RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
CHAD AND THE CHILIS ARE BACK WITH A THUMPING NEW ALBUM. RHYTHM CAUGHT UP WITH THE INIMITABLE STICKSMAN TO TALK ABOUT THE RECORDING OF I’M WITH YOU , HIS VARIOUS MUSICAL SIDE-PROJECTS, HIS BRAND NEW KIT AND ‘PROFESSOR FLEA’S NEW-FOUND LOVE OF ODD-TIME…
Words: LOUISE KING Photos: NEIL ZLOZOWER/TONY WOOLLISCROFT
“So, where do you want to start? asks Chad Smith with a hearty chuckle. ‘A lot’s happened since we last spoke.’ He’s not wrong.
It was back in 2007, after performing at the Reading/Leeds festival, that the Chili Peppers announced they would be taking an extended break. The merry-go-round schedule of writing, recording and touring that the band had undertaken since John Frusciante returned to the fold in 1998 had taken its toll, and everyone was ready to step away.
Always one to relish the challenge of new musical opportunities, Chad proceeded to make the most of his time off from the day job: forming two new bands (Chickenfoot and the Bombastic Meatbats), recording a children’s CD with Dick Van Dyke (Rhythm Train), and collaborating closely with legendary Chili Peppers’ producer Rick Rubin on a variety of different projects. Not bad for somebody who was supposed to be taking a little time out.
The shock announcement that Frusciante would not be returning to the Chili Peppers – choosing instead to focus on his solo work – came during the band’s hiatus. Once the remaining members (Chad, singer Anthony Kiedis and bass player Flea) had made the decision that they wanted to carry on together, thoughts immediately turned to finding a new guitarist. Keen to avoid the auditioning process they had gone through when John first left the band in 1992, they looked closer to home and realised they had a possible candidate tight under their noses.
Multi-instrumentalist Josh Kinghoffer a close friend, and collaborator of Frusciante’s, had actually joined the band for the final stages of the Stadium Arcadium tour, playing guitar and keyboards and singing backing vocals. The band knew him, they liked him and he’d toured with them: he was already one of the family. The only question was whether the new incarnation of the Chili Peppers could write songs together. After jamming and writing together for 12 months, that particular question was well and truly answered when the band took 70 new songs to their long-serving producer – and partner in crime since 1991’s critically acclaimed BloodSugarSexMagik – Rick Rubin. I’m with You, the band’s 10th studio album was released at the end of August.
So, as the Chili Peppers machine rolls into action once again. Chad is keen to fill Rhythm in on all that’s been happening. And where better to start than with the little funk-rock combo that Chad found himself joining over 22 years ago…
The last time we saw the Chili Peppers in action this side of the pond was at the Reading/Leeds festival in 2007. Those shows turned out to be the last you played with John, but did you know that that was going to be the case at the time?
“No, but I knew that we needed to nave a break because everyone was tired. The beginning of that tour was so great everyone was excited and happy to be playing there was a really good energy and I do think that those shows are some of the best we’ve ever done. But the nature of touring – and I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m extremely grateful that people want to come and see us day – is that as time goes on it can turn into a job. It’s a great job, but it takes its toll, and when it carne to Reading and Leeds we had been going for 16 months…We had brought Josh along with us – which turned out to be an ironic foreshadowing of what was to come -and that was great, because we were able to do different things and free John up a little bit. But after we came off stage at Reading we talked, and decided to take a year off. Then Flea suggested two… For 10 years we had done nothing but write, record and tour, and we all needed a break. It was time to do other things and not be the Chili Peppers for a while.”
So how did John break the news that he wasn’t coming back?
“Touring might turn into a job, but creating music can never be a job: you have to be in the right frame of mind and you have to want to do it. It took a while for the rest of us to get back to that place, but John never did; he simply didn’t want to do it any more. He’s a unique individual, an incredible musician-probably the best I have ever played with – and a real artist: being a creative person and being true to himself artistically is what fuels him in life. He decided that he wanted to make his own music and we understood that. I’m so thankful for everything that he brought to our band: since he rejoined were had the greatest of times and have written some of our best songs. There’s no animosity because he’s gone – he’s still our friend, we love him and we want him to be happy.”
