Anthony Kiedis was interviewed by Gary Davies sitting in for Zoe Ball on her breakfast show for BBC Radio 2 on 14th April, 2022.
The broadcast is available here for 21 days. It starts around 2:10:50.
Gary Davies: He’s a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. His band is one of the biggest in the world and have just released a brand-new album. From the Red Hot Chili Peppers, good morning, Anthony Kiedis.
Anthony Kiedis: Good morning, Gary. There’s some bizarre accolades, but so be it.
GD: Where do we find you the world at the moment?
AK: I’m at toddler’s table sitting on a toddler’s chair in my kitchen even though I don’t have a toddler. I kept this from when my 14-year-old son was a toddler so that’s where I do my Zooming.
GD: Fantastic. I know you’re are very keen surfer. How have the waves been for you this spring?
AK: Gosh, I’m kind of a late bloomer when it comes to the surf but I do enjoy the sea very much. The surf has been crap and even if it was good, I’ve just been in a warehouse rehearsal studio out in the north Van Nuys Valley so my life has not been about the ocean lately.
GD: Do you miss it a lot?
AK: I do. I still get to smell it and look at it and dream about it, but less surfing.
GD: Can you believe that next year is going to be the 40th anniversary of the Red Hot Chili Peppers coming together as a band?
AK: I cannot believe this and I don’t really keep track of time, but that is a large number and it is kind of weird that a band manages to stay together that long.
GD: What do you think the secret is of staying together all this time?
AK: Well, we don’t try to keep it a secret. I think because these guys have in fact become my family, I can’t quit them and they can’t quit me and I can honestly say today at band practice, I got shivers and the hair stood up on my arms just from hearing them play music. So, it’s still working I guess.
GD: How does how does the band of 2022 compare to the boys of 1983?
AK: Oh man, well the spirit is still there but a lot more aches and pains along the way.
GD: Yeah, the joys of getting older.
AK: The 21-year-old body could take a beating and just keep on going but now it’s not so much but we get along better. We are less self-destructive and less destructive of the world around us so I don’t know. We still have fun every day. I know we don’t have to sleep on park benches, that’s nice.
GD: The new album, Unlimited Love, which is out now is a brilliant album. It must feel great to listen the album knowing that you can get out and play live again?
AK: Yes, the whole process was great. The writing, the recording. The joy is kind of in the making of a song and then you have to wait for around a long time for everyone else to get a chance to hear it and that’s happening now, so yeah, it’s been fun.
GD: But were these songs are written during the pandemic, I guess lockdown?
AK: They were. We started… we got together with John and we kind of went back to basics basics and just started jamming and then within a couple of weeks I think, you know the news landed on the world that things were changing. I got together with Rick Rubin on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and recorded the vocals every day for six months which was a real blessing and a luxury to have that kind of time and space just to write lyrics and try things out with Rick who is very fun man to work with.
GD: I want to know more about this island. Was it literally an island in the middle of nowhere?
AK: Yep, one of the beautiful Hawaiian islands. Rick and I both like to go there and hang out and he has a little garage recording studio. It’s unassuming and a nice place to be.
GD: Good surf?
AK: Yes, yes. There was such good surf. Oh my God! That’s a whole different level out there. Bigger, faster, stronger, steeper, wilder, you know, more death-defying and just dreamy.
GD: What’s the best experience? Playing live on stage or riding the perfect wave?
AK: Well… Wow. I wouldn’t wanna give up at either. Those are two in my top three so I’ll be happy to go out of this lifetime you know doing one of the other.
GD: Maybe riding a wave singing a song is the perfect way?
AK: That’s not the worst place to sing to yourself sitting out there waiting for a wave.
GD: I’m going to play your new single now, These Are The Ways. I love the video which starts out with you shoplifting and being chased by the police.
AK: Well, it was a character I was playing but yes, it was kind of me.
GD: Please tell me you did all your own stunts?
AK; I did not [laughter] but you know which stunts I did do? All of the driving stuff.
GD: Oh, really?
AK: It was very strange to me because nobody asked to see my driver’s license, nobody checked my record. There were police cars every now and then, it got a little hairy which I enjoyed and yeah, I’ve got to do my own driving.
GD: It’s a real fun video. People should definitely check it out. I love the single. We’re gonna play it right now. Stay there, Anthony. We’ll be right back at you with you after this.
[Plays These Are The Ways]
GD: Red Hot Chili Peppers on BBC Radio 2 and These Are The Ways and Anthony Kiedis is with us this morning. That song is just so brilliant.
AK; Kind of a mellow pop ballad if you will.
GD: Yeah, to wake people up gently? Now, when you were touring in the late ’80s you had some amazing acts, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, I get a feeling that that song, These Are The Ways, is tipping its hat at those guys?
AK: Well, wow I’ll take that. Everybody’s interpretation is valid so if that’s how you are feeling I stand by you. I love it when people have their own understanding of the song, their own feeling, their own way of relating to it and even if they wanna make up the lyrics, that’s okay with me. Any time that you think it’s a tip of the hat to those bands, I’ll say thank you.
GD: What was it like touring with them?
AK: Well, it was fun and exciting and we didn’t take it in stride. We definitely recognised the beauty of these musicians and bands that we were with, but nobody really knew what we had going on until hindsight. This is actually in the very early 90s that you’re referring to yet. So we got lucky and we stumbled upon some beautiful bills including Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. And yes, I remember playing basketball with Billy Corrigan in some high school gym and finding out that he was pretty accomplished basketball player and sitting by a pool in a tiny motel in San Francisco with Kurt after a show and just sort of wallowing under the starry sky. So positive memories.
