The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be releasing a much anticipated new album in 2016. However, with their current repertoire they have become one of the most successful and consistent bands in modern rock, so ranking their albums took quite bit of brainstorming. Focusing on the album as a whole and not the quality of the singles of each album was the main approach to this piece. RHCP’s first three albums are similar; a very young band trying to find its way. However, when Mother’s Milk was released in 1989 the band finally tapped into their potential and the majority of the next six albums made the band one of the biggest, if not the biggest, band in modern rock music.
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers (self-titled) (1983)
The first album from RHCP was very raw and lacked cohesiveness, which would be expected considering the band wasn’t considered a serious project by guitarist Hillel Slovak who backed out of recording the album. Anthony Kiedis and Flea have mentioned over the years that they prefer the demo versions of most of these songs which were recorded with the original lineup featuring Slovak. Reaching just below the Billboard top 200, RHCP’s debut included very few highlights, however “Green Heaven” is a fan favorite and “Out In LA” is the first song that RHCP wrote together.
9. Freaky Styley (1985)
Produced by funk mastermind George Clinton, Freaky Styley had some high points, particularly the comical “Catholic School Girls Rule” but still failed to garner much commercial success.
Bassist Flea had this to say about the album for the 2003 reissue:
“I know the music on this record was just way too obscure to ever be popular in a mainstream kind of way, but to me it really holds its own as a definitive and substantial musical statement. More than any other record we ever made it falls into the category of “too funky for white radio, too punk rockin’ for black.” Of course, the songs were very far away from any pop format; I realize it is/was not just the racial segregation at radio that precluded it from being a popular record.”
8. The Uplift MoFo Party Plan (1987) The Uplift MoFo Party Plan was the last album to feature all four founding members of the band. Guitarist Hillel Slovak would later die of a heroin overdose after the tour in support of the album, and drummer Jack Irons would quit the band being unable to cope with the loss of his friend. As the RHCP sound continued to sprout, this album was their most successful one up to this point and was actually their first album to enter the Billboard top 200. Some noteworthy tracks include “Fight Like A Brave”, “Me and my Friends”, and “Behind the Sun”.
7. I’m With You (2011)
The first album since One Hot Minute sans John Frusciante seems to be a band in rebuilding mode with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer who seemingly does not quite fill the shoes his predecessor left behind. Many RHCP albums, specifically the ones released after the 1980’s, were very guitar heavy, but the guitar parts took more of a backing role with I’m With You. However, it seems that the talent of Josh Klinghoffer wasn’t the issue; the issue was in the production phase of the album as the recorded guitar parts were greatly turned down. A fan re-engineered the album and posted the new version on youtube which brings the guitar parts out into the forefront. Many fans believe this change greatly enhanced the quality of the album and truth be told if that version was the one originally released it would have been ranked just below Blood Sugar Sex Magic on this list. However, based on the recording that was released, besides one of the most exceptional ballads the band has ever recorded in “Breaden’s Death Song”, the tracks don’t measure up to any of the singles that RHCP released since before Mother’s Milk. Tracks like “Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”, “Look Around”, and “Monarchy of Roses” which all could be placed in the same category as “Suck My Kiss”, “Higher Ground”, and “Around the World” would all rank at the bottom of that category. I’m With You was an album with great potential, but the decision to hide Klinghoffer’s talent greatly degraded the finished product.
6. Mothers Milk (1989) Mothers Milk was the album that RHCP finally polished their unique sound to form something that was widely accepted on MTV and rock radio. The Stevie Wonder cover “Higher Ground” and the second single “Knock Me Down” both received significant air play and became the sound the band would feed off of for years to come. Other great highlights from this album include the Jimmy Hendrix cover “Fire” and the scorcher “Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky”.
5. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991) Blood Sugar Sex Magik made the Red Hot Chili Peppers a worldwide phenomenon. Hard hitting and funky tracks like “Suck My Kiss” and “Give it Away” are the yin to the yang of two of the best ballads in the RHCP catalog in “Breaking the Girl” and “Under the Bridge”. This album contained some of the band’s best singles, but as a complete piece wasn’t their best cohesive work.
4. One Hot Minute (1995)
The one off album featuring guitarist Dave Navarro in place of John Frusciante is a bit of an enigma. Flea once eluded that Navarro wasn’t a good fit for RHCP, and the band very rarely play a song from this album live. However, as a whole it is just about as great as the rest of their classics. It contains some of the bands more standard alternative rock tracks like “Coffee Shop” and “Warped” and along with the ballad “My Friends” and the fun oddity “Aeroplane” One Hot Minute is surprisingly RHCP’s most well rounded album.
3. By The Way (2002) By The Way was critically acclaimed but a bit of a change of pace from the band’s previous releases. However, as solid as it was, the album wasn’t as consistent as Californication or Stadium Arcadium, even though “Can’t Stop” and “By The Way” were great singles. Other highlights include tracks like “Dosed”, “Universally Speaking” and “The Zephyr Song” in which the band strayed away from their norm and the tracks became a favorite among many fans. Additionally, the track “Throw Away Your Television” may be the best track to come out of the By The Way sessions and has since become a spectacularly performed live staple.
2. Californication (1999)
After the release of One Hot Minute, five long years passed and the buzz surrounding RHCP had chilled a bit. There were some drug problems in the band during this hiatus plus the departure of Dave Navarro, however, that departure allowed for the return of John Frusciante, and the fire was restarted after the release of Californication. This album contains everything that makes the Red Hot Chili Peppers great songwriters. Tracks like “Otherside”, “Californication”, and “Scar Tissue” have the same essence that made “Under the Bridge” such a landmark track, and the funky “Around the World” was a throwback to the RHCP standard which helped get the critics back on their side.
1. Stadium Arcadium (2006)
I can see it in the comments section already… This guy put which album #1!!!???
John Frusciante’s swan song.. or.. swan album (hardy har har) is, as a complete work, the Red Hot Chili Peppers BEST album. Stadium Arcadium contains over two hours of great single worthy tracks and it’s difficult to single out a specific track that stands out amongst others because of the album’s consistency, and in all honesty, the singles may be the weakest tracks on the album. Stadium Arcadium doesn’t have a track that is as epic as “Scar Tissue”, “Give It Away”, or “Under the Bridge” however, from start to finish, it is RHCPs most solid album and may actually be one of the best double albums of all time.
Original source of the leaked 1998 mix of “Circle of the Noose”
In the late 1990’s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were on their last leg with Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. After touring the world for One Hot Minute, the band tried writing and recording new material with Navarro. Until now, nothing from those sessions have ever been leaked. In rare interviews and fan communities, a title, “Circle of the Noose” would surface up. Today, it was leaked to the world by rhcptv5 on Twitter, and posted on YouTube. Commenting on the song’s character, a tribute to qawwali devotional singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Navarro recalled in an AllStar 1997 interview that:
“One of the songs we’ve done is the greatest pop song I’ve ever been a part of…It’s pop in the sense of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, hook. I really love it and we use a loop of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It’s really nice. The best way I can describe it is it’s like pepped- up ’60s folk with ’90s ideals, but I would hate to label it as folk because it’s not, it moves.”
@RHCPtv5 WOW what a trip down memory lane! Thanks 🙂
This news of course, occurs right as the Chili Peppers are at “home stretch” with finishing their new album:
Anthony Kiedis discussed Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album last week on Jonesy’s Jukebox.
“We’re in the home stretch. I sang yesterday, I get a week off, I go back to finish.”
He added, “We’re going to back and listen to the songs, and see if we can beat them.”
“We had written two dozen songs before we got with him. [Producer Danger Mouse] is like, ‘Let’s keep a few of those, but let’s go write all new songs in the studio. We’re looking at each other like, ‘Dude, we kind of already wrote the songs, bro.’ He’s like, ‘No, I like to write new ones in the studio.’ So, in honor of accommodating this new process, we wrote all new songs, and it’s a good thing we did.
Below is my interpretation of what the lyrics of “Circle of the Noose” could be:
Inspiration Mess me up, makes me cry Come and see me please Dragonfly, so I don’t die In a circle Break my heart So I can start
All I need Is for fun and for free All I need All I need
I don’t need it! Don’t need it! I don’t need it!
Locomotive Shoot me up Shoot me down Devasation boy Deal me out, steal my joy Good for nothing That’s the one My mother’s son
All I need Is for fun and for free All I need All I need
I don’t need it! Don’t need it! I don’t need it!
In the sun And the sea I’m for fun and for free
Dog’s a-laughing Laughing now That I’m no-how Human uniform I’m so warm, inside this stone
All I need Is for fun and for free All I need All I need
Earlier today, it was announced that the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder and Florence + the Machine would headline the BottleRock Napa Valley, a music festival in Napa Valley, California, May 27th-29th of this year. This is the second American music festival they are headline this year, the other being Rock on the Range out in Ohio.
