Please note: this magazine is bigger than my scanner; I’ve tried to rejoin the scans of each page the best I can to include everything.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Funky geniuses or elder killjoys? The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album One Hot Minute is the result of soul searching from home to Hawaii.
Eric Gladstone gets down (and out) to L.A. and wonders if they’re skirting the issues or should be issued skirts.
Marina Chavez makes things click.
I awoke in a cold sweat, sunlight burning my eyes, sheets wrapped around me like some primitive mummification. The red light on the phone inches from my face was blinking like a patrol car in swift pursuit. A stern knocking on the door hammered me into consciousness.
Where was I? Look around. Ah, the Chateau Marmont, an old Spanish-style hotel nestled above Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard famous for housing celebrities for several decades, but infamous for facilitating Jim Morrison’s ledge-walking dance with death (his picture appears on the establishment’s postcards) and John Belushi’s more successful medicinal self-destruction. The Chateau’s elegant trap-pings and propriety of service belied its continuing notoriety as a haven for the narcotically inclined well-to-do; the hotel management’s unflinching sense of discretion is apparently known world-round in certain circles. In fact, a friend who had to have a package delivered to this very room a week before my stay claimed that Courtney Love slept here. Which perhaps explained the splintered bedpost.
Another round of firm but polite knocking on the door. I wrapped myself in the sheet and arose to answer. “Sir, I’m so sorry to disturb you, but several people have been trying to get through on the telephone all morning and there is a party waiting for you in the lobby.”
Shit. I was here to do a job, and had been caught sleeping on it. Literally. The job was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a musical group well known for their sexually charged circus-like performances, and recently a few chart-topping hits, but most importantly, as an almost singular force in saving funk music from a premature death, and creating a whole new genre—funk metal—with legions of followers, in the process. Considering the Chili Peppers’ own publicized problems with controlled substances, specifically the heroin-related death of guitarist Hillel Slovak in 1988 and singer Anthony Kiedis’ subsequent rehabilitation from addiction, the Chateau was a strange choice of interview locale.
Or strangely appropriate: Rumors had been flying around this metropolis, some coming from sources very, very close to the band, that both Kiedis and new guitar player Dave Navarro were in drug rehabilitation programs as recent as January of this year. In fact, everyone in L.A. it seemed had a Red Hot Chili Peppers story. Whether it came from working out at the same gym, or scoring from the same dealer, a former publicist who told of debauchery days, someone else recalling the abrupt ouster of former Mother Tongue guitarist Jesse Tobias from the band—the unconfirmed but highly plausible rumors were seemingly endless. And more than anything, rumors were flying about the making of this new album: Anthony was back on junk. The music was finished even before Anthony came in to record. Flea nearly left the band. The whole band hated Anthony. Etc., etc.
I had no confirmation whatsoever on these rumors. But I thought if I questioned them all separately, neutrally, I might get to the bottom of something. At least, to the bottom of my list.
Taking the elevator downstairs, I found that the party in the lobby was not a Chili Pepper, as I feared, but a friend also staying in town at another hotel down the boulevard. I dispensed with him and spoke to the front desk clerk, who offered a half-inch wad of urgent messages and claimed my phone was off the hook but hadn’t wanted to disturb me. They’d waited until nearly noon to knock. Discretion.
The handset on the phone in my room was not in fact off the hook, but I was too harried to smell conspiracy. A call to the group’s management, whose unglamorous Studio City offices I had visited the day before to hear rough mixes of half their just-finished new album One Hot Minute, offered only bad news. Kiedis had been called out of town the night before for the funeral of his girlfriend’s father, and would not make the interview. And bassist Flea had wanted to rearrange the interview to take place at his home that morning. But it was too late to contact him; he was already on his way to meet me as originally appointed in a suite downstairs.
Michael Balzary, known professionally as Flea, arrived at almost one p.m. exactly, striding into the suite holding a motorcycle helmet and a parking garage ticket. He grabbed a can of tomato juice from the pantry and sat, fidgeting, in an armchair.
