1992 June Rolling Stone (633)

Note: This is the edition that had the (im)famous cover photo edit following John Frusciante’s departure from Red Hot Chili Peppers (image included in scan pics)

Thank you to Kathie Davis for the transcript

ANTHONY KIEDIS WILL NOT DISCLOSE THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE BRIDGE.  “IT’S DOWNTOWN,” HE SAYS WARILY, GESTURING VAGUELY AT A DISTANT SPOT ON THE GLITTERING LOS ANGELES NIGHTSCAPE OUTSIDE A HIGH-RISE HOLLYWOOD HOTEL ROOM.  “BUT IT’S UNIMPORTATNT,” HE ADDS SHARPLY.  “I DON’T WANT PEOPLE LOOKING FOR IT.” ~ KIEDIS, THE SINGER AND LYRICIST OF THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, HAS Already immortalized the spot in “Under the Bridge,” the stark and uncommonly pensive ballad – at least for the usually sex-mad, funked-up Chili Peppers – that unexpectedly drop-kicked the band into Top Ten.  But Kiedis is understandably reluctant to turn the bridge into a pop-music tourist attraction.  For one thing, it was, and still is, on L.A. street-gang turf; casual visitors are not suffered gladly.  For another, it was under that bridge that Kiedis’s life bottomed out a few years ago under the weight of a severe heroin addiction.

“I was reaching a demoralizing low, just kind of hanging out on the streets and doing my thing and not much else, sadly to say,” Kiedis explains in a subdued, slightly gravelly voice quite unlike his aggro-stud stage bark.  “I ran into some fairly unscrupulous characters involved with miniature Mafioso drug rings, and the hangout for one of these gangs was this particular location under a bridge.  I ended up going there with this gang member, and the only way that I was allowed to go under this bridge was for him to tell everybody else that I was getting married to his sister.  You had to be family to go there.

“That was one of just hundreds of predicaments that I found myself in, the kind that only drug addiction can bring about,” Kiedis says with a shrug.  “It’s not that one place was more insidious than other places.  But that’s just one day that sticks very vividly in my memory.  Like, how could I let myself get to that point?”

Kiedis, a muscular young buck with ruggedly handsome features and long, ironing-board-flat hair, had been clean for some time – since August 1st, 1988 – when he turned that memory into song during preproduction for the Chili Peppers’ latest album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.  Except he was suffering from another kind of withdrawal.  “I was driving away from the rehearsal studio and thinking how I just wasn’t making any connection with my friends or family, I didn’t have a girlfriend, and Hillel wasn’t there,” he says soberly, referring to Hillel Slovak, the band’s original guitarist and a close friend since high school, who died of a heroin overdose in June 1988.

“The only thing I could grasp was this city,” Kiedis says “I grew up here for the last twenty years, and it was L.A. – the hills, the buildings, the people in it as a whole – that seemed to be looking out for me more than any human being.  I just started singing this little song to myself:  ‘Sometimes I feel/Like I don’t have a partner…’

“When I got home that day, I started thinking about my life and how sad it was right now.  But no matter how sad or lonely I got, things were a million percent better than they were two years earlier when I was using drugs all the time.  There was no comparison.  I was reminding myself, ‘Okay, things might feel fucked up right now, but I don’t ever want to feel like I did two years ago.’

“In the end it wasn’t like I was writing in any sort of pop-song format,” says Kiedis.  “I just started writing about the bridge – and the things that occurred under the bridge.”

FORTUNE HAE BEEN SMILING BROADLY ON KIEDIS AND the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Thanks to “Under the Bridge,” Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith, guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Michael Balzary – who is better known by his longtime nom de punk, Flea – were enjoying the mainstream success that had eluded the band through nine years, five albums, one EP, two record labels, several personnel changes, Hillel Slovak’s death and Kiedis’s near self-destruction.  Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the Chili Peppers’ Warner Bros. debut, was over the million selling mark, while the band’s EMI catalog, including the 1989 gold album Mother’s Milk, was kicking up shelf dust.  This summer the Chili Peppers were to seal their chart victory by topping the bill over Ice Cube, Ministry, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam on the 1992 edition of Perry Farrell’s traveling mosh & roll festival, Lollapalooza.

