0N EARLY UK DATES
“It’s a humbling experience because the last show we played at home was in front of 14,000 people opening for the B-52s, and the night before we headlined in front of 6,000. I guess we haven’t quite got that Pepper-mania thing going here!”
ON HAVING FUN
FLEA “Me, Hillel (Slovak, guitar) and Anthony (Kiedis) used to live together in this house. People would come over, we’d hang out, smoke pot, put socks on our dicks and run around.”
ON THE DEATH OF HILLEL SLOVAK
“It should’ve been me, not Hillel. My propensity for over-the-edge indulgences was more renowned than his. When Flea got the phone call his first reaction was, ‘Anthony’s dead’.”
ON CONTINUING WITHOUT HILLEL
“For about a month or so no one even considered the band. What we went through was a very private, very twisted grief session. Jack Irons, our drummer, quit the band because that was the only way he could deal with it. Hillel’s death made our focus a lot more acute; we decided it was really time to stop f**kin’ around.”
“If someone came from Jupiter or something and wanted to know what Funk was, I’d play them a song called ‘If You’ve Got Funk, You’ve Got Style’ by Funkadelic. All their records are incredibly Funky.”
ON WEARING SOCKS OVER THEIR WILLIES
ANTHONY KIEDIS “We were playing one of our earliest shows, at a Hollywood strip bar called the Kit Kat, and since it was a strip club we decided to come out for the encore with the socks. And let me tell you, when we came out of the dressing room backstage, we were levitating with nervous energy. Somebody filmed it and we just had this look in our eyes like we were from outer space.”
0N BEING IN TOUCH WITH THEIR FEMININE SIDES
“I had enough of my mother’s gentleness in me. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world to have all these beautiful women come into my house and not be uptight about me hanging out with them and wanting to have sex with them. My friends were rather impressed by my situation.”
ON THE ARRIVAL OF CHAD SMITH
ANTHONY KIEDIS “We took one look when he walked in for the audition and thought, `Nah, he’s too tall and goofy!’ Then he sat down behind the drums and he was like 40 gorillas attacking the kit! We just started laughing hysterically.”
CHAD ON ANTHONY
“Not to take anything away from him, but he’s not the greatest singer in the world. It’s just cool and Soulful. It’s not like the guy who wins all the awards, Michael Bolton, but maybe that’s why he’s so great.”
ON CLEANING UP
ANTHONY KIEDIS “I realised that I had the choice of staying miserable or stopping drugs and alcohol, which had become a negative force in my life. I’ve been clean now since 1989, and it’s just meant a vast improvement in the quality of my life.”
FLEA ON ANTHONY
“He has always been the man of f**king steel. The fact that he is as healthy as he is and weathered all that (drug) shit is amazing.”
ON JOINING YOUR IDOLS
(Then guitarist, now on the verge of releasing his solo debut):
“Before I joined, they were my favourite band in the whole world! The beautiful thing was that they were so diverse. When I first joined I was still a little confused about my position, and we were like four individuals.
But music is all about welding people into a unit and with all the touring we’ve been doing we’re now like an eight-armed cosmic octopus!”
ON RECORDING IN A HAUNTED HOUSE
“I heard a female ghost (while recording the ‘BloodSugarSexMagic’ album with Rick Rubin in Laurel Canyon, California). I was sleeping in the hall and I got really turned on by this female ghost who was getting f**ked above me, so I jacked off. That was the only time I had any sexual experience there, the rest of the time all my energy went into playing.”
ON THE COSMIC VIBE OF ‘BLOODSUGAR…’
“We were just in our own dimension. The rest of the world didn’t exist when we were making this record. We were living in a world of unbridled imagination.”
ON DIGGING THE CHILI SOUND
“How someone else relates to it is not my business. It’s just there for them to grow into, however they want to fit. I would recommend that people listen to it as a colour, the same way that they would soak up a flower. Some people are incapable of soaking up a flower; those people might have a hard time soaking it up. But there are freaks out there who need this music – it’s as important to their life blood as their every breath.”
ON BEING TYPECAST
“We’ve felt trapped, we’ve felt cheated. When the third record, ‘The Uplift Mofo Party Plan’, came out it was getting no play at all. People were, like, `Here’s the nutty, zany guys, they’re at it again, they want to ‘Party On Your Pussy’,’ which was one song on one album.”
ON MAINSTREAM MEDIA APPEAL
FLEA “The great thing now is that when I turn on the radio I hear Bon Jovi. Def Leppard and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In one sense it’s really beautiful because we’re communicating to so many people, but … actually, it’s just really f**kin’ good! There’s no way to describe it. I’m just damn proud!”
0N THE SUCCESS OF UNDER THE BRIDGE’
“So many people getting into that song across America have no idea what the Chili Peppers are like. Take a group of Kansas housewives who turn on the radio and say, ‘Oh, I like that sweet, sentimental song. Honey, would you go out and get me this record?’And on it there’s ‘Sir Psycho Sexy’ and ‘The Power Of Equality’. They’re gonna have their world turned upside down!”
ON UGLY KID JOE
“Our music is so much heavier. I just know where their music is coming from – copping us, copping Faith No More, copping Pop Rock band number 17B.
We’re coming from listening to Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Defunkt, Funkadelic, The Meters and James Brown. The real shit. It comes from jamming, playing a billion hours of shit that no-one will hear, getting cosmic in a darkened room and developing musical telepathy.”
0N TOP OF THE POPS
“They insisted that we mime, which we didn’t want to do. We said we’d do it, only under the condition that we make it a sort of Theatre Of The Absurd. We were going to dress up in Victorian dresses, switch instruments and dance about. They refused to let us, so we said no!”
ON DAB INTER-BAND RELATIONS
“The hardest thing about touring for me is the guys who aren’t into it. Flea doesn’t like touring – period. He’d like to tour for a maximum of two weeks at a time because he has a kid and it pains him to leave her. Chad and I stick together and make the best of it.”
0N THE DEPARTURE OF FRUSCIANTE
“It’s bad timing, you just have to accept the irony of that. Even though this is a big loss, we’re gonna hook up with someone that smokes and do what needs to be done.”
ON DAVE NAVARRO’S ARRIVAL
“Back in Jane’s Addiction my life was so chaotic that it was hard not to judge myself. Now I can start to enjoy the creative process. It’s made my life more enjoyable. Recording the new album in Hawaii is gonna be like a crash course in Pepper-dom. I’ve kinda put aside all feelings and expectations.”
ON KEEPING THE FIRE BURNING
ANTHONY KIEDIS ”
The important thing is to remember exactly why we started doing this. It’s all to do with energy that’s above any day-to-day reality, that higher awareness when you reach the stage. It isn’t a religious thing, but it is a spiritual thing where people come together under one groove.”
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS’ long-awaited new album is nearly finished. JON HOTTEN brings you the latest …
RED HOT Chili Peppers are completing the final recording stages of their sixth studio album in Los Angeles. The LP will be released next March.
The mixing ends a recording process that began at the tail end of last summer, as soon as the band had settled on ex-Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro as a replacement for John Frusciante.
Work began in Los Angeles and Hawaii as a series of jams, from which the band — completed by vocalist Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith —began to eke out the new material. Obviously, this took a little longer than usual, with Navarro just beginning to find his feet with his new colleagues.
After spending some time in Hawaii completing the writing stages, the Chilis began recording in LA in the autumn. Rick Rubin, boss of American Recordings, is handling production.
According to Chad Smith, as this issue of RAW went to press, Anthony Kiedis was in the process of laying down his final vocal performances. The album will then be mixed, with the projected release date currently standing at next March.
The band have yet to settle on a title for the new album. In the meantime, Chili fans can sample some ‘new’ product via two compilations just out, namely ‘Out In L.A.’ (through EMI) and `The Plasma Shaft’ (through Warner Bros).
For full details, see review last issue.
The band have also been quick to rubbish rumours of a split with Navarro that swept New York last week. The stories claimed that a rift had emerged, and that Navarro was considering putting a band together with Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
The Chilis’ record label soon set the record straight, flatly denying that Navarro was going anywhere!
John Frusciante was guitarist with the Red Hot Chili Peppers during their climb to stardom, but walked out on them during their last tour. Why? He had a premonition that he had to do it! With his first solo album due, Frusciante reveals he’s living in a different dimension, man! Artie Nelson freaks out…
A skinny guy with bleached hair and pale skin comes down the stairs. He’s wearing a blue shirt, is smoking a filterless Camel, and answers to the name of John Frusciante. Yes, the John Frusciante, ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper who’s now embarking on a solo career. He sits next to me on an old two-piece shocking velvet couch from which we can take in a panoramic view of Los Angeles. With plenty of Evian water and Fruit Smoothie drinks in the table, the topic of conversation is naturally John’s new album, called ‘Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T-Shirt’! It’s out early next year on Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label.
“It has the vibe of when I was recording it” Frusciante begins. “Just for myself to trip out. It had the same kind of vibe as Jane’s Addiction without drums. It seemed just as heavy. Some people are after as macho thug’s presence (with the drums), but as long as the feeling of macho stud is there …”
When did you finish the album?
“About a year ago. But it’s taken this long to get it out, because it was recorded so casually. I actually recorded it in my house”, he says, pointing to some guitars, a bass, a clarinet-looking thing, a Moog synthesiser and a four-track. “Then I asked Rick (Rubin), ‘Do you wanna put it out?’, and he said yeah … and we were excited about it. But when you’re not looking at it as the big new promotion money-making object, people are slower. So it’s taken a year.”
Having been lucky enough to hear an advance of ‘Niandra …’, I couldn’t help but realise how much impact John had on the Chilis with their 1991 album, ‘BloodSugarSexMajik’.[sic]
“Yeah … it was like sixty-forty” he nods. “I wrote like, sixty percent of the music and Flea wrote forty’”
So it must have been John who gave the Chilis another dimension, helping them transcend the party Funk thing and broaden their sound.
“Yeah, I had a good time ‘cos I was always looking at Flea and my amp,” John nods. “Me and Flea (RHCP bassist) and Steven Perkins (drummer with Porno For Pyros) have a band. We’re called the Three Amoebas. We have ten or 15 hours of stuff on tape, and it’s great. There are never any dull moments… it all fucking flows perfectly. It doesn’t have any of the things that made instrumental Rock laughable a few years down the line. So we’re gonna release that, and they’re the main people I’m interested in jamming with. Me and Flea jam now and then, but Steven’s really busy with Porno right now. I don’t really know any other musicians.
Tell us about your friendship with River Phoenix, the late actor who actually features on ‘Niandra’. “Me and River used to play together. We had a sort of communication that was intense, on just two guitars.”
How many tunes did you cut with him?
“We did two songs,” John expands. “One’s called ‘Bought Her Soul’, and it’s the second song on the album. I recorded the song and I said to River, ‘Make sounds with your voice and I’ll record you backwards over this song but you’re not allowed to hear the song.’
“So he made sounds into the mic while I recorded and listened to it on the headphones. That’s the other voice in the background besides my voice. It went perfectly with the song. We were cosmic together.
“The other song is ‘Soul Removal’. He sings and wrote the first half, and I wrote the second half, and you can hear the guitars on that. It has the thickness of a bunch of guitars, but the unity of one guitar. We weave in and out of each other in a really cool, natural way.
‘Bought Her Soul’ struck me as being driven by a powerful emotion.
“Syd Barrett (original Pink Floyd singer and well-known eccentric) really inspired that song. I was thinking about him a lot at that time. My girlfriend, Toni, is pretty insightful into what I’m doing, ‘cos I always avoid realising that I’m even in this dimension. She thinks the three major influences on the album are Syd Barrett, Robert Johnson (ancient Bluesman) and Captain Beefheart (’60s psychedelic star).”
Now seems to be as good a time as any to talk about why John left the Chili Peppers. Is it true you quit while the band were touring Japan?
“I had a weird premonition that I should quit immediately after I finished my guitar parts on (‘BloodSugar…’),” John recalls. I’d say to myself, ‘I know you don’t have any reason to, but you’ve gotta quit the band’.
“But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, because I knew they (the Chilis) wouldn’t let me. It wouldn’t make sense to them. But I had this feeling that the road was really gonna fuck with me. The road had been fucking with Flea for so many years, and it’d be bad of me to have quit then, but I was sure I should do it.
“It just had to do with my subconscious and my development as a person and spirit,” he continues. “I felt like a guy with 400 ghosts telling him what to do all the time. I just wanted to lay back on the couch and think about nothing, and that’s what I did till I went on tour, aside from one miserable two-week European interview thing.
“The unity hadn’t been good with the band for ages. Anthony (Kiedis – singer) and I hadn’t talked for a couple of tours, and we didn’t look at each other much onstage. So Flea took me to the park and said, ‘Is there anything you like about being in the band?’, and I said ‘No, I’m just in the band ‘cos I love you. I love playing with you, and I don’t want to just leave you, but there’s nothing I like about being in the band.’
And he said, ‘I guess you shouldn’t do it just for me’. He understood, but he didn’t think about it for the next year. So when I quit it was a shock. To them, it seemed like it was getting better as far as the getting along went. But I didn’t wanna do it anymore. I was really happy, like my own version of happy, in outer space every time I would look at Flea’s eyes, or my amp, or Chad’s (Smith – drums) foot. But the popularity thing bummed me out.
“It’s not like I’m against popularity,” John admits. “When I was 17 and I was at the last Chili Peppers show I ever saw before joining them, Hillel (Slovak, the Chili’s original guitarist who died of a heroin overdose) asked me, ‘Would you still like the Chilis if they got so popular they played the LA Forum?’
“I said, ‘No. It would ruin the whole thing that’s great about the band. The audience feels no different from the band at all.’ There was this real kind of historical vibe at their shows, none of the frustration that runs through the audience when they jump around and can’t get out of their seat. I didn’t even watch the shows. I’d get so excited that I’d flip around the slam pit the whole time. I really felt like a part of the band, and all the sensitive people in the audience did, too. So I couldn’t picture the band playing the LA Forum, and when we got to that point of popularity it bugged me for that and a number of other reasons.”
Since completing ‘Niandra…’, much of which was written at the same time as ‘BloodSugar…’, Frusciante has come up with 70 other songs.
“My whole object as a musician – no matter who I’m playing with – is to get as far away from myself as possible,” John admits. “The further I am away from the situation, the better the music is. I feel like I’m letting the air play with me, and the air makes the music and I’m just an outline within that. The air that surrounds me is the actual walking person and this bit of flesh in between is just a blob,” he laughs.
“Did you ever try to disappear, actually to be in another universe, when you shut your eyes? I used to do things onstage to trick myself. Like tell myself I’m gonna start this solo on this fret note, then when it gets to the last second I’m not allowed to get to that fret, and I have to start somewhere else.
“Or I’ll tell the audience that this song is dedicated to the baby born right now. But when it gets to the solo, the audience thinks they’re thinking about the same baby as me but we’re really thinking of two different babies. That kinda thing.
“You have to make fun of yourself. I’d just think it was a joke whatever I played, like what I played was ridiculous, and they’d go, ‘That was so beautiful’, what I’d just played for the album (‘BloodSugar…’). And I’d just think it was full of shit.”