GD: I see that Kurt Cobain‘s guitar is going to be auctioned off. The one from Smells Like Teen Spirit. Do you have any famous memorabilia at home?
AK: Not that I know of, oh you know what, I have a beautiful picture of Bob Dylan where he was playing the show on the day that I was born.
AK: It was a birthday gift and then I looked at the back of the day that photo was taken and it was taken on my birth day, so I don’t know if that qualifies as memorabilia?
GD: Absolutely it does.
AK: I try not to get too much music stuff. I’ll like to leave that in the past and take a step forward.
GD: Do you like living in the present and not the past?
AK: At least it comes to our own memorabilia for sure, but yeah, I have a beautiful guitar that was smashed by Hillel Slovak who was the very first guitar player in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And he played this Messenger guitar that he smashed one day and I somehow I held onto to the remnants of the guitar.
GD: So you’re not giving that away any time soon?
AK; No, not giving it away unless his brother or some other family member wants it and then I’ll consider it.
GD: So you finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recently. Do these moments mean a lot to you?
AK: Yes and no. I mean it’s a yes because it’s it’s fun and it’s beautiful and a nice little sidewalk sculpture that will be there in 80 years and somebody’s gonna step on it and go who are these guys? But you know what was nice? It was the people that came out to support us. That part of it was spectacular. There was a street full of people of every country on earth and the smiles of the energy and excitement of them wanting to celebrate something with us was pretty magical.
GD: Is it true that Cher was your babysitter?
AK: Well, Cher was my friend when I was young. I moved to Los Angeles and my father’s ex-girlfriend was dating Sonny Bono and she introduced me to that little world of Sonny and Cher even though Sonny & Cher had parted ways. And Cher was very kind to me and she took me out to lunch and had this kind of maternal, just ethereal wonder about her. So yeah, she was my buddy for a couple of years when I was little.
GD: How awesome is that? Now you’re coming to the UK in the summer and I know you’ve played massive venues before but this is your first stadium tour, isn’t it?
AK: I think we can pull it off. I think we can do it
GD: Are you nervous about it?
AK: I will be just as nervous if we play the laundromat. Nerves are a positive thing for me. They get the juices flowing. I mean they get me if there’s three people or 300,000, it’s a good feeling.
GD: Anthony it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show this morning. Good luck with the album. Even better luck with the tour. Can’t wait to see you. Anthony Kiedis, thank you very much.
Rick Rubin has interviewed all four members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for his Broken Record podcast series.
Anthony joined 40 minutes into the first interview with John Frusciante:
Rick Rubin: Anthony, what’s your meeting John story?
AK: It’s kind of gruesome. It’s gnarly….So the Red Hot Chili Peppers had a show in Pasadena, at Perkins Palace… But we had a show there and I was going through a very nebulous period of my life where I was doing a lot of narcotics. And sometimes I would show up late to shows, and sometimes I would miss the occasional show because I was just lost in a haze. On this particular show, I was running late because I was in downtown LA buying narcotics, and I showed up and it was dark out and there was a park in front of Perkins Palace and I was going to go fix somewhere in this park to take the sick edge off myself. And I ran into these two beautiful, excited, vibrant, stoked for the show fans, or at least, you know from my point of view. And one was John and was it Bill?
JF: This was a guy maned Matt.
AK: So John and Matt approached me and they were like, ‘Oh my god! We’re here for the show! We can’t wait! What songs are you going to play?’ You know this kind of thing. And I was like, ‘Oh, so nice to see you. I’m just going to be in there in a minute. I’ll see you guys inside.’
[John corrects him and says AK didn’t brush them off and said he was just taking a contemplative walk. ]
AK: So we had out interaction and they did make a large impression on me, I was touched by the enthusiasm and just the beautiful aura of these people that were so into the show, that I honestly felt a little bit demoralised about because I was going through this weird time. And I knew I would not be at my best which mattered to me a lot but I had this addiction thing going on. We parted ways and I went and found a staircase and I sat down. I literally took care of my business on the staircase just to be well enough to go and play. And afterwards, when I looked up I realised I was on the stairs of the Pasadena police dept. That’s the location I had chosen to do my dirty work. And I was foggy. Then I went inside, went backstage prepared, full of DayGlo colours and black light and you know, madness and a girlfriend. And my band was kinda mad at me. And we did the best we could, but it was sub par in form from my standpoint. I was not on fire. But that’s the first time I met John. What was the second, John?
JF tells a story about his father being stuck on a freeway in traffic. He was eating a banana and threw the peel out of the window. Someone jumped out of a car and shoved the peel back at John’s father with someone remarks about littering. A few years later, John and Anthony were in a car together and Anthony told the same story saying he was the guy who jumped out of the car.
AK: … I saw someone throw a bag of McDonald’s out of their window and fries and paper and cups went flying all over and I did the same thing. And I did the same thing; collected it all up and stuffed it back in their car. And they ended up chasing me north on La Brea throwing hamburgers like weapons and I remember dodging and ducking. I dunno. When I was a kid I also did the same thing. I saw a young couple throwing their candy wrappers in the bushes and I was like no, no, no, no, no. It’s a bush! You cannot harm the bush.