Then in Japan on May 7th, four shows into an extensive Far East tour, Frusciante abruptly quit the group, forcing the band to abort two more Japanese shows as well as a major swing through Australia and New-Zealand.  Kiedis was on the phone in his hotel room, talking to a reporter in New Zealand, when Flea came in and dropped the bomb.  “Flea looked at me with this completely puzzled and surreal, sad face,” Kiedis says a few days later.  “He said, ‘John wants to quit the band and go home right now.’  It stunned me and it shattered me because things had been going so well.”

When the whole band sat down to talk it out, it was apparent that the guitarist was not playing mind games. “I could tell by the look in his eye that he was really serious,” Kiedis says.  “He said: ‘I can’t stay in the band anymore.  I’ve reached a state where I can’t do justice to what we’ve created, because of stress and fatigue.  I can’t give what it takes to be in this band anymore.’ “

There had been warning signs.  General on-tour morale had been rocky over the past year, but Frusciante, especially, “didn’t seem happy on the road,” Kiedis says.  “We could tell there was an unpleasant tension with him,”

A wiry, spaced ranger of twenty-two, Frusciante was not your archetypal gonzo Chili Pepper, at least in conversation.  During a recent interview, he sat in his Hollywood living room with the troubled air of someone beamed in from a parallel universe against his will.  He was suspicious and painfully withdrawn, wincing at most questions and snapping back impatiently at others.  It was easy, thought, to understand his discomfort.  Only eighteen when he joined the band shortly after Slovak’s death, Frusciante quickly went from being a bedroom guitar prodigy and staunch Chili Peppers fan to playing on the band’s first hit record, Mother’s Milk.  But the pressures, it appears, mounted rapidly over the past year.

“We kept a positive face on the operation,” Kiedis says, “hoping that it was going to work out.  He’s one of the most deeply soulful guitar players that we’ve ever been connected with.  Also, he’s a good friend, and we had something going that was cosmic and special.  And we’re going to have to find that elsewhere.”

The Chili Peppers will have a new guitarist in time for the mid-July opening date of the Lollapalooza tour.  Yet Kiedis admits to having mixed feelings about the excursion – in particular, the Chili Peppers’ lack of creative input, even as headliners, the on the package.  “If I didn’t get off on it so heavily last year, I wouldn’t have been so inclined to be a part of it this year,” Kiedis insists.  But the ’92 lineup, he says, is “way too male” and “way too guitar-oriented’ for his tastes.  “I wanted [the all-female band] L7 on the bill, and everybody in the agency just scoffed.  They said, ‘They don’t mean anything.’  What do you mean?  They rock, and they’re girls.

Kiedis has also been frustrated by his inability to speak with Perry Farrell personally about the tour.  Kiedis claims that when he tried to get Farrell’s phone number so he could call him directly, he was instructed to fax Farrell in care of the booking agency.  “It was kind of upsetting to me,” Kiedis says.

He agrees nonetheless that Lollapalooza’s success – along with that of Nirvana, their Seattle-Sub Pop brethren, and the Chili Peppers themselves – is emblematic of a healthy and vital discontent revitalizing rock & roll:  “The world at large is just completely bored with mainstream bullshit.  They want something that not only has a hardcore edge but that is real music, written by real people who wake up and have the unignorable need to create music.”

Even by Top Forty’s post-Nirvana standards, “Under the Bridge” is an impressive fluke.  Gently anchored by a lilting, skeletal guitar riff that faintly echoes Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” the song is light on radio-friendly pomp and directed in its confessional detail (“Under the bridge downtown/Is where I drew some blood…. Under the bridge downtown/I gave my life away”).  “It doesn’t really have a hook,” admits Chad Smith.  “And not to take away from Anthony, but he’s not the greatest singer in the world.  It’s just cool and soulful.  It’s not like the guy who wins all the awards, Michael Bolton.”  He punctuates the name with a pig-snort laugh.  “But maybe that’s why it’s so great.”

“Under the Bridge” also flouts the long-standing school of thought on the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Loved and scorned in equal measure as tattooed punk-funk loons obsessed with the horizontal rumba, the Chili Peppers are skateboard-culture heroes, recognized even by their detractors as early pioneers of the mosh-pit marriage of funk, rap and thrash that Living Colour and Faith No More took to the bank.  The band members are notorious as well for the horny deviltry of songs like “Party on Your Pussy” and their socks-on-cocks stage gag – coming on buck naked except for a strategically placed white tube sock.  They’ve also made a headlines because of legal problems in Virginia, where Kiedis was convicted of indecent exposure and sexual battery after exposing himself to a woman following a 1989 show, and in Daytona Beach, Florida, where Flea and Chad Smith were arrested following an incident with a young woman during the filming of an MTV Spring Break performance in 1990.