“This new record is completely different from anything we’ve done,” Flea launched in. “It’s a much darker, much sadder record, because we’re all definitely in a darker place. Everyone does their thing on it, but the skeleton of the music for most of it was initiated by me. And I was in a dark, depressing sad time, for most of the recording. After we toured the last record, I just kind of broke down, physically, spiritually, just kind of fell apart. Touring and a variety of personal things going on in my life, heartbreak, physical abuse to my body over the years because of drugs and lots of stuff. Friends died, and just problems.
“And Dave’s approach to the music is definitely a darker one,” he continued, talking about new guitarist Dave Navarro, formerly of Jane’s Addiction. “He’s the total opposite to what John Frusciante or Hillel Slovak were,” Flea said, referring to whom he considered to be the band’s previous main guitar players. “None of the others [Jack Sherman, Blackbird McKnight, Jesse Tobias, and Arik Marshall] really had a big impact on us. Dave was into taking his time and putting a lot of guitar shit on there, making a collage, whereas on the last record [the triple-platinum Blood Sugar Sex Magik John Frusciante didn’t overdub anything.
“It’s not the funkiest record,” he cautioned, then corrected himself, mentioning “One Big Mob”/”Stretch You Out,” perhaps the ultimate Red Hot moment, an unacknowledged remake of “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” that sizzles like an egg on a Watts sidewalk. “That is funkier than shit!” he said with pride. He also pointed out “Deep Kick,” a sincere but surface-level reminiscence of Anthony and Flea as young vagabonds and “Transcending,” for and about late actor River Phoenix, who actually appeared on John Frusciante’s inscrutable solo album Niandra Lades And Usually Just A T-Shirt.
And “Walkabout,” a summer jam worthy of Sly Stone or Charles Wright. “I came up with ‘Walkabout’ after I went to see Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. It’s a song about the aborigines of Australia, the walkabout is a tradition of theirs. They’re great people, really soulful. “I’m originally from Australia, [he moved to L.A. at age four] and I built a house down there, and I’m planning on moving down there after we tour this record,” he reported, dropping a bomb-shell on the city that made his band famous: “I’m sick of LA, I’m sick of the fear, I’m sick of the dirt, I’m sick of the hostility, I’m sick of too many people, shitty air, shitty water, shitty food, being denied things that people should have. I’m sick of my daughter not being able to run outside and play freely.”
In the songwriting process, he informed, the band actually had to decamp to Hawaii to be productive. “We said, ‘Fuck it let’s get out of here,’ and the music started coming together. Then we came back and recorded the basic tracks for the record. We tracked them and nothing happened for a long time.
“It was just a long time before Anthony sang on it for various dynamics in his life,” Flea said, his voice audibly lowering, “that were affecting him at the time. He needed to go through some things before he got busy.”
Flea didn’t go into detail about these “things,” but mention of another unstable collaborator brought out insights: “Hillel changed my life. If it wasn’t for Hillel, there’s no way I’d be sitting here now, because he turned me on to rock music. Hillel wasn’t perfect by any means, fucking other guys’ girl-friends and shit, but he was young.
“I could’ve been better,” he admit-ted of the time leading to the guitarist’s demise. “I could’ve stayed with him every minute and told him I loved him. Instead I got mad at him. But there’s also only so much you can do with any-one on drugs. I mean I have, uh, friends now that are strung out on heroin, and there’s not a lot I can do. A drug addict, until they want to stop, they can’t accept help. I’ve had a drug addict friend of mine who’s killing himself with drugs say to me, ‘I don’t have a problem with drugs, you have a problem with drugs. I’m having a great time.”
Flea seemed more enthused about an upcoming album of North African “Rai” music and a planned meeting with Lounge Lizard leader John Lurie than the recent Alanis Morissette and P (with Johnny Depp and Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes) records on which he played. He also foresaw a more selective future in his choices of film acting roles (he last starred in The Chase) and noted the influence of producer Rick Rubin on the band.