So then there was a period of time when Hillel Slovak had died. Jack Irons had quit the band and Flea and I, as was our kind of energetic momentum were like, you know, we love these people but we must continue playing music together. And it’s hard to find the right people to play music with. You know it’s the chemistry. They can be the most brilliant people on earth, but you have find that weird soulful, guttural connection. And we had tried playing with Blackbyrd McKnight as a guitarist and D.H. Peligro as a drummer, and that wasn’t totally working out, and Flea had mentioned that there was this prodigious young person from the Valley who was supposed to be a real sensation of guitar playing. I was intrigued and then Bob Forrest said, ‘Hey! I’m going to get this young guy, John Frusciante to join Thelonius Monster.’ And all these kind of bells and whistles were going off in my head and I had a conversation with Flea who said, ‘Yeah, I’ve jammed with this young person and he was on point.’ So then I went and saw John audition for Thelonius Monster in a garage on Fountain and saw him play. And I was just like, I have to intervene here, I can’t let this happen. He’s too perfect for what we are doing. And I was probably a selfish punk at that phase in my life, and I remember having some conversation with John on the driveway and was like, ‘That was a great audition but would you maybe consider joining our band instead of this band?’ That’s my hazy memory. John probably has a clearer picture.
JF and RR say they’d already mentioned it and that it was the same basic details.
AK: And like I said, finding that person, these people, who you really connect with on an invisible level and that, you know, can hear you and you can hear them, and somehow put your musical energies together to make sound and song, and have a life together. You know it’s some kind of divine intervention when this happens because I’ve just seen many times its a hard fit to find.
RR asks what Anthony remembers about the rehearsal where he saw John.
AK: I remember being mesmerized by John’s personality and prowess. So he got up on stage with all these much older, more experienced guys and really was the kind of dominant force. And he was just full of energy. He was young and no one had thwarted his love or enthusiasm, or all that stuff about music and entertainment and just being a person on stage. And I was like, that would be a fun person to interact with. And he just knew how to play. I mean he learned songs very quickly and I liked him as a person. You know, I became very close to John at that point in my life. I just liked being around him.
RR: Do you remember the first time you played on stage with John?
AK: Well, I remember the Hully Gully stage where we rehearsed quite vividly. Were you playing an Ibanez?
AK: Which was different and new for us. And I think it had been collaged.
JF talks about his guitars. Says he didn’t have the Ibanez then but a guitar with naked women collage on it. John explains their very first show was in a one-off show in Phoenix, Arizona. Then the John Anson Ford was the second show.
AK: I just remember the Arizona show that we had to go there, but I remember the John Anson Ford show really well because we decided to ear superhero costumes. Except for our drummer DH who wore a bumblebee costume much to his chagrin. He hated it and we couldn’t understand why does he hate the bumblebee costume so much? He looks amazing and there’s a giant bee playing drums and he was uncomfortable. And it turns out, that John Belushi, who had also dressed up as bumblebee on Saturday Night Live, also detested his bumblebee costume.
RR asks AK if he remembers the first concert with Chad?
AK: The Roxy. And he was late. He was really late. So Chad is such a force of nature himself. His audition with John and Flea which took place at the Hully Gully was so profound and unforgettable. We had played with this series of drummers and they were interesting, they could do certain things OK. and then, Denise Zoom, the girlfriend of Billy Zoom, had suggested this guy from Detroit, Michigan. And Chad walks in very cavalier. Very nonchalant. Could really care less of who we thought we were. And we thought we were quite a lot at that moment. And he sat down and just blew everybody’s mind with his power and his attack . And Flea was kind of used to leading the dance and suddenly he had this drummer, Chad Smith, who ate drums for breakfast, apparently, taking over the dance. And we were all laughing hysterically trying to keep up with Chad’s race on the drums. And we called him up, and he had this giant poof of hair glamour sprayed or something, and we said shave your head and you have the job in the band. And he was like, I think I’ll pass. Like wow! No! You got the job! You just have to shave your head… And we were like this guy is strong enough in his own conviction of self that he doesn’t want to shave his head to join our band, which kind of maybe made us like him even more. And then he was late to his first show.
JF: I was so mad at him.
AK: For being late or not shaving his hair?
JF: For being late.
JF then talks about Chad a bit more e.g. him wanting to continue with music school.
RR asks if they were the most famous band at that point.
AK: We were world famous in Hollywood. [laughter] I mean it really depends on who you ask, because our very first show in 1983, we played one song because that’s the only song we had. And after that performance, if you’d have asked me who’s the most popular band in LA, I would have said we are. Obviously. So we had an inflated sense of who we thought we were but it wasn’t coming from a purely narcissistic standpoint. But we could feel in our world we were going to do something special and it felt that special within ourselves. So by the time John had joined, we had had some real highs and lows, some ups and down, but we were certainly in the conversation as far as LA popularity I would say.
A bit of discussion follows about bands and clubs at the time.
AK: we could play Dingwalls in the UK.
Second Podcast: Interview with Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante:
Rick Rubin: How you feeling, Anthony?
Anthony Kiedis: I feel pretty good. Very nice to see you. I wish this was in person because I’ve been looking forward to this moment for quite a while, but it’s nice to see you on a big screen in front of me in your Shangri-La anyways.
RR asks if it brings back memories for AK.
AK: Yes. The memories are intense. It’s much less crowded here now. My fondest memories are from Kauai… that process was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of and necessary. I would never have been able to get that quantity of work finished in any other environment.
RR talks about he fact they’ve recorded vocals in some interesting environments e.g. Chateau Marmont and that they’ve had some good ones over the years…
AK: Yeah. The Laurel Canyon house, the Chateau. John also had a room at the Chateau during the writing of Californication and John and I got a ton of good writing done in his room at the Chateau, but Kauai was, you know… I showed up with this 40 odd tracks of music that I had to write for and figure out the melody for, and the arrangements, and the idea of waking up every day and taking hours to write and think about lyrics and ride my bike and let melodies come to me, and then show up at your humble little abode with not a lot of pressure. And you like you know, this pandemic could last for another week or it could last for ten yeas. We don’t know. But until we’re done with this record, we’ll just keep showing up work and that ambiance was magical.
