THE HARD REPORT
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Anyone who has experienced the Red Hot Chili Peppers first hand will tell you that this band is an industrial strength sound experience. Meet a young group of L.A. based funk-rockers who have absorbed their surroundings and bounced back with what lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis terms as organic funk from the soul. The idea is safe and sound on their new album aptly (?) titled “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan“, their hardest rock fest extravaganza to date, combining fiery spirit with raging rhythms and sweeping lyrical force. It challenges the senses and just as their live show, ignites audience reaction. The band is on tour now – and just before count down Anthony took time out to introduce the band wth the plan.
Dawn Hood: What is the The Uplift Mofo Party Plan?
Anthony Kiedis: The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is a feeling…. a state of mind, a being, an universe, an erection, an ecstasy in your brain and in your entire body. It’s based on taking a person who’s feelings might be plummeting into the depths of unhappiness or who is feeling stagnant, and upwardly motivating them to a state of elated consciousness To make them feel like they want to kiss their neighbour and party all night long with a house full of cats. The Mofo Party Plan was made to stimulate your groove bone and make you really happy about life, sex,music and the future – all the good things to be happy about. It’s also the title of this record, a psychedelic funk-rock extravaganza. After we made this record we were so completely satisfied that we had finally captured on vinyl what we had been trying to capture to the last 3 years, which is our enormous live energy and studio wit. Our funk and rock and soul combined in a focused manner on our part, but makes you unfocus on everything negative and to open your mind to the reality of everything we’ve created- that’s the Uplift Mofo Party Plan.
D: What was your motivation to create the kind of music that is the Chill Peppers?
A: It’s an expression of our feelings and thoughts. We experience life here in Hollywood on different levels and we take in all the good things we choose to take in. We don’t base our music on any particular influence, we are influenced by what we listen to but we don’t try to recreate any type of genre. We just try to express our feelings and it comes out uncategorizable! Over the years we’ve been known as bone-crunching mayhem funk but what we really are is a combination of soul, funk and rap and it’s a style we’ve integrated into a live situation. The more of a party we create on stage by playing this live organic music, the more we make the audience happy. The more happy the audience is – the more happy we get. Its a non-stop perpetual show.
D: What kinds of people do you see when you look out into the audience?
A: People who are intelligent, people who want to have a good time and people who want to express themselves. People who aren’t restricted by commercialism and those who wart to experience something new and different. There, not one class of people. I see people from ghettos and from mansions, and all races and cultures. It just depends on where we are. In the south they love us when we get out there and pay this organic funky music. Then In New York we’ll play to these pseudo-intellectual types who think they’re on top of it, and they enjoy it just as much.
D. Where are the band members from?
A: Have you ever listened to the song ‘Organic Anti-Beat Box Band”? That kind of explains were we’re all from. The guitar player Hillel Slovak was born in Israel and he’s the cowboy from the Holy Land. The bass player, Flea, was born in Melbourne and he’s the thunder from Down Under. The drummer, Jack Irons, was born in Los Angeles. I was born in Michigan to the sweetest mother in the world. We’re all from different parts of the planet but we wound up in Hollywood by the time we were 12 years old and just started experiencing life. We met at Fairfax High School, and it wasn’t until about 2 years after we left school that we started the band. The others had been in bands before, and I was just a wandering minstrel or poet When I heard Grandmaster Flash, I realized that I had the ability to make a musical statement without having a Marvin Gaye voice or a Stevie Wonder melodic style. That I could explain my poetry and combine it with music and create something worth while. So we started the Chili Peppers kind of on a whim. We formed to play one song for a friend of ours and practiced on the spot. We got up on stage and performed live for the first time together, going completely bananas and the song came out perfect! The audience was drooling for more. The good thing about the band is that we were all great friends and that chemistry kind of portrayed itself to the audience.
D: What question are you asked the most?
A: It depends on how well informed the interviewer is – whether or not the person is some critic idiot who knows nothing about the band, who asks us questions like, “Why do you guys play black music when you’re white? Then there’s no answer other than that we play the kind of music that we like and it doesn’t matter what color we are. We just want to create what we feel. We do what want to do, and we do it the best we can.
D: How did you hook up with Michael Beinhorn and Demolition Sound?
