OOR September 1991

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS 

http://thechilisource.com/oor-september-1991-not-published/ 

 

Guarded Area, Armored Response and the names of various security companies appear along the road to the home of Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a winding road, leading to the top of one of the famed Hollywood Hills. With every turn, I’m getting closer to those illustrious white letters that attract millions, but are commonly covered in a thick layer of smog.  

 

While daydreaming about some metaphorical correlation between the smog, the letters and the inaccessibility of show business, I arrive at number 6730, the address the woman from the record company gave me. In front of me stands a spacious white mansion with three stories, the sort of place where you have to climb a giant staircase to even reach the front door. My name is not asked when I ring the bell, despite all the warnings of guards and guns, and the gate opens immediately. Full of amazement and fatigue – I should exercise more often after all – I climb the stairs to the top, where, in the meantime, Anthony has opened the door and is waiting for me while holding a phone between his head and his naked shoulders. While mumbling into the phone, he points to the marble floor and informs me to take off my shoes.  

My shoes ought to be off? Scared of a little dirt? Who would’ve thought one of the most obnoxious rockers of the late eighties would care for a clean floor? Who would’ve thought he’d end up in a house like this anyway? 

 

HOLLYWOOD 

“I’ve lived in this city since I was a little kid, always in tiny, often dirty rooms, above bars or with five others in little office spaces without a bathroom… After our last record, we made ridiculous sums of money from both album and merchandise sales. I was 27 and had worked my ass off in this band for seven years, so when people started giving us all that money I thought: excellent, I’ll head for the hills and buy a beautiful house. But if someone were to take it all away and I’d have to return to one of those little rooms I used to live in, I’d be okay with that. These just happen to be my living conditions at the moment.” 

Was the view of the Hollywood Sign important to you when you bought the place? Are those letters some form of proof of the fact that you managed to achieve what so many others strive for?  

“My success was more of an accident. I think you may be more impressed with those letters than I am. So, it wasn’t something I told my agent to look out for, but it certainly is a bonus. Hollywood is my home. Despite all the bullshit that goes on in show business, I am a product of my surroundings, whether I like it or not. And this is where I spend my time. There’s a park behind my house where building is prohibited. You should see the view from the pool. I did eighty laps today, to prepare for the next tour, so that my heart, lungs and veins, in short, my whole system will be in perfect shape.  

Do you do any other workouts before going on stage? 

“My back is screwed up. When I was sixteen I jumped off a building and shattered a vertebra in my lower back. Because of that I have to do certain exercises to increase my strength in that area. If I don’t, I’ll run into problems halfway through the tour. I want to be a tornado man while on stage, and I hope to be able to do that for the rest of my life. Until I’m a hundred or something…” 

Picture of John and Anthony 

‘One night John was sleeping at the top of the stairs, when he suddenly heard the voice of a moaning woman through the ceiling, like she was craving sex.’ 

 

SATAN  

My visit to Kiedis’ little crib has everything to do with the release of the new Red Hot Chili Peppers record, Blood Sugar Sex Magic. The production was handled by Rick Rubin, who Kiedis affectionately calls ‘The Bearded Wonder’. Wasn’t it odd to work with someone like that, who made a name for himself producing rock records, while the new album is more groove oriented?  

“When I first met Rick, I didn’t think he would be right for us. I thought: this guy, with the beard and those sunglasses, would never understand the four-dimensional, colourful and bombastic beauty of the Red Hot Chili Peppers – a band that wants to make people happy and offers an alternative to the shallow, non-musical bullshit formulas that are so common on the radio and on TV. Rick had produced groups like Slayer and Danzig, of which especially the latter present themselves as Sun of the Devil and I was afraid Rick conveyed that kind of negative energy. But Flea kept talking me into it. He had a lot of experience, and also with our kind of musical niche. After we talked to a lot of other producers, we decided to work with him after all. That proved to be the right decision. Rick doesn’t take that Satan stuff seriously either, he’s one of the most intelligent people in the music business and one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted teddy bears I’ve met in a long time.” 

Do you know someone who does take that Satan stuff seriously? 

“I think Glenn Danzig takes it very seriously. But he still has to ask his mommy for permission to drink goat blood on weekends. Rick, on the other hand, just has a keen sense for the type of music that narrow-minded Americans want to hear at a given moment. Through pseudo-Satanism, millions of white trash Americans apparently want to rebel against our suffocating, petty bourgeois society. That is their way to say: fuck you mom and dad, I don’t have to listen to your bullshit, I’ll go my own way.” 

