Dave, Eric, and Michael discuss Deconstruction
[originally from American Recordings' now
defunct Deconstruction site]
Dave Navarro: Jane's Addiction ended and we just got together and started playing music. Eric
and I had wanted to do something on our own, somewhat removed from the whole Hollywood-L.A.
band thing, and just do something for ourselves.
Eric Avery: I liken having been in Jane's Addiction to having a relationship with someone that's all wrong. Part of what makes the sex so great is what makes it doomed to an early end. This analogy
really does apply, because when you break up with somebody, when you've been in relationship like
the one I had with Jane's Addiction, you swear off all relationships at first. You know you'll die a
lonely dowager, but that's OK. And then out of the blue, you get your penis rekindled.
During the eight years I was in the band, I went through the whole process. In the beginning, we
were all naive, things were going well, it was really fun. Then the band started to take off, and
everything went through the roof. Unfortunately, things became business-like, uncomfortable, and we
began to split apart. It's weird to be at the end of a cycle like that, having run the gamut of the usual
'rock story' from beginning to end. Get signed, get strung out, break up.
Michael Murphy: I played with Eric about three years ago in another band called Daisy Chamber.
That's when I met him. The Ritual de lo Habitual record had just been recorded and he had a little
time off before they started touring. He was a temporary member of Daisy Chamber. After Jane's
broke up, I ran into him at Canter's Deli. He told me he and Dave had been having trouble finding a
drummer, so he said, 'Come on down.' I did, and things gelled immediately.
Eric: Shortly after the last Jane's Addiction concert in Hawaii, I rented a house in Big Sur. I
ostensibly went up there to just detoxify from the whole Jane's Addiction experience. While I was in
Big Sur, I spent a certain amount of time every day writing. It was really a discipline because if I
didn't do it one day, I really felt like I was sloughing off. The nice surprise was that as I started to
think about what I wanted to do, I got excited again.
Dave: Everything was fair game as far as we were concerned. That was the whole point -- to take
elements of different types of sound and music, and put them all together, even if they didn't
necessarily fit in. Eric had gone up to Big Sur by himself and had written a few things. At the time, I
was getting my life together and writing a few things on my own. He came back, we had time, and
we just basically started working on my 8-track in my apartment.
Eric: I felt the prognosis on my musical career was looking bleak because I had spent so much time
with it being a business. I had made a joy a duty, a great phrase that I got from a friend's mother. I
felt finished about making rock music. I was also simultaneously disillusioned about the whole
alternative music scene, and I still feel that way. In the process of starting to think about it and talk
about it, I started to get excited. I wasn't interested in making rock music per se any more. But then
I began to think that it might be interesting to tinker around with song writing structure, not doing
verses and choruses and things like that. That's when my interest was piqued about making guitar
music, the idea of using loops and putting together parts like David Salle paintings, putting parts that
don't work next to each other and seeing if a new relationship happens between them. This process
lead up to 'L.A. Song.' The first and second parts of 'L.A. Song' have no real connection, but the
fact we put them together does make sense because we allow them to exist side by side.
Dave: Deconstruction is what it is. It was just a project Eric and I felt like we needed to do. I'm
glad we did it. It helped me grow as a musician. I'm proud of a lot of the work on the album. It was
a great learning process.
Eric: The word deconstruction applied to where I was at the time and also was prophetic about
where I was going to be a year and a half later. It represented the demise of Jane's Addiction, the
final break between David [Navarro] and I, and really signifies that I really am no longer in Jane's
Addiction. That part of my life is really in the past.
The name Deconstruction fit instinctively without my knowing why. It seemed to dictate exactly
what the experience was going to be about - not only in the relationship that I had with David, but
how I made my music. It fits with deconstructive philosophy but the choice was totally
unconscious, not contrived or manipulated. We began to write songs, not paying attention to what
was being put out as far as the alternate of sound.
Eric: You can't say that there isn't intent in this record. It's obvious that something is being said,
whether you like what's being said or you don't. And I was so intent on every song. Once you get it
all done, put it away, and then look at the life that you've lived for the time that you've been working
on it, you see how inexplicably tied together your personal process is and how it came out on the
record in ways you didn't realize. This actually tied into an identity thing. It really was like there were
two processes going on during this time and that's part of the reason why it had to take as long as it
did. It's interesting because what I had been apathetic about and ready to dismiss, I wound up a
year and a half later fighting desperately to keep. This wasn't an easy process.