Tickets go on sale January 7th and are expected to be about $289 for a Three Day Pass.
As the Chili Peppers add the finishing touches to their eleventh studio album, and the second with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (ex-Frusciante collaborator) , the band has quietly announced tour dates for the next year. They are all exclusively festival tour dates and all but one is in Europe. Next summer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be back in Europe to cover festivals such as Reading (England), Rock am Ring (Germany), Pinkpop (the Netherlands) and Roskilde (Denmark). They also will be found starting their festival tour dates at Ohio’s Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, May 21st-23rd. They have headlined several of these festivals in the past, such as Pinkpop and Rokslide. The tour dates are as below:
As the Chili Peppers add the finishing touches to their eleventh studio album, and the second with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (ex-Frusciante collaborator) , the band has quietly announced tour dates for the next year. They are all exclusively festival tour dates and all but one is in Europe. Next summer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be back in Europe to cover festivals such as Reading (England), Rock am Ring (Germany), Pinkpop (the Netherlands) and Rokslide (Denmark). They also will be found starting their festival tour dates at Ohio’s Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, May 21st-23rd. They have headlined several of these festivals in the past, such as Pinkpop and Rokslide. The tour dates are as below:
As our last article reported, Tim and Cameron recently jammed with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, who offered a major update on the band’s new album.
“He said the album has been finished musically for a while now, but they are still waiting on Anthony to track the vocals. He says the new album sounds very ‘emotional’. He smells like a freshly opened pack of printer paper.”
In anticipation, enjoy some videos from RHCP’s past, at some of these festivals:
Pinkpop 1988 (With original guitarist Hillel Slovak) “Fight Like a Brave”
Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and songwriter, makes very sporadic and unexpected appearances in the world of film and television. His filmography is actually a little bigger than his discography – with appearances in the last two of the Back to the Future films, the voice of Donnie in the Wild Thornberrys, the Big Lebowski, Duckman and the Decline of Western Civilization Part III. Flea’s a real cool guy. When I met him a couple months ago, we had this brief exchange of glazed eyes I’ll never forget at Amoeba Records and it was one of the more memorable things that has happened to me all year. I might have embarrassed myself a little, but there was no way I was going to handle meeting Flea in a calm manner. Sadly, it’s not me.
Now, when my friend Justin said “Flea has a show”, I thought he was referring to a Flea solo concert. He confessed it was a television show and I was certain he was pulling my leg. Well, he was half-right. Flea recently starred in a pilot for Amazon Video entitled “Highston”, a show which may get picked up by Amazon Prime as film and television (post-television?) shows see a shift towards instant streaming release only. The premise revolves around a 19-year old named Highston Liggetts who is a little lost and perceived to be delusional and mentally ill by his family, save for the family member who might actually have real issues, Uncle Bob. The nature of his dissociative disorder is his strong and vivid perceptions of celebrity imaginary friends, from Oprah to Bill Gates. In this pilot however, his friends are Flea and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal. Truly, an unforgeable trio. If the show is picked up though, it will have rotating cast. I can only hope Flea will write the score for the show afterwards.
The Highston pilot was a very, very clever piece. Since Calvin & Hobbes, it seems some of the best stories in any form of media involve the dichotomous worlds between imaginary friends and those who can’t see them. Australian (and later American) television series Wilfred is another good example of this format. Highston is different from Calvin & Hobbes and Wilfred in the fact that no one outside of Highston, the eponymous title character, can see his friends or their involvement at all. In both Calvin & Hobbes and Wilfred, characters outside of Calvin and Ryan see Hobbes and Wilfred respectively as a stuffed toy tiger and non-anthropomorphic dog.
I won’t spoil the ending, but Highston’s family wants him to either make something of himself within a week or get admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The pilot provides a lot of blunt but not still pushy nor distracting social commentary, especially on the way society handles mental illness. “No one is happy”, says Highston’s father, Mr. Liggetts. “But Flea and Shaq say they’re happy,” replies Highston. “WELL, that’s because Flea and Shaq are the only happy people! Everybody knows that,” as Flea and Shaq mock the parents to no avail other than what Highston can hear. The show also features some nasty, kooky and funky original basslines from Flea as Shaq teaches Highston dance moves. Highston is a very polite and empathetic person, but no one, especially his family cares to listen to him outside of an agenda they filter everything through.
Nothing I can say is really going to capture the show’s inherent wit and thought provoking social commentary undertones. Regardless if you have Amazon Video and/or Prime, it is available to watch for free here. If you’re a Chili Peppers fan, a basketball nut or just looking to kick back and relax with some new piece of television that isn’t 100% mind rotting, I would definitely recommend the pilot of Highston. Thanks again, Flea.
Author’s note: Was published without sections on “Zone” and “Renoise Tracks 2009-2011” originally. Now included below.
I can say confidently, as anyone would who knows Frusciante’s history well, that Frusciante does what he wants and it usually turns out very well for him. The sky is the (questionable) limit. Quit the one of the world’s biggest rock bands of the last 25 years – twice – and he lived to tell the tale.
Though when Frusciante goes to tell a story it may be non-linear, upside down, rightside up again, essentially anything non-conventional. This is not to say that his solo work is not enjoyable – it is very much, at least in my view. Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt is one of my favorite albums ever. I would also recommend To Record Only Water for Ten Days and The Empyrean. I have not finished Inside of Emptiness but I did like what I heard from it, I believe the track “Look On” to be one of his finest works. What people forget sometimes is that Klinghoffer was one of Frusciante’s most frequent collaborators before he joined John’s old band. Klinghoffer was featured on the albums Shadows Collide With People, the Will to Death, Inside of Emptiness, A Sphere in the Heart of Silence and both Ataxia albums.
A few months ago, we reported that John Frusciante was “no longer releasing music for the public”. In fact, I wrote that article. I became a little disheartened because I really enjoy his art and him as a person, but I respected his choice allegedly to not release music. Thankfully, Frusciante goes through a lot of phases. Which is great, I love that about him but you can expect him to say “I’m going to be an elephant from now on” and he’ll come to your next party as a rhinoceros . 2:10 am, I got the most exciting email in awhile. It was a long letter from John Frusciante from his email listing, announcing a triumphant return. In an excerpt from the letter, we see this:
“Even when you make music purely for the sake of doing it, as I do, it sometimes helps to have friends who’s ears and taste you have in the back of your head when you’re making it. But this can also put you in a straightjacket, just as aiming your music at the masses can. Therefore, in Jan 2014, I decided to stop having an “audience” in this sense, and so I stopped finishing songs or sending what I was doing to friends, and started making a lot of songs at once rather than one song at a time. This freed up my mind so that I could make music purely to hear it and live with it, in order to grow in a different direction for a while. This was not a permanent decision. In fact, I’m already past that phase.“
Excellent news, right? He also enclosed links to his Bandcamp and Soundcloud with new releases, about 20 songs spanning different genres. Here, we will discuss them and see how they hold up.
For fans of Frusciante’s acoustic and low fidelity works, this is something you would be interestedin , though it is not exactly Niandra Lades. As much as I love Niandra Lades, I actually like watching artists grow. Of course, bands and artists will always harbor old material that is dear to me but if they truly inspire me I like to see where the course of their artistry takes them. Many critics of Frusciante’s latest electronic directions tell him to simply “pick up a guitar”, well, he’s got a guitar here! But the percussion is from a drum machine. As the album cover implies, it is music that may best be listened to at a beach sometime between dawn to dusk. It gives the tracks a beautifully tarnished and retro-electro feel to it, led by melodic but anti-rock guitar soloing. 5 out of the 6 tracks are untitled, except for “Venice”, where Frusciante spends a lot of his time. To me, this is still “classic” Frusciante and I’ve come to really enjoy it. If one tried to summarize Frusciante’s solo work in a couple of songs, well, not saying this is the best candidate only because it is missing his vocals but it incorporates his iconic guitar work with electronic undertones, some of the biggest elements of his solo work. It’s free, I would at least say give this a listen, regardless of where you stand on Frusciante’s solo work. Frusciante quit the Chili Peppers, it’s time to accept that. He has plenty more to offer. This is a beautiful gift.
A single track, it is easy to see the connection this track has to his last and self-titled album under Trickfinger. Both album artworks are derived from similar materials and both lie between acid house and electro. Some may be happy to hear this actually includes a very worthy guitar part over an electronic beats, but very drastically different than what was offered in 4-Track Guitar Music. The guitar here is more characteristic of, well, Stadium Arcadium in my book. I wish there was more offered in this collection because I am sure Frusciante has more from this time period. This is one of my favorite tracks from this collection. I am very interested personally in the intersection of electronic and guitars and this is a perfect example of how the two may compliment each other.