“Rick Rubin has always encouraged us to write songs more than just grooves with lyrics on top. He definitely influenced me in that being a hotshot bass player didn’t mean shit. I mean, I always knew that, but I always stroked myself off by being very fancy on the bass; ‘What’s the bitchin’est possible part I could play?”‘
And despite the darker mood of this new record, Flea asserted that the party atmosphere of Chili Pepper performances, replete with costumes like light-bulb suits (seen at their recent Woodstock ’94 appearance) would continue. “I don’t get this regular-guy bull-shit, I want to get out there and put on a show. If we want to put socks on our dicks, we’ll fucking put socks on our dicks. We’re just into fun, we’re into putting on a show, we’re entertainers. Bring out the dancing girls and the shooting flames and the laser beams!”
Before he left, Flea offered to buy off of me a bootleg CD of a Chili Peppers concert in Brazil, but only if I didn’t mind parting with it. “Can I buy it? Will you sell it to me? I don’t want to put you on the spot because I’m the guy in the band.”
What could I do, refuse him a copy of his own performance?
With his slicked-back hair and Vandyke beard, Dave Navarro peered over the balcony to check that his bike, in the hotel driveway, was okay. We sat out on the veranda and he smoked American Spirits.
“Music to me should either be an escape from how you’re feeling, or an indulgence in how you’re feeling,” he jumped in. “That’s why dark, textural music is really good for me, because it’s kind of both. Am I escaping myself or looking in the mirror? It can be anything from angry aggressive punk rock to Brahms to industrial music to goth like Bauhaus; heavy guitar music like Hendrix that still has a melancholy vibe to it. Whereas funk stuff, it’s like being suicidal and going to a circus. Which is a weird dynamic in this band.”
No kidding. It’s like trying to train an elephant to dance at a cotillion. But the Chili Peppers had Navarro in mind for some time: He had first been offered the job in 1991 when the Chili Peppers were set for Lollapalooza and Frusciante had abruptly quit in Australia.
“I thought I wanted to be done with the whole rock thing,” Navarro said of the time when he was cooking up the Deconstruction project with fellow former JA member Eric Avery. But when asked again last year, he had no reason to say no. “I felt like I had nothing to lose, because I had nothing invested.” Still, he admitted, “It was really rough, I didn’t think it was right,” at first.
I’d played with Flea before, jamming with Eric and Henry Rollins, but I’d never owned a Chili Peppers record. All I knew is that these were musicians I admired and wanted to play with. It was awkward in that I didn’t play traditional funk, rock funk. Flea didn’t play like I was used to having a bass player play. So initially, we rubbed each other, because I tried to play like I thought they wanted, and I think he was trying to play more like I was used to, and it didn’t really work. I’d just joined the band. I didn’t really know these guys, I’d never really played with them, and immediately we’re writing music?”
In Hawaii though, “Gradually, the more comfortable we became with each other, the more comfortable we became with just letting it come out. But we’ve had to find a middle ground where I strip away some of the stuff I do. To this day it’s sometimes kind of weird. But when we let it just flow, we came up with some cool things. “I’m a guitar player, not a song-writer,” he asserted. “I think what I con-tribute is my sound. The way I record is put as many things as I think of on tape, and then when we go to mix, weed through it. It’s more exciting for me that way. The canvas is blank and you don’t know what you’re painting.”
The guitar player also mentioned that he and Flea had just played on the upcoming Porno For Pyros album (but made no reference to the track he and drummer Chad Smith recorded as Honeymoon Stitch for the new Joy Division tribute album), and talked at length about film—Woody Allen is a favorite—and the film column he and his cousin are doing for an L.A.-based national magazine. Then he returned to the subject of his strange fit in this band.