RR: And it as like three or four months of just focusing on writing and singing.
AK: Five months.
RR: Close to 50 songs. It’s a lot of work.
AK: It is. And it was so nice to roll up and see you every day, and get some of your calm and your take. And it’s nice not to be distracted, you know. In LA we have lives and kids and people and traffic and a whole different feeling in the air these days.
RR: And you had to take a boat because the road and bridge had gone to get to your house.
AK: That was more than a few days. It was at least a month. And you were super helpful, and you were like, no we’re going to figure this out. We have friends that live on the river, and you can use their boat ramp and yada yada. And I was showing up at an off time because the locals had set up a ferry service to cross the river. And then these ATVs that would go up a muddy mountain to a road that would access your house. And I was showing up after the ferry had closed but there were still these food barges, with farmers. So in the beginning, I would just jump onto a boat full or taro root and literally 100 year old ancient Hawaiian farmers that barely spoke English because they were of mixed ethnicity and had come over from Asia a long time ago. And I loved it. And I was like this is really putting me in the right frame of mind to go to work. And then we pivoted and got a local surfer to meet me at the mouth of the river and take me sort of along the coast. And then I had to hike up a hill next to giant old hotel which was being refurbished and that was psychedelic and jungle like, and I had to walk through a little mini river on my own and I had a backpack fully of lyrics and running into all types of people in bikinis, people that you know are chopping down trees in the forest. And so it was kind of an epic way to get to work.
RR: Did any of the things you saw on the trip, boat or hike work their way into the lyrics?
AK: So, not exactly on the boat ride of that particular walk, but every morning before coming to your house I would ride my bicycle from my house to the end of the road which was also through rivers and past beautiful trees and mountains. And in the song, She’s A Lover, which used to be called Zap, I had that song going through my head feverishly, the melody, the music and that bike ride completely inspired the entire lyric: ‘the flowers pink on the tree but if you pick it to see would she be wild or free’, ’cause I used to drive past a tree every day that was covered in pink flowers and it seemed like a metaphor for a relationship. It’s like you admire the thing as it is, but once you try to dominate it or pick it or make it to your agenda, will it still be wild and free? Probably not.
[RR says they will play, She’s a Lover]
AK: …There’s a tiny story worth mentioning about that song which is when we were recording the vocal in Kauai, you were looking at the lyric sheet and much to my surprise you isolated the lyric, ‘unlimited love’ which really hadn’t jumped off the page yet. I was involved in too many lyrics and too many pages. You’re like, ‘That’s a really good title, Unlimited Love.’ I was like, ‘Do you think so?’ And you were ‘Yeah, yeah yeah! That’s a really good title.’ I was like okay. I made a mental note. I was keeping a small list of possible album titles of which that was my least favourite, Unlimited Love. For me it was at the bottom of the list. I had these more Chili Peppersque titles. And when the day came and we were mixing the music and I went to visit John and Flea at the mix studio in Hollywood, I was like, ‘Guys, do you want to hear some possible album titles?’ And they were like, ‘yes’ and I read them my favourites. And I was like, there’s also this title that Rick was kind of keen on which was Unlimited Love, and both John and Flea were like, ‘Well, that’s the title right there.’ And I was like, ‘Are you sure? Because these other ones they’re like very interesting.’ And there were like, ‘Nope, nope. Unlimited Love. That’s it!’
RR: It’s funny too because I imagined it as the song title….
AK: Yeah. So then the pitch became, but we now can’t call the song that because we don’t want to draw all the attention to that song, which is something some of an album track, than, ‘Hey! Everyone look at this song track.’ Although I must say it sounds good in headphones.
RR starts talking to John Frusciante about him re-joining the band again. Anthony comments that it was interesting hearing what JF said because “… I’m not really privileged to those conversations and I’m not exactly sure how it lines up, but I will say that John coming back to join in and play music with the band was very much in the air because Flea had not mentioned anything to me at all. No, not a peep, nary a mention of John Frusciante or that he was communicating with him, or even thinking about that as a possibility. I knew that Flea was in a mood, in a disposition where he wasn’t feeling his best self, and the previous incarnation for whatever reason. He just wasn’t on fire. And I started getting a sensation I wonder how John is. I wonder if he would ever think about participating in any way in our music again. I haven’t heard, I haven’t spoken to him. Haven’t really heard what he’s up to, but I just got the sensation that it would be really nice if John would get involved. And I didn’t think that he was interested in joining or playing guitar, but I was, I wonder if he would like to co-write a song or produce a song. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know where to go with this feeling I just had. So I said to Flea, I was like, when we’re done what we’re doing right now, I want to talk to you afterwards. Kind of important. And I was going to bring up this idea of John participating. And he said to me, ‘No, no, no. I actually have something more important that I have to tell you.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no, let me since I brought it up, I’ll just tell you what I was thinking.’ He was just like, ‘Well, I think you’re going to want to hear what I have to say.’ I was like, ‘OK. Can it wait until after I tell you what I was going to say?’ And basically, we were both saying the exact same thing at the exact same time which was what do you think about John? And when I presented my thing, he was like, ‘Well, I was thinking of taking it a little further, maybe seeing if he wanted to come back to the band.’ And I was like, ‘What? I don’t know. I mean that, you know yeah… have you spoken to him? Where’s his head at?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve actually jammed with him.’ And I was like, ‘OK. OK. I’m a little, a little behind here.’ And that opened the door to all of this.