Rodriguez and Frusciante’s friendship is well documented and they have been involved in several different projects together. Naturally, they come together to cover a song for Casa di Mi Padre, the satirical Spanish language film starring Will Ferrell. Close to the original, it is purely instrumental and has electronic percussion. A good showcase of guitar work, it is something to listen to whilst in the middle of a desert, contemplating life.
A poignant rendition of a track from his 2014 electronic album Enclosure, “Zone” with just guitar and vocals. This track may be the most “accessible” if it was commercially released. I did not listen to all of Enclosure, but it was a solid effort by Frusciante and it is always interesting to see how artists re-interpret their own work and give alternative versions. I would hope to see a few more of these – either acoustically re-interpreting electronic music or vice versa.
The biggest collection of songs from either of the Souncloud or Bandcamp releases and the most comprehensive in a sense. Some complained of 2015’s Trickfinger as underdeveloped and bare bones. Those tracks were made in 2007-2008 and it in the following years, 2009-2011 worked on these tracks and there is a supreme difference. With clips of audio from different media, it almost feels like a movie. It is awesome to see Frusciante progress like this and I can only imagine what his work sounds like today, the work he has been working on this year. He evolved a lot from Trickfinger to Renoise, what will the coming work sound like? Frusciante easily could become a hit in the underground electronic scene, he seems to take a lot of good element from those scenes and makes it exclusively his own.
John Frusciante is again on the rise. Is this Red Hot Chili Peppers? No, but it shouldn’t be. He wanted to evolve as an artist and he is achieving it. He will continue down this path and I’m very happy to see him go down it, as great as it would be for him to be in the Peppers (his “old band” as he referred in the letter). I’m sure the band feels the same about him. He gave them so much and he will continue an abundance of music. God bless John Frusciante, what a great Thanksgiving present to the world and us fans.
John Frusciante, who has taken an exit from the public spotlight, has kept a relatively low profile after his second departure from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009. He has released a few solo albums since that time (some tracks featuring ex-bandmate Flea) and produced the album Medieval Chamber for the rap duo Black Knights. Earlier this year, Frusciante stated he longer writes music for public release and distribution, presumably other than the music he may produce.
John Frusicante, however, by all accounts is a very amicable person and his friendships with people like Johnny Depp, Perry Farrell, River Phoenix, Gibby Haynes and Stephen Perkins are well noted. Surface has footage reportedly from November 10th, 2015 of him and Argentine filmmaker Gaspar Noé at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, California. Noé is known for his films Enter the Void and I Stand Alone. In the brief clip featured below, Frusciante casually smokes a cigarette with Gaspar Noé and looks to be in good spirits. Through the background noise, he appears to be saying, “I was listening to the song and I realized it was me.” We at AlternativeNation hope he is doing well and creating music that furthers his development as an artist as he sees it and we respect the choice to keep it to himself. The video is below:
For those interested in Frusciante’s limited (?) artistic endeavors, he did release a collection of electronic music under the name Trickfinger earlier this year plus a new album from Black Knights entitled The Almighty produced by him. Some of that work is featured below, as well as a 2014 interview with Frusciante and Black Knights:
Recently, the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed a charity show for the San Diego Foundation at Belly Up Tavern in San Diego. It became their 2015 full band live debut and it looks like it won’t be their last. Flea recently posted on Instagram more new about future tour dates: ‘A concert, fine art auction, and dinner this Saturday to raise funds for the Silverlake conservatory of music. The Rhcp is gonna do an acoustic set too. It is always a beautiful nightl when we have these fundraisers and so many great kids get to give their talents wings. I am so grateful to john legend for playing and equally so to the great kamasi Washington. There are still tickets available I know we are asking a lot of money for them but it’s for the kids not for us. We are a non profit school we are doing everything we can to help we care so much. There will be great art there by Thomas Houseago, Richard prince, Damien Hirst, jeff koons, urs fischer, gus van sant and Dana Louise Kirkpatrick. And more art that I forget about because I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. A magic night is in store.’
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, as Josh Klinghoffer and Anthony Kiedis, played an acoustic set earlier this year. May 16th, the duo performed at UCLA Spring Sing, where Kiedis accepted the annual “George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement” from the UCLA Student Alumni Association, where Anthony Kiedis attended for a year after high school. The two performed Chili Peppers classics “By the Way” and “Otherside”, along with a Sly and the Family Stone cover, “If You Want Me to Stay”, a song covered on their sophomore album Freaky Styley with original guitarist Hillel Slovak.
Tickets for the show are $2,500 each. A table of 10 is $25,000. If interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flea is also working on establishing another children’s conservatory of music like the Silverlake location, but in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Flea is a vocal supporter of the arts for youth and is a proud father himself. His daughter Clara Balzary is known photographer and has accompanied the band on tour in recent years.
Below is the setlist from the last show and two videos of live rarities “Mommy, Where’s Daddy” and “Nobody Weird Like Me”:
Factory of Faith
Nobody Weird Like Me (First time since 2007)
Police Helicopter (First time since 2003)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Under the Bridge
Me & My Friends
Snow ((Hey Oh))
Fire (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover) (First time since 2012)
By the Way
Mommy, Where’s Daddy? (First time since 1999)
Give It Away
They say all good things come to end. Just a few hour ago, William Patrick “Billy” Corgan and Flea announced the end of their tenures with Twitter and his intentions of closing his account. Billy says, “After mulling this for awhile, I’m deleting this account. So many thanks to those that have followed.” The actual tweets can be viewed below (while the accounts lasts?) :
Corgan’s activity on Twitter was slowing down quite a bit, and it’s clear he wants to focus on his new project, People and Their Cars. Flea is at work building another music conservatory for children and finishing the new Chili Peppers album. There seems to be a trend starting against social media for several artists, for example Dave Navarro recently closed his page on Facebook. Social media makes it harder and harder to recede from the public view.
AlternativeNation recently published an article on his new project, and an excerpt is featured below:
“William Patrick Corgan (Billy Corgan) or as he often signs now, ‘WPC’, has always been ahead of the game with a little something extra. After a short hiatus from frequent tweeting, a couple of days ago Corgan returned to Twitter with his newest project: ‘People and Their Cars.’ While both people and cars are subjects in the blog, it is not what you think. The blog consists of vintage (or sometimes antique) photographs, a collection curated by Corgan himself. With Corgan’s ventures in music, poetry and teahouses, photography seems like a natural progression. A few days after the launch, Corgan announced the “Red Border Club”, an email listing for the blog. Benefits of joining the RBC include ‘the chance to receive additional images, but to be ‘first-in-line’ for updates on new merchandise and forthcoming People And Their Cars/Hexestential books.’ No emails outside of confirmation have been sent out. Joining the RBC is also free, “with no catch, fees, or obligation to buy.” Corgan has always had a keen sense of art direction and the Pumpkins’ work has been influenced by the aesthetics of vintage photography (and other forms of visual art) over the years.”
If interested, register for the RBC here for updates on Corgan’s artistic pursuits!
Through the years, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have roosted in the hen house and wallowed in the pig sty“
The early nineties saw the emergence of several incredible “alternative rock” bands and the decline of many others. R.E.M. went on a prolonged touring hiatus, Jane’s Addiction split up, Mother Love Bone shattered after Andy Wood’s overdose, the Pixies were on their way out and the Red Hot Chili Peppers nearly imploded after golden boy John Frusciante quit in 1992, within a year of them releasing their multi-platinum record Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Increasing heroin and cocaine use, tensions between Anthony and John’s infamous disgust towards fame drove him out of the band and back into his private world, where he would stay for some time.
Initially, Zander Schloss, hardcore punk band the Circle Jerks’ bassist, replaced Frusciante but he managed to last only four days. Arik Marshall, the guitarist of local LA band Marshall Law, was brought in as a more permanent replacement and helped them finish the tour in support of Blood Sugar Sex Magik after Frusciante quit during the Japanese leg of the tour in 1992. The band did not find themselves able to write new music with Marshall and he was released from service after the tour’s end mid 1993. The Chilis scouted a young LA-based guitarist, Jesse Tobias, and sat and played with him for about a month. Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, now recently clean and sober, initially rejected the chance to play guitar for them but suddenly expressed a greater interest and an open availability, with no interfering recording schedules. With the Tobias sessions becoming more stale and stale, the Chilis fired him and brought on Navarro. Jesse Tobias later in life would become Morrissey’s lead guitarist in 2005.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Arik Marshall era) were featured in the Simpsons’ episode Krusty Gets Kancelled.
