This isn’t a magazine scan so technically it shouldn’t be included but I’m adding the transcript as it’s such a lengthy interview with loads of information about One Hot Minute in it. Many thanks to Anton for the heads up on this!
Triple J Radio Interview Transcript
The links for the actual recording no longer seem to work.
The one and only Australian interview with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their new album One Hot Minute.
Location: Sunset Marquis Hotel, West Hollywood, LA.
Date: Friday July 21, 1995
Interviewer: Triple J’s Richard Kingsmill.
TANNED AND LOOKING A PICTURE OF HEALTH, GUITARIST DAVE NAVARRO (EX-JANE’S ADDICTION) WAS FIRST UP.
TRIPLE J: How’s the reaction been so far from the American media to the new album?
DAVE NAVARRO: It’s been diverse, you know, a lot of people seem to really like it and think that it’s a much more mature sounding record, and other people don’t like it at all. And I think that’s kind of the reaction you want, you know, in a sense that it’s different – it’s not a typical Chili Pepper record. If everybody liked it or everybody hated it we’d have some problems. It’s not for everybody but, I’m sure somebody will like it.
TRIPLE J: The people who don’t like it, why don’t they like it?
DAVE NAVARRO: I don’t listen to those people. Once they start on that line of questioning and start talking to me about that I kind of tune out, but I also tune out the positive feedback as well because I don’t really do what I do to get feedback. It’s hard for me when I pay too much attention to it (feedback). It sort of sinks into my subconscious and I start acting accordingly and I don’t necessarily want to live like that. So, I don’t.
TRIPLE J: Have you always been like that?
DAVE NAVARRO: I think I’ve always tried to be like that and the last five or six years I’ve been a little bit more equipped to be like that, sure.
TRIPLE J: But given your history of making such great music, not only now with the Chili Peppers but also with Jane’s Addiction, I kind of can’t understand how you would be swayed by anyone else’s opinion or judgement.
DAVE NAVARRO: You can’t understand how I would be?
TRIPLE J: Given how great the music is, I thought that would have been enough confirmation…
DAVE NAVARRO: I’m not saying that I’d be swayed by it necessarily but what I’m saying is like somewhere in your subconcious if you receive lots of praise, I’m afraid that it will go to my head and I’ll become egotistical – and I’m afraid that if I listen to too much negativity that I could possibly develop some insecure feelings about that so I try to stay true to who I am and not listen to anybody’s outside opinions – that way I can pretty much stay myself.
TRIPLE J: O’kay, let’s talk about you – what’s your gut feeling towards the album “One Hot Minute”?
DAVE NAVARRO: That’s tough to answer because we’ve been recording it for the past year. Basically, writing the music and recording it for a year. I’m really close to it right now, so close in fact that I’m submerged in it and it’s hard for me to have any opinion what-so-ever about it. Put it this way, I’m proud of the work we’ve done and I’m proud of the product that we have made. I think that the pride comes from just the effort that we’ve put into it rather than what it sounds like. But I’ve been that way about everything – I don’t listen to records we’ve made after we’ve made them. I try and stay clear of it.
TRIPLE J: But given that this one has taken so long, you’ve found that you can’t escape it? You’ve been surrounded by it for about a year now.
DAVE NAVARRO: Right, so in order to have an opinion about it, I’d recall all the emotional trauma that went into making it – you know, so I’m still kind of wrapped up in the vibe that was in the studio and the vibe that we had during the writing of this record. So it’s hard for me to have an outside objective opinion.
TRIPLE J: A lot of trauma associated with this album?
DAVE NAVARRO: I would say of a severe emotional nature rather than ‘traumatic’. I know all four of us have undergone some incredible changes in the last two years and even before I joined the band, the remaining three had undergone tremendous losses of loved ones; River Pheonix and John Frusciante, and I’ve suffered my own losses. I think this record was a natural therapeutic process for all of us. In creating this record and putting our hearts into it, we also put all of our emotional side into it which was part of the healing, I suppose. It saved us a fortune in psychiatry bills.
TRIPLE J: So it was successful?
DAVE NAVARRO: In that sense, sure – very successful. A lot of demons were exorcised during the making of this record.
TRIPLE J: What about you fitting into the Chili Peppers? It’s been eighteen months since you’ve become an official member of the band…
DAVE NAVARRO: Sometimes it’s very difficult, other times it’s extremely easy. I think it’s that way with any relationship that you embark upon, it’s just the nature of working with other human beings that makes it that diverse. I had a pre-conceived idea that they were all about partying and having fun and being kind of whacky characters, and I don’t necessarily fit into that mold. But after investigating what these guys are like as human beings and as musicians, I’ve learned that that was nothing but my own stereotyping and that these guys really are down to earth and they really do love to work on great music together.
TRIPLE J: How about friendship-wise, do you get along well just in a social sense with them?
DAVE NAVARRO: Very well, yeah. Like I said, everybody in this band is really down to earth and really in touch with who they are emotionally. And I think that’s very important, especially in a working relationship because a lot of times there are misunderstandings that stem from emotional disruptions. If we’re in touch with those emotional disruptions it’s much easier to communicate as human beings and as musicians.
TRIPLE J: Professionally, they really wanted you to be in the band. How much pressure did that put on you initially?
DAVE NAVARRO: There was really no initial pressure because I wanted to be in this band. My main attraction for being in this band was due to the fact that they’re such gifted, talented musicians and they come from a different place than I do musically, and I knew that it would be a growing process for me as a musician to play with these guys who I really respected and admired their musicianship.
TRIPLE J:I actually read that you were a bit hesitant, at first, of joining another band given that you had been in one very successful band, Jane’s Addiction, already. You were kind of saying “do I want to do this again, do I want to dive in the deep end with another band?”.
DAVE NAVARRO: Right, I think that that came from an article that you may have read that was about the end of Jane’s Addiction. I underwent some extreme life changes. I cleaned myself up and cleaned my head up and was more focused inwardly at the time.
TRIPLE J: What was the experience like with Jane’s Addiction, and why did it take you a while to get over that?