John obviously had a huge creative voice within the group, so was there ever a moment when you thought that was it for the Chili Peppers?
“For a minute, perhaps, and Flea was kind of on the fence, but we soon realised that the three of us wanted to keep going and that there was more music that we wanted to do together. We knew that we didn’t want to do the whole audition thing again, though – we did that when John left the first time -and that’s when we realised that Josh was right there, and that there would be none of that getting to know a new guy… So Flea called him and Josh, being Josh, told him that he’d think about it. The funniest thing is that he didn’t call Flea back for two weeks, which I thought was awesome! He made us sweat but he knew what saying yes would mean, and he wanted to make sure it was the right thing for him. Thankfully he decided that it was.”
Jamming and improvising have always been a key part of the Chili Peppers’ songwriting process, so how did Josh fit into the dynamic of the way you write when the time came to start work on I’m With You?
“Even though Josh has worked with John on a lot of his solo albums- they were a partnership for years- Josh is not John they are completely deferent players. He very much his own musician and has his own personality on his instrument, which is very important when you are coming into a band like the Chili Peppers. We obviously knew that he could play well and that he was a creative, cool guy, but the question was whether we could write songs together in the way that we normally write-John used to come in and hit us over the head with these big riffs, then Flea and I would grab on to them and do our thing. Josh is more of a creeper – his sound and the way he plays sneaks up on you -so that was deferent for us because we were so used to John’s style and the chemistry we had with him. Things took a while to get used to but, once we let it be what it was, rather than trying to force what we thought it should be, everything was fine. Things happened in a way that felt organic and natural, and in a way that felt right. Josh found his creative voice with us very quickly, and I think there are actually two songs on the record that came from musical ideas we came up with on the first day we jammed together.
Where did all your jamming and writing sessions take place?
“Our usual room, the ‘alley in the Valley’. We’ve been going there for over 20 years now, ever since Bloodsugar…. and it’s a very comfortable and private place for us to do our thing. We wrote songs for 12 months, and ended up with about 70. We’ve chosen the 14 we feel go best together for I’m With You.
During the band’s hiatus Flea went to study music theory at USC (University of Southern California). Did that also have an impact on the writing process this time round?
“It did…Flea could play piano a little bit before but he studied Bach in his class and was suddenly brining in these piano ideas And so was Josh who – in addition to guitar, drums and bass -also plays piano. That’s not to say that our record sounds like Elton John or anything; it’s just that some of the initial ideas for songs were presented on a different instrument this time. That made things fresh and exciting, and I think you can hear that on the record because it made us think differently when it came to translating those ideas into rock songs.
“Another new flavour came as a result of Flea and Josh joining Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz) on his Africa Express trip. He takes a bunch of his musician friends to places like Lagos every year, where they just hang out with local musicians: playing, listening and absorbing the culture and the music. It was an incredible experience for Flea and Josh, and they just soaked it up. They came back with new musical ideas and we’ve given them our own take.”
So, as this mammoth collection of new songs started to take shape and you began to think about recording, did you ever consider anyone else apart from Rick Rubin to be your producer?
“We have worked with Rick for 20 years and yes, in the past, we have thought about perhaps working with other people. But once our songs start to take Shape we always turn back to Rick because we know he will make the songs better. We trust him, he’s our friend, he knows our band and he just keeps getting better and better at what he does. And having Josh join us for this record, I think we all felt that we didn’t want to change anything else… So we went up to Big Sur with Rick, where we rented this big barn from Al Jardine from the Beach Boys, and spent two weeks working really hard honing our songs. That was a great time for us: we felt really good about what we had and made the decision that we were ready to go and record.”