Yet the Chili Peppers have finally scored commercially with a nervy slice of melancholia that is streets away from mosh-ville, locker-room chuckles and, much to Flea’s relief, the watered-down bubblegum-Peppers act of the young MTV oiks in Ugly Kid Joe.

“Our music is so much heavier than that,” Flea states indignantly, the intense stare of his striking aqua blue eyes heightened by the turquoise tint of his close-cropped hair.  “I just know where their music is coming from – copping us, copping Faith No More, copping Pop-Rock Band No. 17B.  We’re coming from listening to Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Defunkt, Funkadelic, the Meters, James Brown, the real shit.  And it’s coming from jamming, playing a billion hours of shit that no one will hear, getting cosmic in a darkened room and developing musical telepathy.

“All we ever want to do is play music that comes from our hearts,” Flea insists.  “All the other shit comes from having fun.  Like me and Hillel and Anthony used to live together in his house.  People would come over, we’d hang out, smoke pot and drink beer, put socks on our dicks and run around.  It was kids living together, having fun.”

Kiedis and Flea – who founded the Chili Peppers in 1983 with Slovak and drummer Jack Irons – are no longer kids.  They’re both twenty-nine (they were born just twelve days apart), and what started as a joke band, meant to play one song at a single club gig, has become a career.  What’s more, the sock routing has been semiretired from the stage show, pulled out (so to speak) only on special occasions.  Kiedis freely admits that, with and without the socks, the Chili Peppers are “complete punk-rock knuckleheads who love what we do, and hopefully, we’ll always have it that way.”  The problem, as Flea sees it, is getting people to understand that digging sex, being a knucklehead and making music of some enduring worth are not wholly exclusive pursuits.

“We’ve felt trapped,” Flea says angrily,  “we’ve felt cheated.  When the third record, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, cane out, I thought artistically that was a cool record.  And it was getting no play at all.  “Here’s the nutty, zany guys, they’re at it again, they want to “Party on Your Pussy.”  Which was one song on one album.”

The Chili Peppers are hardly one-trick ponies.  When they drop out of party-animal gear, they are capable of spacey acid-rock grace (“Behind the Sun,” on The Uplift Mofo Party Plan) and ragged lovesick poignancy (“Breaking the Girl,” the eerie waltz with Mellotron on Blood Sugar).  In funkier moods they boast a variety of black-music influences, most vividly in Flea’s broiling, subterranean bass propulsion:  the fluid, bare-bones grooving of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, the rattling syncopation of the Meters and the lascivious rhythm mischief of classic P-Funk. (P-Funk boss George Clinton returned the compliment by producing the band’s second LP, 1985’s Freaky Style.)  The dedication of Blood Sugar to bassist Mike Watt, late of the Minutemen and currently with fIREHOUSE, is not only a bow to “a fucking cool guy,” as Flea puts it, but a grateful declaration of the Chili Peppers’ big debt of inspiration to the Minutemen and other L.A. punk mutineers of the late Seventies, such as Black Flag, the Screamers, the Weirdos and the Germs.  (Flea, by the way, was a featured player in Penelope Spheeris’s 1983 punk docudrama Suburbia.)

And Anthony Kiedis is no simple crotch-grabbing fool.  “Under the Bridge” is persuasive enough on that score.  But Kiedis has also taken cracks at social and environmental ills in “Green Heaven” (on the band’s 1984 debut, The Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the persecution of indigenous people in “Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky” (Mother’s Milk).  The aching hole that Slovak’s death left in the band, and in Kiedis’s life, has been a recurring theme in songs like “Knock Me Down” (Mother’s Milk) and “My Lovely Man” (Blood Sugar).

Still, Kiedis writes a lot about sex because, well, it’s there.  “It seems like perfect material for art,” he says with a twinge of impatience, ‘like death and every other fundamental aspect of existence.  It’s right up there with the biggies as far as I can tell.