DAVE NAVARRO: It didn’t take me any time at all to get over the Jane’s Addiction experience because I think that experience needed to be over. That was a chapter in my life, a huge chapter in my life, that I was very proud of everything that we did. I think what I needed to get over at the end of that run was, like, my own state of mind as a human being. But I still love all those guys. That was the greatest experience of my life playing with that band. It was probably the one experience in my life that brought me closest to death and saved me from death at the same time. I will absolutely never forget it.
TRIPLE J: And I suppose it would be realistic to say, you will never experience that again making music?
DAVE NAVARRO: If I look for that experience again, I for sure will never experience that again. I don’t look to recapture anything in the past. We’ll see. Perhaps I will capture something else that’s even greater and more beautiful and more overwhelming as an experience.
TRIPLE J: I hear a lot of Jane’s Addiction in this new album.
DAVE NAVARRO: That’s probably because one of the members of Jane’s Addiction is playing on it (laughs). I do what I do and I kind of have my own vibe in the studio. I just like a lot of guitars, I like big guitars, I like overdubs. I like colours and when I listen to music I want to see colours. I don’t want it to be in black and white. I want to be able to make a record that when you put on headphones you hear something different everytime. At first it was a struggle to get my style and Flea’s style to come together but I think we stuck with it and it came out to be an interesting third option that neither of us were even aware of.
TRIPLE J: It comes across that Flea’s very particular about what he wants. Was it all fairly amicable?
DAVE NAVARRO: It was always amicable, but at times it was kind of tough. Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction was basically the main bass player in my life, up until this. He plays really melodic and repetitive. Almost like an English bass player would. So I was used to a lot of open space coming from the rhythm section. Flea’s style is so much more overwhelming, out of the instrument alone, that there were times when I just couldn’t even find a space to come up with an idea when we were just jamming. But then other times, it just kind of flowed. I think one of the main problems we had at the beginning was that Flea tried to alter his bass playing to compliment my playing and I tried to alter my playing to compliment his and that was completely unnatural for both of us. What we ended up doing is, after experimenting with that for a couple of months and coming to the conclusion that it didn’t work, we both went back to what we both love to do on our own and, a lot of times it really worked together sometimes it clashed. But that’s kind of the process of mixing it up and throwing it against a wall and seeing what happens.
TRIPLE J: So do you think that your guitaring improved a lot from that experience?
DAVE NAVARRO: Yeah, I think that it has expanded quite a bit. There are some songs on this record that are a lot dryer than I’ve ever played before, which is like a new experience for me. I basically was open to do whatever I wanted and in that sense, I think it really helped because I was playing with a completely different rhythm section and I had to adjust a little bit. I use the word ‘adjust’ cautiously because it really was an expanding process rather than an adjustment.
TRIPLE J: Can you give us an example from the record of where your playing is especially different for you?
DAVE NAVARRO: I would say there is a song called ‘Walkabout’ which is kind of a percussive, funk guitar type riff and that’s extremely different for me. Up until that song was mixed, I hated that song. ‘Cause I don’t identify with up-beat, happy music and that’s what that song said to me. And playing that song kind of made me feel dorky.
TRIPLE J: Did you tell that to the guys?
DAVE NAVARRO: Yeah, in fact I nicknamed that song ‘Crapabout’ when we were recording it.
TRIPLE J: What about ‘My Friends’?
DAVE NAVARRO: ‘My Friends’ is right now my favourite track on the album. Probably because it’s the most pop-orientated song that I’ve ever been a part of and the lyrics and the feeling of the song are still coming from a melancholy place, which I really identify with, and there is some neat sounds happening there. I don’t know why it’s my favorite song because it’s more formula that anything I’ve ever done.
TRIPLE J: It’s actually the track for me that grew into something after hearing it a couple of times. The other ones were like, “oh wow! This is a great track”. That one took a couple of listens.
DAVE NAVARRO: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. Probably you were thinking about other things.
TRIPLE J: I maybe was distracted by what was on TV at the time I had my little walkman on. I also found that at the times when the music sounded happy and poppy, the lyrics were undercutting that with something sour or sad. Do you think that’s pretty much the whole flavour of the album?
DAVE NAVARRO: No, not necessarily. I wouldn’t want to classify my entire record. I think there’s a lot of diversity on this record. ‘Psychedelic’, for instance…I think we’ve renamed it ‘Deep Kick’… is a fairly uplifting song. It’s about two brothers and their experiences together. Flea and Anthony’s experiences together actually. I think that each song has its own flavour and its own feeling. I would say that most of these songs come from darker places than any songs on past Chili Pepper records.
TRIPLE J: “Aeroplane”, which is so catchy, is obviously going to be a single?
DAVE NAVARRO: I don’t know. The first single is “Warped” just because it’s a monstrous song, and I think that it’ll fuck a lot of people when they hear it. There is really nothing to grab on to in it…It’s just like this swirling mass of minstrel misery.
TRIPLE J: Now that’s psychedelic!
DAVE NAVARRO: It’s very psychedelic, it’s one of my favorites as well. We always called it “Swirly” because that’s what it did to us. You know, it was just a swirling mess and we renamed it “Warped” based on the lyrics. “Aeroplane”, I don’t know. It’s a little more up-beat sounding than I’d like it to be but that’s the nature of funk music, I guess. I’m not really a funk guy. I never was and probably will never be.
TRIPLE J: Well, that’s interesting. Everyone would’ve thought the Chili Peppers would have to get a funk guitarist to fit in with Flea but they haven’t.
BLEACHED AND WITH A NEW CREW CUT, DRUMMER CHAD SMITH CAME TOWERING INTO THE ROOM.
TRIPLE J: What was the experience like recording this new album? I believe it went on for so long that most of your work was done fairly early on?
CHAD SMITH: It was. I recorded the basic tracks in June ’94, so it’s been over a year. I was much more excited about it 8 months ago than I am now (laughs), but I’m very pleased with it and I think we’re all very proud of what’s on the album. I think that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have made a really great, honest representation of what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years and I’m excited to go and play it live. It will be really exciting with Dave, because we haven’t played that much with him.