“I told them when I joined, those things you guys do, I don’t want to do. And to be honest, Flea and Anthony have the personalities to pull that stuff off. I don’t. We still wear the fire helmets. I think that’s visually kind of cool, more visually interesting than ‘nutty.’ We did a photo shoot the other day where the photographer wanted us all to wear afro wigs and I just said, ‘No, our record doesn’t sound like four guys in afros.’
Still, when he joined the band, “those guys had gone through some of the darkest years of their adult lives. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why we have connected as people and musically. If things in life happen for a reason, maybe that’s why I came into this group when I did. Because we’re all kind of coming from a similar place emotionally.”
Did that mean he thought he would beat the curse of the Chili Peppers’ seemingly everchanging guitarists? “Oh, I hope not. That would mean I’d be playing in this band for a long time.”
“Oh, I hope not. That would mean I’d be playing in this band for a long time.”
Chad Smith entered a bit later, a somewhat hulking replica of Jim Morrison in shoulder-length hair and full-body leather… and a Bootsy Collins t-shirt. “Flea was telling me yesterday he was thinking of getting this tattoo,” he said, pointing to his shirt. He wondered out loud if his bike was okay where he left it, called his management to check in, plopped down in an armchair, lit a cigarette, and grabbed my notepad.
One Hot Minute, Smith admitted unequivocally, was the hardest to make of the three albums he had done with the band. “Especially with Flea and Anthony having personal things going on, very distracting. You just have to go through certain shit to make good music. Not that you always have to, but it’s going to sound different.” Smith explained the reasoning for choosing Navarro. “We tried out lots of guitar players and a lot of them were good, they just didn’t have their own thing. When you hear Dave, you know that’s Dave, in Jane’s Addiction or Deconstruction or our band.
“I never thought that it wasn’t going to work,” he insisted. “When we first got together, Flea was at a real low point. In Hawaii, we did other shit besides play music: we scuba dived, took our motorcycles over there and rode, jumped off cliffs, walked on volcanos. We needed to get our bond going, because it’s very important to have feelings with a person you’re playing with to create something really beautiful. Similar to when John and I joined before Mother’s Milk, there’s something to be said for touring and hanging out and getting to know one another personally and musically. When we made Blood Sugar, there was a big difference in the cohesiveness and sound of the band.”
But Smith admitted Kiedis was still not a happy camper. “Anthony really had to go through a lot. We had had a lot of music written before he came up with all of the melodies and lyrics. It must be really difficult to come up with fifteen, sixteen cool interesting things to write and sing about. I certainly applaud Anthony for what he does. It never comes from everything just being okay. You need to be inspired, some-times from good, sometimes from bad, but never just from an even keel.”
Though he confessed to not being happy with everything on the finished record, Smith visibly brightened when speaking about “Warped.” “That’s one of the first things we played with Dave. I remember thinking this is going to be song one, side A because it’s really rocking.” (The track in fact does lead off the album.)
“Because of Dave, [the album] definitely sounds different, and I know he had some reservations, thinking, ‘If it doesn’t do well, it’ll be because of me,’ I know he was worried about that at first. Basically that’s why we got him in the band! If it stiffs, it’s all Dave’s fault!”
Seriously, he continued, “If you start worrying about that, you’re in the wrong headspace. I never thought the Chili Peppers would have a radio Number One. The only thing that’s good about the last record selling a lot is that now we have a lot more fans, and it’ll give them a chance to listen to this record. I think people who like our band like us because we do anything, we always change. “People pick up on being honest,” he said about the now finally subsiding wave of obvious Chili Peppers copy bands. “It’s nice if you can inspire some-one to pick up an instrument, but fuck, do your own thing. Like this new punk-rock thing, some of it’s okay, but why don’t you just do Clash covers? But people fully embrace that.”
As much as Smith scratched his head over the almost meaningless category of “Alternative,” he admitted that his band’s roots were in that scene before it was even named as such. “We’re proud to be from that. Jane’s Addiction and Fishbone, these are guys that were our peers on the L.A. scene, that’s where we come from.” The band also dedicated Blood Sugar to Minutemen/fiREHOSE alumnus Mike Watt. “We owe a lot to whoever those people were, and hopefully people won’t just be like, ‘They’re not cool now because they’re popular.’ People that don’t like you because you’re popular, I think that’s just as trendy as the people they’re bagging on.
