Anthony Kiedis was interviewed by Jo Whiley for Radio 2 (British radio station). Thanks to Milan for recording this and sharing the link!
Radio 2 Interview With Anthony Kiedis.
Jo Whiley: Welcome to the show, sir. How are you?
Anthony Kiedis: I’m very well, thank you Jo. How are you?
Jo Whiley: Yeah, I’m alright thank you. So how are you feeling? Coz the unveiling of an album must be a, nerve-wracking; b, exciting.
Anthony Kiedis: Ummm. You know, we’ve done this before, so the nerves are a bit at bay. It’s more overwhelming and exciting and joyful and a large workload.
Jo Whiley: How long did it take?
Anthony Kiedis: Yeah.
Jo Whiley: What was the time it took to make this?
Anthony Kiedis: I feel like it took years but once we actually got recording it only took a couple of months so the build up was forever and we had broken arms and broken dreams and all this stuff kind of went awry. And then once we actually found a producer and were healthy and set about the business of making music it went really quick.
Jo Whiley: So I guess when you’ve been making records for as long as you have it, it just must be so difficult to think of the sound that you want, how it’s going to fit into what’s going on in the music scene at the time and who you want to work with and the expectation of everybody. I can’t quite imagine how that is for you.
Anthony Kiedis: Umm… yeah, well expectations, yeah I can’t think about those too much. Umm, finding sound and finding joy from music and staying together as a band as a marriage is all kind of challenging. But really you know finding a producer was hard because we knew we wanted to experiment with Danger Mouse and he’s busy. He’s doing television shows and movies and twelve other records and we finally nailed him down to a time and then Flea went and broke his arm snowboarding so we lost our time slot with Danger Mouse and we had to kind of re-configure. So in the end it was meant to be. We needed every little nuance of weirdness building up to the writing of these songs. It helped.
Jo Whiley: And when you actually got with him in the studio he kinda threw a curveball didn’t he?
Anthony Kiedis: He threw lots of curveballs and strikes and sliders and spitballs and you know he’s a dynamic dude. And you mean by kinda wanting to write new songs?
Jo Whiley: Yeah, from what I’ve read because you’d got your own songs and you went this is what we think the album is but then he went, “Ummm, no let’s do something different.”
Anthony Kiedis: Yeah, if I look at it now he knows what he likes very immediately so he listened to probably 25 songs we had written and he really only liked about ten of them I guess out of the 25. So initial heartbreak of having to part ways with this other 15 songs which we had become attached to.
Jo Whiley: Can I just ask how that is? When he turns round and says that he doesn’t like what you’ve done. How do you feel?
Anthony Kiedis: The very first time you’re like kind of like, well gee, that’s kind of harsh or arrogant or presumptuous or whatever but then the more you get to know him, the more you get to see how he operates and thinks and it’s just a matter of taste and you know he wants every song to be a classic. You know he doesn’t really have that sort of song writer’s approach of “Well, I love this little song even though it’s not destined to be a classic it’s still part of my experience and it means something to me.” Unless he feels like it’s going to touch the world he doesn’t really want to hear about it. So I grew to respect his point of view and the more we I worked with him and the more he pushed us to be better than we were starting out as, I gained an appreciation and saw his value very much so.
Jo Whiley: Yeah I know. But great for you to be pushed; great to for you to be challenged. I would have thought.
Anthony Kiedis: Got to be pushed.
Jo Whiley: You got to be pushed or otherwise you don’t improve do you?
Anthony Kiedis: You wouldn’t. And imagine you know being sort of around forever and then people forget to tell you what it is that something’s not good enough. So you always think it is going to be good enough. But you need someone to be brutally honest and break your heart and hurt your feelings a little bit along the way.
Jo Whiley: I guess it’s also the emperor’s new clothes. There’s always a danger of that, just people going yeah you’re just fabulous.
Anthony Kiedis: That’s the danger. That’s the danger. I mean imagine some the true greats, the real greats, the classics, like you know a member of The Beatles some going (?) that’s not as good as what I think you can do. No one would ever say that. So they might now know.
Jo Whiley: Yeah. But Brian Burton, who is Danger Mouse, he’s quite gentle isn’t he? He’s quite a wise kind of character?
Anthony Kiedis: Yeah, he’s wise. He’s gentle. He’s mellow. He’s low-key but his focus is pretty laser.
Jo Whiley: Yeah, so tell me Anthony, what can we expect on this album? What kind of a mood has it got. Lyrically what were you writing about?
Anthony Kiedis: Lyrically I’m embarrassed to say but yeah, a two-year relationship that completely fell apart like a nuclear bomb just left me feeling pretty raw and available to the emotional universe for writing. So even though the relationship was a bit of a disaster, I feel that in some ways I did get something out of it. Which was about half of the songs on this record.
Jo Whiley: Gosh. Will it be difficult to sing those songs?
Anthony Kiedis: No, no. And really they are not, you know, full literal stories because Ifind that a bit boring. For me personally at this stage, writing something that’s predictable and oh, well everyone can relate to that, I’d rather sort of disguise it in colour and shape and just make it come out a bit more open to interpretation. That excites me more as a lyricist than being overly literal.
Jo Whiley: Yeah, so heart on the sleeve stuff. So half the album is the content of your heart but disguised, veiled somewhere ….[?] And then the rest of the album?
Anthony Kiedis: Well, lyrically, it just comes from love of life and love of life’s tragedies and successes and hurts and triumphs and I don’t know, the kind of psychedelic mystery of nature can be found in the lyrics.
Jo Whiley: And the sound of the album?
Anthony Kiedis: The sound of is different, thank God! You know, it’s nice to have to new element in terms of sound. Instead of just being a rad [?] traditional rock ‘n’ roll three piece with vocalist, there are loops and machines and robots and aliens and all these different things participating in the making of our sound but it still sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but with a Danger Mouse studio slant to it. So there is a meld, you know you can feel the influence and it’s nice. Like, my very favourite song from the whole record is called ‘The Getaway’ even though it shan’t be our single, and in that, that’s something that is a loop and has a bit more of a mechanical influence but emotionally the very first time I heard the music I was instantly inspired. So there’s kind of the best of both worlds in there.
Jo Whiley: I can’t wait to hear it. How are the rest of the band? How are the band getting on at the moment? All good and healthy?
Anthony Kiedis: Everyone’s good. You know we have figured out how to argue successfully without hating each other or you know wanting to be away from each other. We can start off the day with a massive difference of opinion and get into a bit of a [?] shouting match and then ten minutes later it’s over and done with. And that’s good. I like what I see with these boys getting ready to go out and tour for a year.
Jo Whiley: Yeah.
Anthony Kiedis: It’s nice to know we can process all these highs and lows together. Everyone’s good. Everyone’s excited that we have this many new songs that look like they’re gonna be a blast to play live.
Jo Whiley: All part of the adventure. Listen, enjoy the tour. Where are you at the moment? Are you at home?
Anthony Kiedis: At the moment, I’m standing naked in my kitchen.
Jo Whiley: OK. So you’re not cooking are you? You haven’t got the frying pan out?
Anthony Kiedis: No hot grease anywhere near.
Jo Whiley: Ok. Fine. I was worried for a bit then!
Anthony Kiedis: Yeah
Jo Whiley: Anthony it was nice to talk to you and hopefully see you when you’re over here in the UK. Come in and say hi to us.
Anthony Kiedis: Thank you for your time, Jo.
Jo Whiley: We’ll play the single now. This is ‘Dark Necessities.’ Anthony, thank you.
Anthony Kiedis: Bye, Jo.
Jo Whiley: Step away from the hot fat.
Anthony Kiedis: Will do