You eventually chose East West Studios (formerly known as Ocean Way and Cello), where you have recorded a lot in the past; only after conducting your own little ‘Pepsi challenge’ experiment, though…
“Well, Rick suggested that I went to a few of his favourite studios in Los Angeles wits Greg (Fidelman), our engineer. We took the same kick drum, snare and hi-hats, set them up in the different rooms with the same close and room mics, and then recorded me playing a slow beat and then a faster beat. We then all went to Rick’s house and did our own versos of the Pepsi challenge, to see which room everyone thought the drums sounded best in. Doing it ‘blind’ – not knowing which recording was done at which studio – meant that we were able to focus solely on the sound. It was great to have that luxury and it turned out to be a very interesting experiment. What surprised me was the close mics… You really wouldn’t expect much of the sound of the room to get in, but it did – even though the mics were only an inch-and-a-half off the heads. You could really hear the difference in personality of those rooms, even in the kick drum. The great thing about Room Two at East West, where we ended up, is that the room itself doesn’t have that big a personality, so it didn’t colour the sound of the drums, which we really liked.”
When it comes to the actual recording process, the Chili Peppers must be one of the few hands that still all track together?
“Yeah, I think it’s becoming a lost art! But for us, it’s so important- it’s about the groove, the feel and the vibe of everyone performing together and playing off each other. It’s also the reason why it’s so important that we are properly prepared when we go into the studio. Little things might change here and there, but we want to be able to jug concentrate on playing – making the songs the very best they can be and capturing the moment. Rick is so good at that and we are not a band that will do eight takes in a row: if it’s not happening in two or three, we’ll move onto another song. We don’t hangout heads together (continues on page 46)
(continued from page 42) or think too much about it – the moment we start doing that is the moment we’re screwed!”
You yourself have always enjoyed tinkering with percussion, and you’ve also had session guys add bits here and there for you in the past, but this time round you actually had a percussionist join you in the studio…
“Flea toured with Thom Yorke in Atoms For Peace while we were writing, which is where we met the amazing Mauro [Refosco, Brazilian percussionist]. Mauro has played some really cool stuff on the new record for us – using a variety of his crazy homemade instruments – and he’s also going to be touring with us. Usually it’s just the four of us who track together, but having Mauro join us for seven or eight songs was really fun, especially for me, because his percussion parts also affected the groove.”
And how did the mixing go?
“The fact that Josh is also a drummer – it’s actually his first instrument – turned out to be cool… Rick likes a real tight, raw, in-your-face kind of drum sound and that’s great: it certainly works for us. But on some of the songs, Josh was kind of in my corner about the drums being a little bit bigger. When I listen to BloodSugar… the drums are huge and loud: obviously that’s 20 years ago and we were playing different music then, but there’s something about that sound that is very appealing to me. When we were mixing, Josh would be like, ‘Make the drums bigger!’ which was awesome, because when it’s just the drummer of the band saying that you can see everyone else rolling their eyes… Obviously the most important thing for me is to make sure that the drums serve the song in the very best way they can, and are appropriate, but on certain tracks on I’m With You I think the drums have a bit more ‘oomph’, and that’s fine by me!’
After all the writing, preparation and drum ‘experimentation’, you must be very happy with the finished product?
“I’m really happy with the sound, the grooves are good, and you know what? This record is different -and I’m glad it’s different – but it still sounds like us. I loved playing with John and I miss him – I do hope that we’ll play together again some day – but right now it’s time to do this and Josh is great. He’s cool, easy going and nutty at the same time: just like the rest of us! He might be new to everyone else, but he’s actually been in the band for a year-and-a-half now and we couldn’t have asked for a better guy. We’ve just played our first live shows together and they went great… We have rehearsed a lot, but there is nothing like being back in front of a live audience and I’m really excited about everything that lies ahead.”