Rick is known as a rock producer, while your songs have become funkier. 

“Rick didn’t write the songs. We did. His job was not to change our direction, but to bring our ideas to fruition. In that respect, he’s like a Chess Grandmaster. He takes what we offer and adds the finishing touch. He puts us totally at ease and doesn’t force musical changes, because he knows those changes wouldn’t be honest and therefore less powerful. At most, he performs delicate, but really important manoeuvres within the arrangement of the songs. He’s very smart and when he says something it’s usually spot on. For him that’s quite a leap forward, apparently. People who worked with him five years ago, generally don’t think of it as an enjoyable experience. When I tell them that he didn’t make bold or rude statements, didn’t offer unnecessary suggestions and was very much to the point, they say: wow, it seems he really improved his attitude.” 

 

RAGER 

Could you compare Rick’s method with George Clinton’s (who produced the Chili Peppers in the past)? 

“Those are two completely different worlds. George was really good at creating a totally out of control party atmosphere. We amused ourselves greatly, it was a rager. He has made more beautiful records than anyone else. To me, he’s on the same level as people like Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and James Brown. To work with somebody like that was an historic experience. We were much younger at the time and we thrived in a situation like that. But five years later, we do things a little differently. We very much have our own creative vision and we don’t need input from another artist – at most the input of a Chess Grandmaster. That words just keeps coming up when I think of Rick Rubin.” 

Disturbing noises as a by-product of recording are always edited out by other bands. With you they seem to be left alone on purpose. 

“Our philosophy is very different from most people concerning recording. Nobody makes human sounding records anymore. They all want a high tech, sterile kind of sound that doesn’t carry emotion or human feelings. Records all sound the same nowadays. When you listen to albums from the sixties – whether that is Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles or jazz – they sound very warm, with all kinds of colourful sensations. When I put on a contemporary record, the only colour that comes to mind is grey or metallic. So, we collected a mixing board from the fifties and a bunch of old equipment to record this record. We didn’t go into a studio either, but rented a house instead, where we could live together, wake up together and record together, so that the atmosphere of an unfamiliar space that wasn’t our own couldn’t influence our state of mind. John was playing guitar in his bedroom and I recorded all my vocals from my bedroom. Occasionally a car drove by, which was picked up by the microphones, but it didn’t matter, that was just part of the deal. We don’t want to conform to what is expected of us by the media.” 

The house you recorded in is supposed to be the place where The Beatles first took LSD. How do you know that?  

“That’s a rumour that has held up over the years. I wouldn’t bet my life on it. It wasn’t very important to me, but it did add a bit of colour to the history of the house. It’s a large and beautiful mansion, right here in Laurel Canyon, and it was built just before the twenties. Rudolf Valentino has lived there, Houdini lived right across the street. It used to be some sort of rock ‘n roll palace. Jimi Hendrix spent the night there. The feeling and vibrations of the house are amply intertwined with history, including a couple of murders that took place there. It’s haunted as well. When you enter a certain room, you’ll get goosebumps and feel a shiver down your spine every time. One night John was sleeping at the top of the stairs, when he suddenly heard the voice of a moaning woman through the ceiling, like she was craving sex. Later we heard that multiple parapsychologists and mediums had detected a similar sexual energy in the house.”  

 

PEACEFUL  

You mentioned the vocals and guitars were done from the bedroom. Do you feel most at ease there?  

“Most guitars were recorded in the ballroom and most of the record was recorded live. John refused to play a solo more than twice and let us the pick our favourite. Because he couldn’t hear himself in the same room the bass and live sounding drums were recorded, he sat in his bedroom while recording acoustic guitar parts. The vocals – the only real overdub we did – were recorded in my bedroom. That room had all kinds of Hollywood relics and offered a beautiful view over the flowery hill nearby. It was very peaceful. I very much prefer to sing alone.” 

Peaceful? That’s not the typical image of Anthony Kiedis. 

“To evoke artistic expression, you have to feel totally comfortable and be at peace with yourself. When there are certain distractions that make you feel uneasy or make you unable to focus a hundred percent on the music you’re working on, you won’t come into your own completely. When I’m alone, and apart from the trees nobody can see me, I feel at ease and then I can deliver honest art. The key to creating all art is to find inner peace. Then, the truth flows naturally out of your body. When you’re tense or distracted, you distort that which comes out of you.”  