And I remember going to see John at the house where he lived, where he’s lived for a long time, where he lived in the band and used to be, walking in and sitting on the couch with them and just trying to get a real sense, you know, is this coming from a place of love, or creation or does he still have any kind of bitterness towards me or us? And I did not feel any of that. I felt a great deal of resolution. I don’t know if there’s ever 100% resolution in a way, as people have too many folds in our brain to tweak out on stuff, speaking for myself. But I felt whatever animosity or resentment or all this stuff had more or less been resolved. And it felt very nice sitting next to him on the couch, and he said one thing to me which really made me feel like this is a done deal. I have no choice. Come what may for better, or worse, or disaster, wonder. And I don’t know if I looked at him or he looked at me, or if it was just said, but he said, ‘I was born to be in this band.’ And I was just, he’s telling the truth and there’s no f*cking winner that I’m going to stop that from happening or doing anything other than get out of the way and just let it flow because if someone feels like that, than that’s supposed to be. And of course, it was terribly exciting, a little bit kind of a vulnerable feeling, because like John said, is the old magic still there? Or are we just going to be some weird guys in a room trying to make it happen? But I guess I felt more confident that concerned. And when we got back together, it was so raw, so basic starting from scratch, that it felt just right. It felt like oh, we have a lot of work to do to like figure this out, but what a nice place to be.
And you know, John made some really wise suggestions in the very beginning. He was like, ‘Let’s learn some old blues songs and let’s learn some really old Red Hot Chili Pepper songs. So instead of you know, trying to get back to where we had left off, or anything like that, let’s go all the way back and learn how to play some really beautiful, somewhat challenging but basic rock ‘n’ roll kind of building blocks. And I thought that was so smart because I needed to do that. And then the rest of the writing and the plan together started to happen way more naturally. And I think because John hasn’t written a lot of rock music kind of songs for quiet a while, he had in him a reservoir of ideas and chord progressions and arrangements and vocal melodies, and all these kinds he must have been quietly keeping in his back pocket that started to flow. And then the process was on. It’s like every time John would bring a jam into practice, Flea would feel like OK, I’ll bring a jam and then I’d be like, oh these guys are bringing jams, I’d better go for a very long drive in my Chevy and figure out something to add to the stew which you know, is part of our creative process. And it felt really natural. It felt really natural, like no pretence or expectation. It’s like let’s go all the way back to the and just start from zero. That’s what it was like from my perspective but I didn’t know all these other things were going on.
RR talks about how it’s fascinating to listen to their perspectives and that this podcast is allowing that- even thought they know each other so well, there’s something new to find out. Said about not knowing the origin of the pink flower lyric…
AK: Yup. Riding bikes with my son. And he was probably trying to talk to me and all I was doing was hearing this song play over and over in my head.
John and Rick talking about John knowing his place is in the band. AK saying one of the reasons why the initial conversation was so successful was because nobody was trying to sell anything or convince each other. It all came from a place of truth and recognition. JF then saying because of their shared experiences in the band, he has a connection to his band mates that he can’t have with anyone else.
AK [25.57]: I would just like for a moment to speak on what John just said briefly, because that was really very clearly expressed. Sometimes it’s hard to put words to those experiences and those feelings of having the brotherhood, the friendship and the experience of being in the band because it’s certainly something like with your biological family, whether you like them or not, love them or not, you can never really quit it because there’s this biological connection and the dynamic of parents and children, brothers and sisters, it’s like you may want to divorce yourself but really there’s an invisible tether where you can’t, and the same is true for the family you choose when you have a deep, lifelong experience. Like John said, even when we were not in a band together, our destinies in our lives together are completely shaped by one and other forever. Lots of good purposes. But when John had left the band most recently for a large chunk of time you know, over ten years, it never left my reality or my awareness that everything I was doing was largely in part of what John had contributed to my life. So whether I was writing music or going on tour without John, I was like I would not be here without John, if it were not for my experience with John. And you know, my successes and failures and everything in between, I always had an awareness of John is part of why this is happening. And there was always a sense of gratitude that came along with that, because there is a weird, beautiful, non-verbal closeness that comes from playing music with somebody. And sometimes, I watch John jam with Chad and what they share together in that moment where nobody’s talking, but they’re just playing, I’m like oh my god, they have a relationship that’s based on sound and it fills their hearts. And the same thing when John is playing with Flea, you know that intercommunication of melody and everything, it’s as profound as any other verbal communication or going on a trip together, or having a sandwich together, it’s like they bond so heavily over that moment no words need to be spoken, but we’re just in this invisible space together improvising together. And I look at them like damn, you know that is a connection, a real powerful connection. So yes, John, I want you to know whenever we’re apart and I’m doing music, like I never forget you.
RR then speaks about how the band interconnect with each other always- not four people playing their parts. JF continues with this saying song writing is the same -mentions the song Stadium Arcadium being written at the Alley and AK agrees with him. Talk about ‘face-offs’ between Flea and John before they’d both go away and write their parts to a song…
AK: It’s a pretty exciting moment when you get to listen to the face-off materials, and like you said, more often than not, they all have value. And sometimes one of the contestants would come back with two or three ideas, and several of these ideas would make their way into that song, or some other song. But I’m interested to hear what John has to say about the early phase one of writing Unlimited Love.