“But we’re entertainers and we like to have fun, and that’s part of the appeal of the band. Showbiz, baby.” He smiled over the band’s encore at Woodstock, where, after the light-bulb suits, they came on all dressed as Jimi Hendrix. And then there are the appearances that require no costuming. “There’s nothing greater than rocking out naked onstage, you and your instrument. The sex thing is kind of overblown, people just need something to grab onto. We’re very serious about our music and sometimes the other so-called antics overshadow that. There’s nothing wrong with sex.
“That’s the thing with people that are like, ‘Ah, you’re in the Chili Peppers, you must be all fucked up and have socks on your dick…’ like you walk around like that every day. N000… But those are the few, and people who are really into the band and the music, those are the people we’re trying to make music for that they’ll enjoy, not just those who come to a show and ‘Under The Bridge’ comes on and they say, ‘Oh, I know this one.”
Several days later, Anthony agreed to meet me in the after-noon at a Los Feliz coffeehouse known as the Bourgeois Pig. The place didn’t have a sign out front, but as I approached the address, I saw Kiedis pull up on his Harley, park it out front and go inside a storefront which had flat-black painted walls and was filled with random vintage tables, chairs and sofas. I spied him at the counter, waiting to order. I walked up to him and said, “Hello, Anthony,” and he gave me a stare so cold it sent shivers down to my ankles, until I identified myself and my mission.
“I live right up the street,” he said as we sat on an overstuffed couch near the front of the room. He wore a white t-shirt and jeans, and ordered a bottled smart drink after checking the label to make sure it had no refined sugar. Kiedis claimed to be avoiding sugar, and for the past six days, cigarettes. “My girlfriend’s father died of a heart attack and I have not felt like smoking since then. She’s nineteen years old. My mom also lost her dad when she was nineteen. The confrontation of mortality has much to offer in terms of considering how you live your life. With so many things we do, the things you can’t see and touch and taste, you have a way of putting on the back burner of life. If you can’t see you’re hurting someone, you can ignore it a lot easier than when you punch someone in the nose and it bleeds.”
Bingo. Paydirt. After all this intimation about Kiedis’ problems, and no real meat, the man himself was ready to squeal. I could see it as easy as you see a .38 pressing through the pocket of a seersucker suit. Still, I went soft, starting with questions about Navarro’s hiring.
“Getting to a place with John in the band where things were very productive and then losing that,” Kiedis said, back-tracking, “left us having to basically start from scratch.” Did he have any greater understanding of why the guitarist left so abruptly? “He was not comfortable with himself or the people around him, immediately and in the world at large. I don’t think he’s comfortable with being alive on this planet.
“We were pretty much willing to scrap all preconceptions of ourselves as well as anybody’s conception of us,” Kiedis continued, “and make some-thing new and fresh together as a new band. We never assumed anything about how Dave would play. I think in the first couple of weeks we suggested he listen to a few different records just to see how he thought about certain sounds and rhythms. And he didn’t really need it or feel comfortable with it and it just disappeared.”
But Kiedis didn’t deny that the new collaboration started with difficulty. “You’ve got four hypersensitive artist types trying to get something done, and you’ve got a lot of love between every-body in that room, but a lot of very psychotic behavior bouncing off of every-one’s head, too. The fact that ultimately all of us have the same desire to express something honest and pure is what kept the boat floating. It just took a lot of exorcism of psychosis along the way to finally work it out. You look confused.”
No. I was just realizing that I had underestimated the singer’s powerful command of euphemism. Realizing there was nothing else to do, I launched in about his own difficulty writing the album’s lyrics.