TRIPLE J: It seems like it’s now very solid, the line up of the Chili Peppers.
CHAD SMITH: Yes, I feel that we are really firing on all pistons for the first time since before ‘Bloodsugar’. Because John (Frusciante – former guitarist) really didn’t want to tour very much after that album. He wasn’t into it. Dave has been a real shot in the arm for us and Flea is feeling really good and Anthony too. Everyone’s very excited about it. We’re gonna rock like pigs (smiles).
TRIPLE J: Dave just told me that the touring is going to last about two years and it starts September.
CHAD SMITH: Don’t believe Dave, he’s a fabricater. We have the luxury of being able to play at our own pace. So we’re going to do a month or five weeks and take some time off, then another month or five weeks. So on and off for two years but not two years straight! And we’ll be over in Australia the beginning of next year.
TRIPLE J: Summertime?
CHAD SMITH: Summertime, absolutely! Flea has a house in Australia so we’ll probably spend some time down there and hang out. I love Australia, it’s one of my favourite places to tour. The people are so cool and I have a great time and I’m sure we’re going to have a great time when we go back.
Despite all the hassles that happened a couple of years ago, did you still enjoy the experience of touring Australia?
CHAD SMITH: Well, the hassles were sort of unavoidable because John quit in the middle of the Japanese tour. We were really bummed because we were very excited about coming to Australia for the first time, and I think our record was No.1. We were really very anxious to go and then with that happening, it was really disappointing and we tried to have one of our friends come out and play but it wouldn’t have been right. So we came back and played the next time, I think it was in October, and it was really fun. Who knows what’s going to happen next time. I’m sure whatever it is it will be really interesting!
TRIPLE J: It was great to finally see you guys in Australia, it had taken so long.
CHAD SMITH: It’ll be way better this time because we’ll be really excited about playing new songs. I think with Dave and what we’ve created we’ll be really excited about playing that live. And by the time we come to Australia, we’ll have been playing for months and we’ll be as tight as a gnat’s butthole.
TRIPLE J: O’kay. The influence of Dave on the Chilli Peppers has been pretty marked on this album, hasn’t it?
CHAD SMITH: Yes, I mean, it has to be because whenever you get a new musician in your band it changes dramatically. He plays in his own style, it sounds like him and that’s why we wanted him to be in the band. We wanted him to bring all of his Navarroness to the table and he did. He rocked in a huge way. I feel like we’re at another beginning of another band.
TRIPLE J: So what do you reckon that’s going to do to the fans’ heads when they hear this album?
CHAD SMITH: I reckon they’re gonna tap their toes and snap their fingers! I think that our fans really like our music and get into it, and listen to all the songs. That’s the true fans, not the people that watch MTV and know “Under the Bridge”. I think that it’s really soulful, raw, honest music and it’s way better than 99.9% of the bullshit that’s out there now. The main thing is that you have to be happy with it yourself and that’s why it took so long for it to come out. You can’t just punch a time card in and start to play.
Inspiration comes in many different ways and people that are really creative have to be inspired and have things in their life that inspire and make them want to create.
TRIPLE J: What about your playing? I was talking to Dave about his guitar playing and he was telling me how the experience of playing with Flea made his guitaring expand. Was drumming any different for you this time?
CHAD SMITH: Obviously Flea and I have a long relationship together. Dave is .. I mean, I love Jane’s Addiction. I think Jane’s Addiction was one of the best rock bands, if not the best rock band in the last ten years, and I’ve always been a big fan. We all have. It just seemed like the natural thing to have Dave playing with us and we’re just lucky and fortunate that things worked out the way it did that he did join our band. Actually, I saw him at the Whisky (famous LA club) and I put a gun to his head and said “if you don’t join our band I’m gonna shoot you”, so he joined. But musically he plays so different from John or other guitar players. He has a much more textured and lush sound. He uses a studio as a real tool. He sounds like a young Jimmy Page.
TRIPLE J: Since you brought it up, I was actually going to say to one of you if ‘Blood,Sugar,Sex,Magic’ was your ‘Physical Graffitti’, is this new one ‘Houses of the Holy’ or is it ‘Led Zep IV’?
CHAD SMITH: We’re not going backwards. You’re going backwards with ‘Led Zeppelin IV’.
TRIPLE J: No, but ‘Led Zep IV’ was their masterwork.
CHAD SMITH: Oh, I see. Well, that’s debatable. I think ‘Physical Graffitti’ is my favourite album of Led Zeppelin. But I would never compare us to any other band. And it’s very flattering if anyone can compare us to Led Zeppelin. I don’t know, I’m in it, I’m doing it. It’s hard for me to step back, especially at this point, and go “this is our best album”. I think all the albums are great. My favourite Chili Pepper record is ‘Uplift Mofo Party Plan’ which I don’t even play on! But like I said before, I’m really proud of this new one. I think it’s really diverse and dynamic and it’s a really great record. It’s a good headphone record, so you potsmokers out there, do some bong hits and put the headphones on.
TRIPLE J: There’s some very swirly moments on the record.
CHAD SMITH: Yeah, Rick (Rubin – producer) did a great job. We’re just really pleased with the way it turned out and the sounds are great. It feels good when I listen to it. In six months I may think it’s terrible, but right now I think it’s great!
TRIPLE J: I’d keep those gut feelings, I think you’re pretty much on the right track.
CHAD SMITH: Yeah, you gotta just go with your gut feeling. When we’re writing the songs, that’s what we do. If it feels good, great. We don’t worry about “is it funky, is it slow, is it fast, is it hard”. If it feels good to you, you have to go with it. If you’re into skinny, little, dark goth chicks and some big fat chick comes along and is disgusting, you won’t want to try to sleep with her. You’ll go with what your gut feeling says. And I think that we do the same thing.
TRIPLE J: Interesting analogy.
CHAD SMITH: I personally don’t mind a girl with a little meat on her bones…for all you Australian birds out there!
TRIPLE J: Bear that in mind when Chad comes to town. What about Rick Rubin as a character? I’ve never met him, I’ve read a few things about him, you tell me.