On stage, there never is that kind of absolute peace. How are you still able to ‘recreate’ the songs in a suitable way? 

“Playing live is a totally different thing than making a record. The circumstances are completely different. You really have to adjust to that. Recording and performing don’t have anything in common, really.” 

So, don’t you feel at ease on stage then? 

“Yes, I do! I meditate before going on stage. After I’ve done my singing and stretching exercises, I’ll go and sit in a corner and try to concentrate on the reasons that I came there. I try to be as open as I can be, so that everything comes out as naturally as possible. When I enter the stage, the most important thing is to form a unit with the three other guys in the band. So that we’re all on the same dimensional wavelength. For that point onwards, you let your adrenaline and the energy of the crowd bring about a psychedelic reaction in your soul and you just go crazy. I sing way more easily to 10.000 people than to four. When I have to sing to four people, I tend to overthink… There’s a whole process of mental preparation you have to go through before you go can go on stage.”  

 

PAINTING  

When the phone rings, I make use of the occasion to inspect Kiedis’ living room a bit more closely. I discover an impressive collection of CD’s, a type of guitar model I’ve never seen before, a TV, a hi-fi system and speakers in a messy configuration and about ten life size paintings. Nearly all of the canvasses show women with naked breasts, some pictured in serene positions and some, for example, pictured with a skull in place of their stomach.    

“I’m now able to buy those gorgeous paintings. I could put my money on the bank or let some idiot invest it, but I prefer spending it on paintings. I love paint, colours, images. That one over there is a Robert Williams. He’s my favourite artist. All of his paintings have three titles. I’ll read you the titles of that one. It’s called The Waterhead That’s Been Raised In A Box. The scientific title is Gifted With Both A Hydrosopholic Head And Imposed Congenital Deformation. A Cube-shaped, Kidnapped Victim Of Appellation Gypsies Benefits Though The Portrayal Of A Marooned Interplanetary Visitor, With A Plea For Donation For Martian Ecology. And the revised title is Greek’s Magma On A Walking Slopblock. Robert Williams is my favourite artist. I’ve got all kinds of books about him. I’ve met him too, and he’s a good friend of mine now. I’ve got three more paintings of his, in different places in the house.” 

Does he inspire you while making up names for songs [or lyrics]? 

‘No. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to get inspired by the creativity of others while doing that. I really have to isolate myself, be myself and consciously turn my inner vision into something palpable. I’m sure what comes out is a subconscious reflection of the things I experience in my surroundings, but I really have to consciously bring it out myself.  

 

EUPHORIA 

What did you have in mind with Blood Sugar Sex Magic, the title of your new record? 

“The song is about sexual euphoria, to reach a point of mental delirium through a loving sexual experience. Blood Sugar Sex Magic, however, are also four self-contained elements. I like to view our music as magic. There’s not much magic around these days. Music is one of the few things that inject the world we live in with some form of magic.” 

Are there other forms of magic? 

“Yes. But, unfortunately, I live in a big city. And most of the ways in which one can receive magic are obscured by dead things: buildings, highways, cars, streets etc. However, me, Flea and John just took a trip to Costa Rica. There we were surrounded by rivers, jungles and waterfalls, monkeys, oceans and horses and stuff like that. That helped us to experience the living world anew.” 

You visited Prince recently.  

“Yes. I went to the Grammy Awards. The Chili Peppers were nominated and I could come along on the Warner Brothers business jet, with big shots like Mo Austin and Lenny Waronker. We sat through the award ceremony, but didn’t win anything. Oh well, awards are just an excuse for a party anyway. After the party, Lenny and Mo had to stop by Minneapolis, to speak with Prince. He’d made a new record and they had some things to discuss. After they’d had a long conversation, the little big man invited me to listen to his new record. He explained a couple of things, sang different choruses here and there and played an imaginary guitar. I’d heard from people that he was an arrogant asshole, but he was distinctly friendly. I had a chance to take a close look at his whole work space. It was almost like being in The Wizard of Oz, a total Prince factory. In one room, people make clothes for him, in another people work on advertising. Quite impressive, that this little man has created all those jobs, and that gigantic studio…” 

It seems like the opposite of your own approach… 

“But he really is amazingly talented. He is on a certain wavelength from which he’s able to pull this unbelievably funky stuff, from somewhere in the universe.” 

