album of all time.

ROSEBUD MAGAZINE: Can you remember the first time Pink Floyd made an impression on you?

DAVE NAVARRO: It was 1981, and I was in a car on my way to see the Allman Brothers in Santa Barbara. The soundtrack for the trip was [Pink Floyd’s] Animals album. With the exception of Led Zeppelin and some other ’60s bands, that was my first experience with a long-format album. Needless to say, I was very blown away by it.

In fact, one of the reasons I was even going to see the Allman Brothers was because they did a song called “Mountain Jam” that was this long, extended musical journey. I would even go so far as to say that bands like Pink Floyd, the Allman Brother and the Grateful Dead influenced my songwriting and leaning towards longer, more cinematic pieces.

RM: With Jane’s Addiction, you definitely explored that with songs like “Three Days,” “Summertime Rolls” and “Then She Did.” I’ve heard those songs expanded even more in the live setting.

DN: Exactly. I can definitely say that while there were no deliberate intentions of emulating Pink Floyd, it’s a band that certainly gets under your skin and into your psyche in such a way that it comes out in ways you’re not even aware of until you look back.

RM: When you and Billy Corgan performed with the band Spirits in the Sky back in 2009, you ended the show with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam.” Are there other Floyd tunes that you’ve played live over the years?

DN: The entire opening of the song “Wish You Were Here” was something that was a must for me to learn how to play growing up. Or at least do my best trying to play. I would say that Animals, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were pretty important records for me growing up.

Dave Navarro of Jane’s AddictionDave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction

RM: I saw a list of your favorite albums of all time and Pink Floyd’s The Wall was pretty high up there.

DN: That album struck a chord with me. I bought it the day it came out. I had to take a bus to a music store to buy the vinyl. It’s also the first record that I really shared with my father. We sat together and read the lyrics. It was a bonding moment for us musically.

It’s a story of the tragic loss, which I can relate to through losing my mother. I grew up in a pretty turbulent household and headed straight into drugs and music. Like in The Wall, they started out as escapism but became a cage of isolation. On top of that, it’s a musical masterpiece. I don’t think there’s another album that can touch it. The only other body of work that I can even come close to comparing it to is Tommy by The Who. That’s another album that revolves around the tragic loss of a parent and megalomania.

RM: Back when Jane’s Addiction was first getting together in the late ’80s, the attitude towards classic rock bands like Pink Floyd was rather dismissive, especially after the punk explosion of the ’70s.

DN: To me, Pink Floyd was one of the most punk-rock [bands], in terms of attitude, to ever exist. They never bent for anybody and did what they wanted to do regardless of what the corporate structures had to say about it. It’s ironic that the punk movement was so against a band like Pink Floyd. I believe their attitudes were more in line with punk than people realized.

RM: I would think that, like Pink Floyd fans, there are legions of Jane’s Addiction fans that have this rigid idea of who you are and what you should do, from line-ups to set lists.

DN: I suppose. I mean, as Jane’s Addiction, we just do what we want and don’t really worry about it [laughs]. I mean, listen to the lyrics of “Have a Cigar.” What a direct fuck-you to the music industry!

RM: With Roger Waters bringing The Wall back to America, will you be taking in any of those shows?

DN: Oh yeah, definitely. As a matter of fact, here’s how much I’m in love with that album: I don’t like crowds. I hate public parking. I just don’t like going to see bands, and having to look for my seat, or even being in arenas for any extended period of time (unless we’re performing). Honestly, it’s the last thing I want to do. I’ll happily do that for Roger Waters and The Wall anytime. It was that good of a show. It was unbelievable.

I think about things like Pink Floyd playing for the BBC during the first lunar landing. I mean, they’re really artists. Despite what some people think about the earlier records, they’re an aural, sonic documentation and study of the evolution of Pink Floyd. You can’t really grasp the band unless you’re familiar with everything.

RM: So you must be loving the recent Pink Floyd Discovery box set.

DN: Oh man! I’ve never gone to my record label and asked for anything. I’ve never played the “I’m an artist on your roster” card. But when I saw that box set was coming out, I finally played that card [laughs]. In fact, for the short time when they had the giant pig from Animals floating from the roof of the Capitol Records building, I was going to try and get my hands on it. I made some calls!

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Nothing beats a classic performed live.
Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2012 14:30

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