CHAD SMITH: Well, he is a character. People get somewhat the wrong impression. They see him and he’s sort of a menacing type guy and has this big beard and wears sunglasses and is very softly-spoken. But he’s a sweetheart and we really enjoyed working with him on ‘Blood, Sugar’ and it turned out so well we never even asked him to produce this next album because he just immediately figured out that he would be doing it. He’s our friend and we respect him and he’s really smart and he’s a good sounding board for musical ideas. Actually, we found Dave in Rick’s beard. I just reached in and pulled Dave out of his beard. Along with every CD that he’s ever put out. He’s got all the Slayer records, the Cult, the Danzigs, I think he’s got the last Tom Petty record, he’s got Johnny Cash’s record in his beard…He’s got a lot of stuff in that beard.
TRIPLE J: So are we talking like a ZZ Top beard now? Are we getting to that mammoth proportion?
CHAD SMITH: As he said to me once “it’s a sign of masculinity”. I saw him a long time ago when he was doing Run DMC and Aerosmith and he had this kind of mini-beard. It wasn’t very long and he looked much different. I said “why don’t you shave off your beard man, go for a different look”. And he’s like, “no I can’t do that”. Maybe he’s like Samson. If he cuts it off and he’ll lose all his powers.
TRIPLE J: Could be. I was going to say, was he ever once a Hell’s Angel?
CHAD SMITH: No, no! Rick is a sweet man and very mellow, and if it wasn’t for all that blood-drinking and Satan worshipping stuff, I would say that he’s a regular guy.
TRIPLE J: I’ve just read this week that he’s working on the new AC/DC album and it had him telling the guys: “here’s the number where I’m at, ring me if you’ve got any troubles”.
CHAD SMITH: He has an interesting way of working with artists, and he certainly wasn’t around for us all the time. He’s around when we’re cutting the basic tracks and actually his forte is before you go into the studio, when you have the songs or ideas for songs or stuff, he’s really good at saying “that part’s good, it should go on longer”, or “I like that or don’t like that”. A lot of his work is done before we actually get into the studio and then getting in the studio is just a matter of capturing the performance. He’s real good at “that was a good take” or “that one had good energy”. If his head is bobbing up and down in the control room while you’re playing that’s a good sign. If not, you know you’re going to do it again. But with AC/DC, like with Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, these are people that Rick has respect for and probably growing up wanted to work with. And I know AC/DC’s one of his favourite band’s of all time and I know that he was also an integral part of getting Phil Rudd back in the band. He said “Man, you keep getting this guy, this guy and this guy…You gotta get Phil back in the band! Obviously Bon can’t be there but you should get Phil back in the band”. And Phil came back.
I was very fortunate to go down there and watch them play and hang out with them a little bit, and they’re very nice people. One of their songs is called (screaming the chorus) “Caught With Your Pants Down”, and that could be my favourite. It sounds like an old AC/DC record. Rick’s not into like the latest technology. He’s into classic, timeless records like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Stuff that sounds as good today as it did 20 years ago.
TRIPLE J: Say you’re a fan of the Chili Peppers, a you’re listening to ‘One Hot Minute’ for the first time. What would leap out?
CHAD SMITH: “Pea”. It’s a very, stripped down, honest feeling from Flea. I really enjoy a song called “Deep Kick”. It’s more of an obvious combination of what Dave does and what we do and it has a psychedelic intro. It’s a cool song about Flea and Anthony growing up as kids in Hollywood. It tells a good story.
“Blender”, being the epic that it is, it’s about 30 seconds long and it’s incredible the way it flows. The dynamics, the ups and downs and the colours. It’s gonna take a few listenings for our hardcore fans to get into but “Blender” is a piece of work.
TRIPLE J: It literally goes for 30 seconds?
CHAD SMITH: Yeah.
TRIPLE J: Are there lyrics?
CHAD SMITH: Oh yeah, and if anyone can figure out the lyrics, I’ll give ’em $20.
TRIPLE J: I was going to ask you about Anthony’s lyrics. Do you offer much feedback or listen to them very closely when they’re being recorded, or is it only after the fact?
CHAD SMITH: I tell you man, I think it would be so hard to try to come up with lyrics and melodies for 15 interesting things to sing about. That is something I can’t do, and would never want to especially in this band because he does such a great job at it. I really commend him for the effort that he put in coming up with the songs and the lyrics on this record. And Flea contributed to some as well, which are excellent. He’s really good at it. I am a bumbling idiot when it comes to that kind of thing.
Mostly after I get done doing the basic tracks, I just hang out and ride my motorcycle, go swimming. I’m kind of like Rick. I’ll call in every once in a while: “How’s it going down there?”.
TRIPLE J: You like Los Angeles?
CHAD SMITH: I’ve been here for eight years and I’ve seen LA decline in what was once probably a very vibrant city. I get a real sort of uptight, tense vibe from this town. From it being a sort of shallow, plastic place where entertainment takes place and movies. And the people that are around here, if you have something that they can gain from you then they want to be your friend. But I think that it’s become an increasingly hostile place and I’ve been married for three years and, we haven’t decided yet to start a family, but if we do I certainly wouldn’t want my kids to grow up in this environment. There are much better places to live. I know Flea is probably going to move to Australia and live. He has a house there already. There is no sense of community here. I’m disappointed with LA. I’ll probably move shortly but as in any big city it has good things to offer also. But the negative outways the positive, I think.
TRIPLE J: Well if you do decide to follow Flea’s trail to Australia, we’ll adopt you. The Red Hot Chili Peppers as an Australian band!
CHAD SMITH: Well, you never know. It’s very possible. I know Anthony was looking at some property in Sydney and in New Zealand too. When I was there I got the feeling that everyone was always really friendly and Australian’s are very boisterous, an exuberant lot. They get a couple of beers in ’em and they’re like (shouts) “Aaay, you’re a mate.” They’re very nice and I look forward to coming back soon.