Michael: I was able to bring a lot of samples and electronic stuff to it. The music developed into
something different from anything else around, in that it's a combination of elements. We tried to
keep things mixed up, so it wasn't just a take-off of Jane's.
Eric: When we recorded 'Big Sur', we actually had to go to record stores, buy records and scratch
them up to get a good scratch sound, so that we could put in a Hawaiian sound. It's a small part in
between the first two verses before the song starts to get slow. In between the two parts, it just sort
of drops out. But it's interesting. I was just thinking about my travels up and down the coast during
the making of this record and how much of a sense of place there is. I mean before we changed the
name, there were three places named L.A., Big Sur, and San Francisco. But I was just thinking
about how so often that's how David, Michael and I communicated to each other during the creative
process. We would say 'it's like Big Sur,' and that's how we named it 'Big Sur.' Because actually so
much of what I'm talking about was in the desert and not actually from Big Sur. But I kept saying the
first two verses should be like being in the city and then the middle part should be like your driving
up the coast and then the end should be that you arrive in Big Sur.
Michael: We spent a long time with three or four parts on 'L.A. Song' that seemed to have nothing
to do with each other. It was like a jig-saw puzzle, and finally one day we put it together correctly.
Dave: L.A. Song captures what L.A. is about for us. It's a day in the life of L.A. Listening to it takes you through morning, noon, rush hour, evening.
Eric: It's funny, because I was talking to someone about listening to music in cars and she pointed
out that that isn't just indicative of L.A., that you spend a lot of time listening to music in cars. I have
to remember that because here we don't walk or do anything except drive places. I do probably
ninety percent of my music listening in the car. I rarely come home and put on music.
Dave: The creative process involved trying different things on 8-tracks and cramming them
together. There was no method, there was no formula. Every song was its own thing. We just threw
everything in a pot and discovered what tasted good. We wanted songs that weren't necessarily
verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-outro. We didn't want standard rock songs, we wanted to be
more experimental. I think we did that.
Eric: After feeling so jaded about music for so long, I picked up an instrument that I really have not
played at all. And it's such a big piece of the record. It really fit with that whole 'starting over' feeling.
And I feel more that way about this record than I did about the first Jane's Addiction record. I said
to somebody once, if I'm scared, then I'm doing something right. If I'm really trying to open the flood
gates and see what happens, then I can't know whether or not it's really great. And so therefore, if I
have that knowledge or even think I have that knowledge, then there's a calculation process that's
going on that prevents trying to honestly open the mouth and see what happens. 'Get At 'Em' was
the first song that I wrote, so it represented a lot of pent-up stuff. It seemed to build and build, and
feel like 'too many heart beats a minute.' That was such a catharsis. At the time I had just come off
being a commodity because we got so big in Jane's Addiction.
Eric: At times, I've thought things like, "does Brian Ferry sing that way because that's the best he can do?" I always assume that these things are stylistic decisions people make. But in my case, most
people wondered "Why did Eric sing so low in a lot of the songs?" The answer is that's where I'm
the most comfortable singing. In actuality, that's just the best that I can do.
Dave: This isn't a record for everybody. Some people will like it, some won't like it at all. We
weren't aiming for mass appeal. We were aiming to get a lot of things within ourselves out in the
open, which we accomplished. After Jane's Addiction, it was time to do something completely
different, and we were a little selfish about it. We did more musically from a real cerebral point of
Eric: And so the answer is try to pay close attention to where you're at as an individual rather than
as a creative artist, because if you're not careful, you'll change. What I want to do now is very
different from what Deconstruction was. I mean, there will be elements that are similar, but it's kind
of the opposite attack that I'll be coming from, of wanting things to stay the same and be repetitive.
Deconstruction is about distinctive individual voices and sounds. What we've done is to say, "This is what alternative music is." Alternative music has become the same thing as pop music. It was popular music. And then the word just became pop and now pop means something else. It's no longer the original meaning of the term, and the same thing is true for alternative music. We're still close enough to it that we don't read it as easily, but alternative music, by definition, can't be what you hear on the radio all the time. Because then, that's not an alternative.
Dave: It was never etched in stone that Deconstruction was a band we were going to do for a long
time. It was just something Eric and I felt we needed to do. I don't look at this as a band falling
apart. I look at it like Eric and I just wanted to do different things. We did the record. We had a
great time doing it, had a hard time doing it at times. But I wanted to tour and play live, while Eric
wasn't as interested in that. That was determined long before the Red Hot Chili Peppers started
happening for me. We just came to an amicable decision. If we ever want to do something again, the
door is always open.