Dave Navarro Discusses His Online Talk Show and His Interview Style
February 25th, 2008 4:30pm EST
Music, TV, film, Dave Navarro's done it all, and he's been asked plenty of questions along the way. Dave's not one to shy away from questions, and he certainly doesn't dislike the process, but it can get pretty boring if everyone starts asking the same questions. That's why when Dave launched Spread, his very own talk show on ManiaTV.com, he decided not to ask the standard questions but instead engage his subjects in authentic conversation about the things that interest him most. Starpulse caught up with Dave to get his views on the Q and A game.
I read about your show, and the last sentence of the description was that it's about art and the human condition. What do you consider to be the human condition?
To me the human condition is all the variables that make us who we are: our feelings, our thoughts, our afflictions, our artistic creativity, anything and everything that makes people individual. We focus on the arts, we focus on music, actors. We also happen to have an in-house psychotherapist, so I've had many shows that focus on different conditions that people have, like bulimia, anorexia, drug addiction, addiction to plastic surgery, cutting, self mutilation and so forth. We also bring in a psychic named Belinda Bentley who gives predictions and does readings from our studio audience, in addition to physicists that talk about the solar system and the universe, and the universes and the galaxies beyond that. Really, it's a way to say anything and everything.
One of the factual truths of the human condition is that one spends their existence with other people. What do you think of people?
I don't really think that it's necessary to have an opinion about them as much as it's necessary to be accepting of them. Because they're so vast and varied, to generate an opinion on an entire species would be stereotype them, and, as you know, everybody is an individual.
People, it seems, make the conscious or subconscious decision to make certain aspects of themselves public, and other aspects of themselves private. Now, with you, many of the things that you make public, like drug use, sex, etc, are the sort of things that most would keep private. What sort of things, then, do you keep private about yourself?
Naturally, if there are things that I'm keeping private, the last thing that I'm going to do is share them with a journalist.
When is it that you made the decision to separate what would be public and private for yourself.
You know, decisions like that aren't made in a day. They come from a lifetime of experiences and they happen over gradual periods of time. And in a lot of cases I'm probably still deciding about many things.
What do you think of the idea of celebrity and how does it factor into your program?
Within the scope of the show, I don't really view myself as a celebrity. I view my guests as celebrity. That's why when I do interviews with them, I don't prepare questions for them. I don't Google them and hit Wikipedia and come up with the top 10 questions they've been asked a million times. I like it to be conversational and let them take control of the conversation and let it go in the direction they want it to go to. Because, like I guess with what you're trying to do, I try to see a different side of the individual as well. So when it comes to viewing myself as a celebrity, I understand that there has been a public profile, and there have been tabloid stories from here to there, but at the end of the day I do view myself as a musician, as an artist, and an entertainer. I think the word celebrity gets used really loosely nowadays. I think of Madonna. I think of Denzel Washington. I think of people that have an enormous body of work behind them as celebrities. Just because someone has been on television or in a magazine doesn't necessarily make them a celebrity in my opinion.
When you're conducting the interview, do you have anything in mind that you want to talk about or is it just that you want to engage in a conversation with the subject?
I generally have an interest in who's on the show, and that's primarily why they're there. And I have my initial subject matter that I like to get into. For instance, when we had Whitley Streiber, author of Communion, 2012, and The Grays, I knew I wanted to talk about his experiences with alien abduction, but I also wanted to give Whitley an opportunity to just be the man, the author, the human, and allowed the conversation to go in the direction that it went, and laugh about stuff and get serious about stuff. So, yeah, I have a general sense about what I'd like to talk about but if we get diverted I have no problem with that. If we ended up talking about what was his favorite movie, I'm happy to talk about that too. I just like to give the guests a platform to say what they want to say.
And when you go into an interview, do you ever notice that during the conversation that you happen to engage in you end up hitting the points that you wanted to talk about in the first place?
Yeah, usually. We usually have to start somewhere, and I'll start with, basically, what everyone would like to know from the guests, or what I would like to know from the guests. If they say something within their answers that spawns another question I'll pickup from there as opposed to going back to a list of questions. I really feel like a lot of times people have to answer the same questions over and over again. I know that I certainly have in the past, so this way I keep it fresh, interesting, and fun. Frankly, it works 80% of the time. 20% of the time it's a disaster, but it's kinda fun to watch the disasters sometimes.
A clip of Dave Navarro Live: "The Start" Performs Live
What influenced this interview style?
Well, I think that a lot of the direction that I like to come from is based on my own experiences. When I've put records out or done press junkets, it's an entire day of "Where'd you get the name of the band?", you know. And by the tenth time that you're asked that you wanna kill yourself. I think having been on that side of it, on the receiving end of the questions, I try to be a little bit sensitive to that fact. And also, frankly, being on camera or being on the radio gives you a lot more latitude than the printed word does, as you know.
Now that you've been the interviewer, how do you feel when you're back to being the one asked questions.
A lot of times I will just go in the direction that I want to go, regardless of the question. It has also made me impatient to a degree. You know, also, to be honest with you, sometimes you're just in the mood, and sometimes you're not. Sometimes you can have a really great interview because you're in the space for it, and other times it's scheduled at a time of day when you're not necessarily in the head space for it, and you've got to do it anyway, and it doesn't come across as strong. And, right now, I'm in freezing weather, walking on the street of Manhattan, with the wind blowing at me, and it is difficult. But, I would say that my interviewing others has probably shaped the way in which I answer my questions. But I don't write it down. I don't print my guests answers, so I feel like they have a little bit more latitude in their structure and how they come across.
Since you've been both the subject and the interviewer, what would you like to say to the journalists out there?
I would like them to continue doing exactly what they're doing, that way what I'm doing is different.
Who are some people that you have yet to have on the show that you would like to have on the show?
I've always wanted to have a conversation with Woody Allen. I don't know if that's a realistic idea, but he's definitely in my top 5 of people I'd like to talk to too. I'd say the person I'm looking forward to most is a physicist named Beth Fuller who I learned about on a program called "The Universe", which is a really incredible program about just that-the universe. She's going to come on in March to talk about the search for planets around other stars. I'm actually really excited about that. I'm gonna give her the whole hour.
Are you able to reveal any of the other guests you're excited about having on in the future?
There's a band called Eleven that has been around for a long long time. They're one of my favorite rock bands and I just feel that they really never got over the way they probably should have. And the guitar player, Allen Johannes is a friend, but he's also one of my favorite guitar players and I'm super excited about having them on. Those are two that I'm really excited about. Usually the ones I'm most excited about aren't the ones that everybody else is most excited about. (laughs)