Dave Navarro excels at two things: Playing guitar and appearing shirtless in public. At least one—OK, let’s face it, probably both—of these talents will be showcased on March 27 as he joins DJ Skribble for a special set at Studio 54.
The gig comes about a month into Freak Show, Skribble’s carnival-themed residency at MGM Grand, and is the first of what both promise will be a string of live collaborations.
The bar-based show provides a change of scenery and pace for Navarro. “Being from a rock band that is on tour all the time, I rarely get a chance to play in the little clubs anymore—and I love it,” he says by phone from L.A., between recording sessions with Jane’s Addiction.
“There’s something about different components creating music that remains inspiring to me,” the guitarist says when asked why he wanted to work with Skribble. “It’s not songwriting and it’s not performing with a band; it’s kind of trying to cram two elements together to make some third hybrid.”
Saturday’s show won’t be the first time Navarro and the DJ share the stage. They have been performing together for a few years now, including at The Bank last fall—and it’s all because of their mutual friend, Mr. Lee.
Indeed, it was none other than Mötley Crüe’s tattooed (and equally shirtless) drummer Tommy Lee who connected Navarro and Skribble. “Tommy put us together and pretty much said, ‘Hey, you should try to see how this works out,’” Skribble recalls by phone from Austin, Texas. “Dave was at a point where he pretty much had done everything as a musician and I have done pretty much everything I can do as a DJ.”
“We wanted to figure out a way to do something unique together,” Navarro says. Still, it isn’t musical Star Trek, going where no musician has ever gone before. “I suppose [this is] unique in a club environment, but at the end of the day it isn’t rocket science,” he says.
Although they are reluctant to describe what they do together as mash-up work—Skribble prefers to call it “remixing”—the result of whatever it is they do has LL Cool J meeting live Led Zeppelin and Jay-Z sharing the stage with Rage Against the Machine. Essentially, it’s mash-up without quite as much crossfader, laying Godsmack on Gaga.
“We get a bunch of different tracks that are either being currently played in the clubs or that are even classics, for that matter, and combine them with some songs … from my world, the rock world,” Navarro explains. “We’ll go to the studio, we’ll strip them apart and we will essentially remix the two tracks together … and then in a live environment I play the rock guitar parts and he will be cutting the dance records.”
“I think that it is unusual for a dance club,” he says. “It kind of creates, like, a miniature live concert within a dance environment.” And it works.
Navarro—whose other side projects include dabbling in the porn world—says this is largely because Skribble is more of a musician than most DJs out there today.
“He is not one of these DJs that, you know, opens up a laptop and hits the space bar,” Navarro says.
The mix master quickly returns the compliment, saying he sometimes gets just as caught up in watching Navarro perform live as the fans in the crowd.
While both say performing together is “fun,” there’s more to it than that: It’s an amalgamation of two very different worlds that allows both of them to switch things up and challenge themselves as musicians.
“I’m a huge fan of electronic movement. However, my strengths are that of a guitar player so I don’t necessarily make electronic music,” Navarro says. “It’s nice to collaborate with someone who is part of that world.”
So who’s next on the collaboration hit list? If he had his way, Skribble says he would have his Methods of Mayhem partner DJ Aero and Lee join him and Navarro onstage. “Four turntables … and putting this whole fucking wild crazy show together—that would be my dream,” he says.
“I’m totally open to something like that,” Navarro says, adding that working with Lee would be “the next obvious move.” “I’ve played with Tommy many times, with him on drums and me on guitar. In fact, Tommy and I did a live performance with Ludacris not too long ago in Vegas,” he recalls, referencing a 2008 show at The Joint.
“It would certainly be a spectacle.”
“Yeah,” Skribble concurs. “It would be pretty fucking retarded.”