Navarro’s entry marked an especially new era for the Chili Peppers, because he became the first guitarist in their league not influenced by Hillel Slovak. Jack Sherman, John Frusciante and Arik Marshall all in some way were trying to capture Slovak’s funk-punk tone, though Frusciante did it best and produced two (eventually five) albums with them. Jane’s Addiction, like the Peppers, had a broad spectrum of musical influence, but both band’s had stark difference in their inspirations. Compare Bauhaus, Joy Division, Led Zeppelin and Lou Reed to Parliament-Funkadelic, Black Flag, Sly and the Family Stone, Prince and early rap artists. Luckily, both bands loved Jimi Hendrix. Still, when Navarro came into the mix, these worlds collided and some very interesting results came out. Not everyone likes the One Hot Minute record, but I thinks fans, critics, dogs and cats can at least agree it is a very different sounding Chili Peppers record.
I personally love the record. But the deeper I delve into it, I realize why many fans who fell in love with albums like Mother’s Milk and later Californication, might be let down. Half the band was sober, half the band was not. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis was exploring hard drugs again and Flea was smoking copious amounts of pot. Dave Navarro had just cleaned up from a heroin addiction that spanned from sometime in the ’80s until about 1992 and Chad Smith seemed fairly stable during this era, but his love of beer is well documented. Admittedly, not everyone was on the same level mentally, spiritually, emotionally or artistically. The writing and recording of the album was particularly long and drawn out. Kiedis’ involvement with the record became very sporadic at some points due to his resumed drug addiction. As a result of this, Flea ended up contributing lyrics and vocals to several of the songs, most notably “Transcending”, “Pea” and the spoken word intro to “Deep Kick.”
Flea, in an interview with Bass Player shortly after the album’s release, discussed his involvement, working with Dave and the differences in One Hot Minute from previous work:
“There are two big differences. First, I was in a different place emotionally for this record. I was comingout of a two-year period of misery, when I was down emotionally, physically, and spiritually.Second, Dave Navarro is intensely different from John Frusciante.When we recorded Blood Sugar, John played all his tracks once and maybe overdubbed a few solos,so the whole record was very spontaneous. Dave is really into the studio; he would spend weeks on every song, put something like 15 tracks of guitar on every tune, and weedthrough it in the mix. Dave’s sound is more layered and “effecty” than John’s, which was like, boom-play it dry and leave italone. . .
Also, Dave and I are very different musically. He’ll often play some ’70s rock song, and mostof the time I don’t even know who did it, but I’ll start playing along-and to me it’s ridiculous.But our differencescreate our music. . . The contrast made a big difference. John was a huge fan of the band when he joined, so it wasn’t a big change for us. He did come into his own aesthetic as time went on, and he had a huge amount to do with the sound of the band, but Dave’s coming from his own trip-the Jane’s Addiction thing in particular, which was very different from the Chili Peppers.”
Flea and close friend, the late actor River Phoenix circa 1993
Navarro did bring back the funk metal roots of the Chili Peppers but in his own special way, twisted and dark. But perhaps it wasn’t all Dave’s fault, it was a dark time. During Navarro’s tenure in the band, River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain both passed away within months of each other. Both of those talented young men were knew by the band personally, and Phoenix was very close friends with both John Frusciante and Flea. These were low blows for the band indeed and their deaths directly influenced the album. Cobain and Phoenix had odes dedicated to them on the album: “Tearjerker” and “Transcending” respectively. Frusciante and Phoenix also recorded music together intended to be released for Frusciante’s first solo record, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, but Phoenix’s family opposed. The songs were later released under new names for the following 1997 release, Smile from the Streets You Hold.
Height Down by John Frusciante feat. River Phoenix (or the other way around?)
Loss – the loss of sobriety, the loss of friends, the loss of sanity, the loss of stability and the loss of John. Several losses and sorrows played a role in developing the album’s more remorseful tone. Five singles spawned from the album: “Warped”, “My Friends”, “Aeroplane”, “Shallow Be Thy Game” and “Coffee Shop.” “Warped”, released August 9th before the album’s release on September 12th, 1995, is a pretty straight forward call for help with the problems of drug addiction: “Descend/All the way/All the way/Everyday/Warped and scared/Of being there.” Kiedis doesn’t want to return to his old habits, but they are edging him on. All it took was a valium prescription after a tooth being removed in 1994 to find himself back where he was in 1988. Drugs in the past, present and future tense influenced the lyrical content of the album a whole lot, as it was one of Kiedis’ main mental preoccupations at the time.
Flea and Kurt Cobain circa 1992-3
“Aeroplane”, generally seen as the album’s best song, is a deeply personal favorite of mine. It became a song my close friends and I became obsessed with last summer, and has several hundred different memories tied to it, memories happy, sad or otherwise. I spoke about the song at lengths in one of my first articles on Alternative Nation, Top 10 Sexiest Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs:
“Dave Navarro’s tenure in the Chili Peppers in general is overlooked, but “Aeroplane” is criminally overlooked because the inherent melodies in the song are the closest the band ever achieved in re-creating what Kiedis once dubbed ‘pure Hillel inspiration,’ that extra creative and innovative tinge that separated the Chili Peppers from funk, metal, psychedelia, soul and every other genre, because of that simple whimsical nature exemplified in songs like “Behind the Sun.” “Aeroplane” is a hollowed, sacred song. It deals with a plethora of themes that aren’t easy to deal with – relapsing into drugs, the shortcomings of love, the literal transcendence of being high and the salvation of music. “Aeroplane” reflects on the tragedy on life, in the fact that people can’t help themselves from seeking pleasure – but in that act of pleasure, it creates pain, that sometimes doesn’t surface immediately, but inevitably will. But the Chili Peppers dealt with that through music – an amazing life-inducing force that drove them to create over ten albums worth of material, and still does today. Life with addiction becomes the wavering between pleasure and pain, and especially for Kiedis, who at the time of recording One Hot Minute found himself doing the drugs he vowed never to do again. The only salvation for people like Kiedis, Flea, Navarro and Smith becomes music. Because “music IS my aeroplane,” as in that it transcends all of the despair brought on by other internal and external forces in life that spike pleasure with pain.”
I could try and say more about Aeroplane, but at some point it would get redundant and sad. It is an amazing song, with amazing lyrics, and four and 45/60ths hot minutes. It’s an incredible piece of work, and it’s no wonder it is universally cited as One Hot Minute‘s jewel. While working on this article, I was in Whittier with my girlfriend and approached a record store and they were blasting “Aeroplane” out of their speakers and played the whole album. It was a beautiful moment. “Deep Kick” and “My Friends” are also great favorites, one displaying funky decadence and the other a somber reflection on the horrors of thinking, an acoustic partner to the messages in “Soul to Squeeze.”
Towards the album’s end, the themes began to change a bit. “Falling into Grace” and especially “Shallow Be Thy Game” deal with religious and spiritual themes and unapologetically attacks institutional religion, especially the bigger churches of the world. “I’ll be your heretic/You can’t contain me/I am the power/Truth belongs to everybody” speaks volumes of religious heresy and independent thought and puts it in just a few lines. It is the “Power of Equality” of the album. The Chili Peppers have never stayed exactly silent on social issues, but never have let it compromise their music.
The album saw a few B-sides, like “Stretch (You Out)”, “Let’s Make Evil”, “Bob” and “Melancholy Mechanics”. Studio outtakes like “Blender” and “Slow Funk” have never surfaced, but two cover songs “I Found Out” and “Love Rollercoaster” made onto the John Lennon tribute compilation Working Class Hero and the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack. “Love Rollercoaster” had moderate success on the radio following its release.
The One Hot Minute tour was troublesome, marked by numerous injuries. Chad Smith broke his wrist in a baseball game which resulted in the US leg of the tour being postponed until 1996. Anthony Kiedis broke his arm on a motorcycle which prolonged more delays. Between accidents, they managed to tour Europe through the fall of 1995, North America early spring of 1996, New Zealand and Australia in May of 1996, about dozen more shows in California and Europe through that summer and their last infamous performance at the Fuji Rock Festival 1997, where the band was forced offstage due to an upcoming storm. Fuji Rock was the last time the band played together as Navarro, Flea, Kiedis and Smith. The tour had about as many cancelled dates as there were performed ones. “Tearjerker”, “One Hot Minute” and “Falling into Grace” were the only songs from the album never performed. Prominent opening acts included Silverchair, No Doubt, The Toadies and the Flaming Lips.
