“WE’RE HEADING INTO A NEW ERA”
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS played a fundraiser for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders earlier this month. Q caught up with Flea to talk politics, the band’s new album and getting snubbed by Bowie…
Red Hot Chili Peppers have endorsed Bernie Sanders’s campaign, members of Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors played a fundraiser for him the week before you did, what is it about him that resonates?
Flea: “Everything he says doesn’t smack of political bullshit. He speaks about the things I actually care about. His attitude towards war, the environment, corruption in government, corporate lobbyists… He talks about the stuff no one else has the guts to. He’s asking for people with a little more money to pitch in and help others without so much money to get a better education and health care. He’s not against capitalism, he just wants to level the playing field. People say that makes him a Communist, which is absurd, right-wing nonsense.”
Is that a radical message in US politics?
“Never in my lifetime have I seen anything like this. It’s really inspiring. (His message] is all about loving and caring. Even Hillary Clinton has ties with Wall Street. And Donald Trump Let’s just say I don’t get it.”
Are you comfortable with the RHCP getting involved in politics?
“I’m comfortable with the band doing whatever the fuck they want. We’ve given money quietly [to causes] in the past, we just don’t advertise it. The fact is the four of us like what Bernie Sanders is saying, so we’re going to support Bernie Sanders. His campaign has been run without Super PACs [an organisation that pools campaign contributions, often from corporate donors] and money from corporations; he’ll only take donations from individuals, and he’s just done amazing, man.”
How’s the new LP going? Have you finished it yet?
“We’re near the end of it. I can’t say too much yet. Danger Mouse is producing this time, instead of Rick Rubin. We’re heading into a new era and we’re really excited. It’s new and different but without sacrificing the good bits of us. There are some songs we already had, and some new ones too. I can’t wait to play it live.”
You covered David Bowie’s Cracked Actor at the show and Chad Smith’s bass drum carries an image of Sanders’s face with an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt…
“The drum was Chad’s idea [laughs]. About a month before Bowie died, I bought his vinyl box set and was working through it. Then, the night before he died, I was listening to Blackstar on headphones. He was very much on my mind when I woke up the next morning. Like many people, I connected with him in such a personal way. He never wrote about his personal life [in his songs], which made his art so pure, but you felt like you knew him almost better than anyone else.”
Anthony Kiedis recently revealed that Bowie turned down producing the Chili Peppers on several occasions.
“Yes, I heard that, but I don’t remember us ever asking him [laughs]! Maybe we did around  Californication? It would’ve been great if he’d said yes.” PAT GILBERT