JF talks about playing guitar and how he’d learned new things over the intervening years while not being in the band. AK talks about guitarists learning their art and how John excels at that. Reiterates that they didn’t pick up where they’d left off when they started playing together again.
AK [45.53]: …It was kind of like, let’s just reinvent and start from ground zero. And it was super slow, like in a good way. Like we didn’t go in there and try to write a hit or anything. We just went in there and tried to feel each other out. And the feeling was nice, because it was relaxed and it was devoid of expectation. And we’ve always had the luxury of playing anything under the sun, whether it’s a little beat box groove that we want to turn into a song or something that was inspired by jazz or something that was inspired by funk or something that was inspired by the Marx Brothers. That was like, whatever feelings we have, they’ll all welcome at the table when it comes time for us to write. And we had those great experiences of us learning blues songs which were fricking challenging for me, because for John, that’s a big part of his vernacular. And for me, I’ve never really taken the time to go, and… what sounds so simple in the blues world is so full of nuance and rhythmic innuendos that don’t come natural. So that was kind of fun for me. And there was actually a moment where we were hell bent on going to this day time blues club in south central, which is like an active one, I think maybe the only active all blues all the time clubs left in LA where these elder statesmen of blues still play out of a storefront or an open garage or something. And it’s a club. And I don’t know if we ever really got good enough with our blues song, mainly me, to go down there and play, but we were like once we get these songs together, we gonna play the blues club in south central. And it was a nice little aspiration to fuel the fire for a while.
And then I just remember John playing a couple of songs on guitar that he had formed, arranged mentally and one turned out to be White Braids and Pillow Chair, and it was so laid back and simple, but so emotional and so interesting, and it had this unique arrangement because it the outro was almost as lengthy as the actual song, which ended up not being the same ratio once the song was finished, but it started off the outro, you know the outro White Braids that was half the tune and it just kept rolling like a horse running off into the woods. So there was that it was emotional, and I was like, oh jeez, I hope I can find the right colours for this song. And then Black Summer, oddly enough, which is now like the single off our record, was one of the first things that I remember John playing. And it had such a beautifully sparse first, I was like I’m going to be naked and exposed trying to get my voice on this. But I’m pretty sure that John had for the verse of that song the basic vocal melody. Am I right John?
JF: Yes (and adds more details).
AK: I wasn’t trying to recreate your melody and chorus. That was just something I thought was a new part, but it may have been seated by whatever you were doing…. There’s this girl Kate from Wales who’s a folk singer that I admire. And when you wrote that verse and it came with that kind of folkish like melody, I was like, yay! I Get to try something new and very exposing which was hard to sing in the beginning cause you know it’s this free floating melody in space there. Maybe not hard for you, but harder for me.
RR talks about AK having an accent in the song.
AK: [He adds it was inspired by Kate]. I wasn’t trying to be Welsh, I wasn’t trying to be Irish, or Scottish or English or a pirate, but I did feel like I need to be in character to sing this verse. This doesn’t have to be like my normal me. It can be a variation, a version of a character. And it was easier to sing with the little bit of the amalgam accent than not for whatever reason. And I also feel like that’s the right flavour for the verse.
JF talks about how the song could be seen in different ways and that Anthony saw it more as a folk song whereas he saw it more of a Nirvana style. RR adds that how people can see different things in songs is interesting. AK agrees, and “forever reason I gravitated towards the folk rather than the Kurt styling, or John’s interpretation of that. But I remember liking the way John sang it, and that felt just as right as anything.”
RR continues talking about how it’s fascinating how a song will change. Then say they will play White Braids.
AK: That song is based on true life couple who I didn’t meet, but some years ago I was with my girlfriend, Helena, and we were in Ventura in a coffee shop having a snack and this couple showed up and they were probably in their late 70s and the man had the most beautiful braids you’d ever seen. Down to his waist. And she came with her own pillow to the coffee shop and she sat that pillow down on her chair so she’d be just a little more comfortable. And they had their lunch together and I looked at him and was like, that is the most beautiful couple I have ever seen. And I ended up referring to them as ‘white braids and pillow chair’ the rest of the day when talking to my girlfriend at the time. And it just stuck as they need a song to be written about them. Many years later, John shows up with this cool idea for a song and White Braids was born.
RR: So you had the idea never knowing it would be a song for years?
RR: It was just a memory from yeas earlier?
AK: It was. It was an emblazoned memory, but it was also probably a jotted note. I’d probably made a note to self somewhere in some phone that was dead in a drawer somewhere; White Braids and Pillow Chair. And I was very touched that you were feeling the song because sometimes, in the middle of 50 songs you can lose perspective, and then to see it having an effect on you, and you would come in you’re like, ‘Oh. I took my walk on the beach today and all I could sing was White Braids.’ I was like OK, the song is correct. If Rick is singing it, the song is correct… And John would talk to me about walking around his house singing the outro, because the vocal in the outro is John’s melody.”
JF adds it’s fun to write with other people to see where they take a song. And how he sometimes has a melody but often won’t offer it unless asked. The conversation then swaps about John writing with Flea.
[Say they will play, It’s Only Natural]
Conversation talks about punk rock and Rick Rubin asks AK to comment on his own relationship to it and also the band’s relationship to it.