Do you really believe in the existence of a large source in space from which you can pull your ideas?  

“I don’t not believe in it. I’d be an enormous egomaniac if I said that I understand the workings of the cosmos. But, I don’t disregard it, I try to remain open to it.”  

 

 

WELL – OILED  

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic (Warner Music)    

While Mother’s Milk may be the best-selling album in the history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it certainly is not the best one. When I listen to it now, I hear a band that slightly awkwardly tries to proof that they’re still as cheeky and controversial as before the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons’ subsequent departure. Of course, it includes a couple of hits, but the studio was not the best environment for John and Chad to find their way within the band. Only while playing live did they learn to really gel as a foursome and on Blood Sugar Sex Magic a well-oiled machine is heard. It is the first CD for Warner, produced by Rick Rubin. Especially that last thing, of course, has consequences for the sound of the band, but don’t expect references to Masters of Reality and Slayer: the seventeen (!) songs are, above all, characterized by a clear, honest sound. I can imagine Rick Rubin ruled with an iron fist in the studio. On the purely funky tracks you hear a tight, but relaxed base with beautiful basslines and some ornaments here and there, like Flea’s trumpet in Apache Rose or an extra heavy guitar line. On the ballads, I Could Have Lied and Under the Bridge (an ode to Los Angeles), a dreamy pop song like Breaking the Girl and the outro They’re Red Hot a couple of acoustic guitars, flutes and violins can be heard. On those tracks Anthony sings from the heart, but his raps remain a lot more convincing. Also on less interesting compositions (Give It Away, for example, a funk jam which keeps hovering around just one chord) he manages to grab the attention with his gibber. Of course, for the fans there’s enough lines that include ‘pussy’, ‘muthafucka’ and ‘suck my dick’, but I suspect you’ll mostly be captivated by the overall quality of the record. Taking the changes in personnel into account, Blood Sugar Sex Magic is, much more than Mother’s Milk, the perfect successor to Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan 

Mark van Schaick  

 

 Many thanks to Jolan Lammertink for kindly translating this into English.

6 thoughts on “OOR September 1991

  1. Hi,
    I’m Dutch and a fan of the Chilis.
    I could translate it for you if you like! If you send me your email-address I’ll send you the text.
    Regards,
    Jolan

  2. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

    Guarded Area, Armored Response and the names of various security companies appear along the road to the home of Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a winding road, leading to the top of one of the famed Hollywood Hills. With every turn, I’m getting closer to those illustrious white letters that attract millions, but are commonly covered in a thick layer of smog.

    While daydreaming about some metaphorical correlation between the smog, the letters and the inaccessibility of show business, I arrive at number 6730, the address the woman from the record company gave me. In front of me stands a spacious white mansion with three stories, the sort of place where you have to climb a giant staircase to even reach the front door. My name is not asked when I ring the bell, despite all the warnings of guards and guns, and the gate opens immediately. Full of amazement and fatigue – I should exercise more often after all – I climb the stairs to the top, where, in the meantime, Anthony has opened the door and is waiting for me while holding a phone between his head and his naked shoulders. While mumbling into the phone, he points to the marble floor and informs me to take off my shoes.
    My shoes ought to be off? Scared of a little dirt? Who would’ve thought one of the most obnoxious rockers of the late eighties would care for a clean floor? Who would’ve thought he’d end up in a house like this anyway?

    HOLLYWOOD
    “I’ve lived in this city since I was a little kid, always in tiny, often dirty rooms, above bars or with five others in little office spaces without a bathroom… After our last record, we made ridiculous sums of money from both album and merchandise sales. I was 27 and had worked my ass off in this band for seven years, so when people started giving us all that money I thought: excellent, I’ll head for the hills and buy a beautiful house. But if someone were to take it all away and I’d have to return to one of those little rooms I used to live in, I’d be okay with that. These just happen to be my living conditions at the moment.”
    Was the view of the Hollywood Sign important to you when you bought the place? Are those letters some form of proof of the fact that you managed to achieve what so many others strive for?
    “My success was more of an accident. I think you may be more impressed with those letters than I am. So, it wasn’t something I told my agent to look out for, but it certainly is a bonus. Hollywood is my home. Despite all the bullshit that goes on in show business, I am a product of my surroundings, whether I like it or not. And this is where I spend my time. There’s a park behind my house where building is prohibited. You should see the view from the pool. I did eighty laps today, to prepare for the next tour, so that my heart, lungs and veins, in short, my whole system will be in perfect shape.
    Do you do any other workouts before going on stage?
    “My back is screwed up. When I was sixteen I jumped off a building and shattered a vertebra in my lower back. Because of that I have to do certain exercises to increase my strength in that area. If I don’t, I’ll run into problems halfway through the tour. I want to be a tornado man while on stage, and I hope to be able to do that for the rest of my life. Until I’m a hundred or something…”
    Picture of John and Anthony
    ‘One night John was sleeping at the top of the stairs, when he suddenly heard the voice of a moaning woman through the ceiling, like she was craving sex.’