“What kills me is that there are so many people getting into ‘Under the Bridge’ across America who have no idea what the Chili Peppers are like.  Take a group of Kansas housewives who turn on the radio and say: ‘Oh, I like that sweet, sentimental song, Honey, would you go out and get me this record?’  They get the record, and there’s ‘Sir Psycho Sexy’ and ‘The Power of Equality.’  They are going to have their little world turned upside down.

“I have this wonderful image of this lady washing the dishes in her little home in Kansas with her little tape deck,” Kiedis says with a roguish smirk, “popping this in and taking off her clothing, running into the back yard and getting loosened up a bit.”

ANTHONY KIEDIS COMES BY HIS FASCINATION WITH SEX honestly.  He inherited it from his father – “your basic semisubversive underground hooligan playboy womanizer type of character,” as Kiedis puts it affectionately.  “He was not your nine-to-fiver, and he definitely had a strong influence on me.”

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kiedis was eleven when he settled in Hollywood with his father, a colorful local gadabout who eventually turned to acting full-time and goes by the name Blackie Dammit.  “He was very supportive of my personal education and my creative development,” Kiedis says.  But he admits that his upbringing at his father’s hands was “anarchy on a plate” when it came to formal schooling and especially women.

“My father had a constant turnover of girlfriends,” Kiedis recalls.  “It wasn’t that he was this coldhearted user of people.  He just had this insatiable desire to meet all of the beautiful girls in the world.  That was great because I got to develop this early self-confidence with women.

“Fortunately, I had enough of my mother’s genuineness in me.  At a pretty early age I fell in love with a girl and stayed with her for three years.  So it wasn’t like I was destined to do the same thing my father was doing.  At the same time, I thought it was the greatest thing in the world to have all these beautiful women come into my house and not be uptight about me hanging out with them and having sex with them.  You can believe my friends were rather impressed with my situation.

They still are.  “He’s usually on the make,” says Chad Smith of Kiedis, laughing but with genuine admiration.  “It’s beyond the usual rock-star-cliché thing.  He really fancies himself a connoisseur of women.”

The Chili Peppers’ Great Sock Stunt actually started – as Kiedis tells it – as a practical joke on a femme whom he didn’t fancy.  He was eighteen, going to UCLA (pre-tending to be a political-science major before finally dropping out) and fending off the advances of a young woman who had a big crush on him.  “I wasn’t really into her,” he says, “but she would send me these cards with foldout cocks, with the yardstick on it.”  One day the woman showed up at his house, and Kiedis, in a fit of inspiration, came out of his bedroom to greet her wearing nothing but a sock.

“Not just over the cock, but over the cock and balls,” Kiedis is quick to point out.  “It was just a gag.  And it was a good gag.”

The public debut of the Sock Stunt came later at one of the Chili Peppers’ earliest shows, in a Hollywood strip bar called the Kit Kat.  “Since it was a strip club, we decided to come out for the encore with the socks,” says Kiedis.  “And brother, let me tell you, when we came out of the little dressing room backstage, we were levitation with nervous energy.  I could not find my feet on the stage.  And somebody filmed  it.  I don’t know if the film still exists, but we saw it, and we just had this look in our eyes like we were from outer space.”

Ironic footnote:  According to Flea, the manager of the Kit Kat came running up to the band after the encore screaming hysterically:  “No pubes!  I told you guys no pubes!”  In a strip club.  Go figure.

Longtime manager Lindy Goetz claims that even at its height, the Sock Stunt occurred at only fifteen percent of all Chili Peppers shows – “in the right cities” – although there were some close calls.  In Vancouver, British Columbia, Goetz told the police that the boys were in fact wearing G-strings, that there were wires holding the socks on.  “They bought the story,” Goetz says.  “There’s no wire.  It’s just a big sock off their foot.”

The 1989 and 1990 arrests had nothing to do with hosiery.  Neither Kiedis nor Goetz will comment on the Virginia case because of continuing litigation.  Flea, thought, talks openly and bitterly about the Daytona Beach incident, an MTV promo jape that woefully misfired and tarred the band – unfairly, he says – with a reputation for violent misogyny.

The Chili Peppers were booked to lip-sync to “Knock Me Down” on a Spring Break broadcast.  The band members, who hate to lip-sync, opted to make the most of a bogus situation by throwing down their instruments in midsong and good-naturedly running amok on one another’s shoulders in the audience.  The joke went sour after Flea fell off Kiedis’s shoulders.