It certainly looks like you had fun designing the new kit for this tour… “Well, we have a rather fancy light show time and I thought it would be great to have clear shells. I’ve never actually played an acrylic kit before, but man they are loud! It was obviously an unusual request for Pearl, but Mike Farris (Director Of Artist Relations) and Tony leCroix (Custom Shop Specialist), have pulled out all the stops and the results are awesome. To introduce some low-end and mid-range tones to the brightness of the acrylic we cut the drums bearing edges to the same 45° angle as the Pearl Masters Series, and the shells even have Chili Peppers’ logos sandblasted into them. The whole kit really does look cool as s”t when it’s all lit up and the other guys in the band love it. And get this, instead of a stick bag I have this cool clear tube and, because I wanted to be able to trade stuff with Mauro, I’ve also added four acrylic octobans to the setup. That’s a first for me and no, before you ask. I’m not trying to be Stewart Copeland!!
You’ve also developed a new Vault Series cymbal with Sabian, haven’t you?
“I really felt that I needed something extra: a china that, volume-wise and soundwise, was in the same family as my other big cymbals. So many chinas sound too nice- I wanted something that sounded obnoxious – and Sabian have come up trumps with the Holy China. I finally feel that I’ve got something that can keep up with my other cymbals and I have to thank Chris Stankee (Sablan Artist Relations Manager), for all his help with that, it’s so funny because I saw Ray Lazier from Korn the other day and he’s actually got three Holy Chinas in his set-up – he can’t get enough of them!”
The Chili Peppers’ touring schedule is obviously going to be keeping you busy for the foreseeable future but, when time permits, you’ve always relished the opportunity to explore new musical opportunities. In addition to all your extra-curricular projects with Rick Rubin, while on hiatus I from the Chili Peppers you also managed to start, record and tour with two new bands – Chickenfoot and the Bombastic Meatbats – record Rhythm Train with Dick Van Dyke and, more recently, play on Outernational’s debut album…
“I know- I really should learn how to say no! Seriously though, playing music is what I love to do and who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play with top quality musicians and be part of that whole creative process?
“I’m so grateful to Rick Rubin because over the years he has given me some of the best recording moments of my life, and the opportunity to be part of some really wonderful musical situations. All of the sessions I do with him are obviously different to what I do in the Peppers, and for Rick to have the confidence in me to play on such a variety of different things – from the Wu-Tang Clan to Brandi Carlile, to the Dixie Chicks, Kid Rock, the Avett Brothers and the late Johnny Cash – warms my heart. He trusts me to use my musical sense and experience, and to serve the song, but I think he also counts on me to tell him what I think and it’s really cool to have people respect your opinion. I might not always be right, but I’m always happy to give my two cents’ worth! And I don’t do charts, so all that stuff is done by ear… It’s a real challenge, but it’s fun and very rewarding. I’m so lucky that Rick is still calling me, and I look forward to those calls. He just has such a good energy about him and that’s why so many people want to work with him.”
Chickenfoot’s second album, Chicken foot III, is also being released this year but, due to your touring commitments with the Chili Peppers, Kenny Aronoff is going to be taking on drum duties when the band hits the road…
“Honestly, when we started Chickenfoot I didn’t think it would go any further than the four of us getting together for a jam and having some fun. But then it kind of took on a life of its own and we ended up doing a record and going on tour…I love playing with those guys (Sammy Hagar, vocals: Joe Satriari, guitar: Michael Anthony, bass), and it’s all about us celebrating our roots and the music that we love. We have no problem going back to 1972 with big smiles on our faces: those riffs and that whole blues/hard rock thing that came out of Britain in the form of your Deep Purples and Led Zeppelins is what I grew up on. Chickenfoot is our take on it, and we just love doing it. It’s a shame that I won’t be able to tour with the guys this time, but Kenny is awesome and I know he’ll do a great job.’
Kenny has also sat in for you in your other band, the Bombastic Meatbats…
“Like Chickenfoot, the Meatbats really came about by accident… Jeff (Kollman, guitar), Ed (Roth, keys) and I were all playing in Glenn Hughes’ band at the time, and after jamming together at rehearsals we thought it would be fun to write some songs together. Kevin (Chown) joined us on bass and we’d go play at the Baked Potato: one of the oldest jazz clubs in Los Angeles. It’s instrumental music – very niche – and obviously very different to what I normally do; the only thing I’d say is similar is my feel. You can tell by our name that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and I really enjoy having another musical outlet. There is some great musicianship going on between us and people playing off each other…Live is where we really shine and I hope that I – appropriately, of course -overplay! Is it possible to do that, do you think?’