A: Well, Demolition Sound is really kind of a joke. It’s just the name for one man who has the great ability to write music and to take someone else’s music and record it the way it the way they want it to be recorded. He worked with Herbie Hancock and his smash hit “Rockit” and with Bill Laswell, and he had been a band called Material which all of us are very fond of. He’s a very good writer and arranger . We invited him to tour with us, because when we were thinking about making another record we were on the road. He heard our records before and liked them but he didn’t really think we that we ever captured on record what we performed live. He saw our shows and thought that they were amazing but our records didn’t capture that energy, so we sat down and discussed our musical tastes and we realized that we had the same love for the same types of music. He thought that he could do for us what no other producer had done before which was really to create that live feel. We decided that we liked this guy, and when we went to the studio with him having most of the music ready I was still in the process of writing the lyrics. I was having writers block and he gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do. We went in and recorded the tracks live and then started working in the vocals. I’m kind of funny about having people in the studio, but he made me feel very comfortable and helped me do what I needed to do. He gave me the confidence to do my best.
D: “Behind The Sun” is a real departure from your sound. How did the song come about?
A: Our guitar player had written the melody, and we agreed that it was beautiful even though it wasn’t our normal style of funk rock. We felt that it was so beautiful it merited attention and a song. I didn’t really know what to write at that point but the song made me feel like I was on the beach in the sun and that song made me feel so good! I didn’t really know how to deliver it even though I had no problem writing the lyrics. But Michael Beinborn figured out the vocal melody and he gets credit on that song because his part in figuring out the vocal melody is so important. It was very difficult to sing it because I’m not used to that style, but once the special touches were added like the sitar, that’s how it came to be. We don’t want to be known for “Behind The Sun”‘ even though we are proud it, because it’s not our usual style.
D: How does the band relax?
A: One way we relax in the summer is to go to the mountains with our backpacks and freeze dried food and clothes. We hike away from civilisation as far as we can go in six or seven days. We sleep under the stars in our sleeping bags with an intense campfire going and we drink from the purest streams of water… We also like to spend time with our girlfriends. I am in love with a beautiful girl called Ione. I wasn’t even looking for her, but we found each other. She’s an actress in LA. and she just appeared in a movie called “The River’s Edge”. We read to each other under the covers at night.
D: If you could play to anyone in the world, who would be in the front row, and what song would you sing,?
A: I would really like to play for Martin Luther King Jr. I’d play a song called “Green Heaven” from our first album [he breaks into rap]… I would also like to play for Jimi Hendrix and we might play a song called “Funky Crime” from the new album… I’d also like to play for Bob Marley. For him I’d choose “American Ghost Dance”.
D: Can you explain the Sock campaign?
A: That concept began when I was about 16 years old. This girl had a thing for me and I didn’t really care for her at all. She beckoned my roommate to get me out of my bedroom to talk to her and she was under the impression I had a stimulating genital region. I came out of my bedroom with a sock around my [stimulating genital region] and when my friend heard about this they thought it was classic. Then when we formed the band we played at a club there were these girls stripping on the sides of the stage one night. So we decided that for the encore we’d all come out wearing socks. This blew the audience’s mind and we became known as the guys who wore socks on their dicks. When we were feeling really crazy about every 20 shows we would do this. It eventually became famous.
D: it also became a tee-shirt!
A: Our record company told us we could never use the photograph and that we should burn the negatives because there was no way the press would ever enjoy it. But we secretly submitted it to the L.A. Weekly and they ran it in a prime location. The next day all around the record company people were putting the picture up around their desks. The next thing you know we’ve got tee shirts and pens that when you turn them upside down our shorts fall off to reveal the socks. We’ve got posters, we’ve got picture disks and now the idea has really taken off.
D: Let’s talk about the video…
A: We had total control over the video. We had a choice of any director, but a friend of ours who had previously done a no-budget production of our song “Catholic School Girls Rule” was the person we chose. He’s an actor and creator about town who’s name is Dick Rude. We suggested him to the record company to their apprehension, but it was important to us to use someone who is creatively inspiring. We did a video for “Fight Like A Brave” which is the single. When it over we f***ing loved it. It was the best video we ever did- in just two days! Our director was considerate, talented and sensitive to what we had in mind. We sent it to MTV and thought they would love it but they didn’t because the word “bullshit” appears in the lyrics. We were heartbroken but we edited the “bullshit” part and now MTV says they’ll run it. It’s action packed and it’s fun and it takes place in Hollywood.
… and speaking of film, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers will also be performing their single “Fight Like A Brave” in an upcoming movie production of “Less Than Zero”, Bassist, Flea appears in “Dudes!, and the band will also be seen in the movie “Blue Iguana”. Rumor has it that the song you’ll hear in “Blue Iguana” will be a cover version of James Brown’s “Sex Machine”. Ow!
Interview by • Dawn Hood
October 30, 1987
Many thanks to Hamish at RHCP Sessions for the scan.