1990 June Kerrang! (292)

Thank you to Kathie Davis for the transcript.

On a not so hot day in LA, MICK WALL is having his ears burnt by ANTHONY KIEDIS, vocalist of the ‘Hardcore, bone-crunching, psychedelic, sex-funk band from heaven’ otherwise known as the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS.  Kiedis explains why Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton may soon be minus a left foot, why Kiedis’ new girlfriend is ‘the biggest sexual genius’ he’s encountered in the last 10 years, and why conquering England will be like ‘the long-term process of making love’.  Be on the safe side:  take a pack of condoms to next week’s gigs and be sure you know…

 

WHO’S FUNKIN’ YOU

 

I’M SORRY, ladies, but when he appears in the doorway, immediately I’m struck by how small he is.  Onstage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis looks like one of those classic Greek statues; large, musclebound, big willy dangling.

In person, however, the singer with the original ‘Hardcore, bone-crunching, psychedelic, sex-funk band from heaven’ looks much more manageable.  Five feet eight maybe, long straight tea-coloured hair, younger looking than his 27 years.  Dressed in shorts (natch), T-shirt and sneakers.  Still with the big muscular arms though.

As for the willy?  Well, he never showed it to me, which is a shame.  Maybe if he had, I might have sued him and made some money out of it.  He explains how a similar situation came about…

“It was backstage after a show and I was changing and there was this girl there.  We were all joking and laughing together and when she left, no one was under the impression that she was perturbed by my nudity in the dressing room.”

Within 24 hours, however, he girl, a student at the George Mason University, in Virginia, had sworn out a complaint and Kiedis was tried and convicted on misdemeanor charges of ‘sexual battery’ and indecent exposure, but is appealing against the sexual battery charge.

She claimed Kiedis had dangled his dick in her face.  Had he?

“No,” he says sharply.  “I’m not that type of person.  I’m a very fun-loving, friendly person.  The fact that I was found guilty of misdemeanors and given a nominal fine pretty much indicated to my attorney and to hers that it was a pile of shit.”

UNLIKE THE singing voice, which has rapped, yapped and crowed its way through four albums with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the speaking voice is even-tempered, almost monotonous, or would be if what he had to say wasn’t so interesting.  We meet on another typically red hot day in Los Angeles.

Actually, I’m lying.  It was pissing with rain, chuckin’ it down.  I just liked the line.

“I love the rain,” Kiedis tells me, glancing out the window of my hotel room.  “It’s very important to Los Angeles; the air pollution is so deadly here that without the rain we would die.  So, you know, we’re very lucky to have rain today.”

We digress to discuss the environment.  Kiedis says it needs all the help it can get.  I don’t argue.  We sit there looking thoughtful.  Then the conversation steers itself back onto safer ground; more sex crimes.

In March, performing during MTV’s Spring-break party in Daytona Beach, Florida, bassist and – along with Kiedis – co-founder of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary, and drummer Chad Smith, were arrested by beach rangers after they had leapt off the stage to much commotion and Flea allegedly threw a young woman over his shoulder while Smith spanked her.

Both face charges for battery, with Flea facing additional charges of ‘disorderly conduct’ and ‘solicitation to commit an unnatural and lascivious act’.

Kiedis remains tight-lipped on the subject.  It’s clear he thinks the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion.  Maybe if it had been solely a Red Hot Chili Pepper gig instead of a variety show, the girl would have understood, maybe even demanded it…

“Most people who come to our shows understand that there’s a humorous element to what we do and not necessarily intended to offend anyone,”  Kiedis says.

“The first amendment of the American Constitution gives you the freedom of speech and the freedom, you know, to do what you will from the stage.”

Tell it to the PMRC, I tell him.  Or the Governor of the State of Minnesota who is trying to introduce an over-21 law for all major-league concerts in the state, whether the venue is selling alcohol or not.

“That’s a terrible concept,” says Kiedis, shaking his head.  “I hope they fail miserably.  Creativity has always been threatened by certain right wing factions of society.  But they’ve never succeeded and I don’t see why they should now.

NEVERTHELESS, THE last Chilis album, ‘Mother’s Milk’, came complete with ‘Explicit Language’ stickers plastered on it’s sleeve.

