Artist Spotlight: Static Cycle’s Jared Navarre talks new era, lofty creative vision and the future of rock music
Jared Navarre’s path to musical success has been a rollercoaster over the past several years. Reaching heights of rock fame at a young age propelled Navarre through various iterations of his band, Static Cycle, before landing in Nashville and a new era of the band. Now, Static Cycle has an even bigger vision for the future of rock- and they plan to be at the very front of this new wave. Atlas spoke with Navarre about new music, the band’s expansive creative vision and what rock needs to survive and evolve.
How did you get started in music and what brought you to this era of Static Cycle?
In Alaska I grew up [and] sang in choir. My dad got a guitar when I was pretty young so I started playing it and writing songs. I started a band when I was 16 and from there, a little later in my teens, had our first song on radio. It did really well and we played our first show and we were spoiled- we had 500 people show up for our first show because we had this little cool underground rock radio hit. We toured around for a couple years and at that time, rock was falling on its face pretty hard- hard rock especially- and at that time, we pushed pause and we started to work on this next evolution of the live show and our music and all that stuff. That’s when I moved to Nashville and created this new and next iteration of Static Cycle.
How did the video series for these songs come together?
It’s an animated series and it’s made entirely out of paper by an artist over in Italy named Stefano. He’s incredible- him and I fight all the time about creative direction because he’s a true artist himself. These introduce everyone to the characters that are in our live show and that’s part of the purpose as well. We’ve built this entire world that has incredible storylines, amazing characters and the music, the online videos and the live show all intersect with these characters and storylines.
There’s four of them and there’s two more coming so it’s going to be a series of six. I know that the videos are a bit more abstract but the show itself has a pretty linear, dark and compelling storyline. It’s more like you’re watching a Broadway show or a Cirque du Soleil show than it is just a traditional hard rock show. We’re trying to kind of fuse those worlds together, so you’re meeting some of the characters through the videos- at least being introduced to them.
What made you decide to take Static Cycle in this theatrical direction?
The truth is when we were touring last, we saw so many of the bands that I grew up listening to when I was a kid performing and the live experience was stagnant. It hadn’t changed- I think- in a decade and it hasn’t changed much since. I think that’s part of the downfall of rock, too. Rock used to have such an amazing culture at the shows [and] offstage as well. Music was leading some of the revolutions. Even as we experience riots and chaos in America today, rock would have traditionally been at the forefront of some of these movements, and it’s not.
When we pushed pause, that was my main objective- to try and figure out how to bring an experience that I would love. What’s the future of rock look like? What’s the next iteration? That’s when we started diving into this immersive live show experience. We researched all kinds of crazy stuff- tech they use on Disney rides, [we] talked with everyone we could in the Cirque du Soleil world and the Broadway world and tried to bring and steal pieces from all of those and bring this hybrid fusion show to rock. We haven’t gotten to play it yet but in theory, sometime in the next 10 years, we’ll get to play!
The guys in Three Days Grace- I give them shit. They have so many top hits. I think them and Shinedown are fighting for supremacy- one of them has already surpassed Van Halen for most number one rock hits. They get onstage and play and they put on a great show but it really is the old guard. Not a lot of young bands like ourselves have all these radio hits that you get onstage and stand around. It’s evolving the experience is what we’re hoping to do.
When you’re making music now, what inspirations are you drawing from?
We actually just finished another EP- we haven’t even released our full-length that’s done and will hopefully come out in October. We just finished another EP because I’m writing so much while I’m in quarantine and I would say it’s hard not to pull from current circumstances that the world has faced and social issues and all that stuff. That’s probably where most of the lyrical motivation is coming in for me. On the musical side, I would say it’s just a collection of anything and everything I’m listening to, stuff I wish existed [and] trying to recreate that. I’m still writing every day but it comes from anywhere and everywhere.
How would you say that your music has evolved from when you started to where you are now?
Nashville is the songwriting capital of the world, and when I first came here, the truth is I got beat up pretty bad with people trying to tell me how a song should be written and what the “formulas” are. That changed the music a bit for the worse for a few years because I was trying to fit into these country and pop formats and formulas. But I did learn how to be a better musician and a better songwriter through that process.
At some point, I would say three years ago or so, I shed all that and went back to the roots of how I want to write, what I want to say and that was a good, big turning point. It’s a push and pull between trying to use some of the tricks and tactics that people implement all the time in songwriting and then just letting your actual voice be heard. It’s a balance but I feel like now I’m settled back into…I know what the fuck I’m doing and I can say and play what I want, what’s on my heart [and] on my mind. Some people will get it, some people won’t but that’s artistry right there.
So many times, people in the industry have tried to push me to be a soft rock star or a country star because that’s where the money really is in the industry. They push you towards bigger business but I miss- and have missed- the type of rock that we’re making so that’s what has driven me and that’s why we’re back in this hard rock space. I can’t not play it.
You mentioned that an album is coming in October. What are you hoping that fans take away from this upcoming record?
That’s one of the reasons we thought to delay it because the album stands on its own [and] I’m so proud of the collection of the best songs we’ve ever written. It’s not a full concept album but it was written in conjunction with this live show, so they really should be experienced together. That’s the tricky part for me. I feel like people have to go to the live show to fully, truly get the record and understand the complexities of the themes. Even some of these songs are fully dedicated to a character. We have a song called “Wolf” and in the live show, the wolf- you think he’s the enemy at times, you think he’s the savior at times but he represents the necessary evil in the world and the song out of context just sounds like a creepy stalker song. In reality, it’s introducing you to the depth of this character and what it takes to exist in a dark world and things that you have to do that you’re not proud of but that are necessary. Altogether, the record and the show and the online videos…once they’re experienced as a whole, I think people will truly get it.
