08/1991 Interview Magazine

This magazine is slightly larger than my scanner; I’ve pieced together the two pages of the article to get all of the text but had to get the main part of the photos as I couldn’t join them together. The photo of John is upside down in the magazine but I placed it the right way round to make viewing easier.

“We’re protected by the world we create for ourselves, by the music we play, and the love we have for one another.” Flea

“After all the terrible things that human beings have done, being naked you love with someone you like is really great.” John

“I’ve been known to hork some green meanies on Anthony’s back during the shows. By accident of course.” Chad

“My abs? I haven’t done any sit-ups for the last 12 years. Sex is about the only exercise I get.” Anthony

Interview Magazine 1991

“I’m not so concerned with what’s happened in the past or what’s going to happen in the future. I’m just concerned with this moment, right now, talking to you.’

John Frusciante, guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is speaking. It is early summer. The Peppers have installed themselves in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills—complete with twenty-four-track sound studio—to record their new album, which is due out from Warner Bros. Records in September. The idea, Frusciante says, is to shut out the world for a while and commune as a group. Surrounding the Peppers at their house is a retinue of recording engineers, invited guests, and family members, including Clara Balzary, the two-year-old daughter of the group’s bassist, Flea.

“There are missiles flying through the city every day, aimed at everybody creative, not just at the Peppers,” says Frusciante. “They could be coming out of clocks, or the television, or a garbage can, and you’ve got to be aware of them all the time. What this band is about is helping your brothers.’

The Peppers have been helping each other deal with things like substance abuse and censorship since 1984, when four kids who went to Hollywood’s Fairfax High School decided to write a song and play it at a local club. The era of punk rock was coming to a close, and people were looking for something new. The four called them-selves Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. They were asked to return for a second performance, and when they did they were the Red Hot Chili Peppers. While other bands were struggling to be explosive, the Red Hot Chili Peppers seemed to implode effortlessly, forming one “four-headed spiritual monster,’ as the group’s drummer, Chad Smith, says.

From the beginning, critics have praised the Peppers for beating a path beyond the confines of rock. The band’s sound is more complex in structure than punk, less uniformly beat-driven than funk. It’s also less arty than fusion, although fuse is really what it does—rattling funk bass lines to extravagant, psychedelic rhythms. Their frenetic debut album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984), which revealed Flea’s high-calorie-burning, percussive style of bass playing, established the Peppers as prophets of a type of music whose time was about to come: not rock that you could dance to, but rock that you must dance to.

The new album is going to be a “multidimensional, well-rounded portrait of the band.” according to Frusciante. “We really love each other and care about making each other happy with our music. When we wrote the music for this new record, it didn’t go through our heads too much. It was just colors dripped through our systems that we put through our hands, so they could come out as music.”

Frusciante became a Pepper after the group’s original guitarist, Hillel Slovak, died of a heroin overdose in June 1988. The death nearly meant the end of the band, but when Flea and lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis recovered from the initial shock, they resolved to go on. Frusciante left the Los Angeles band Thelonius Monster to accept the Peppers’ guitar spot, and because founding drummer Jack Irons had decided to take some time off (his new group. Eleven, debuts on Morgan Creek Records this month), auditions were held.

“A lot of drummers we heard were basically weakapotamuses,” recalls Kiedis. “They just didn’t have the emotional intensity or the physical talent to rock the Peppers. Chad is a molten core of sheer power. When we first saw him sit down to play, none of us could stop laughing, because he was like a human Roman candle, spiraling out these intense, musical spasms.”

Intense, spasmodic behavior is exactly what fans have come to expect during Pepper concerts, especially from Flea, possibly the angriest young man in music not behind bars. When the band really starts freaking onstage—jumping and howling over the slam pit—it’s usually Flea who’s right up front, dripping sweat on people and brandishing his bass like a flamethrower.

“I’ve always enjoyed dancing and slamming,” Flea says. ‘But to tell the truth, I was very late on the punk-rock tip. The first punk show I went to was Black Flag, at the Starwood, in Hollywood, and it was incredibly violent. There were people getting their beads stomped in, getting taken away in ambulances- just really disgusting shit.  It freaked me so bad that I left. Then, maybe a year later, I went to see Fear, at Club Lingerie, and I was on acid, and I felt that the energy was so amazing.”

The Peppers have little of their stage frenzy to to their camp in the Hollywood Hills. Life at the house is familial and relaxed. Everybody gets up late and has breakfast together; between sessions in the studio, they spend time listening to Captain Beefheart records.

“The first thing I think about when l wake up is whether or not to get up,” says Flea. “In the words of our dear friend Hillel, it’s good to wallow.”

Living and recording in the same house the idea of the album, producer, Rick Rubin. Last year, when the Peppers’ deal with EMI was dissolved, Rubin was hired by the group after his unsuccessful bid to sign them for own label, Def American Recordings. S

“When Rick suggested the house, we all said, ‘Bitchin’,” recalls Flea. “We all started living here right away, not going out at alI. We feel no pressure from anyone who wants to fuck with us. We just play and play some more, then we listen to it and get off on it. Everybody’s doing the best they can to make the other guys sound better. There’s no show-off shit.”

And living together, the Peppers have become so engrossed in their music that they sometimes forgot about everyday concerns, like doing the laundry.

“Up until a couple of days ago, when I burrowed a pair of Flea’s shorts, I had been wearing the same underwear for the whole time we’ve been making this record,” says Frusciante.

The house is diagonally across from (and said to be connected by a tunnel to) one that Harry Houdini once inhabited. Almost as soon as the Peppers arrived, they began noticing what they describe cheerfully as “paranormal phenomena”: rooms suddenly became very cold; disembodied sounds began echoing in the night. After a week of this, psychics were consulted.

“There are definitely ghosts in this house.” says Frusciante. “One of the rooms, the psychics said, has a very spiritually sexual vibe, and I actually heard a woman being fucked in there one day. I hadn’t masturbated the whole time that we’d been here, because I was so concentrated on my music, but then I slept in that room and I couldn’t resist the temptation to masturbate.”

After a few visits, relations with the ghost-busters went sour, Frusciante adds. The girl-friend of one of the psychics pretended to be possessed. And she said that some of us were going to get possessed. We didn’t know whether to believe it at first. Basically, they tried to scare us. These guys do their first couple of visits for free, acting like they’re just nice people who are interested in this sort of thing, and then they scare everyone and charge money. If I see either of them again, I think I will just hit them in the face.

“Actually, the ghosts are very friendly. We have nothing but warm vibes and happiness everywhere we go in this house. Flea’s daughter. Clara, loves it—and she knows better than any-one else.’ DIMITRI EHRLICH

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