They tried to record another album, and recorded a few sparse demos, but none have surfaced. “Circle of the Noose” is a name which has escaped the closed doors of those sessions. It was supposed to be a tribute to the qawwali devotional singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whom the Chilis had collaborated with in the past. Navarro is quoted as saying of the song that, “It’s pop in the sense of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, hook. I really love it and we use a loop of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It’s really nice. The best way I can describe it is it’s like pepped- up ’60s folk with ’90s ideals, but I would hate to label it as folk because it’s not, it moves.”
The album was never completed or released. Navarro was fired due to drug use and there are many conflicting accounts of the story. In short, their musical chemistry was brief and Navarro increasingly got on less and less with Anthony, plus he had resumed his heroin addiction. Granted, so did Anthony but it became the last straw for the band. He had just finished touring with Jane’s Addiction with Flea replacing Eric Avery on bass and was working on a solo record with Chad Smith. But when he was fired, all those bridges seemed to be burnt. Frusciante was brought in to replace Navarro after completing rehab and the rest is history.
The whole story is a shame, because it was such an interesting mix of people, sounds and art in that era. People will continue to look down on the album, but if not for Navarro’s tenure there may have been no By the Way or Stadium Arcadium. He kept the band together for the time he was in and his relationship with the Chili Peppers, particularly with Flea, helped to restart the Jane’s Addiction project where many feel Navarro’s heart truly lies with. Navarro was not inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in 2012. Regarding the decision Kiedis remarked, “”He’s in this other band, which may in fact be inducted itself one day, called Jane’s Addiction. I think that’s the band closest to his heart, and that most represents his contribution to the world in terms of music. So maybe it makes more sense for him to be inducted one day as a member of Jane’s Addiction.” What matters most is that all of these people are clean and sober now.
So, who knows. Maybe in 2100 this will be hailed as the greatest piece of art to have ever graced the Earth. The wounds surrounding that point of time haven’t healed and until they are, the album will continued to be neglected. With the exception of “Pea” (written solely by Flea), none of the album’s songs have been played live since Frusciante re-joined the band and past that. Still, “Aeroplane” never really leaves my head and I’m sure other feel the same. It is a wholly unique album and very representative of where these people were in this time, which wasn’t a good place nor the optimal musical relationship they all wanted. Being in a band is like being in a relationship, and if someone isn’t providing for someone else’s needs, it isn’t the love it could be. Malformed love it may be, but the album leaves a poignant taste in my mouth and an exuberant flow of sweet heartbreak to my ears. When you listen to One Hot Minute, don’t be too hard on it. It may grow on you, it has surely grown on me, all over me.
Flea. Some might refer to him as the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Others might refer to him as “God.” Bottom line, he is Flea, and he is a very unique person. Jaco Pastorius, Bootsy Collins, John Paul Jones, Sid Vicious, and those before them, whether they realized it or not, were part of the world’s anticipation for the arrival of bass guitar’s savior, Flea.
Though do not be mistaken, Flea wasn’t always the great bassist he is today. Flea, early in life, was a child prodigy in trumpet playing and had no interest or extensive knowledge of any kind of rock music until high school, preferring jazz. His childhood inspirations included Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. In high school, befriending Hillel Slovak meant befriending punk rock, opening doors to so much different music. Funk became a common ground and the foundation for the Chili Peppers when they were established a few years later. Jazz’s influence on funk made the transition very natural for Flea. Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak and Flea all around the same time became enamored with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, the greatest music collectives of funk.
Similarly, I started playing trumpet in elementary school, but by no means was I a prodigy. After struggling with guitar in high school, I discovered the heart and soul of bass. My friend Keelan and I started learning at the same time, and we tried our best to out-Flea each other. He formally introduced me to the Chili Peppers – though sadly he could not join me Wednesday to meet the man himself, he had school.
Flea and Anthony Kiedis acted as executive producers for the Sundance Film Festival contestant Low Down, a film on the life of jazz pianist Joe Albany, based on the memoirs written by his daughter Amy-Jo Albany. Flea starred in the film alongside John Hawkes and Elle Fanning. It premiered on January 19th, 2014 at last year’s Sundance and was later released on October 24th, 2014 in New York, and a week later on Halloween in Los Angeles.
Flea and Amy-Jo Albany decided to host a DJ set in promotion of the film’s soundtrack on August 26th, 2015 at 5PM at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. I found this out at about 12:30AM, 15 hours prior to the event. My friend Evan told me as we were sitting in his apartment, midst me teaching my girlfriend Francecsa the Chili Peppers’ cover of “Higher Ground” on bass guitar. We had immediately decided to go. Evan and I stayed up all night, hoping to write poetry, which we half accomplished until the 6 cups of highly caffeinated tea hit my stomach wrong when I took my medication, Norflex, an anti-cholinergic muscle relaxant. I launched into a panic attack as it hit me: what if I have to go to the hospital and miss meeting Flea? Well, thinking about that didn’t help my anxiety at all. I made myself throw up for about an hour and a half, and slept for a few hours. We left for LA around 11 o’clock in the morning and made it to Amoeba in about an hour.
After we bought the merchandise applicable for signing (just in case they sold out), to kill time we decided to visit Hillel Slovak’s grave at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, about 15 minutes away. It was hot, hot, hot, red hot in fact, and we sat under a tree for a little while. Hillel became one of three Chili Peppers we would come in contact with that day. My girlfriend, Evan and I left back for Hollywood (not without saying goodbye to Hillel) to get some food and with anxious excitement, we returned to Amoeba. After this, the day only got weirder.
We hung out in Amoeba, contemplating which R.E.M. or Tom Waits albums to buy, when Evan jerks my arm down the aisle as I’m browsing for what John Frusciante albums the store carries. I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe Evan found an album we both love. Nope, even better.
Flea. Flea walked down the aisle a few feet from us and runs into some fans and poses for a quick picture, then disappears into the back room. I run up to the fans and talk to them about what happened, and no sooner than we finish our conversation, Flea comes back out, about 10 feet away from me. During the drive, I wrote a very nice letter to Flea, explaining how his music led me to the gospel that is music, and some other personal things about my life and music. The letter was probably 10-12 sentences long and in nervous, messy handwriting. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give him the letter. So I walk up to him, not saying a word, and a friendly Flea says jovially, “Hey! What’s happening man.” Still, no words come out. I hand him the letter. “Thanks man, I’ll read it.” I wave goodbye, and faint on the hard linoleum floor. My girlfriend and Evan come and drag me up, and I get up unhurt, but definitely shaken.
We go outside for a cigarette and a much needed conversation. A gentleman walks up to us and pulls out a cigarette, and joins our conversation. He just got done taking a picture with Flea himself. The gentleman looks very, very familiar. He mentions he’s in a cover band, the Red Not Chili Peppers, who I only saw with my girlfriend about a week before. Angelo, the band’s new guitarist, is an incredible guitar god, very much worthy of holding the John Frusciante role in the RNCP. I shake his hand and take a picture with him. The four of us proceed to spend the next couple hours together.
The set started a bit late, but in the time between, I make eye to eye contact with none other than Anthony Kiedis. Standing around waiting for Flea and Amy-Jo to hit the stage, this time it’s my turn to pull Evan’s arm, and tell him semi-quietly, “Look! It’s Anthony! It’s the porno stache!” Sure enough, Kiedis is standing about 6-7 feet away from us, donning a black helmet and what I believed to be some kind of handkerchief. Kiedis makes his way down the aisle behind us and we exchange a quick and unforgettable glance. He is soon gone, nowhere to be seen.
A flea hard at work
The DJ set featured mostly jazz tracks, particularly from the Low Down soundtrack they were promoting. Highlights included “Angel Eyes” by Joe Albany, and “Ruby My Dear” by Thelonious Monk. The energy of jazz felt alive, and the crowd slowly danced along and bopped their heads to the sweet sounds of brass. Flea was dancing too, in only the way Flea can. The set lasted about 45 to 50 minutes. As the last song was announced, we soon made our way to the line that was forming.
As the line drew shorter, so did my composure. Even the employee watching the line made note to Flea and Amy-Jo later on that I was “overwhelmed.” Indeed. Evan, in front of me, had only bought the book written by Albany, so indeed he took out a nearly empty cigarette pack of Marlboro 27’s to which Flea gladly signed. I handed Flea the vinyl and managed not to faint. I can’t even remember everything I said, even when I tried to retrace my words immediately after leaving the store. I said hi to Flea, and he returned the hi with his iconic smile. “I…I really dig you man.” I don’t remember his exact response, but it was a positive one. There was a moment where we just looked at each other smiling. I mentioned I was having trouble expressing myself and that I hadn’t really proofread the letter. He said it was no problem and that he understood. He said something along the lines of, “Sometimes silence speaks more than words.” I exchanged words with Amy-Jo briefly and told her that I was very anxious and had problems with anxiety. She acknowledged she suffered from similar issues. As I stepped away I managed to squeak out, “I love you Flea.”