FLEA ARRIVES, SHAKES MY HAND FIRMLY, AND STARES ME IN THE EYE IN A WAY THAT MAKES ME FEEL I’M IN THE PRESENCE OF SOMEONE MUCH LARGER THAN THE FIVE FOOT FIVE INCH GUY STANDING IN FRONT OF ME. I EASE UP A BIT ONCE HE TELLS ME HOW HE PUT TALLER AERIAL UP ON HIS HOUSE IN AUSTRALIA LAST TIME HE WAS THERE SO HE COULD PICK UP TRIPLE J.
TRIPLE J: Where abouts is your house?
FLEA: It’s on the south coast of New South Wales. I love it down there. I love Australia, I love the space, I love the sky, I love the air, I love the water. I think it’s a beautiful place and I am going to move there and live there because I love Australia so much. I was born there and I’m crazy about the place. I have a few problems with it…
TRIPLE J: Like what?
FLEA: My biggest problem is that it’s just so white. I’m used to living in LA and dealing with so many different kinds of people and everywhere I go in Australia it’s just like white, white, white, white. Everything’s really white but you know, I’ll get over it. There’s different things about it that I could find to enjoy.
TRIPLE J: You were born where, in Melbourne?
FLEA: Yeah, I was born in Melbourne.
TRIPLE J: So have you seen much of the outback at all?
FLEA: I trip around as much as I can, but I haven’t been inland that much. I’ve spent most of my time on the coast, however I do plan on exploring the deepest inner recesses of the secret Australian soul. ‘Cause that’s what I really like about the country. I’m really into the space. I’m a nature boy. When I’m in the city too long I start to feel too self-important. You’re dealing with things that are really meaningless like money and material objects and houses and cars and getting places and appointments and meetings. And all those things become so important and you start thinking that you’re such a powerful person. People think that they’re so powerful because they’re dealing with these meaningless things that they can control. But when you get out into nature and you’re dealing with things that are actually really meaningful, things like sky, water, dirt, rocks, wildlife, animals, I start to become very small and very humble. I start to become just a teeny little pea of a guy, and that’s where I like to be. That’s what makes me happy, that’s what I long to do, that’s what I live for, that’s what makes my heart shake.
TRIPLE J: You becoming a father, as well, what sort of effect has that had?
FLEA: Well, my daughter’s six years old and it’s undoubtedly had a profound effect on me. I love her, everything I do, I do for her. That’s one of the reasons I want to move to Australia. It’s just a much better place for a kid to grow up than in Los Angeles. When I’m in Australia she can go outside and run and play and have a good time and in Hollywood, I wouldn’t let her out of my sight for one second. Ever! But, yeah, it’s changed me as a person. Thinking about the future and thinking about how I want to give her every opportunitiy that she could have. And be there and be a loving father for her and give her a lot of the things I didn’t get a chance to have when I was a kid.
TRIPLE J: Los Angeles is a crazy city. Probably the craziest I’ve ever been to in the world. And there’s absolutely no nature at all in this city.
FLEA: Well, there’s sort of a duality in Los Angeles because it’s near the ocean but you can’t swim in it anymore. You’ll get drastically ill! But there is the desert, which is nearby, and there are the mountains just north which are really beautiful. But in general, the city is – yeah – there really isn’t any nature. The only nature are the palm trees which are growing out of the sidewalk, which are artifically planted, and which are having the life choked out of them by the grease and dirt and cement. But I do have a romantic and nostalgic attachment to this city and there’s something that keeps me here. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve grown up here and my friends are here and that I have so many memories here. And I have a lot of love in my heart for a lot of things that are here. But the bad side of it, the negative things, have begun to overwhelm me. I need change in my life. I think perhaps if I go away for a while I’ll be able to come back and enjoy it even more.
TRIPLE J: All that taken into account about Los Angeles, I couldn’t really imagine the Red Hot Chili Peppers coming out of a place other than Los Angeles.
FLEA: I couldn’t either. But I mean it’s like how people often ask me “what would life be like if you weren’t in a rock band”, and “what would life be like if you weren’t from L.A.”, or “if you weren’t commercially successful”. It’s like, I don’t know!!?
We each have one life and we’re supposed to enjoy it for what we have and this new Red Hot Chili Pepper record is called “One Hot Minute”, and the reason it is called “One Hot Minute” is basically because every minute that you have is the most important minute of your life. Not the minutes that happened before or the ones that are going to happen. Thinking about the things that happened before and the things that happened later is the death of everybody. That’s what causes heart attacks at the age of 47. It’s just about loving your friends and enjoying every minute that you have with the people that you’re with because those people might not be there as we all too often learn by dealing with tragedy and death. You’ve got to really enjoy each minute and make the most of it and to spread the love around.
TRIPLE J: Is this stuff that’s been a lesson to you in the last couple of years or are we talking about an attitude that you learnt ten years ago?
FLEA: Subconsciously, I’ve always tried to get myself to a place where I was happy. But I think it’s recent.
After we finished touring ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’, where we toured really hard and for a really long time, I actually had a…(pauses) The past few years have been basically the lowest, worst time of my entire life. After that tour I completely broke down. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, I just lost it. I cracked. My whole life fell to pieces.
TRIPLE J: Can you pinpoint why?
FLEA: It was just where my life headed me to. All my life I’ve been a very hectic, wild, manic person with extremely high high’s and extremely low low’s. I also didn’t treat myself very well physically. Through the years I did lots of drugs, I didn’t eat right, I wouldn’t sleep right. Basically, I thought I was Superman and I could do anything I wanted to do. I was hectic, I was crazed, I worked real hard on tour, I’d gone through a stressful time, I’d gotten divorced, I was away from my kid, I was on the road, I couldn’t sleep. My body just finally said, “Fuck you, man! You’re not getting out of bed”. And it was a very difficult thing for me because I’ve always been someone who’s been bursting with energy my entire life.
All of a sudden I just couldn’t do anything. I became very sad, very lonely, very distrustful, very miserable. In retrospect, that’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I was forced to really examine myself and learn a lot of things about myself. And to learn a lot of things about living. I worked really hard on myself, spiritually and emotionally, and I’ve come to be a happier person than I’ve ever been in my life and I feel great now. I feel so much wiser and I feel that I’ve learnt and grown as a human being, growing up to be a kinder, more sensitive person. Which is what it’s all about.