During the course of your career you’ve achieved so much, but are there any boxes you’ve still got left to tick?
“I’ve been lucky enough to play with so many of my heroes, but I’d love to play with Jimmy Page some day. It’s a childhood dream of mine, so Jimmy if you’re reading this…
“Honestly, I just consider myself so fortunate because my dream when I was in High School was to be a professional musician, and never in my wildest dreams could I ever possibly have imagined how things were going to turn out.1 love playing in the Chili Peppers and I’m so very proud of everything our group has achieved. We do have a sound, we do have something cool to say, and we are able to keep charging and growing. It’s not something we ever take for granted, though, and we are so appreciative of the support people give us. Being able to do what I love is a truly great gift and I hope people can see that, even alter all of this time. I’m still as passionate about drums and making music as ever. And if what I do inspires someone else to pick up the sticks, or start a band, then that’s just amazing for me…”
Kits Out! Chad’s Gear
DRUM TECH CHRIS WARREN TELLS RHYTHM ABOUT CHAD’S SET-UP
“I can’t wait for everyone to see Chad’s new acrylic kit- it really is something else! Chad came up with the idea for the clear shells, and honestly it’s one of the best sounding acrylic kids I have ever heard. Tuning-wise you can find where you need to be pretty easily, and the drums hold the tune really well. Acrylic drums do have a reputation for sounding harsh and glassy, but these are actually warm and very punchy -and you get all the top-end that you don’t get from a wooden shell. What’s great too is that the shells also have Chili Peppers’ logos sandblasted into them, so they pick up all the light being shot towards the drums on stage. It’s very cool…
“In terms of sizes, Chad has his usual 24″x18” kick, 12”x8” rack tom, and 14”x14” and 16”x14” floor toms. There are some changes to his snare set-up for this tour, though, and he’s now using a bigger main snare – a 14”x61/2” Pearl Semitone Elite – and has also introduced a side snare, that’s put of the acrylic kit, to the left of his hi-hats for playing accents. Heads we’re using Remo Clear Emperors on the toms, a clear Powerstroke 4/Clear Emperor combination on the kick, and on the snares we’re experimenting a bit, alternating between CS Coated Black Dot and Coated Ambassador X. To give us a bit more control in the kick drum, we’ve settled on a thin, light hourglass-shaped muffling pillow. There is no gel or anything on the drums though – everything is wide open.
SOME NEW TOYS
“One thing you can’t fail to notice is Chad’s four new acrylic octobans (on full set-up), or his ‘pan flute’ as I like to call them. When he first mentioned getting them I sent him a picture of Billy Cobham with his gigantic acrylic kit- complete with a line of about 10 octobans- just to see if that’s the direction we were heading in… Seriously, though, with Mauro joining the band on percussion for this tour, Chad’s now got a whole other rhythmic thing going on. The two of them are just starting to get into little percussion jams during the show, which in time I just know are going to evolve into long drum breaks. Mauro is so deeply enriched in those Latin beats, too, and that takes Chad to a new level… he rises to the challenge impeccably- always with a big smile on his face!
“When it comes to his Sabian cymbals, we’ve got a 10” AA splash, 14” AAA X-Celerator hi-hats, 18″ AA Medium crash, 21”AA Rock ride, l9″ AA Medium crash and, to his extreme right, his new Signature Series 21” Holy China which is almost vertical. Extras around the kit include a Gon Bops Red Rock Cowbell and Tempo Block. He’s also using Pearl hardware – including an Eliminator pedal – and his Vater Chad Smith Funk Blaster signature sticks.
A WORK IN PROGRESS
“1’ve been Chad’s tech for about 12 years now and as a drummer he never ceases to amaze me… Like any good musician he just continues to grow and develop. He’s kind of like a work in progress, and I think the time that he has spent not playing Chili Peppers’ music has only enhanced what is already there, and brought even more flavour to his already unbelievable drumming style.
