“I know that John [Frusicante; guitar] got upset when people kept saying how mellow the last record was,” says Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis down the phone from LA on the eve of completing new album ‘Stadium Arcadium’, “because it didn’t feel that way for us emotionally. It actually felt very punchy and very potent and powerful.
“He was like, ‘you know what? we haven’t mellowed; it’s just a different approach.”
The Californians are currently in the mixing stages of their ninth record, the follow-up to 2002’s ‘By The Way’. Recorded in their home state with long-term producer Rick Rubin, the double album sees the band reassert their hard-rock roots while getting closer to “the depths one can get into with music.”
When it came to choosing a mixer for the album, they staged a “blindfold” test, where five engineers – three of them major names – mixed the same three tracks and the band said which they liked best; settling on rookies Ryan Hewitt and Andrew Schepps.
“Ryan’s mixes sounded slightly more exciting, with a few little weird edgy twists in his mixes that we hadn’t heard in our music before, and Andrew had a more traditional Red Hot Chili Peppers sound.”
The band had planned to put out a trilogy of albums, released six months apart.
“The third record made it interesting for us, because two records have been done in different configurations. System[Of A Down] did it, Guns ‘N’ Roses did something similar, but three seemed sort of special, and we really got behind this idea until we realised that the third record wouldn’t really be coming out for 2 years at best. It was like, ‘This music needs to be heard now’, and two years from now we’ll have new songs.”
After scaling down to two albums, it was decided this was still too long a time-frame and so settled on a double album of 25 songs.
The first single from the album will be ‘Danni California’, named after a character who also featured in their single ‘By The Way’.
“She makes a new and more profound appearance on ‘Sstadium Arcadium’. It’s kind of the last chapter of this young girl’s life, but it speaks of a cultural death on the west coast of the USA, a certain death and a rebirth in a way, out with the old, in with the new, from specifically the State from which we hail”
Other songs slated for the inclusion are ‘Charlie’ ‘Desecration Smile’, ‘Stadium Arcadium’ itself and ‘Hard To Concentrate’, which the singer describes as sounding “like a river”.
“When you hear it you’ll know what I’m talking about – it kind of moves. I don’t even know if Flea [bassist] realises, but I wrote the lyrics to the chorus in honour of his new life.”
Of the curious title, he mysteriously added “‘Stadium Arcadium’, in the end it has a very dreamlike feeling of we on earth reflecting the cosmos in the heavens, and we on earth reflecting it because that’s where our inspiration comes from. It’s romance of sound or whatever retarded passions exist in your soul. It’s kind of a romantic affair.”
‘Stadium Arcadium’ also marks the first time the band have managed three consecutive records with the same line up, following the return of John Frusciante to the fold for 1999’s ‘Californication’. But Kiedis refuted the suggestion that this means the band had fully conquered their demons.
“It feels great, and I hope it stays that way, but I wouldn’t say our troubles are all over. In some ways it’s good to hold onto a few of your demons. There were times a couple of years ago – I was going to see this lady who was gonna do this kind of ritualistic cleansing of my inner-self, and John got really worried. Like, ‘Woah, be careful there because I don’t want this lady getting rid of all your dark energy because I rather enjoy the creative element that is born from it. Don’t go getting too clean on me because we might not have anything to work with here.’ I don’t think our troubles are completely over. We’re a bit bent in the head and I think that serves us well.”
‘Stadium Arcadium’ is released in April, with a tour currently being pencilled in for May.