“I had a lot of hardcore personal struggling to do with my own spirit,” he replied, “and one of the manifestations of that struggle was me taking more time than usual to write the words I wanted to write and find the parts I wanted to sing. Really there was no problem, it was meant to take a lot longer and it was meant for me to go through a lot more shit before I could have the clarity and the purity to express what I wanted to the whole time. I needed a hardcore refresher course. And I got that course quite unintentionally. It fell in my lap.”
Hardcore refresher course? Was he talking about what I thought he was talking about? After all, this week’s BAM was reporting that Kiedis had acknowledged a fall off the heroin wagon, having just told MTV News, “I needed something excruciating to kick my ass and let me know that I needed to get back on the growth pole.”
“Well, whether I used or didn’t use is really nobody’s business but mine,” he answered, “and the fact is that it was more of a spiritual malady that I had to contend with. You’re going to hear a lot of stuff, and some of it might be true and some of it might not be true. And the only people going to know the truth are people that I’m intimate with. It’s more about clearing the issues with myself than being interested with anyone’s perception of who I am.” Obviously, all of Kiedis’ public declarations of his clean new lifestyle were an old chalkboard wiped clean. And all I had was a cloud of white dust.
Kiedis was throwing a positive spin on everything. Even the album, which he admitted was “pretty fucking dark,” he amended by saying, “But it’s not a hopeless darkness, it’s not a futile resignation to gloom by any means. Ifs more of an appreciation of the storm, relish-, the storm, but getting over it too.
“There’s a certain good-time feeling of getting over a really difficult hump.” he continued, °in the sense of doing away with your secrets, coming out of the closet on whatever it is you’re keeping in the closet, that sort of full-on exorcism of pain, sadness and secrecy.”
And even while singling out the autobiographical “Deep Kick and “My Friends” as special moment on One Hot Minute, Anthony was unwilling to see this album’s lyrics as more personal than they had ever been.
“I think every song we’ve ever written is personal. We take all the shit personally. Everything that I’ve ever written about comes from my inner self. To me, that’s a blessing, that I have a direct connection to my inner self.”
Would this include “Party On Your Pussy”?
“Yeah. The relationship between love and sex and music and truth and the experience of all that at the same time is very personal. The initial inspiration for ‘I Wanna Party On Your Pussy’ came after a four-day hardcore, hear, felt sequence of love with this girl who I met in Paris. It really was a prolonged lust for life and feeling good, so for me that was a very personal experience.
“Every record is definitely a very specific and wonderful document of that period of time that it refers to,” Anthony continued, “so they are all equal in that way, equally representative. But this could be what I consider the best record we ever made. This is the first time I’ve ever said that. So often do I squirm and wince with insecurity and uncertainty about the stuff that we make, and this doesn’t leave me squirming.
“The fact that it took two years, the fact that it was very painful, the fact that lots of tragedies unfolded along the way, all lent to the finished piece of work. It wouldn’t be what it is without all that stuff happening. And what it is, is what we really want it to be
“I think we’ve all landed on our feet in a pretty good place. Definitely Flea and I are headed in a pretty cool direction, individually and together. It’s all about moving on. Keep moving.”
With that, Kiedis took his leave to go to rehearsal, and I took mine, walking outside into the glaring midday sun. Compared to what I’d set out to find, I hadn’t exactly been successful. There was a bit of contradiction but a lot of repetition in the four band members’ stories. And what did the stories add up to? Not a new perspective on their career, to be sure. But then again, their career had already been retold time and again with the myriad of features which followed their last album.
And what about the album? Early listens to rough mixes hinted at a flop, a forced creative fit that didn’t work. But the completed record, in the weeks to come, began to grow on me. Navarro almost always dominates both the sound and the attitude. Guitars and guitars and guitars fly and chop and boogie and trip all over the canvas, no doubt abetted by Rubin’s Slayer-esque acumen. The end result convincingly affects the vibe of an early-’70s album, shifting carelessly between loose-limbed funk, folky moments, Zeppelinish Hard rock, with some banal lyrics, some affecting, and plenty of unintentional narssism. Nothing near “Party On Your Pussy.”