“That doesn’t bother me at all,” he says.  “Our lyrics are very explicit, whether it’s about sex or friendship, or love for life in general.  If they wanna inform the buying public that it is explicit, I have no problems with that.”

However, when a certain large chain of American stores wanted to by 50,000 copies of the album, they balked when they say the sleeve (the naked upper torso of a young woman cradling the four miniature figures of the band in her slender arms).

The band’s record company, EMI, got round the problem by redesigning the sleeve to make the bodies bigger, in order to obscure more of “Mother’s breasts.  50,000 records later, Kiedis says he is comfortable with the decision and denies any implications of selling out.  Yuk!  Horrid words.

“The art of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is first and foremost that of our music, and we never change our music as a compromise for anybody’s desires or tastes.  That we should have to enlarge ourselves on the record is really not that big a deal.  It’s what’s inside that counts,” he points out pragmatically.

“These things are so arbitrary, anyway.  Nobody kicked up any fuss over our T-shirts…” (The two most famous being the legendary socks-on-cocks number, and the less well known woman-masturbating shirt.)

“It’s a drawing of Madonna masturbating, and she’s dreaming of the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Kiedis explains with a straight face.

It’s not known if Madonna herself has actually seen it.

“I think if she saw it, she’s want one, that’s the type of girl she is.  I mean, I don’t think she’s ever denied masturbating.  Or denied masturbating to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for that matter…”

WHAT ABOUT the serious side of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though?  All play and no work makes Jack a dull jerk…  Does it concern Kiedis that some people might not be able to see past the silly faces in their photo’s the smutty T-shirts, the whole zany, kinky, mama-we’s-all-crazy jive?  That some people might not take the Red Hot Chili Peppers seriously at all?

“But that’s like people going to see Jimi Hendrix play and coming away from the concert with nothing more to say than, ‘Wow, that guy can play with his teeth!’“ he says.  “This is show business, and we are here to entertain.  We like to entertain people.  The visual value of it is there, but there’s a lot more to it than that.  People who are truly interested or concerned will find that out eventually.”

On the other hand, of course, some people take the Red Hot Chili Peppers almost too seriously.  To the point of wanting to be them.  No, I’m not talking about Faith No More: just their singer, Mike Patton.

I ask Kiedis straight for his opinion on the matter: did Mike Patton rip you off hook, line, and sinker, or what?

“Yeah,” he says, no hesitation.  “My drummer says he’s gonna kidnap

him and shave his hair off and saw off one of his feet.  Just so he’ll be forced to find a style of his own.”

Is the genuine bitterness here, or just another joke?

“It used to really bother me.  I thought, what a drag if people get the idea that I’m actually ripping him off!  Especially in the UK where Faith No More are much better known than us.  In America, it’s a different story, people are aware of the profound influence we had on them.

“But after it stewed in my stomach for a while, I just decided to accept it.  He is just a kid.  Besides, without his left foot he’s going to have to change…”

IN AMERICA they just received a gold record for ‘Mother’s Milk’.  It is only now that the Chilis have started to make any serious inroads into the British or European markets.  This month they return to the UK for a clutch of dated.

How important is it for the band to be a success this side of the ocean they named after a record company?

“Everywhere we go in the world we try our hardest and we play our hardest every night we play.  That’s basically what we have to offer Britain.  The way the industry’s set up over there, the only way to get across is go over there and play. It’s nice to expose what you have to offer to the entire world.”

Does he actually like it over in Ye Olde Country?

“To be blatantly honest, England is not our favourite place to go, he admits without guilt.

“It isn’t because we’re not as well-known as we are in America: it’s the weather we don’t like; and it’s very far away, and the food’s not very good – they tend to overcook the vegetables.”

He adopts a teasing, bitter English accent:  “Y’know, steak ’n’ kidney pie is not really me favourite…

“I think that sooner or later, though, it’s inevitable that we will conquer England, as well as Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the world.”

This without a hint of an exclamation mark in his voice.

“It’s very much like the long-term process of making love to somebody:  you start off with the foreplay, you kiss them and you suck their neck and you titillate their sensory areas with your fingertips, with the first couple of records.

“Maybe you start giving them head with the third record, then you finally slip it in for the fourth.  That’s essentially what we’ve done with our career up to this point.