AK: I’m pretty sure it defies any sort of a verbal description since it is such a visceral experience. I mean my relationship to punk rock is a beautiful thing. It happened. it certainly happened without me being conscious of it. I never thought to myself, ‘Oh this is punk rock.’ I just showed up and was a very kind of peripherally a part of something that was happening in LA and felt good and scary and f*cked up and in the moment and of the time. And oddly enough, my father who would visit London regularly in the 70s came back with an English girlfriend and a Sex Pistols record in maybe 1977 or ’78. And he tried to get all punk rock on me, but really I think he was just trying to play what young people were in to at that moment. So I remember hearing, you know, the Sex Pistols come from my living room when I was getting ready to go to high school. And I didn’t really make the connection at that point. Like I noticed it, and I noticed how cool the girl he was dating was, but I still hadn’t become part of that mix. Like the British version, didn’t sweep me away, away in a wave. And then I went to a daytime show at the Palladium where the Germs played before I got there. And by the time I got there, Diva was playing and these girls were coming out of the backstage and they were putting safety pins through their face as an adornments. And I remember kind of connecting the two things like this music and these girls wanting to feel alive go together. So that kind of caught my attention, but I was, in no way, a punk rocker. I was like a little, I dunno, at very best, like a little New Wave kid in high school, listening to the Talking Heads and David Bowie and a few other things. But when Flea and I started wandering up to the Starwood, and getting us a true taste of the Los Angeles punk rock scene, I started feeling semi-connected and then it just became a lifestyle. Like the minute we got out of high school and became homeless and lived on the street, everywhere we went and everyone we met and everything we did, revolved around punk rock clubs. And it was kind of the tail end of the Circle Jerks and the mid-level of Black Flag and I remember seeing the Black Flag logo spray painted on buildings, and going be very careful at those Black Flag shows, like something could go south in a hurry. Those guys will kill you, but it was just like from gossip and talk that 17 year old people would say, and then Bob Forrest, of Thelonius Monster, started DJing in a crash pad that Flea and I lived in that had no door, and he was playing with Black Flag records on vinyl. And is was pretty profound because they were re-writing what was possible, like of something that had never been done before, and that energy. And then Flea ended up joining Fear so I went to a lot of Fear shows, but at that time, punk rock in LA did not have this definition it has to be one thing. It was really about anything goes, anything goes if you are expressing yourself and doing it in a way that does not pay attention to the musical forms of the day. It all went together. So you could have a lounge punker like Hal Negro in the Satin Tones on the same bill with Bad Brains. So now when people think of punk, they think of a mohawk and combat boots and aggression, but when we grew up, it was like X was punk, you know, the most storytelling, poetic, kind of, I don’t know what their music is based in, but their presentation was so fresh that it was considered punk. As was The Minutemen which you know, was nothing to do with any kind of violence or dominance. it was just let it all out, whoever you happen to be, just let it all out and do it with your friends, and do it for free, and do it when no one’s looking. The Minutemen were probably one of our biggest, emotional inspirations growing up, during the formation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And we were lucky enough to play on bills with them because that’s how bills were then. It would be like, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, the Minutemen, you know none of whom sounded anything like each other.
Rick Rubin offering his thoughts on punk rock and how it was different in New York to LA.
AK: You also had The Ramones as your punk rock template and to some degree the New York Dolls, and you guys were definitely early. And I never understood the competition of I’m east coast punk rock or I’m west coast punk rock. It was all like so meaningful, and so different, and so wonderful. And shout out to Minor Threat who was definitely life-changing, very much so for Flea. When we lived in that house listening to Black Flag, Flea discovered Minor Threat and it was an awakening for him as to how to want to be like as a human being. And the first time we ever played DC, we were opening up for the English Beats at this theatre. And again, I was going through this heavily drug addicted time in my life, and the great Ian McKay attended the show, and I was so attracted to him as a human being that I felt terrible about myself. I was like, oh my god, Ian came to see the show and I’m backstage like shoving chemicals in my brain. And he was the least judgemental, most loving, complimentary, like even though he was Mr. Straight Edge, proclaiming his path, he came up to the van window as we were driving away and I was sweating toxins, and he came up to me through the little crack in the van window, and he’s like, ‘That was a really great show. I’m really happy I was here for that. Thank you for that. Good luck on the rest of your tour.’ And I was like, what a sweetie, like he stands for everything I’m not, but he can appreciate it’s something that he’s not, but also embracing the kind of funk punk from the west coast that was so different from the established east coast punk scene. Just a happy memory. Just my introduction to Ian. Like I’m not going to judge you in the slightest.
AK talking with JF about seeing Fugazi at the Country Club in 1990 and then John talks about them being an influence on his playing.
RR: Anthony, what’s your favourite track on the album?
AK: It’s a third-way tie between last place for These Are The Ways, Here Ever After and Bastards of Light.
John chooses Here Ever After to play…
AK: …The solo at the beginning is my favourite moment of that song. It’s like all this tribal drum tension, and then the real release happens at the, for some reason that solo punches a hole in the giant hot air balloon, and you can just let it all go at that moment. I love that feeling. I can’t wait to do that song live because I want to feel that live. I remember hearing it and hearing my chorus melody immediately which is always a blessing and a gift and a pleasure and a relief, because at least I know what the hell I’m supposed to be doing on this song. And then I remember, like asking probably John, do you mind if I rap on the verses. I know that’s kind of out of context with this fifties thing [John had previously talked about 50s influence], and he was like, ‘You know, do that! That’ll be good.’ So then I felt free to just paint a picture with words and not worry about the melody in verses, which felt really good because it is an odd rub of rhythms, like an unexpected rub of rhythms. And when it was all written, you know that there’s so much going on that nobody really paid attention to the lyric in the band, you know because we keep moving forward, and then a year and a half later, John is mixing, and he’s like, ‘I just read the lyrics to Here Ever After and I really liked them and it reminds me exactly what it felt like to move to Hollywood when I left the valley.’ I was like, whew! Finally, finally, you know, the picture that I painted got noticed by the right person at the right time.