TRIPLE J: So you, very much, were responsible for pulling yourself out of it?
FLEA: Yeah, there’s no-one that could have done it but me. And it took me time. It took me time to learn to be an accepting person and to learn to look inside myself and to be humble, and to find fault with myself. To recognise my faults, my shortcomings and my defects and to work on them. And I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m still far from perfect. I’m still pretty much too spontaneous and wild of a person to be perfect. But I’m trying. I’m trying, and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and I realise that there’s nothing more important in the world to me than just being a kinder person. So that’s where I’m trying to get to.
TRIPLE J: It’s ironic in a way that you went to such depths in your life the year or two years after the huge success came?
FLEA: Right. You would think that you work all your life and finally, all of a sudden, you’re selling a zillion records and making all this money and travelling around the world. And that’s not the thing that got to me. It wasn’t that because it’s not like the Red Hot Chili Peppers had overnight success. This band’s been together for 13 years. We’ve been working our asses off like crazy the whole time. Every time we played we gave every ounce of energy in our bodies. We give everything that we have. If we had been an overnight success, I could see that being a really difficult thing to deal with. It wasn’t because of commercial success, it was because of where my life led me. The path that I was on. I was just asking for it. You have to take care of yourself and you have to love yourself. I’d always been worried too much and stressed out too much.
TRIPLE J: Are you sure it would’ve happened with or without the success?
FLEA: I don’t know what would have happened. Things are the way they are. Touring the last record was a very stressful thing for me. I was wiggin’ out the whole time. My eyes looked like two fried eggs. I was running around like crazy. Eventually you have to rest and eat and take care of yourself. Obviously being in the situation that I’m in, everything is going to be more extreme. Travelling around the world, playing for zillions of people, but it’s up to me to handle those situations. It’s not up to anyone else, I choose to do what I do. I love to do what I do and I respect myself for doing what I do.
What I’m doing is a good thing but it’s up to me to deal with it. Like people say: “oh well, you’re in this big rock band…What about all the groupies, what about all the drugs, how do you deal with it, how do you handle it?”.All these things are available to us, but it’s up to us to learn. It’s like how many times does it take me to learn the lesson that sex without love is terrible. That sex without love is nothing, that sex without love is bad for your soul (and) it hurts you. How many times did I have to learn the lesson, don’t do drugs. You sit around doing heroin and cocaine, you’re really going to hurt yourself. On one hand it’s been difficult to deal with it but on another hand, I’ve learned all that stuff. I dealt with it and I learned about it. It’s up for anyone in my position to deal with that.
TRIPLE J: Experience really is the only true teacher, isn’t it?
FLEA: Yeah, I guess so.
TRIPLE J:Do you believe in fate?
FLEA: I believe in Karma. I think that everyone has their own karma to work out and that definitely leads people where they’re gonna go. People have to take control of their lives. Work on working out the problems that they have. Reincarnation makes a lot of sense to me. I think people are born with things that they have to deal with, genetically as well as spiritually. It’s difficult, in American and Australian culture, which is essentially European culture, we’re not really taught at a young age to deal with ourselves at a spiritual level. We’re taught to try and make a lot of money and try to be powerful in a white male corporate dominated world. A lot of people really get screwed up by that. It’s not like in India where someone is raised to look inside themselves.
TRIPLE J: How do you feel about a song like “Shallow Be Thy Game”?
FLEA: “Shallow Be Thy Game” was written by Anthony and that song is basically about organised religion… Organised Christianity and Catholocism in particular. I think the original concepts these religions are founded on are good concepts. They’re bascially about kindness and being a good person, taking care of yourself, taking care of other people. But there’s a lot of things that these organised religions have done, like going around the world with their missionaries and wiping out ancient civillisations and destroying beautiful cultures with their own sets of rituals and spiritual ways of living. Catholocism makes kids grow up full of shame and guilt and fear as opposed to growing up free and happy.
TRIPLE J: Were you surrounded by any religion when you were growing up?
FLEA: I wasn’t. I wasn’t brought up in a religious way.
TRIPLE J: What about Anthony?
FLEA: Nope. But, he sees what he sees and he writes about what he writes about and I stand by him on that song. I think it’s a well thought out song. As far as me writing lyrics on this record, Anthony and I co-wrote the lyrics on some songs.
TRIPLE J: Let me guess, was that “Deep Kick”?
FLEA: Yeah. In the beginning of “Deep Kick” Anthony’s reading the poem and I’m sort of singing in the background. He’s reading the words that I wrote and I’m singing the words that he wrote. And then we co-wrote the verses and the rest of the lyrics. This song is about us growing up together in Hollywood and we’re sort of reminicing on the good and bad times that we had.
TRIPLE J: Is it very accurate?
FLEA: Yeah, it’s honest.
TRIPLE J: You guys were that inseparable?
FLEA: Yeah, we’ve been inseparable…A two-headed monster since we met about 18 years ago. We’ve been really, really close. Which works to our advantage and our disadvantage. It works to our advantage because we love each other deeply and we have a telepathic communication understanding of one another that is really amazing. We’re as close as two people can get. And on the other hand, we know each other so well that we can really get on each others’ nerves and it’s really difficult to deal with a lot of situations in the band. Everything is very emotional with us. We cry, we hug,…Everything is very intense. Sometimes I think that if we weren’t so close we’d be able to deal more objectively and not get really upset at each other really easily. Because we know each other so well, you can hurt the people that you love the most, the quickest and the easiest.
TRIPLE J: Like family.
FLEA: Yeah, exactly like family. But can you imagine if you had a brother or sister, and you had to go on tour with them and live with them in a bus for two years and eat, shit, sleep, fuck in the same place forever and ever. And we’ve been doing it for 13 years! It’s pretty intense, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we’re gonna keep doing it.
