1985/01 Musician

Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Wool Socks

Post-punk white funk is a familiar style these days, but Los Angeles’ Red Hot Chili Pep-ers work the form over with a lunatic vengeance. The Punch and-Judy humor with which the Red Hots assault their lubricated rhythms has made the quartet a popular and wildly unpredictable live attract on for two years. Now they are taking their badass madness to a wider audience with an EMI /Enigma album.

The group is the brainchild of two high school pals: bassist Flea (Michael Balzary), late of the L..A punk bands Fear and What Is This, and vocalist Anthony “Swan” Kiedis. With guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons -since replaced by Jack Sherman and Cliff Martinez, respectively—the Chili Peppers approximated the whipcrack sound of nouveau-funk units like Defunkt and laced it with intoxicating zaniness. Onstage, impromptu wrestling matches are a matter of course. Band members have been known to relieve and expose themselves in mid-show; one performance found the group playing nude except for wool socks covering their genitalia.

Naturally, these antics attracted the attention of A&R scouts, and eventually a deal with EMI/Enigma. The Chili Peppers’ self-titled debut, produced by Andy Gill of Gang of Four fame, clearly lacks the anything-goes humor. “Andy said he didn’t think you could take the live show and put it on vinyl,” Sherman says.

Live however, it’s still business as usual. A yogurt and cottage cheese fight onstage at one recent gig destroyed one of Sherman’s guitars; at one industry showcase, Flea pulled down the hapless guitarist’s pants in front of a sold-out crowd of a thousand industry mavens.

For all the tomfoolery, the Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t joke about their music “I’m very serious about being a lovable fun clown,” Flea says ‘But nothing is more important to me than playing good music ” – Chris Morris

Many thanks to Hamish at RHCP Sessions for the scan.