Guitarist Dave Navarro bared his soul on ‘Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave, last year’s MTV series following his 2003 nuptials to Carmen Electra. Now off the hot seat, the former Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers axeman is kicking back by the pool and doling out advice as host (with Brooke Burke) of the CBS reality show Rock Star: INXS. He plays both critic and counselor to the singers vying to front the multiplatinum-selling Aussie band (whose vocalist, Michael Hutchence, died in an apparent suicide in 1997). PEOPLE recently caught up with Navarro, 37, who’s been recording with his band The Panic Channel, and got the scoop on the rock competition.
Is there something a lead singer should never, ever do?
In rock ‘n’ roll, there are no don’ts. It’s about taking chances.
You’ve played with major lead singers – Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction, Anthony Kiedis from the Chili Peppers. What advice would you pass on?
Rock ‘n’ roll is truly an individual sport, so secretly I am interested in which contestant disregards my opinion and does what they want to do anyway because that’s what it’s all about. Nobody wants a lead singer who’s mold-able. They want one who is unique and charismatic.
So, how’s it being back on reality TV?
Well, it’s exciting for me because it’s not about me this time! The cool thing is that this isn’t my band, this is INXS’s band, so who cares what I say! I’m also here as a go-to guy if (the contestants) have questions. Last night, I was walking around the Rock Star mansion and somebody asked me, “What do you think about this song?” And I gave her my honest opinion. That’s kind of what my role is here. If you need me I’m here, and if you don’t, I’ll be happy to lay out by the pool!
Why’d you want to host the show?
None of the people auditioning for this spot have anything similar to what INXS had before. It’s going to be exciting to watch the band evolve into a totally different direction. There’s only one person who is going to front INXS, but all of them get an opportunity to show what they have in front of millions of people three nights a week. You can’t buy that kind of exposure.
What does INXS have to do to get out of the shadow of what it was with Michael Hutchence?
That’s yet to be seen. The thing about that is if we knew that answer, we wouldn’t have a show, to be honest with you. But what I can tell you is that the singer of a band is essentially the leader, and to walk into a band that has such a legacy, it’s going to take some balls.
What do you think of the mansion where the contestants live?
One of my bands used to work there. This setting could lead someone to find something deep within themselves to create from, but some people might find it overwhelming. Personally, this would be the last place I would want to come to create. I’m the kind of guy who wants to lock himself up in the bedroom with an acoustic guitar in happy, familiar surroundings.