Thank you to Giovana (Brandy) for kindly scanning and sharing articles from her magazine collection. And many thanks to Aline Silva for so kindly translating this into English 🙂
Jovem Pan Magazine 2003
Red Peppers on Fire
On the verge of turning 20 years old, the Red Hot Chili Peppers prove why they are still one of the best bands in activity and, alongside U2 and R.E.M., the most worthy survivors of the 80’s rock.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers trajectory would make a nice survival guide. With internships at the drugs hell and traumatic ruptures followed by lapses of discouragement, the group was protagonist of surprising twists. Now they’re on the road for 20 years, winning fans that didn’t even dream of being born when they appeared shirtless, well toned, tattooed and irreverent, making by then an unlikely fusion between punk and rock, from the end of the 70’s to the beginning of the 80’s. There were also portions of jazz influence and a lot of noise to stifle a melodic, swinging and original mixture that made history. By The Way, the latest album seems, unwittingly, a taken stock of their career, accordingly with their entry in the 40’s. It only takes a quick peek at the past of rock to find several bands with more extensive chemical dependency records than good music records. Identifying the few ones who, like the Chili Peppers, keep their credibility for so long gives a certain trouble.
Aging without creating slime and be successful without loss of quality is the question. The super band status hasn’t taken from the Peppers that boyish way and that garage band way. Pleasure today accompanied by millionaire figures, fuels that are in addition to a remarkable capacity for sound renewal and a partnership in fine tune. “Our friendship is one of the most important things. I don’t know how the other bands work, but there must be a lot of love, respect and consideration amongst us”, said one time the lead singer Anthony Kiedis, who is writing an autobiography. “That’s what makes the Red Hots sound differently from other bands”, reinforced bassist Flea. “We make all the songs together.”
Indeed, when there was a disagreement in that department, it the music one fell apart. The best example was the frustrating time when Dave Navarro joined the band, who only recovered with John Frusciante’s coming back, the only not 40-year-old-yet member of the Peppers. The guitar played dropped out after the 1991 classic album Blood Sugar Sex Magik exhausting tour and he was rejoined only six years later. He didn’t need much to get along with his partners again. The recovery was immediate – they only needed play together, as Frusciante revealed: “The songs we wrote were way more inspired.” As a result: the 1999 album Californication, which sold almost 13 million copies and dragged an audience of 250 thousand people to Rock in Rio III, in 2001, at the peak of their popularity.
The Peppers have not always lived in this almost celestial harmony. In 1888, the worst year for the band members, the guitarist Hillel Slovak died of overdose. Then it was Frusciante’s turn to wallow in heroin. Kiedis wasn’t far behind them. Being almost all of them in their 40’s, they reflect upon their past with the same good humor that made them perform naked and pose for photos with only socks covering their penises. “Some time ago I thought I knew everything, but now that I’ve matured I know that I know nothing,” says Flea, who only regrets his times as a promiscuous man. “I’m a bachelor, a lonely 40-year-old with no girlfriend.” Kiedis is “clean” since 1997. “Sometimes I feel tempted to blow up, but I hold on tight. Today I worry about myself a bit more,” he says.
It’s not only overcoming a history of extravagances that makes them the most worthy survivors of the 80’s pop rock, alongside u@ and R.E.M. For years the public and the media have been watching with sarcasm the decadence of the greatest contemporary idols of the Chili Peppers – Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna. The first evaporated, a victim of his own ego; the second lives masked (in several senses); the third tries to stay in the news at all costs, but repeats herself, loses her authenticity and collects dislikes, disdainful of those who revere her. The Peppers know how to treat his admirers very well. They reply to fan clubs emails, demonstrate gratitude in public.
The age and the sober attitudes – among other factors inherent to the aging – suggest resignation and lack of creativity, but, besides remaining hellish onstage, the band had gas enough to release another great album, By The Way. Less funky, more eclectic and serene than the previous ones, the repertoire brings references of the band’s early years, pinches of psychedelia, reggae, Latinity. Retreat and shoot everywhere might make too many stray bullets be left, but it wasn’t their time to retire yet. Some lyrics and melodic songs reveal maturity without, however, fading the optimism. The sound has been updated with good use of all the technology that is available to a super band. The risk of overproduction passed with no alarm. As Kiedis mocked in an interview to the British press, except for an unexpected meteorite that may come to cross the Peppers’ way, they will go on doing fine for a long time.
The first four peppers in CD
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984) – The band’s debut album brought no highlight, but it already showed what would be the band appeal, their energy funk. Detail, Cliff Martinez on the drums; Jack Sherman on guitar, replacing, respectively, Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak, who dropped out and would only go back on the second album.
Freaky Styley (1985) – Produced by mythological George Clinton, the Funkadelic leader, the Peppers’ second attempt sounds less like rock than the other albums to come, but it already brings some more spicy condiments, like Jungle Man and The Brothers Cup.
Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987) – This is where the Peppers deposited their sound. This album would point out the pathways the band would take next. From the pulsating Fight Like a Brave to Behind The Sun, the beginning of the guys’ courtship with ballads. It also meant the farewell to the guitarist Slovak, dead by overdose in 1988, and the returns of the rotation of band members.
Mother’s Milk (1989) – This album starts with what would be the “classic formation” of the band, with Chad Smith on the drums and John Frusciante on guitar. It’s considered for some the band’s best work. It has hits like Knock Me Down and Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground cover, making Flea’s bass work hard.