    SATAN
    My visit to Kiedis’ little crib has everything to do with the release of the new Red Hot Chili Peppers record, Blood Sugar Sex Magic. The production was handled by Rick Rubin, who Kiedis affectionately calls ‘The Bearded Wonder’. Wasn’t it odd to work with someone like that, who made a name for himself producing rock records, while the new album is more groove oriented?
    “When I first met Rick, I didn’t think he would be right for us. I thought: this guy, with the beard and those sunglasses, would never understand the four-dimensional, colourful and bombastic beauty of the Red Hot Chili Peppers – a band that wants to make people happy and offers an alternative to the shallow, non-musical bullshit formulas that are so common on the radio and on TV. Rick had produced groups like Slayer and Danzig, of which especially the latter present themselves as Sun of the Devil and I was afraid Rick conveyed that kind of negative energy. But Flea kept talking me into it. He had a lot of experience, and also with our kind of musical niche. After we talked to a lot of other producers, we decided to work with him after all. That proved to be the right decision. Rick doesn’t take that Satan stuff seriously either, he’s one of the most intelligent people in the music business and one of the sweetest, most kind-hearted teddy bears I’ve met in a long time.”
    Do you know someone who does take that Satan stuff seriously?
    “I think Glenn Danzig takes it very seriously. But he still has to ask his mommy for permission to drink goat blood on weekends. Rick, on the other hand, just has a keen sense for the type of music that narrow-minded Americans want to hear at a given moment. Through pseudo-Satanism, millions of white trash Americans apparently want to rebel against our suffocating, petty bourgeois society. That is their way to say: fuck you mom and dad, I don’t have to listen to your bullshit, I’ll go my own way.”
    Rick is known as a rock producer, while your songs have become funkier.
    “Rick didn’t write the songs. We did. His job was not to change our direction, but to bring our ideas to fruition. In that respect, he’s like a Chess Grandmaster. He takes what we offer and adds the finishing touch. He puts us totally at ease and doesn’t force musical changes, because he knows those changes wouldn’t be honest and therefore less powerful. At most, he performs delicate, but really important manoeuvres within the arrangement of the songs. He’s very smart and when he says something it’s usually spot on. For him that’s quite a leap forward, apparently. People who worked with him five years ago, generally don’t think of it as an enjoyable experience. When I tell them that he didn’t make bold or rude statements, didn’t offer unnecessary suggestions and was very much to the point, they say: wow, it seems he really improved his attitude.”