And so I’m left with the gnawing conclusion that after years of progressing in a fairly predictable direction, becoming so established that their logo appears on the five-dollar chips at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have almost entirely and maybe successfully reinvented them-selves. Didn’t think bands did that anymore.
Extra Chili Sauce Please
Hot Pepper Product Over The years
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (EMI America, 1984)
Anthony: “We were totally out-of-control maniacal spastic freaks, going in 1000 different directions at the same time. It’s a wonder it ever got made. I also remember bringing the producer [Gang Of Four guitarist Andy Gill] a pile of human feces inside El a pizza box because beforehand I let it be known that I was going to go defecate, and he said, “I’m sure you’ll bring it back to me” because he was very English and very fed up with us. It’s also an honor to have covered a Hank Williams song, ‘Why Don’t You 401011 lc , Love Me.”
Freaky Styley (EMI Manhattan, 1985)
Flea: “We had a blast. We weren’t leading the most healthy existence, but I’m happy with that record—I’m not happy with all our records.” Anthony: “Drugs frequently got in the way of us thinking clearly and getting things done. I remember having endless nights of debauchery with George [Clinton, producer] and Gary Shider. George added a lot to that record, the Horny Horns, his posse of backup singers, and he wrote some funky-ass shit. I think of Hillel a lot when I think of this record.”
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (EMI Manhattan, 1987)
Anthony: “The very last day of recording, Hillel and I were in the studio finishing ‘Funky Crime,’ and we said to each other, ‘We finally have a record that’s going to get over with the public because there’s no way people will be able to deny “Funky Crime.”‘ And of course they completely denied it.”
The Abbey Road EP (EMI Manhattan, 1988) A
nthony: “This was originally just an import. The English couldn’t handle a complete Red Hot Chili Peppers record, so they thought maybe they’d pick what they thought was the cream of the crop. They wanted an EP and we wanted to take the picture.”
Mother’s Milk (EMI, 1989)
Chad: “That record was so new and exciting. I was in the band for two months. I came out here because I had some friends here and I’d exhausted all of my musical avenues in Detroit.”
Anthony: “John [Frusciante, guitarist] and I spending a lot of time together was probably as destructive as it was constructive. It wasn’t the recording that destroyed our relationship, it was just the nature of both of our beings, I guess. It was the first record I made when I wasn’t fucked up on drugs, and it was a lot easier to deal with my life. Even though I always got clean for the recording, I was always getting fucked up all the way up to the recording, and sometimes during and always after. It’s a very painful way to live.”
Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Warner Bros., 1991)
Chad: “We played together like we never had before. When I think about the record, I think about the house that Rick [Rubin] bought. There was a tunnel that went underneath Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Houdini’s mansion. I remember playing a lot of ping-pong.”
Anthony: “It was a lot of hard work and was one of the first times when we really captured exactly what we were doing without too much confusion or turmoil. John had been in the band so long that writing became very easy.” “Give It Away” single (Warner Bros., 1991) Chad: “Gibby Haynes told us, ‘Al [Jourgensen] is mixing the track, and he brings in a chicken. He puts it up on the mixing desk and blows a lot of pot in the chicken’s face, and whatever tracks the chicken takes a shit on, those are the ones Al took.’ So it should be called the ‘Chicken Mix.”
Out In L.A. (EMI, 1994)
Anthony: “Contractually, EMI had the rights to compile whatever they wanted. But we got partially involved and gave them our original demo tape. We figured we may as well offer one of our favorite recordings to the people so they didn’t totally get burned by EMI, by a bunch of really awful remixes of songs we had nothing to do with. We did that demo twelve years ago. I’m 30, I was a teenager when we did that.”
One Hot Minute (Warner Bros., 1995)
Chad: “Right now, just going through the whole guitar player thing, having Dave join, me and Dave becoming friends, Hawaii, it taking a long time and being really difficult, but being pleased with the result.”