“I just grabbed the first thing in front of me; it happened to be a girl,” Flea recalls.  “I picked her up over my shoulder, and as far as I was concerned, she was thrilled as hell.  I didn’t know that Chad had spanked her, which was faux pas No. 1.  And in spinning her around, I committed a huge fax pas.”  When the woman fell off of his shoulders, Flea lost control, yelling obscenities at her.  “That,” he readily concedes, “is what I really shouldn’t have done.”

The police arrested Flea and Chad Smith two days later at a Chili Peppers show, charging them with battery and also charging Flea with disorderly conduct and solicitation to commit an unnatural and lascivious act.  They were found guilty and fined, with the money going to a local rape-crisis fund.  “They totally tried to make an example of us,” Smith contends.  “I’m not trying to blame anybody else.  But the way it came out was that it was a real malicious thing, that we tried to beat this girl up,”

“I did verbally abuse her, and it was wrong,” Flea says flatly.  “I will admit to that every time.  I wish I’d never done it, and it was a really stupid thing to do.  I was out of control.  But I did not assault anybody, and it was not sexual.  It had nothing to do with sex.”

The Florida tangle put a crimp in the Chili Peppers’ stage act for a short while.  “We were becoming a target,” claims Lindy Goetz.  But the firestorm of publicity, now combined with the increased glare of mainstream success and the rising tide of conservative moral hysteria, has forced the band to be more vigilant over the long haul about crossing the line between hormonal slapstick and what some people might consider sexual menace.

“I gave up the pain of misinterpretation a long time ago,” Kiedis says impatiently.  “It was just a waste of energy.” But Flea, who now has a three-year-old daughter, Clara, by a former marriage, confesses to feeling uneasy about the band’s mixed notoriety.

“I don’t need to prove anything to anybody,” Flea insists.  “I’m secure in myself.  But being this popular now, it upsets me to be perceived in a way that I don’t want to be perceived – as misogynist or homophobic or unsympathetic to other people.  I have to be more careful not to say things that are misunderstood.

“Yet I don’t feel any different than the way I did when we started this band ten years ago,” Flea says.  “Sure, I’ve learned and grown, a lot of things have happened to me.  But I think I’ve always been a kindhearted person.  Just because I come out and go:  ‘Waaaaagh!  Funk you!’  I was into punk rock, man.  That’s part of what punk rock was about to me – never having to say you’re sorry.”

KIEDIS, FLEA, AND HILLEL SLOVAK WERE ALL STUDENTS at Fairfax High School in Hollywood when they formed their first group.  It was called Los Faces, and they didn’t play a note of music.  Instead, the three of them sat around like a little social club and talked for hours – in daffy Cheech and Chong voices.

The music came later.  But Los Faces marked the beginning of a hermetic fraternal bond among Kiedis, Flea, Slovak and, a little later, Jack Irons that along with the sex-and-punk nuttiness became an integral part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers aesthetic.  They even recorded a song about it, a metallic hip-hop corker called “The Organic Anti-Beat Box Band”:  “Welcome my friends to my thoughts of when/The Fax City 4 were young men /Time has come, now we jam/With the uplift of mofo party plan… One comes from the Holy Land/Another was born in Australia/Me I’m from Michigan/But Hollywood is the land of lands/It’s a Hollywood jam.”

Kiedis, of course, was the Michigan boy.  Flea was the Australian (he just recently applied for American citizenship).  Born in Melbourne, he was raised in New York City, where his parents were divorced and his mother married a jazz musician.  Nurtured on be-bop and classic music, the preteen Flea picked up the trumpet and became so accomplished on the instrument that when the family moved to Los Angeles, he nailed down the first trumpet chair in the L.A. Junior Philharmonic.

Slovak was born in Haifa, Israel.  “He was very proud of his heritage,” Flea remembers.  “He was also a wild partyer.  Before he got carried away with the drugs, he was a lot of fun.  He was really funny and kind of funny looking. Real skinny with a long head and big lips.

“One of the weirdest things about him dying,” Flea adds wistfully, “was that all the inside jokes we had between us, just from sitting around being silly, died with him.”