    RAGER
    Could you compare Rick’s method with George Clinton’s (who produced the Chili Peppers in the past)?
    “Those are two completely different worlds. George was really good at creating a totally out of control party atmosphere. We amused ourselves greatly, it was a rager. He has made more beautiful records than anyone else. To me, he’s on the same level as people like Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and James Brown. To work with somebody like that was an historic experience. We were much younger at the time and we thrived in a situation like that. But five years later, we do things a little differently. We very much have our own creative vision and we don’t need input from another artist – at most the input of a Chess Grandmaster. That words just keeps coming up when I think of Rick Rubin.”
    Disturbing noises as a by-product of recording are always edited out by other bands. With you they seem to be left alone on purpose.
    “Our philosophy is very different from most people concerning recording. Nobody makes human sounding records anymore. They all want a high tech, sterile kind of sound that doesn’t carry emotion or human feelings. Records all sound the same nowadays. When you listen to albums from the sixties – whether that is Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles or jazz – they sound very warm, with all kinds of colourful sensations. When I put on a contemporary record, the only colour that comes to mind is grey or metallic. So, we collected a mixing board from the fifties and a bunch of old equipment to record this record. We didn’t go into a studio either, but rented a house instead, where we could live together, wake up together and record together, so that the atmosphere of an unfamiliar space that wasn’t our own couldn’t influence our state of mind. John was playing guitar in his bedroom and I recorded all my vocals from my bedroom. Occasionally a car drove by, which was picked up by the microphones, but it didn’t matter, that was just part of the deal. We don’t want to conform to what is expected of us by the media.”
    The house you recorded in is supposed to be the place where The Beatles first took LSD. How do you know that?
    “That’s a rumour that has held up over the years. I wouldn’t bet my life on it. It wasn’t very important to me, but it did add a bit of colour to the history of the house. It’s a large and beautiful mansion, right here in Laurel Canyon, and it was built just before the twenties. Rudolf Valentino has lived there, Houdini lived right across the street. It used to be some sort of rock ‘n roll palace. Jimi Hendrix spent the night there. The feeling and vibrations of the house are amply intertwined with history, including a couple of murders that took place there. It’s haunted as well. When you enter a certain room, you’ll get goosebumps and feel a shiver down your spine every time. One night John was sleeping at the top of the stairs, when he suddenly heard the voice of a moaning woman through the ceiling, like she was craving sex. Later we heard that multiple parapsychologists and mediums had detected a similar sexual energy in the house.”

    PEACEFUL
    You mentioned the vocals and guitars were done from the bedroom. Do you feel most at ease there?
    “Most guitars were recorded in the ballroom and most of the record was recorded live. John refused to play a solo more than twice and let us the pick our favourite. Because he couldn’t hear himself in the same room the bass and live sounding drums were recorded, he sat in his bedroom while recording acoustic guitar parts. The vocals – the only real overdub we did – were recorded in my bedroom. That room had all kinds of Hollywood relics and offered a beautiful view over the flowery hill nearby. It was very peaceful. I very much prefer to sing alone.”
    Peaceful? That’s not the typical image of Anthony Kiedis.
    “To evoke artistic expression, you have to feel totally comfortable and be at peace with yourself. When there are certain distractions that make you feel uneasy or make you unable to focus a hundred percent on the music you’re working on, you won’t come into your own completely. When I’m alone, and apart from the trees nobody can see me, I feel at ease and then I can deliver honest art. The key to creating all art is to find inner peace. Then, the truth flows naturally out of your body. When you’re tense or distracted, you distort that which comes out of you.”
    On stage, there never is that kind of absolute peace. How are you still able to ‘recreate’ the songs in a suitable way?
    “Playing live is a totally different thing than making a record. The circumstances are completely different. You really have to adjust to that. Recording and performing don’t have anything in common, really.”
    So, don’t you feel at ease on stage then?
    “Yes, I do! I meditate before going on stage. After I’ve done my singing and stretching exercises, I’ll go and sit in a corner and try to concentrate on the reasons that I came there. I try to be as open as I can be, so that everything comes out as naturally as possible. When I enter the stage, the most important thing is to form a unit with the three other guys in the band. So that we’re all on the same dimensional wavelength. For that point onwards, you let your adrenaline and the energy of the crowd bring about a psychedelic reaction in your soul and you just go crazy. I sing way more easily to 10.000 people than to four. When I have to sing to four people, I tend to overthink… There’s a whole process of mental preparation you have to go through before you go can go on stage.”

    PAINTING
    When the phone rings, I make use of the occasion to inspect Kiedis’ living room a bit more closely. I discover an impressive collection of CD’s, a type of guitar model I’ve never seen before, a TV, a hi-fi system and speakers in a messy configuration and about ten life size paintings. Nearly all of the canvasses show women with naked breasts, some pictured in serene positions and some, for example, pictured with a skull in place of their stomach.
    “I’m now able to buy those gorgeous paintings. I could put my money on the bank or let some idiot invest it, but I prefer spending it on paintings. I love paint, colours, images. That one over there is a Robert Williams. He’s my favourite artist. All of his paintings have three titles. I’ll read you the titles of that one. It’s called The Waterhead That’s Been Raised In A Box. The scientific title is Gifted With Both A Hydrosopholic Head And Imposed Congenital Deformation. A Cube-shaped, Kidnapped Victim Of Appellation Gypsies Benefits Though The Portrayal Of A Marooned Interplanetary Visitor, With A Plea For Donation For Martian Ecology. And the revised title is Greek’s Magma On A Walking Slopblock. Robert Williams is my favourite artist. I’ve got all kinds of books about him. I’ve met him too, and he’s a good friend of mine now. I’ve got three more paintings of his, in different places in the house.”
    Does he inspire you while making up names for songs [or lyrics]?
    ‘No. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to get inspired by the creativity of others while doing that. I really have to isolate myself, be myself and consciously turn my inner vision into something palpable. I’m sure what comes out is a subconscious reflection of the things I experience in my surroundings, but I really have to consciously bring it out myself.