“I’m very attached to the new Chili’s record, because I was with the band throughout the whole process. As well as looking after Chad and his drums, I also kind of became Flea and Josh’s tech in the studio too. I’m now also playing keyboards on some of the songs during the shows, which certainly makes things interesting when the set-list suddenly changes and I’m in the middle of putting on a new drum head!
“It sounds clichéd, but everything in the Chilis camp has a ‘new beginning’ feel about it. I love Josh and we go way back… When I first met him I was actually playing drums in John Frusciante’s band, this was before John had rejoined the Peppers for Californication. A dear friend, Bob Forrest, and Josh had a band called The Bicycle Thief that I played with when they supported the ‘Peppers on the Californication tour. When they made a record, John came in and played on a song. I remember watching John and Josh trading solos, and it’s incredible how things have fallen into place now. I really couldn’t be happier for Josh – he was the obvious choice for the band and the great thing is that he didn’t need to learn how to be a Chili Pepper, because he already was one. We have only done a few gigs so far and it’s just the very beginning, but it already sounds great. I just can’t begin to imagine how ridiculous the band are going to be in 20 show’s time…”
Pearl acrylic kit: 24”x18” kick drum; 12”x8” rack tom: 14”x14 and 16”x14 floors; 14”x61/2”snare; octobans; 6” diameter with depths of 10”, 13”, 16” and 19” (full set-up); 14”x61/2” Pearl Semitone Elite snare.
Sabian (with custom design applied at the factory): 10” AA splash; 18″ AA Medium crash; 21”AA Rock ride; l9″ AA Medium crash 14”; AAA X-Celerator hi-hats; 21″ Vault Holy China
Remo Heads; Pearl hardware Gon Bops Red Rock Cowbell and Tempo Block; Vater Chad Smith Funk Blaster signature sticks
Chad’s Tattoo Kit THE CHILI PEPPERS MAN EXPLAINS HIS SPECIAL ONE-OFF DRUMSET
Henk “Hanky Panky” Schiffmacher is a celebrated Dutch tattoo artist – and now painter –who has been a close friend of the Chili Peppers for years. As well as most of my tattoos he’s also done a lot of Flea and Anthony and he’s just a very, talented, cool and creative character to be around. On a trip to Amsterdam I went for lunch at the American Hotel with Henk and our good friend, Cesar (Zuiderwijk) from Golden Earring and that’s where we all came up with the idea for Henk to ‘pimp’ my kit. We thought it would fun to go for the old school sailor-type ‘tattoos’ on the drums, and Henk did a wonderful job incorporating stuff about me, his family and our connection into the design. We unveiled the kit for the first time at a Buddy Rich Memorial Concert (at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on 18 October 2008), and I actually used the majority of the set on I’m With You. Not only does the Tattoo kit look great, it sounds great too, and the fact that Henk painted all the saints completely by hand makes it unique. Henk works closely with a children’s Charity in Africa, and our plan has always been to raise money for the charity by auctioning the kit at a later date.”
I’m With You CHAD TAKES US THROUGH SOME OF THE KEY TRACKS ON THE CHILI PEPPERS’ NEW ALBUM
‘MONARCHY OF ROSES’
This is very typical of our songwriting process- jamming and improvising, coming up with different stuff and then melding all those different parts together. Flea brought in the bass line for the chorus, and then we jammed until the verses fit. Until Anthony came up with the words this song was actually known as ‘Disco Sabbath’, because the intro and verses are this menacing and dark Black Sabbath riff that busts out into a Donna Summer/ Giorgio Moroder disco-rock chorus… You’d never think it could work – Black Sabbath and Donna Summer do not usually hang out together! It was really interesting, fun and challenging to blend those influences and make it sound cohesive.”