“I love you too,” says Flea. I am elated.
I wait for my girlfriend outside of the line, and then the three of us waited for Angelo. My last words to Flea were “Have a good day Flea!”
“You have a good day too man!”
I wanted to ask him about the new album. I wanted to ask him about his bees. But, my mind just shut down when I was face to face with Flea. Lenin is quoted as saying, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. There are minutes where lifetimes happen. I had just been thinking the other day how cool it would be to meet Flea. Then, the opportunity just arose so spontaneously. I saw three Chili Peppers in one day. That’s not by any means an average day, but it was an awesome one. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music has been upheld by many great people in my life, and not all of them are here today. But the power of funk that they taught me I simultaneously keep hidden and wide open, for my heart to keep and the world to see. They are the ultimate fans’ band, a band who loves music just as much as their fans love theirs. It’s truly a beautiful thing. The Chili Peppers still got me by my soul to squeeze.
The Low Down soundtrack is available here for purchase on Amazon.
To find out more about the Red Not Chili Peppers, Angelo’s band, visit their website here.
To visit Flea’s twitter and view his wisdom, click here.
As its title clearly states, my latest book, ‘Survival of the Fittest: Heavy Metal in the 1990’s,’ is about the 1990’s. But as quite a few alt rock fans are probably aware, there were several groundbreaking bands leading up to Nirvana’s big breakthrough in 1991 that helped “pave the way,” and would eventually alter the direction of not just alternative, but heavy metal and hard rock, as well.
Primus’ Les Claypool discusses this in the book, as he talks about the importance of bands such as the Bad Brains and Public Enemy, but tops on his list is the Hillel Slovak-era of the Red Hot Chili Peppers:
“I think one of the greatest albums of that period – when I speak of my contemporaries – that was hugely influential sonically and just inspirational of like, ‘That’s fuckin’ amazing!’ was that Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Uplift Mofo Party Plan’ album. To me, that is their best album by far. I mean, Chad Smith’s a great guy and he’s a great player, but when Hillel [Slovak] and Jack Irons and Flea and Anthony [Kiedis] were together – and we used to play with those guys back then – it was like Led Zeppelin. It was unbelievable. Really, really cool. Michael Beinhorn produced that, that record is just huge sounding. And there’s lots of space, and lots of little intricacies in it. It’s just an amazing, amazing record.”
You can read an entire chapter from the book here (which recounts how guitar solos nearly vanished from rock music by the mid ’90s), another excerpt here (in which Scott Weiland discusses the affect of Kurt Cobain’s death), yet another chapter here (in which Richard Patrick talks about what led to his exit from Nine Inch Nails), and find ordering info for the paperback/Kindle versions here, and the Nook version here.
John Frusciante (aka Trickfinger), Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist 1988 to 1992 and again from 1998 to 2009, in a new interview with electronic music resource and website Electronic Beats, gave an in depth interview regarding his recent musical endeavors (his self-titled album Trickfinger was released April 7th), his departure from the public eye (as well as his music) and historical electronic music genres such as jungle beat and acid house.
Known as a recluse, Frusciante very seldom subjects himself to interviews anymore. The interview subsequently covers the course of much of his experiences from the ’90s to the present day. On his initial feelings towards rave music and his place in music in his tenure with the Chili Peppers, Frusciante said:
“I didn’t like it. Before I joined [the Red Hot Chili Peppers], the band used to talk shit about drum machines in interviews—they kept being compared to the Beastie Boys because they were white, and a lot of their beats back then were kind of similar to jungle. They used to play really fast funk, a bit like when jungle producers speed up samples of soul and funk, so I had an ear for it. I heard jungle beats in my head long before that kind of music was ever made, it’s a logical progression from Jimi Hendrix’s Fire, drums and things like that. But during the 90s, I was in such a different world that I didn’t have any awareness of rave culture…I was a drug addict for most of the time, anyway. I had little awareness of what was going on outside of my house and the weird drug culture that I lived in, which wasn’t about ecstasy. When I stopped being a drug addict, I started going out dancing at jungle clubs and meeting people who put on raves. But yeah, I kind of missed the 90s.”
Since his second tenure with the Chili Peppers, his music increasingly moved in a direction away from the rock driven music of the Chili Peppers that initially inspired him and he eventually helped to perpetuate. The band’s 2002 album By the Way, with a noticeable electronic and new wave influence, acts as a prelude to his solo work in many ways, as he took charge of much of the instrumentation of the album, much to Flea’s distress.
Frusciante compared his imaginings of what shows would be like as 10/11 year old listening to punk records by the likes of Black Flag and the Germs to the unity of the rave scene:
“Yeah, you could hear it [the unity of the rave scene] right off the records. You didn’t have to be in the club to imagine what it was like, which is how punk was for me as a little kid. When I was into punk, I was 10 or 11 years old. I wasn’t old enough to go out to the shows, but I really wanted to. At that time in LA, violence was a big thing at punk shows, and that seemed exciting to me. I couldn’t be a part of it, so I just listened to the records and imagined the atmosphere around the music. I still feel that when I listen to old rave records from the 90s. We forget that such a big part of music is what our minds are capable of adding to it. The particular way the human mind creates or hears music is half of what the music is. Music in and of itself doesn’t has any complete value.”
Much of the interview’s dialogue is John Frusciante referencing various jungle beat tracks and tracks from other genres associated with 90’s rave culture. He noted about the differences of ideals from different scenes that, “What the imagination gives to the experience of listening is a big thing. Punk and rave and the original pioneers of rock n’ roll: those periods of music are really important because they were pure energy. The atmosphere around the music was apparent. For me, a lot of the electronic music that’s made today doesn’t seem to be made for people’s imaginations. I don’t hear a lot of atmosphere; I hear a lot of compression. It’s an unfortunate direction.”
In one way shocking and in another way not surprising at all, Frusciante announced later in the interview that he would no longer be releasing his music for the public. He reasons that, “For the last year and a half I made the decision to stop making music for anybody and with no intention of releasing it, which is what I was doing between 2008 and 2012. I felt that if I took the public into consideration at all, I wasn’t going to grow and I wasn’t going to learn. Being an electronic musician meant I had to woodshed for a while, so I have a good few years worth of material from that period that’s never been released…At this point I have no audience. I make tracks and I don’t finish them or send them to anybody, and consequently I get to live with the music. The music becomes the atmosphere that I’m living in. I either make really beautiful music that comes from classical, or I make music where the tempo is moving the whole time, and there’s no melodic or rhythmic center.”
John’s debut, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt, initially was not intended for public release. John’s friends like Johnny Depp, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell and the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes eventually convinced him otherwise. John has said “enough” to the one of the world’s most popular rock bands twice. The only outcomes here is that either he breaks his hiatus from releasing music, or he doesn’t. Either way, Frusciante has blessed this world with a cornucopia of music in a variety of groups and as a solo artist, which will keep fans entertained for decades. We at AlternativeNation wish John the best.
The Trickfinger LP, released April 7th, is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Meat Puppets’ bassist Cris Kirkwood recently premiered his new podcast, The Cris Kirkwood Podcast, which features an interview with Bob Forrest of Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief, but probably best known for his appearances on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew Pinsky.
During the hour-long interview, Bob recalls a time when he and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ singer Anthony Kiedis attempted to help Cris during the late ’90s (when Cris was battling severe drug addiction at the time)…but had difficulty locating his exact whereabouts, among other stories (including a tale of when John Frusciante wanted to join the Meat Puppets!).
Check out more info about the podcast and future episodes via its official Facebook page, and catch Cris on tour with the Meat Puppets, who will be hitting the road on a co-headlining bill with Soul Asylum in June and July (dates listed here).
In addition to the podcast, Cris continues to draw and offer his artwork for sale (check out this earlier interview with Cris for Alternative Nation, about his doodles and drawings) via his art site.
An oft-overlooked/original-sounding guitar player of the late ’70s/early ’80s was certainly Andy Gill from Gang of Four, who was one of the few gentleman to not utilize distortion in his sound, while he often attacked the strings in an almost percussive manner. The group’s 1979 debut, Entertainment!, is considered an influence and/or favorite by many subsequent bands, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana (Kurt Cobain selected the album as #13 favorite album of all time, in the book Journals).
And Gang of Four is still at it (although Gill is the lone original member left in attendance), as evidenced by the announcement of a new studio album, What Happens Next, to be issued on February 24, 2015, with a Stateside tour to run throughout most of March. Mr. Gill (who is the chap in the middle of the pic above) was kind enough to answer a few questions via email for Alternative Nation. Read on, dear friends…
What is a standout memory you have of producing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ debut album?
