If you really want to get Dave Navarro talking, just ask him about Eddie Van Halen, then just sit back and wait for the fireworks to begin.
The legendary Jane’s Addiction guitarist was the guest on Eddie Trunk’s Sirius/XM radio show “Trunk Nation” in Los Angeles Monday afternoon to talk all-things music but the topic of Van Halen was at the very top of Navarro’s mind.
“You said to me a couple time since you were on last, ‘We didn’t even get to talk about Van Halen yet!” said Trunk after welcoming Navarro on the air.
“[Van Halen] is definitely in my top five all-time favorite rock bands,” responded Navarro. “You seem to have the line on the inner workings and dynamics of Van Halen that I’d never heard anywhere else and so I always wanted to kind of pick your brain about it.”
Navarro not only picked Trunk’s brain on Van Halen, he also opened up about how much he idolized Edward Van Halen as a guitarist in the late 70s into the early 80s. Then he expressed his emotions regarding the disappointing moment he heard the keyboard-heavy “Jump” on the radio.
“That was the day my world was shattered. I was so bummed,” said Navarro who had cited Van Halen’s 1978 debut album and Jimi Hendrix as the catalyst behind his desire to become a guitarist.
“I gotta be honest with you I love ‘1984’ and ‘Hot For Teacher’ is unbelievable, ‘House of Pain’ is unbelievable but I dipped out [after that],” said Navarro. “I don’t know a whole lot about Van Halen from, I would say from ‘Fair Warning’ on because ‘Diver Down’ was a bunch of scraps, it was a bunch of covers and I just wasn’t into that, then ‘1984’ came out…then ‘Jump’ came out and was like, ‘I’m just like so bummed out.’”
If Navarro was bummed out by ‘1984’ what could he possibly think of the Sammy Hagar era of the band?
“Did you listen to any of the Sammy Hagar Van Halen?” asked Trunk.
Navarro’s response to that question was quick and to the point, “No! Never! I like Sammy Hagar, I’m a Hagar fan, I performed with Hagar and he’s a cool dude and I respect all the guys in Van Halen but that combination I can’t get with, I just can’t do it,” said Navarro.
While Navarro expressed his disinterest in Van Halen from 1982’s ‘Diver Down’ forward, he holds the band’s first four albums – 1978’s ‘Van Halen’, 1979’s ‘Van Halen II’, 1980’s ‘Women & Children First’ and 1981’s ‘Fair Warning’ as sacred pieces of music.
“For me, my top four would be ‘Fair Warning’, one [‘Van Halen’], ‘Women & Children [First]’ two [‘Van Halen II’], said Navarro.
Navarro gave his explanation as to why ‘Fair Warning’ is considered by many guitarists to be Edward Van Halen’s finest moment.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Navarro. “[Edward] started doing drop-tuning. If you listen to the rhythm guitar playing in ‘Unchained’. First of all it’s drop-tuning, the ‘D’ is dropped and it is the most bizarre rhythm part that makes absolutely no sense and you put it in the context of the other guys and it’s brilliant, it’s absolutely brilliant.”
“I would also argue that the opening to ‘Mean Streets’, when you start that record and you hear that riffing? That’s something we had never heard before….Ever,” added Navarro. “For me when ‘Eruption’ came out I was already playing guitar and I could grasp mentally what was happening. By the time ‘Fair Warning’ came out I had playing for years and I had no…fucking…clue what was happening and, to me that, was just earth shattering.”
Navarro also had an interesting take on Van Halen’s short and poorly-received Gary Cherone era. He defended Cherone especially since he knows what it’s like to step into a highly successful band as an outsider. Navarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers for one studio album, 1995’s ‘One Hot Minute’, before being fired for “creative differences” in 1998.
“[I understand] the way that Chili Pepper fans can’t get into the band when I was in the band, it’s not the Chili Peppers to them,” said Navarro. “So I understand that dynamic. I’ve been on the inside. I’ve been the Gary Cherone of another band. I know what that’s like! [But] they got [Gary] in the band. He didn’t force his way in there. If you have someone to be mad at be mad at those guys not Gary. Someone offers you a gig and you take the gig why are you the guy that gets all the shit?”
Below you can hear the entire Navarro interview.
Another time Dave Navarro shared a Van Halen story was in Neil Zlozower’s Eddie Van Halen book. Here’s the quote:
“When I was growing up, it was all about Jimi Hendrix. I first heard him playing over the loudspeaker at a skate park when I was a young kid. I thought, “What is that sound?” It wasn’t long after that I picked up a guitar and became obsessed with learning how to create such unearthly vibrations. I devoured anything guitar-driven from that day forward, and no other artist would have such a profound impact on me . . . that is, until I heard Van Halen for the first time.
“I got my first copy of Van Halen while I was in grade school. (I ended up having to get several copies as time went by, because I would eventually burn through each one.) EVH’s playing on that album was so inspired and new to me that, once again, I had the same feeling as I did when I first heard Hendrix. This time, I thought, “Thank God I already do this guitar-playing thing!” Ed’s tone and ability combined with his raw and performance-oriented tracking technique were both exciting and refreshing. I now had two heroes. The difference was that now I could potentially meet one of them.
“Years later, I was driving somewhere in the Valley on my way to pick up my drummer friend, Stephen Perkins. We had a rehearsal that day for our first band, which was mainly a cover band of metal tunes, including several versions of our favorite Van Halen songs. On the way, I accidentally cut off another car. The driver slowed, flipped me off, and hocked a huge loogie on my windshield. The driver was Edward Van Halen! I proceeded to rush over to Stephen’s house to tell him the great news. “Dude! You’ll never believe who spit on my car! EDDIE!!!!”
— Dave Navarro
You can hear Eddie Trunk’s “Trunk Nation” weekdays from 2-4 p.m. on Sirius/XM Volume Channel 106. To subscribe visit the Sirius/XM website.
This article is by VHND contributing writer, Eric Senich. You can listen to Eric live on the radio at Brookfield Connecticut’s Home of Rock And Roll, i95 WRKI every Saturday from 10am to 3pm on 95.1 FM. You can also listen online by clicking here or by downloading the radioPup app for your mobile device.