‘BRENDAN’S DEATH SONG’
This is a very personal song for us because it’s about a friend of ours, Brendan Mullen, who passed away while we were writing this album. Brendan was a prominent punk rock guy in Hollywood and be actually gave the Chili Peppers their first gig. There’s a lot of team work in it, and 1 remember Anthony started singing the vocal right away with the chorus music. Throughout the song there is a building tribal thing going on and then towards the end I get to do a bit of a Keith Moon impersonation. All in all, it’s a special track.”
“I have been known to do this funk-disco beat a few times in the past – ha ha! – and I’ve ended up really liking it: it makes people want to lap their toes. Anyway, I’ve got that going on a couple of songs on the record, one of which is ‘Ethiopia’…
“Flea originally came in with the bassline for this, which was in seven. Now playing in odd-time is not my forte, but since Professor Flea has been to college he’s been throwing all sorts of shit in my direction… The big challenge for me here and I’ve never really done this before – was to figure out how to make the song feel good, and not stiff, because of the odd-time. Guys like Matt (Cameron) from Soundgarden, and Vinnie (Colaiuta), make odd-time sound good effortlessly, but it was a challenge for me and 1 listened to (Sting’s) Ten Summoner’s Tales for a lot for inspiration… I’m really pleased with the results, though: it’s a bit like ‘Give It Away’ in seven! And when it goes to four in the chorus, I go right back to my old disco beat. When in doubt, play the disco!”
‘DANCE, DANCE. DANCE
“Flea was also realty into electronic music while we were making this record and he’d give me CDs of all these beats he wanted me to check cut… It kind of inspired me to come up with this one beat, based around what I’d been hearing. Flea loved it and immediately came up with a groove, and it was cool that something I did inspired the others to come up with this song. Things don’t normally happen that way round.”
Rick Rubin I’M WITH YOU PRODUCER
THE LEGENDARY PRODUCED ON WORKING WITH CHAD AND THE CHILIS ON THEIR NEW ALBUM
‘The nature of having any new band member is that it changes the sound of the whole band, just in the way that everyone plays off each other. They haven’t really written music with Josh before and everyone is a little different in this new process as a result -the way that Anthony’s melodies work off what Josh is doing, the way Flea plays because he’s relating to Josh, and the way Chad plays because he’s reacting to everyone else. So the sound on I’m with You is different, but it was really exciting hearing the thread that connected it to the Chili Peppers, while at the same time it sounding like this new music that we haven’t heard from them before. If you like the Chili Peppers then you are going to like the record. It definitely scratches that Itch, just in a different way.
BLIND,TESTING THE STUDIOS
“People often want to work in a particular studio because of some other reason than the way it actually sounds. Out of everything that we record, drums are the biggest issue, they excite a room the most- with the bass and vocals the sound only charges a little from studio to studio, and with the guitar even less. But with the drums you have the sound coming off the instrument combined with the sound of the room itself, so I suggested we ‘blind’ test the studios we were considering for the record… We took the same drums, same mics and same little recorder to all of them so, when we listened back to Chad playing- not knowing which studio was whichi it was purely a question of in which room did the drums sound the most rocking? We all ended at the same place and chose East West, where we also recorded Californication and By The Way when it was known as Cello.
“The fact that the Chili Peppers all track together is key to the band’s sound – they are a completely interactive group and they play off each other. There are no click tracks and nothing is done to a clock: it’s all based on feel with everyone playing in sync to everyone else’s parts. We recorded I’m With You to tape and also digitally, to again we listened to both versions – not knowing which was which – and chose the one we felt sounded best on a case-by-case basis.
“I’ve known Chad for a long time now, and he brings tremendous enthusiasm and amazing talent to everything that he does. He’s a great, versatile, natural drummer – It just flows so easily for him – but he also has the ability to effortlessly integrate specific requests, or suggestions into his playing. He just knows how to make the drums sound good. I’ve always thought he was a talented drummer, but of course I didn’t realise how long and deep our musical relationship would go over all these years, or how many different projects we would end up working on together. The thing about Chad is that he just loves to play, and relishes the opportunity to play all different kinds of music.”