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.
AK: Thank you kindly.