They’ll still like the record on its own! I don’t want to downplay it- I think it’s spectacular. On its own, it’s just a really great rock record- that’s how it feels to me.
It’s great that you’re able to bring all of these aspects of your vision to life.
It’s really fuckin’ hard to do is the truth, too. You almost can limit yourself creatively. When you’re writing songs and they’re so based on current inspiration and things that have happened, the live show has to tie into personal storylines otherwise you can’t write music with it because we’re not trying to write a rock opera that doesn’t have a personal side to it. It’s a little bit of push and pull, but it was very difficult and that’s why it took a while to build this show, build the record and figure all that stuff out. It’s a big theatrical performance and movement.
I know we’re there- as soon as people can see the show and feel it. We’re doing crazy stuff with the live show. We’re even dropping snow on the audience and pumping scent into the buildings and all kinds of stuff. It’s going to be such a different experience for people while they take in music than they’ve ever had.
How are you staying creative in quarantine and do you have any advice for people looking to do the same?
Quarantine’s been very interesting for me because when it first hit…I’m losing my mom currently. She’s in stage four cancer. I had to, at the beginning of all this COVID stuff, get up to Alaska before travel restrictions were put in place. I spent the initial portion of quarantine in Alaska near my family to spend time with my mom. Thankfully she’s still with us but she is terminal so I’ve had to go back and forth to Alaska.
I’ve had no lack of inspiration between that and everything that’s going on in the world. The only tricks and tips that have helped me is I go without my phone and without communication for long, large periods of time. There’s so much noise- both good and bad right now- since we all have so much idle time on our hands. That’s where it gets dangerous for me. I’m not sure if that’s similar for the majority of people, but I have to keep my mind, body and the creative side of me preoccupied so I can stay sane. Like most people, I had a couple moments through this where I was about to tie myself to a bed and commit myself. Hopefully we’ll never go through something like this again but it is crazy, crazy times.
What do you hope is coming up next for Static Cycle?
If we can’t play soon, we are trying to find a way to bring our live show experience and the community around the live show experience of rock to life online in some form or fashion. That’s our goal right now. There are all these little pockets that exist in band pages, in Facebook groups and stuff like that for rock and those are all great and we’re trying to figure out how we can foster that community and that energy around this new experience that we’re trying to build online. I don’t even honestly know what it looks like yet. We have a thousand ideas of how it could look and how we can get people engaged, but until we figure it out and start trying and testing things, I’m just talking with fans and getting feedback and sharing music. That’s all we really can do until then.
How do you view your own relationship with music and how does that drive your desire to keep creating it?
That’s a really good question. Actually I would love to hear other people’s answers, too. My relationship with music has been as close to an addiction- a healthy addiction- as a person can experience. I have tried to leave music a few times, I have tried to fulfill my life with other things and it sounds too simple but I can’t not play music, and it’s pulled me back time and time again. The first day I picked up a guitar in my entire life, I wrote a song that day. I knew two chords that my dad had just taught me and I have not stopped writing and playing and singing since. My relationship with music is probably a bit more intimate than most artists. The live experience- I’m excited for people to be there and experience it with me. I want to see it as a fan of music but I enjoy creating music and these pieces by myself probably more than anything. If I could, that would be what I would do is write for 200 days a year and then go out and play maybe 20 to 50 shows or something.
I would say it’s very personal. It’s always an odd experience to share music at that point when it is so personal but I have seen a lot of the healing power of music [and] a lot of the power to bring people together and it doesn’t always have to be out of good emotions. I think rock is so powerful to bring anger and rage and rebellion to the surface. I think those are necessary like we even see with social movements and stuff- that stuff has to exist in humanity sometimes for progress. It’s a complicated relationship that I love and I can’t quit it. It’s an addiction.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you or is there anything you wish you got to talk about more that you may not get asked?
Here’s my true elevator pitch inside for music [and] for rock right now. People can tune out right now if they want. I’ll say this- fuck the window shoppers and the casual listeners. I think rock really needs committed fans that are ready to dive deep and stick with artists and help them through their careers. It will not survive without that and that’s kind of my call to action if you’re truly a rock fan. It doesn’t have to be us. It can be any band. We need it today more than ever- not because of COVID necessarily- but I think the world needs rock and voices in rock for many reasons. The bands need superfans that are committed to sharing the message, committed to sharing music, telling friends, stuff like that. It’s more important than ever and we don’t even really know how that works and how music is spread. It’s such a confusing time for artists, still. Having a tribe and a community is so important.
That’s what’s on my heart and mind. I have conversations almost every day with people about that. I almost feel like I’m a political advisor trying to rally the party. But it’s true because otherwise it’s going to die and I’ve seen so many good bands hang up their cleats because they don’t have support anymore and they can’t support their families. That’s awful and that’s not going to do good things for humanity.
A lot of people work very hard to provide good quality artistry to the world, and there’s value in that. It keeps me up at night but there is an undercurrent of fans that are coming and they’re going to save it. I keep envisioning the world, when rock shows can open, is just going to flood in and collapse in a wall of death. Amazing energy is just going to spread.
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photo courtesy of Static Cycle