There’s another song on this record that Anthony and I co-wrote the words for and it’s a song, it’s probably my favourite song on the record, normally I don’t really have favourite songs. I can’t. I love all the songs. But the one that’s really close to me is the one called “Transcending”. It’s the last song on the record and it’s a song about my friend, River Phoenix who was someone I was very close to and whose death was a really tragic loss. He was someone who understood things about me that no-one will ever understand. He was able to look inside of me and really see a lot of things about me. As far as my own fear, and my weakness and my pain. And he was just the kindest person I’ve ever met in my life. And that song’s for him.
SINGER ANTHONY KEIDIS GREETS ME IN THE HOTEL’S GARDEN. THIS GUY IS SUPPOSED TO BE BACK ON DRUGS AND THAT’S WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TO FINISH RECORDING ‘ONE HOT MINUTE’. THAT’S WHAT I READ IN A LA PAPER. ALL I CAN THINK IS HOW GOOD THIS GUY LOOKS FOR SOMEONE SUPPOSEDLY SO SICK. IF IT WASN’T FOR THE DIONYSUS LOOKS OF DAVE NAVARRO, ANTHONY MIGHT HAVE JUST BEEN THE BEST LOOKING GUY I’D MET ALL WEEK IN THIS GLAMOUR PLUS CITY.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: In all sincerity, I’m madly in love with Dave Navarro. And to end up playing with the guitar player from Jane’s Addiction is a dream come true. The last two years of my life have been two of the most meaningful ever and making this record was a huge part of it. I think in a lot of ways it saved my life.
TRIPLE J: Seriously, that strong?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Completely.
TRIPLE J: If you hadn’t found Dave, and if you hadn’t convinced him to join the band, do you think you’d still be together?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Well, it’s impossible to say. I think it was meant to be and it really wasn’t a matter of convincing him, it was a matter of the time being right for everybody. And although we wanted him for many months before he actually joined, obviously he wasn’t ready yet and he had commitments to Deconstruction. I think he, in his heart of hearts, knew that he wanted to be in this band but he is just such a completely trustworthy and dedicated human that he wasn’t about to turn his back on Eric Avery, who he was very involved with at the time that we first asked him to join the band. And when he was freed up and felt ready for it, he joined and that was the beginning of what we are today.
TRIPLE J: A lot of the sound…his big guitar sound and the subtleties of what he did with Jane’s Addiction…has shown itself on this new album for you guys.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I hope so. It’s not like Dave Navarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and it’s not like the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined Dave Navarro. We’ve just all joined each other and become a new thing. And I think in a situation where you have four very distinct, individual, creative people that we were all forced to go to a new place. And that was a blessing, having him join the band. We knew that we would never even attempt to be anything that we had been in the past. And he didn’t want to recreate his past. We wanted to build from our pasts into something entirely new and different. And that’s what it turned out being. He catapulted us into having to be something fresh and different and that was a real blessing.
TRIPLE J: Compared to ‘Blood, Sugar’ it is an obvious progression.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Definitely, it always has been with us. Every record is a very beautiful and honest expression of that period of time in our lives. As is this one. And I think that we’re pretty lucky to have progressed over all those records. We have six records now, and it’s like a little kid growing up or something. It’s like looking at the school pictures from first grade through high school.
TRIPLE J: How old do you feel now?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: We’ve got whiskers now.
TRIPLE J: You’ve got whiskers now! Oh, adolescence has kinda hit.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Just barely yeah.
TRIPLE J: That’s great news for Red Hot Chili Peppers fans in the future. What about your singing, what sort of progression with this album?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I don’t know. I really have a very difficult time analysing myself because it doesn’t do anything for me to sit back and try to dissect myself and understand why I do what I do. I seem to feel more comfortable just being as I am and not thinking about it too much. Sort of like a kid. And, all I know is that I had a lot inside of me that had to come out in the form of musical exorcism. I feel probably more comfortable now than ever before vocalising in this band. It’s just something I’ve gotten a little bit better at and a little bit more comfortable with. I think relaxation is the key to honest expression and we’ve developed to the point where there is that creative relaxation and feeling comfortable being yourself and not being too concerned with preconceptions or your own expectations of what you should be like. Just be as you are and let that be captured.
TRIPLE J: Would you agree that a lot of the songs are exercises in self-analysis for you?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I wouldn’t call it self-analysis. I would call it self-awareness and honesty and autobiographical. This record is who we are. We’re not hiding anything.
TRIPLE J: Why don’t we start off then by talking about “Aeroplane”. One of your favourites?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I love “Aeroplane”. It feels really good to sing that song. It feels great to sing it because I got the feeling that turned out to be the lyrics of that song when I was sitting in a restaurant in Hollywood surrounded by a bunch of people that I could not relate to. I felt completely misunderstood and isolated from the world, which is how I feel sometimes. I heard a song, I can’t even remember what it was, but that song completely took me to a place of peace and comfort. And that’s what music frequently does for me, when I just can’t take the insanity of my environment I just disappear into a cloud of music and, for a while, I’m able to breathe freely.
TRIPLE J: That great feeling of escapism.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: It is an escape but it’s an organic escape, it’s not a self destructive escape and it’s not an irresponsible escape of letting your loved ones down. It’s a creative exploration and relaxation in the middle of insanity.
TRIPLE J: Who were the kids singing on that?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: The kids were from a school called The Little Red School House here in Hollywood. Lead by a fearless young Clara Balzary, daughter of Flea.
TRIPLE J: Oh, so she’s on it?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Yeah, 5,6 & 7 year old’s singing. With Flea actually as the ringmaster that day in the studio. He was in charge of rousing the troops.
TRIPLE J: He was the conductor?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: He was, and he’s great at it. He relates to kids so well. It’s fantastic to see him relating to kids.
TRIPLE J: I think it might have been Flea in a previous interview talking about how kids relate to the Red Hot Chili Peppers music. Do you still think that’s pretty much the case?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: It can’t be denied. From the very first demo tape that we ever made, Flea and I went to New York with our demo tape that we were very proud of, and played it wherever we went on the streets of New York and little kids everywhere completely rocked out to our music. Regardless of their parents desires for them to get away from us and our music. We connect with kids and that’s one of the greatest compliments that I can think of…Relating to kids. Because they’re so pure and untainted. It lets you know that you’re definitely doing something right, when kids can dig it.