Anthony [Kiedis] smashing the acoustic guitar that was being recorded when he stepped into the studio saying, “No fucking acoustic guitar on my record.” We had to find another and re-record it on the track “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes.” Trying to persuade Anthony that we should use a drum machine to help keep time for the tracks and Anthony saying “That’s just like 1984. Andy, that’s a machine, it’s got no soul.” So Cliff Martinez the drummer had to play a cowbell to the drum machine and then the band could play to the cowbell, which got round the “soul” problem.
Looking back at producing the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ debut, is there anything you would like to have done differently?
Looking back I don’t think it was possible to do any of it differently; Flea and Anthony were the people they were and I was the person I was and we all brought our distinctive talents to bear. I think the main thing I did was to steer them away from the superfast two minute punk songs they were doing and get them to concentrate on the mid-tempo, funky, hip-hop-esque numbers.
How did you come to co-pen the tune “Grand Pappy Du Plenty”?
Well “Grand Pappy” was kind of a soundscape. I just had an idea that doing something like that would bring a massive breath of originality to the record – being an instrumental Anthony wasn’t involved but Cliff and Flea and Jack [Sherman] were all into it, and I directed proceedings.
How would you say What Happens Next compares to earlier Gang of Four albums?
To me, it sounds like it’s pulling away a little bit from classic Gang of Four, if you like, but other people tell me it sounds absolutely 100% Gang of Four. I consciously didn’t want it to sound like the earlier records but on a more fundamental level (in other words not just “sound”), it is very Gang of Four, very me. I always approach rhythms and beats in the same way and you can spot the guitar from half a mile off.
How was it working with the special guests on the album (Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Robbie Furze from The Big Pink, Gail Ann Dorsey, German musician Herbert Grönemeyer, and Japanese musician Hotei)?
With Hotei it was a case of playing around with guitar riffs in the studio and co-writing something which was a lot of fun. The other people were all singing and everyone was amazing in their different ways. I’ve always thought Alison was a fantastic singer and performer and she brought something new and fresh to the two tracks she sang on. Gail goes way back with Gang of Four of course. She’s played with the band for both live and in the studio since the early 90s on and off, and she brought her gorgeous rich voice to the recording.
Herbert is an old friend and he asked me if I would like him to sing on the record – I had various tracks kicking around that I could have given him but because he has such a moving, emotional and technically superb voice, I felt I had to tailor-make a track specifically for him.
When you were originally working on the Entertainment! album, did you have any idea it was going to be such a strong album?
I did feel that Entertainment! was very, very special when I was working on it; everybody else just laughed at me when I said how important it was going to be.
Why do you think Entertainment! is widely considered such a timeless album?
Entertainment! did something which hadn’t been done before – it invented a musical language. I love grooves; whether it’s James Brown or reggae or disco and I love noise – Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, and just as Jon King and I wanted to talk about a new agenda in the lyrics, so I felt I had to have a new language of sound; breaking it down to the individual building blocks and starting fresh .
Why did singer Jon King leave Gang of Four?
Jon has dipped in and out of the band a couple of times, but I hadn’t expected him to go again so close to the release of Content [Gang of Four’s 2011 album]. Having said which, for some of Gang of Four he has had other interests which were maybe more important to him. For me music has always been front and centre. This project has been intensely exciting for me creatively. I have often been called a control freak; so it felt liberating to have free reign in re-imagining where the project could go.
How should a guitarist go about trying to replicate the trademark “Andy Gill guitar sound”?
I’m not sure I’d recommend that experiment. My guitar playing is a direct analogue for my understanding of the world around me and on some level it connects with my internal joy, pain and excitement. Not sure how much of my pain anybody else wants to share.
What can fans expect from the upcoming tour dates?
I think the dates will be ultra intense, eye and ear popping, with a combination of new stuff with a choice selection of things from the past .
Despite spawning dozens of hit singles during their illustrious thirty years, there is a great deal of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ discography that goes ignored, particularly their work without iconic guitarist John Frusciante. With ten albums worth of material and a worthwhile of miscellaneous formally unreleased material (not to mention a distinct live catalogue of good feel covers ranging from the Sex Pistols to P-Funk), it is easy to imagine how some material might be overlooked, but it is by no means inferior to other more well known hits by the band. Here is a list of 10 of the band’s underrated work, with an emphasis on the band’s sexier material.
10. Hard to Concentrate – Stadium Arcadium (2006)
Frusciante’s swan song for the Chili Peppers, 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, included a White Album
amount worth of material and a number of singles like “Dani California” and “Snow.” “Hard to Concentrate” is a very particular song in their catalogue because of its admission of romantic feelings, which in Kiedis’ lyricism is usually ignored by his large focus on lust and hedonism. Like many of the songs on Stadium Arcadium, Kiedis spoke from numerous points of views that previously went unheard in the Chili Peppers’ music.
“And, estuary is, blessed but scary
Heart’s about to palpitate
Now, I’m not about to hesitate
And, want to treasure the rest of your days here
And, give you pleasure in so many ways dear”
The Frusciante ballad can be very unconventional, and in this example the guitar work is murmured over exotic drums and a jungle-y bassline. Given the current content and structure of John Frusciante’s post-Stadium Arcadium solo work, for which some influences on the album acted as catalysts towards, one can only sit and wonder what the next Frusciante ballads would sound like with if he had continued his career with the Chili Peppers.
9. Funky Crime – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)
During the tenure of founding guitarist Hillel Slovak, the band’s guitar tones were dominated by a funk influence with KISS inspired solos, a staple example that provides the case for the lyrical content of “Funky Crime,” the second track on their third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, the last to feature guitarist Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is an album primarily about bonds and especially friendship, and “Funky Crime” promotes the Chili Peppers’ union between historically white leaning music and African American leaning music, the essential fusion of what drives their music. The long traditions following White and African American music trends, funk, rap, punk and all strains of rock (to name a few), which are included at the basis of the Chili Peppers’ music, but most prominently with Slovak’s work with the band, and while subsequent Chili Peppers’ guitarists would bring more eclecticism to the band’s musical chemistry, no one dished out the funk like Slim Bob Billy could. As the manifesto for the Chili Peppers’ pan-racial attitude towards music, this blend of funk and psychedelica in “Funky Crime” is a prime representation of the perfect dualism in the Chili Peppers’ music.
“Funky crime, funky crime
Don’t you know funk’s colors blind
Well, I’ve committed a funky crime
Against a state of mind”
A sneakaway b-side from the One Hot Minute album, the only album to feature Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, “Stretch You Out” is a heavy, sexy funk metal call out to a girl, not just with the offer of sex, but an experience so mind-blowing, Anthony’s sexual prowess over her will be “moving to approve the groove of mental transformation”. An obscure b-side to an obscure album, it only existed in print as a B-side to “My Friends” single and eventually achieved the status as an iTunes bonus track included with purchases of the album online. The song should be especially noted for lyrics, not only poetic, but jointly metaphysical, a motif on the One Hot Minute album, in contrast to Kiedis’ usual blend of narrative and rap. The song is also especially long for a Chili Peppers, over six minutes, as a number of songs on One Hot Minute were.
“There’s a glowing up around the moon it’s showing
We want to play in the water that is flowing
She’s making just for you
Yes, i have always wanted to
Give something to this stranger
M-m-m-moving to approve the groove
of mental transformation
I’ll stretch you out”
7. Millionaires Against Hunger – Freaky Styley sessions (1985)
Written amidst the age of movements like Band Aid and other ill-advised charity gimmicks by popular 1980’s artists, the Red Hot Chili Peppers stand in opposition to the celebrity charity of their day, proposing their own revolutionary call to mutual aid from and for each and every race. “Millionaires Against Hunger” was recorded during the Freaky Styley produced by Parliament-Funkadelic pioneer George Clinton, but released as a b-side for the three singles off of Mother’s Milk, “Higher Ground”, “Knock Me Down” and “Taste the Pain”. The song is a strong rabble-rousing song and it’s a damn shame it wasn’t released as a single, because it had the potential to cause a lot of ruckus in the media with its condemnation of the decadence of the American upper class. Every single track in the song really propels the soul to get up and jive.
