BOOK REVIEW | "DON"T TRY THIS AT HOME: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF DAVE NAVARRO" BY DAVE NAVARRO & NEIL STRAUSS
photo & text by nacrowe
there was an interesting period in the late 90s when guitarist DAVE NAVARRO was without a regular gig as it had been years since he left the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and JANE'S ADDICTION had recently broken up for the second time. he was also recently divorced (pre-CARMEN ELECTRA). it was during this time that he bunkered himself into his HOLLYWOOD HILLS home and chose to document a year in his life ANDY WARHOL-style, by buying and installing a vintage photo-booth and requiring every person that entered his house (celebrities, models, comedians, hangers-on, musicians, groupies, maids, plumbers, drug dealers, etc) to take a photo when entering. WARHOL famously setup a 16mm film camera at his FACTORY studio and had everyone sit for several minutes, the idea being that after a while you stop posing and act like your authentic self.
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF DAVE NAVARRO (HARPERCOLLINS, 2004) is the culmination of NAVARRO and co-writer NEIL STRAUSS contextualizing these photographs into NAVARRO's relapse into heroin addiction. you would think that this premise would be easy fodder for glamorizing drug addiction, especially with the seeming young HOLLYWOOD in-crowd partaking in his late night activities on a semi-regular basis. but the book really just sets up how lost he was at the time. it would be years before he would properly go about getting professional help regarding the trauma of dealing with his mother's murder by the hand of a jealous ex-boyfriend in his formative years as a teenager.
all that being said, i can't imagine the seductive power of being so young and admired. i don't know how anyone in that situation would not become a full blown addict with the HOLLYWOOD set. but he got out of it. he recovered.
and i think that is the reason he chose to write and have this book published, to show others (maybe within the music community) that there is a way out, no matter how deep and dependent you are on the drug community. in the years since more members of the community have passed on from drugs or drug-related activities, most notably CHRIS CORNELL, MICHAEL JACKSON, AMY WINEHOUSE, TOM PETTY, MAC MILLER, PRINCE, SCOTT WEILAND (STONE TEMPLE PILOTS), JANI LANE (WARRENT), LIL PEEP, WHITNEY HOUSTON, RICK JAMES, WAYNE STATIC (STATIC-X), IKE TURNER and THE REV (AVENGED SEVENFOLD).
i really feel this book was meant for his peers and not the general public. to the public parts of this book come off salacious and voyeuristic, but to a musician of any importance my guess is this unending expanding cadre of enablers is more than familiar. to them by showing his reality, hopefully it'll make them seek help.
as for NAVARRO, i wish he'd stop with his addiction to hosting shitty REALITY TV shows. i'm just saying.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
in the wake of the first breakup of JANE'S ADDICTION in the early 1990s, the founding members basically divided into two camps, the PERRY FARRELL/STEPHEN PERKINS alternative rock outfit PORNO FOR PYROS and the ERIC AVERY/DAVE NAVARRO experimental art-project DECONSTRUCTION.
while PORNO FOR PYROS continued the ascendancy of PERRY FARRELL as a cultural force riding his own wave with his LOLLAPALOOZA platform, it is my opinion that the lone DECONSTRUCTION (AMERICAN RECORDINGS, 1994) album is by far superior, arguably equal in quality with the WARNER BROS. output of early JANE'S ADDICTION.
this is in part because ERIC AVERY as the bassist of JANE'S ADDICTION wrote those iconic, almost tribal, looping, melodic bass motifs that became the creative foundation upon which the songs were based. essentially the next batch of transcendent riffs for a never-made JANE'S ADDICTION album found themselves on this record as well as later ERIC AVERY projects like POLAR BEAR and solo albums (all worth checking out).
i feel strongly that ERIC AVERY has never gotten his due and is criminally underrated and under-celebrated. the dude influenced everyone around him in the alternative scene and his bass style has been copied to the point that its omnipresent. it is almost laughable.
i think in JANE'S ADDICTION you have a band that was more than the some of its parts and each member was invaluable, specifically PERRY FARRELL's ability to cross-pollinate styles and cultures in a pre-internet glorious clusterfuck of ideas that set the tone for the decade. breaking down barriers between the tribes and promoting an almost utopian ideal of raising consciousness through shared ideas and dialogue. but essentially when you come down to it, ERIC AVERY was the vehicle that allowed such to happen. in my opinion.
his post-JANE'S ADDICTION output is more personal in scope and an acquired taste, given that his PETER MURPHY-like atonal vocal delivery and post-punk sense of angular song structure is not for everyone. what i truly love about this output is his love of texture. he really seems to bask in the idea of creating a vibe through sonic textures and then either juxtaposing it or letting it ride out in an almost shaman-like fashion. if you know about his family history in the film industry and his connection to LOS ANGELES it only makes for a more complex, diverse appreciation of his creative output.
again, his stuff is not for everyone but if you dig his work is rewarding.