1999 June Rock Sound (70 France)

Parade of grooms in a private bungalow ; journalists from around the world ; frantic press officer continuously with Peter Mensch, Q.Prime’s boss on the phone : “Ok Peter, sure Peter. I…Okay…” and four (big) kids jumping on a bed under the flash of a sweaty photographer. The comeback of the red hot chili peppers is difficult, very, very difficult to handle. Three crazy days of promotion at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood, and a somewhat ridiculous rock’n’roll circus. Or at least, outdated.


“Californication”, after all, the band couldn’t find a better title to symbolize their return to music after few additional years of excess and madness. Far from having lost everything after the departure of Dave Navarro, the combo makes a comeback with the odd taste of “fishing for credibility “, as it is true that “One Hot Minute” had partially disappointed its world. We were therefore waiting eagerly for the return of the Chili Peppers. Always where we do not expect them, “Californication” of the Chili Peppers could, again, play on our nerves and cause us to lose our teeth, like in the old days. Meeting with a survivor of stoned years, John Frusciante and a certain Flea, who tell us the story of a real mess. Red Hot Chili Peppers or the ambient mess theory…


John, here you are again in the “family”. How did the chemistry between you all reappear once again, after all this time?


John : It happened smoothly. Nothing was forced. It is a human chemistry that took place naturally, as the musical chemistry was originally there. We form an ideal combination of musicians. On the guitar, I’m nothing without Flea just like Flea is nothing without Anthony.


Flea :You know, it’s the kind of thing that can’t be intellectualized. It’s like that : natural and simple. We plug our instruments in and that’s it ! The influences of each one of us or our personal journeys have suddenly no more importance. The essential, is that we make and want the same music. And also, we’ve known each other for so long now. Everything is fluid and limpid.


A kind of natural process…


Flea : Yes, exactly ! And, in addition, I feel like I’m improving ! Actually, John is the one who should say that… (laughs)


A reunion that sounds like a rebirth, right?


Flea : You know, every word that start with “Re”, I can’t get used to it … (smile).  I feel like we keep playing in a sort of continuity. John, Chad or Anthony have always been there. We’ve just moved on to something new. We have evolved, climbed up the ladder. It is a progression in continuity.


John : Everyone thought I was dead. I am not dead…


Speaking of which … Seven years ago, during the “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” tour, you were struggling to keep up with everyone. You left the band because it seemed like you had just caught up with everything. What state of mind are you in today?


John : It’s weird … You can put up with that kind of life, success, ect, when you’re really good to yourself. It’s all stupid but you have to love yourself at least enough to even conceive of seeing your face on the cover of magazines. You have to be solid, and I think I was not. I was in conflict with myself therefore with the rest of the world. It was during that period that I began to discover things within myself that I did not know about. Also, we were touring like crazy. It’s a vicious circle, you don’t have time for anything afterwards, not even for introspection ! So we pretended that everything was fine but there was a mess in our heads. We didn’t even care for each other anymore. Then again, even if we were all tired, the music on stage continued to work, we remained good. Which is a vicious process. You know, I saw this videotape of us a few days ago and it’s incredible to see how everyone is enjoying themselves. We don’t even look at one another play!


Flea: What (laugh) ?!


John : Yes, it was in New York I think … It’s downright crazy. We are like four sulking idiots !


Flea : No ! It is not true ! The two of us have always gotten along !


John : Meh … it depends. You were angry at me for not making any effort with Anthony and me, I just couldn’t see myself becoming friend with him while remaining myself, without cheating.


And now ?


John : He is one of the people I appreciate the most in the world. We each had a different response to success. Anthony had his and I, my response was to leave. As far as I can remember, I’ve always started to hate groups when the members could no longer bear each other. I thought you could feel it in their music. I didn’t see the point in continuing like that.


John, is it true that you have never listened to “One Hot Minute” ?


John : Yes ! Why should I have ? Anthony’s never listened to my solo album either. When Dave arrived, I completely distanced myself from the whole thing, and I’m not interested in what happened with him.


How can a group reform with such a heavy past laden with human problems ? How do we fix it ?


John : One day, I ran into Anthony at a Jane’s Addiction concert. He was very nice to me, and it warmed my heart. Even though Anthony also takes drugs, he has always been very critical towards me about that. Almost intolerant… And that day he saw that I was not doing well because of that and he was just nice to me. With Anthony, it was like bad vibes entering a room every time someone smoked a joint or drank a little too much alcohol ! I feared him like my father! This time, he was very positive and understanding… He then visited me at the hospital, just like that, to support me. I didn’t ask him anything and he’s the one who took the first step, proving to me that his outlook had changed.


A year ago, where were you?


Flea : I was in Costa Rica. I was very sad and in a crappy period of my life. Shortly before leaving, we had just asked John to rejoin the group. So we had to deal with Dave’s departure and I was completely demoralized. Downcast. I freaked out and went to Costa Rica alone.


At that time, what were your doubts regarding the band ?


Flea : It’s weird but I never really worried about the future of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and, besides that, I really wanted to make my solo album and slope off … The day I returned from Costa Rica,  Anthony and John rang at my front door. They were laughing like little kids and John was brandishing a guitar that Anthony had just offered him. They had started composing during my absence, I couldn’t believe it (laughs)! It was a real dream … The last time I saw them together was at the Viper Room where John was performing a solo concert. He invited me to play a song on stage with him and there, he started to yell : “Anthony, you’re a big loser ! “. And I, I was fucking embarrassed. I was telling him discreetly: “Shut up, Shut the fuck up!” (laughs). So you can imagine that seeing them arm in arm, it was almost unreal ! A few minutes later, I had abandoned the idea of my solo disc and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were back again …


You are one of the rare groups in Rock History that has changed their guitarists so frequently ! However, there remains this entity to which the public remains faithful. How do you explain that ?


Flea : I think it’s because we do what we want to do. So, naturally, there is a kind of common thread. We are honest and real and the public feels that before knowing who is holding the guitar. That’s what we said earlier, the chemistry still works just as well. People respect that. It’s magic for us…


What is your favorite song on this album ?


Flea : The most beautiful thing of this album is the guitar solo on “Californication”. It’s a find ! A song inside the song.


Let’s talk about this title more specifically, “Californication”. Can you give us some explanations about this song?


Flea : It’s about the influence of show business on California. About how Hollywood is haywire and steals the soul and conscience of everyone who faces it.


This is the general meaning. You can’t say that this song is not about someone ! “Pay your surgeon very well to break the spell of aging / Celebrity Skin is this your chin ? / Cobain can hear the sphere / And earthquakes are to a girl’s guitare…” ect…


Flea : Oh ! You mean Hole ?! Courtney Love? No, no ! Not at all. To be honest, Anthony wrote these words long before Hole’s album came out. Celebrity Skin is a band from Los Angeles. And for the rest, it’s a complete coincidence. I can assure you it has nothing to do with Courtney Love. The part about Kurt Cobain is Anthony’s tribute to one of his idols. He says how much he misses him, he talks about paradise and stars that have joined their own constellations. It’s about the beauty and the purity of a being in front of all this shit.


Many thanks to and Central_to_nowhere and  Stubbadub.jd for the translation.

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