“Well I’m a millionaire too
All I know that is true is that I’ve got more cash than I can use
I want anything that I can have,
But I don’t need nothin’ and I never have
Each damn day my heart’s set far,
But I’ll be okay, ’cause I don’t starve
Kids from the street the losing their emotion so damn snobby so out of touch
With two hungry people who die as they stare at the city at night,
You know it gives to share
So listen up, you millionaires,
Every woman, every man, help all you can
All races unite, and I will now concern to the type of problem that helps us learn”
The first track off of Frusciante’s debut album with the Chili Peppers, “Good Time Boys” is a rockin’, rompin’ and a-stompin’ funk march, with Frusciante emulating Slovak’s signature funk metal tone found on the previous album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Kiedis in “Good Time Boys” espouses the Chili Pepper’s feel good ideology in the lyrics, even though Kiedis had just entered his first period of sobriety, which displays the strength and integrity of their ideology, through the capability of transcending traditional rock and roll ideals of partying as “liberation through drugs”, though Flea and Frusciante still smoked a lot of cannabis during the Mother’s Milk sessions and subsequent tours. In the same way “Fight Like a Brave” opens up The Uplift Mofo Party Plan with a crusade against drug-induced slavery, “Good Time Boys” is the fruition and living up to of that ideal and opens up Mother’s Milk in a positive tone, even just a few months after their founding guitarist died. Somber songs about Hillel would be saved for other albums. For Mother’s Milk, it was just about the good times rolling.
“Funky young kings we sing of truth and soul
We’re the modern day braves with one strong hold
Through the world of song our boldness is exposed
Talkin’ ’bout my buddy’s funk it up fish bone”
5. Naked in the Rain – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Anthony Kiedis has always displayed an affinity for nature and animals in his lyricism, as well as Flea. “Naked in the Rain” disparages human civilization for maintaining “societal norms,” conditions that create personal restriction. In the spirit of contempt, Kiedis promotes the values of nature – freedom, individuality and nakedness, as a more sustainable goal and enriching lifestyle than what the contemporary culture of post-Victorian morality and decadence has to offer to anyone. On the album, the song fades in through the end of Chili Peppers’ classic “Under the Bridge”, allowing a brief moment of intermission before the funk crescendo led triumphantly by Flea’s riveting bassline, one of the only prominent examples of the slap bass technique on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, because for a greater part of the album Flea used a pick to play bass, the first noted time in the Chili Peppers history. “Naked in the Rain” is a reminder of the call from the nature to be wild and free – without restriction and only with the freedom to do what you want.
“Listen to the talking heart in my chest
With this gift good Lord I am blessed
There’s a lump and it’s in my throat
I’m in love with the wilderness
Naked in the river skinny dippin’ my way In the waterfall I just wanna play”
4. Out in L.A. – Original Chili Peppers Demo (1983)
In the days of Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem, the original moniker of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the first song the band wrote together was “Out in L.A.”, a flaming red hot rap ode to the City of Angels, and the miraculous mayhem witnessed there by Kiedis and his friends. Unapologetically littered with self-adoration, the song celebrates the lifestyle practiced at the time of their younger days, where drugs, sex, loitering and always the overlying spirit of friendship and camaraderie. Even in 1983, Flea’s bass in “Out in L.A.” establishes his jaw-dropping, out of this world impression on the vocabulary of bass guitar, with slapping and popping only to be rivaled by the likes of Les Claypool. Two distinct versions of the song exist – the demo version with the original lineup of Slovak, Kiedis, Flea and Irons, and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers lineup of 1984, Sherman, Kiedis, Flea and Martinez, released on their 1984 eponymous album. The original demo version sounds sexier – Jack Sherman’s guitar work is notoriously stale in comparison to Hillel Slovak’s palette of guitar playing. The Chili Peppers were hardly the band they are today when “Out in L.A.” was written and recorded, but it’s the song’s vein and spirit that propels the Chili Peppers’ existence.
“We’re all a bunch of brothers livin’ in a cool way
Along with six million others in this place called L.A.”
The Chili Peppers are known for their covers, and there are many, many of them, and their first recorded cover, at the urging of Freaky Styley producer George Clinton, became “If You Want Me to Stay”, originally written and performed by Sly and the Family Stone from their 1973 album, Fresh. As the song opens, a whispering riff is heard from Hillel’s guitar and then the booming melodic bass brings the haunting backing vocals and drumbeat with it, the production style is near Leviathan in the sense of being absolutely authoritative in the emotional disarray of funk. Funk can be sad – a fact many people put aside about funk music. “If You Want Me to Stay” exhibits that rare kind of heartbreaking funk, with harmonies so serene and melancholy, it’s hard to not stop and think about something grave when listening to this song. A love letter of self-defense, the lyrical content reckons with sensitive spirits and souls, trying to accept themselves while trying to have other accept them at the same time, a nearly impossible task.
“If you want me to stay
I’ll be around today
To be available for you to see
I’m about to go there
Then you’ll know
For me to stay here
I’ve got to be me
You’ll never be in doubt That’s what it’s all about You can’t take me for granted and smile Count the days I’m gone Forget reachin’ me by phone Cause I promise I’ll be gone for a while”
2. Special Secret Song Inside (Party on Your Pussy) – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)
A song so psycho and so sexy, EMI originally refused to release the album on the grounds of this song’s title, “Party on Your Pussy.” The Chili Peppers, for the track listing’s sake, re-titled the song as the “Special Secret Song Inside,” though the entire song intact besides that. If there is one song that best defines the crazy, erotic, funky drive that simply makes their music truly unique, it is “Party on Your Pussy.” Kiedis, in an interview preceding an impromptu performance of their forgotten classic “Sex Rap,” explains the relationship between funk music and sex:
Anthony Kiedis (Mother’s Milk era): “Music, to me, is heavily related to sex. Not always but in many different fashions, especially in funk. When you create rhythm with the bass and the drums, it sounds like your heart pounding when you’re having sex, or the skin slapping or all kinds of different things.”
With that context, “Party on Your Pussy” quite literally sounds like sex to the ear. The tone of the guitar, the cardinal pounding of drums and the drifting, intoxicating bassline all piston together like the rhythmic elements of sex. Sex rock, if anything, is the most appropriately label of the Chili Peppers’ music. The Chili Peppers will give you a long, elaborate list of influences if you ask them, but Kiedis, overcome by sexual passion, actually began to incorporate the ritual of sex into music’s inter-workings. How groundbreaking is that as an artist?
“Well, my young lady, she lives
Three houses away
She claims that she can hear moaning and screaming
To me fuckin’ you every night
Well, let me say “hey”
I want to party on your pussy, baby
I want to party on, party on your pussy
I want to party on your pussy, baby
I want to party on your pussy, yeah, yeah, yeah”
In the grand scheme of things, most Chili Peppers songs are sexy. That being said, for a song that is so sexy because of the integrity of its lyrical convictions and with such an explicit explosion of music, it is just very frustrating that songs like “Aeroplane” get overlooked by people. Dave Navarro’s tenure in the Chili Peppers in general is overlooked, but “Aeroplane” is criminally overlooked because the inherent melodies in the song are the closest the band ever achieved in re-creating what Kiedis once dubbed ‘pure Hillel inspiration,’ that extra creative and innovative tinge that separated the Chili Peppers from funk, metal, psychedelia, soul and every other genre, because of that simple whimsical nature exemplified in songs like “Behind the Sun.” “Aeroplane” is a hollowed, sacred song. It deals with a plethora of themes that aren’t easy to deal with – relapsing into drugs, the shortcomings of love, the literal transcendence of being high and the salvation of music. “Aeroplane” reflects on the tragedy on life, in the fact that people can’t help themselves from seeking pleasure – but in that act of pleasure, it creates pain, that sometimes doesn’t surface immediately, but inevitably will. But the Chili Peppers dealt with that through music – an amazing life-inducing force that drove them to create over ten albums worth of material, and still does today. Life with addiction becomes the wavering between pleasure and pain, and especially for Kiedis, who at the time of recording One Hot Minute found himself doing the drugs he vowed never to do again. The only salvation for people like Kiedis, Flea, Navarro and Smith becomes music. Because “music IS my aeroplane”, as in that it transcends all of the despair brought on by other internal and external forces in life that spike pleasure with pain. For this profound statement of human thought, “Aeroplane” becomes the sexiest Chili Peppers song.
“I like pleasure spiked with pain and music is my aeroplane,
It’s my aeroplane,
Songbird sweet and sour Jane,
And music is my aeroplane,
It’s my aeroplane,
Pleasure spiked with pain…,
Just one note could make me float, Could make me float away, One note from, The song she wrote, Could fuck me where I lay, Just one note, Could make me choke, One note that’s, Not a lie, Just one note, Could cut my throat, One note could make Me die.”
Early in their career, Kiedis presented more avant garde but straightforward rap vocal stylings in the Chili Peppers’ music and the aptly named “Sex Rap”, combines both of Anthony’s biggest creative divisions at the time. Hard to write an article like this without mentioning “Sex Rap”.