TRIPLE J: So do you think there’s a big difference to how kids listen to music as opposed to adults.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I think there’s a big difference between everything that kids do versus the way adults do it. I mean they’re not yet jaded freaks.
TRIPLE J: That sense of optimism is wonderful to watch.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Yeah, optimism or just freeness. It’s almost a quality that autistic or so-called mentally retarded adults have, where they can just be themselves without worrying about how they’re appearing to others.
Yeah, it is a wonderful thing . You kind of wish that you could keep it for the whole of your life but you lose it somewhere along the track.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: You lose it, you find it, you lose it, you find it.
TRIPLE J: Now did you guys ever do anything with Sesame Street?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: We wanted too. We offered our services to them and maybe one day that’ll happen but it hasn’t yet.
TRIPLE J: That’s a shame, ’cause I read about it a couple of years ago and I thought that’d be very cool.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Yeah, it would be. I mean, we are a form of Sesame Street unto ourselves so.. you know, we kind of live it.
TRIPLE J: I won’t ask who plays what characters. In terms of “Aeroplane” as well, it has the potential of being an extremely catchy and huge single but obviously there’s a couple of words in there that wouldn’t find their way onto commercial radio. Are you thinking of changing it for that format?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: I don’t think the use of the word ‘motherfucker’in the song is at all offensive. It’s kind of a catch-all word that means everything that gets under your skin in a negative way. Life in general can be a motherfucker sometimes, it just seems to be a word that makes sense. It’s not used to try to create any controversy or shock value, it’s just a good word. And, if radio won’t play that word, it’s not that big of a problem for me because no matter if they bleep it or they scratch it out or whatever, people are going to know what the sentiment is. And the sentiment is ultimately more important than one word. Our way of dealing with censorship is to do what we do without paying attention to what other people think about what we do and that’s how we fight it…Just by expressing ourselves honestly without concern for censors and then putting it out there for the world to hear. People will hear it and they’ll know what it is.
TRIPLE J: So the song remains the same. Let’s talk about the title track “One Hot Minute”. Throughout a few of the songs, there’s obviously references to drugs. “One Hot Minute” strikes me as being something that might have been inspired by drug taking.
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Well, first of all “One Hot Minute” is the name of the record, it’s also the name of a song on the record, but it’s not necessarily the title track. It just seemed to be a title that encompassed the nature of being, and how quickly our lives transpire in the wink of an eye. And I think that feeling comes across on the record in a lot of different ways, that’s why we called it “One Hot Minute”. It isn’t because there’s a song on the record called “One Hot Minute”. That song is really about acknowledging how incredibly small we are, and how incredibly small this lifetime is and to make the most of it and to treat people with all the love and respect that you can while they’re still alive because tomorrow they might be gone. Not to worry so much about what’s gonna happen because what’s happening is now. It isn’t inspired by drug use so much, but I think everything that I do will have a certain indication of my past, which includes drug addiction and misery and tragedy but, it’s about learning from that and moving on.
TRIPLE J: We heard some rumours about why the album was taking so long and one of the reasons was that you were taking a while to get your lyrics and your singing parts down. Was that why it was taking so long?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: The record took exactly how long it was meant to take. Rumours will happen all the time, I’ve heard a lot of the rumours myself and none of them mean anything. We took as long as we needed to take. There were no due dates or deadlines or pressures to finish something that had to have a life of its own. And I took as long as I needed to take for it to be what it had to be for me to believe in it. And when it was ready it was ready. There is no frame of time that you can apply to creating music and we don’t live by that, and neither did the life of this record. There were a million reasons why it took this long. We had to get to know Dave, I had to get to know myself, Flea had to find spiritual happiness in this life and it all combined to make a really good record.
TRIPLE J: How’s your state of mind and also your health been in the last year, while all the process of putting the record together was going on?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Up and down, but right now I feel great and I feel more excited about going out to play these songs live than I’ve felt in about four years. And I feel good.
TRIPLE J: “Shallow BeThy Game”…I was listening to it and I was thinking, how long has this been building up in Anthony’s head to write a song like this?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: It was just kind of regurgitated one day. It’s not like I’ve been holding on to a sheet of lyrics for 10 years but, it expresses the idea of not living in fear based on organised forms of religion and, I could never explain that song as well as it can explain itself. It’s about relating to truth and that truth belongs to everybody, and it doesn’t matter what your so-called religious affiliations are. It’s about living in love and not in fear.
TRIPLE J: Were you subjected, as a kid growing up, to any sort of religious mindwashing or brainwashing?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Very mildly. My mother was born into a Catholic family and for some absurd reason she felt that she was automatically Catholic. Which is something that I don’t believe in. I think everybody has to search out their own spiritual destiny. I was 10 years old, I was going to Catholicism, upon my mother’s request, and I came home from school one day and said “mom, I don’t like what they’re saying in that class about Catholicism, about Jesus”. It didn’t make sense to me. It seemed like lies and fearful negativities that I didn’t want to be associated with. And she said “fine, forget about it, you don’t have to go”. That was the end of that.
TRIPLE J: “My Friends”. What inspired that one?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: That song makes perfect sense to me, the first time I hear it. There was a period of my life about two years ago where I looked around myself and all of the people that I really cared about and really loved and they were having incredibly difficult times in their lives. I saw people dying and I saw people losing their minds and going insane, and I saw people disappearing into isolation and negativity and I didn’t understand why everybody that I seemed to care about was going crazy. I just asked myself, what is it that I can do to somehow be of service to these people, to support them and I realised it was just about always being there with love and respect for people that you care about, at all times, regardless of their state of mind. Because that’s all I can really give.
TRIPLE J: And did it work?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: It worked for me.
TRIPLE J: Did you feel like it seeped across, it went across to someone else?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Yeah, things were getting better. Definitely.
TRIPLE J: Do you feel like you left many friends behind with all the success that the Chilli Peppers had a few years ago?
ANTHONY KIEDIS: Never. ‘Cause my friends are way more important to me than any so-called success. I really love my friends and they make this lifetime a thousand times more meaningful to me.