“ ‘Mother’s Milk’ was incredibly well received in America.  Basically, we’re still involved in the foreplay section with the rest of the world, since they didn’t really get our first two records.”

SEX… IT ALL comes back to sex with this guy.  Almost as soon as we met, Kiedis told me he was on a ‘sex diet’.  And he has the love-bites – one either side of the jugular – to prove it.

“I’ve got a new girlfriend.  She’s 18 years old and demands rigorous sexual activity several times a day.”

For those of us who need to know, Kiedis’ sex diet consists of “no fattening foods, lots of protein, and a lot of exercise before and after you eat.  Basically, you just can’t afford to have an ounce of fat because a sexual diet is for performance.

“But it’s also for aesthetics:  she’s a model and she’s quite perfect in her physical structure.”

So is this lurve, Anthony?

Love is a word taken much too seriously sometimes,” he says enigmatically.  “People are afraid to say they love somebody, but the fact if I do love her.  I’m not gonna marry her and I’m not gonna dedicate my whole life to her, because I need to devote time to myself and to my music.

“But she understands.  I just broke up with the girl that I lived with for two years.  To get out of the frying pan and to go straight into the fire would be stupid right now.  We’ve decided we’re gonna be blatantly honest about our feelings, at risk of hurting each other.

“But I do love her and she loves me.  She’s the biggest sexual genius I’ve encountered in the last 10 years…”

HE STRIKES a post-coital pose and lights a cigarette.  Excluding sex, smoking is his one remaining vice.  “My guitar player (John Frusciante) is such an avid smoker, and he really loves the quality it gives my voice, the raspiness.

“But he’s the kind of guy who was heartbroken to find out that John Waters, his favourite film-maker, had quit smoking at the age of 44.”

Once upon a time, of course, smoking a cigarette was the least of Kiedis’ problems.  Heroin abuse, alcoholism, both had threatened to take him over for much of the band’s seven-year career.  Then his guitarist, friend and co-conspirator in the twilight world of drug addiction, Hillel Slovak, died.

“Like me, Hillel had the disease of drug addiction,” Kiedis says, not flinching.  “He didn’t die of an overdose; he died from having a disease.

“No one wanted to accept that this young man with so much to offer was just gone, you know, wiped out in a second.

“But in a strange way, we found strength from that.  It forced me to make a choice.  I could either join Hillel or I could try and finish my life.

“I’ve been completely off all alcohol and drugs for 21 months now.  I mean, completely.  I don’t drink or use any more.

“But I don’t do it by myself.  Hillel tried to do it by himself and he died.  I do it with the help of other addicts that have cleaned up.  That’s the only way I know how to deal with it.”

A NEW Red Hot Chili Peppers single, ‘Taste The Pain’, the third to be taken from the excellent ‘Mother’s Milk’ collection, is released by EMI to tie in with the UK shows.

A new video, directed by Alex Winter (the weedy blond guy in ‘Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure’), has already been shot, and features, says Kiedis with obvious satisfaction, “some very twisted images of pain and brutal reality.  It’s impossible to describe.  There’s a sense of surrealism to it all as well.”

When he’s not devouring his new girlfriend, Kiedis says he likes to spend his spare time reading (Bukowski is a big favourite, as is Capote, Hesse, Bach); listening to music (“Sex Packets’ by the Digital Underground is a current favourite, he tells me).

But mostly, he has sex, he insists.  Well, it’s a hobby, I suppose…

While still discussing his sex diet and all the exercise involved, I enquire how often Kiedis lifts weights?

No, no weights,” he says.

I look surprised.  Where did you get those big arms from then, I asked him?

“Sex,” he replied.

No way!  What does he do, carry them around over his head before he gets them into bed?

At last, he allows himself a small chuckle, amused by my puffing and blowing, my envy and disbelief.

“The only exercise I ever get, unless I force myself to do push-ups, is sex and onstage.  Stage is the cardio-vascular scenario, you know; an hour-and-a-half running around every night.  That’s a perfect exercise.

“And sex.  You’d be surprised.  I mean, if you’re holding yourself up above a girl for any length of time… you know, utilizing your pelvis or whatever.  Don’t you feel pumped up after you have sex?” he asks, face a perfect mask of sincerity.

Outside, it’s stopped raining…

 

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