John adds some comments on the song and then Rick Rubin wraps up and thanks Anthony and John.
AK: It’s the bearing and sharing hour with Rick Rubin.
Anthony Kiedis was a guest on the British TV program, Sunday Brunch, on Sunday 3rd April. The show on Channel 4 is hosted by Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer with a relaxed format where guests are interviewed between cooking sections.
Anthony’s segment began with a clip being shown of TV program, Made in Chelsea. The hosts asked Anthony what he thought of it and he had no idea, before the hosts decided that nobody here knows what it’s about either.
AK: “I’m still catching up on Benny Hill.”
Hosts comment will tell him about it afterwards (not see as PC these days). Then they asked about the weather and if it was sunny in LA – comment that we Brits are obsessed with weather.
AK: “There was not a drop of sun today, but that’s OK because most days there is and I would leave this place, but I just can’t as it’s too nice.”
Hosts talk about him moving to London. [It’s clear AK has no idea of the geography of England!] AK: “If I was to relocate maybe to Sheffield… Newcastle-Upon-Tyne…”
Next the hosts talk about it being nearly 40 years since RHCP formed and AK thanks them for reminding him: “Longevity is a beautiful thing. It’s actually harder than you might think with personalities and life changes. How we’ve managed to stay together I really don’t know. Maybe it’s through sheer power of love. It’s like you can’t quit your family even though you want to; they gravitate back towards you, and I am grateful. I love these boys.”
Hosts talking about some bands wanting to quit and then realising the alternative is worse.
AK: “The weird thing is we still love doing it and we still feel a creative flow. And we’ve been blessed with a lot of curses along the way, so people leaving, things exploding and somehow it all comes back with a re-invigorated energy which is what we’re dealing with now.”
Clip of Can’t Stop shown. Asked if the band have seen so much…. AK: “It comes in spurts and waves; that’s the nice thing about being in a band. You get to write, you get to record, you get to go on tour, and you get to take some time off. Yeah, we’ve seen a lot. I like the inside of a laundromat as much as I like the inside of a stadium. Like I said, it’s a blessing.”
Hosts ask what his favourite part of RHCP’s career is. AK says about the first day the band were together and today. Then the hosts talked about the new album, Unlimited Love, and it’s cover. Then say, the band have gone backwards to go forwards and mention Rick Rubi producing and John Frusciante being back in the band.
AK: “Sometimes, there’s honestly something in the air” and how he and Flea both wanted to talk about John at the same time. “And what we both realised was that it was time to go and talk to John who had sort of re-emerged and had an interest in playing rock music again. So, we sat down with this beautiful old friend of ours who is just the perfect chemistry for us. And he said, ‘I was born to be in this band. Let’s do this again.’ And so, it began.”
Host: And what did it feel like the first time you were all playing together again?
AK: “It felt humbling and going back to square one. We didn’t want to pick up where we had left off…” talks about playing some old blues songs and early RHCP songs to become a band again “And to remember what It was to be four guys in a room together playing music and then we started writing new songs.”
Cuts to clip of These Are the Days.
Host talk about recording an insane number of tracks- up to 100.
AK: “We didn’t write a 100. That’s a glorified rumour but I like the sound of the number. We did write enough for several records. Part of it was that we were just having fun; part of it was that time became expansive in the middle of this NWO pandemic thing we were going through so we had extra time which we loved having. And I don’t know, with Rick coming back, with John coming back, we were feeling it and more will be revealed”
Host asked what happens to the songs that weren’t good enough…
A: “I would say they’re gonna be good enough when they decide to show their face. Only time we tell but we do have a plan.”
Asked AK when the band will tour and joke about the places that AK named before…
AK: “Or Slough…”
Cue much laughing from hosts (you must have been to Slough to understand how truly awful the place is!) and they joke that there’s a church hall there that the band could play in.
All thank each other…and the hosts talk about Unlimited Love being out now and that tickets are on sale for the tour.
This morning (LA time), the Red Hot Chili Peppers received their star on the Hollywood Blvd.
The band walked onto the stage from Amoeba Records- their star is immediately outside the store. The band were seated at first before stepping onto the stage a little while later. Speeches were given by Bob Forrest, George Clinton and Woody Harrelson. Each band member also spoke briefly. Anthony Kiedis gave various thanks and he talked about the band being greater than its various parts when they get together. A sweet shout out (which so many of us were hoping for) to his late father, Blackie Dammett who would have been so proud today, and also to his mum, Peggy.
For anyone lucky enough to be in LA! A pop up shop run by Amoeba Records will be selling new Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album Unlimited Love along with some exclusive RHCP merch at the Melrose Trading Post at Fairfax High School on Sunday, April 3rd from 9am-5pm.
On Thursday 31st March, Anthony Kiedis with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will finally receive a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood- they have declined previous offers. The ceremony will take place at 6212 Hollywood Boulevard (outside Amoeba Records) at 11:30am PT. It will be livestreamed on the Walk of Fame website.
Anthony Kiedis, along with other members of RHCP, attended the VIP opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial this week. Here are some photos of Anthony and an anecdote about him taking blurry photos (also in the post).
A photo of Anthony Kiedis will be among several previously unseen backstage photos of world-famous artists taken by Louise Schiffmacher on display at the Hard Rock Hotel in Amsterdam. The exhibition will be held on Saturday 30th April between 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM.