The Red Hot Chili Peppers Keeping Rock Relevant by Carla Hay
Of all the rock bands that emerged in the ’80s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the few to remain relevant to fans and the music industry.
In fact, the band’s commercial popularity has increased in the ’90s: The group’s singles didn’t break into The Billboard Hot 100 until this decade, with hits like “Give It Away,” “Under The Bridge,” “Soul To Squeeze,” and the recent modern rock smash “Scar Tissue,” which the act will perform at the Billboard Music Awards.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis explains the group’s longevity: “If we didn’t make music that’s relevant and vital, we wouldn’t exist as a band today. I don’t know if I’m surprised the band has lasted this long, but nothing really surprises me anymore. We’re not just a bunch of independent entities that come together once in a while to make music. We’re very close on many levels, like a family.”
Having risen from the Los Angeles rock scene, the Red Hot Chili Peppers quickly developed a reputation for their wild stage antics and funk-influenced music. In addition to Kiedis, the band’s lineup consists of bass guitarist Flea, drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist John Frusciante.
The band’s infamous revolving door of guitarists has stopped for now with Frusciante, who originally joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988 and left in 1992. Frusciante rejoined the band with the record-ing of the Warner Bros. album “Californication,” which was released in June and debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200.
According to SoundScan, “Californication,” has sold more than 1.7 million copies in the U.S. to date. Outside the U.S., the album has sold 2.5 million to date, according to Warner Bros.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are also among the rare acts that have simultaneously reached No. 1 on Bill-board’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and Modern Rock Tracks chart.
The song that achieved this feat was “Scar Tissue,” the first single from “Californication.” The song topped the Modern Rock Tracks chart for 16 weeks.
The “Scar Tissue” video was also a staple on MTV and VH1. The band’s current single and video is “Around The World.” T
he Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound has evolved over the years, from in-your-face funk/thrash-inflected rock to a more diverse repertoire that includes ballads, East Indian influences, and experimental music.
Kiedis says that the songwriting and recording of “Californication” were affected by “the large backlog of experiences that I had since we recorded the previous album [1995’s “One Hot Minute”). With John back in the band again, he frees up that connection to outer space which is reflected in the songs on ‘Californication: It’s a lot easier to write with John back in the band.”
He adds with a laugh, “We weren’t really thinking about how people were going to react to this album, but one of the biggest compliments is that one of my best friends is a 21/2-year-old boy named Cash, and he won’t stop playing the album. If his parents try to stop him from playing it, he gets upset and won’t let them.”
Following November tour dates in Europe, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will embark on a concert trek through February of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The band is expected in March to launch a North American tour. Having accomplished more than most bands ever dream about, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still have more that they’d like to do, says Kiedis.
“Our goals musically are to do things we’ve never done before, whether it be electronic sounds or chang-ing the textures of our songs. We’ve been known as a rock band, but we’ve only scratched the surface. All I know is that we make music not to pleas,- everybody but to be honest with ourselves.”