    EUPHORIA
    What did you have in mind with Blood Sugar Sex Magic, the title of your new record?
    “The song is about sexual euphoria, to reach a point of mental delirium through a loving sexual experience. Blood Sugar Sex Magic, however, are also four self-contained elements. I like to view our music as magic. There’s not much magic around these days. Music is one of the few things that inject the world we live in with some form of magic.”
    Are there other forms of magic?
    “Yes. But, unfortunately, I live in a big city. And most of the ways in which one can receive magic are obscured by dead things: buildings, highways, cars, streets etc. However, me, Flea and John just took a trip to Costa Rica. There we were surrounded by rivers, jungles and waterfalls, monkeys, oceans and horses and stuff like that. That helped us to experience the living world anew.”
    You visited Prince recently.
    “Yes. I went to the Grammy Awards. The Chili Peppers were nominated and I could come along on the Warner Brothers business jet, with big shots like Mo Austin and Lenny Waronker. We sat through the award ceremony, but didn’t win anything. Oh well, awards are just an excuse for a party anyway. After the party, Lenny and Mo had to stop by Minneapolis, to speak with Prince. He’d made a new record and they had some things to discuss. After they’d had a long conversation, the little big man invited me to listen to his new record. He explained a couple of things, sang different choruses here and there and played an imaginary guitar. I’d heard from people that he was an arrogant asshole, but he was distinctly friendly. I had a chance to take a close look at his whole work space. It was almost like being in The Wizard of Oz, a total Prince factory. In one room, people make clothes for him, in another people work on advertising. Quite impressive, that this little man has created all those jobs, and that gigantic studio…”
    It seems like the opposite of your own approach…
    “But he really is amazingly talented. He is on a certain wavelength from which he’s able to pull this unbelievably funky stuff, from somewhere in the universe.”
    Do you really believe in the existence of a large source in space from which you can pull your ideas?
    “I don’t not believe in it. I’d be an enormous egomaniac if I said that I understand the workings of the cosmos. But, I don’t disregard it, I try to remain open to it.”

    WELL – OILED
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic (Warner Music)
    While Mother’s Milk may be the best-selling album in the history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it certainly is not the best one. When I listen to it now, I hear a band that slightly awkwardly tries to proof that they’re still as cheeky and controversial as before the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons’ subsequent departure. Of course, it includes a couple of hits, but the studio was not the best environment for John and Chad to find their way within the band. Only while playing live did they learn to really gel as a foursome and on Blood Sugar Sex Magic a well-oiled machine is heard. It is the first CD for Warner, produced by Rick Rubin. Especially that last thing, of course, has consequences for the sound of the band, but don’t expect references to Masters of Reality and Slayer: the seventeen (!) songs are, above all, characterized by a clear, honest sound. I can imagine Rick Rubin ruled with an iron fist in the studio. On the purely funky tracks you hear a tight, but relaxed base with beautiful basslines and some ornaments here and there, like Flea’s trumpet in Apache Rose or an extra heavy guitar line. On the ballads, I Could Have Lied and Under the Bridge (an ode to Los Angeles), a dreamy pop song like Breaking the Girl and the outro They’re Red Hot a couple of acoustic guitars, flutes and violins can be heard. On those tracks Anthony sings from the heart, but his raps remain a lot more convincing. Also on less interesting compositions (Give It Away, for example, a funk jam which keeps hovering around just one chord) he manages to grab the attention with his gibber. Of course, for the fans there’s enough lines that include ‘pussy’, ‘muthafucka’ and ‘suck my dick’, but I suspect you’ll mostly be captivated by the overall quality of the record. Taking the changes in personnel into account, Blood Sugar Sex Magic is, much more than Mother’s Milk, the perfect successor to Freaky Styley and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan.
    Mark van Schaick

    Translated by Jolan Lammertink

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