Los Faces evolved into the Red Hot Chili Peppers via a series of long, tangled detours into cornball progressive rock (Slovak, Irons and Flea’s high-school band Anthem, which featured Kiedis as a jive-talking MC), hardcore punk (Flea’s tenure in Fear), New Wave rock (Slovak and Iron’s short-lived band What Is This) and No Wave funk (Slovak and Flea both played in a West Coast version of James White and the Blacks).  Kiedis, in addition, brought a keen interest in rap into the mix.  Hearing Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, he says, “gave me the notion that I could do something musically without being Marvin Gaye.”

The band’s distinctive Hollywood vibe – a four-way collision of fading widescreen glitter, sidewalk sleaze, arty smarm and nature-boy giddiness – came naturally.  “Living in Hollywood, we’ve dealt with a lot of underground shit,” explains Flea, “hanging out with the local weirdos.  At the same time, we were into driving out to the beach, going backpacking in the Sierras.  We were into both things.  And we couldn’t have gotten that living anywhere but Hollywood.”

That marriage of revved-up R&B throb and comic outlaw brotherhood made the Chili Peppers the talk of L.A. in no time.  Unfortunately, most of the throb and fun didn’t make it onto the band’s debut album.  The record suffered flabby production by Gang of Four’s Andy Gill, and the Chili Peppers – who were conceived as a part-time thing – cut the album at only half-strength, having temporarily lost Slovak and Irons to their full-time project, What Is This.

“Our natural, spontaneous thing wasn’t there,” Flea complains.  “If we’d had that original lineup on the first record, I think we would have been a lot more popular a lot sooner.  We would have gotten the real thing, hard-core, down on record.  We were so explosive at that time – and it’s not an explosive record.”

The reunion of the original foursome on Freaky Style and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan was complicated by the band’s adversarial relationship with EMI Records (“They thought we would give them the perfect pop song,” grumbles Flea) and Slovak’s and Kiedis’s twin heroin addictions.  Slovak, in fact, had been working hard to stay clean when, in a tragic relapse, he overdosed in June 1988.  Irons, upset by Slovak’s death and impatient with Kiedis’s continuing drug use, then left the band.

“It should have been me,” Kiedis says of Slovak’s death.  “My propensity for over-the-edge indulgences was more renowned than his.  When Flea got the phone call, his first reaction was “Anthony’s dead.’

“Hillel was the closest person to me in my life, and sadly enough, I don’t think I can ever find that with anybody else, because I don’t think it happens more than once that you get that close to somebody,” Kiedis says.  “But as close as we were, because we were both afflicted with this disease of drug addiction, we didn’t really hang out together because we didn’t like to see each other in that state.”

By August, Kiedis was clean; today, he’s a fierce health nut, renouncing meat and alcohol as well.  “Anthony has always been the man of fucking steel,” notes Flea.  “The fact that he is as healthy as he is and weathered the shit that he has weathered is amazing.”  But it was another year before the band recovered.  An interim lineup featuring P-Funk guitarist Blackbird McKnight and ex-Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro fizzled out.  Kiedis spotted John Frusciante while the guitarist was auditioning for another L.A. band, Thelonious Monster, but the Peppers auditioned about thirty drummers before hiring Chad Smith.

“By the time Mother’s Milk came out, there was a lot of anxiety,” Kiedis says.  “I was fighting with the producer, John was uncomfortable with his playing.” Flea was also in the midst of a rocky marriage and confronting the responsibilities as well as the joys of fatherhood.  Blood Sugar Sex Magik, by comparison, was a sweetheart experience, produced by Rick Rubin and recorded live for the most part in a house turned studio in the Hollywood Hills.

“We lived in this house for two months and never fought,” says Kiedis proudly.  “We were just so happy to be making this record.  And when we finished it, it was the greatest sense of accomplishment that we’ll probably ever know.  We knew it was a watershed for us.”

The initial trauma notwithstanding, Kiedis feels the same way about John Frusciante’s sudden departure:  “It’s bad timing.  You just have to accept the irony of that.  But we’ve always managed to persevere, and even though this is a big loss, I think we’re going to hook up with somebody that burns and smokes and does what needs to be done.  And we’re going to rock Lollapalooza.”

Kiedis doesn’t sound half as enthusiastic about his success, though: “Especially living in the city of Los Angeles an doing what I do, it’s very easy to get wrapped up like an onion with millions of layers of bullshit and completely lose touch with your inner core.  You forget you’re just a person with these real feelings of live and sadness and happiness and horniness and pleasure.  You just kind of go through life like a rolling fucking snowball, picking up more layers as you go along.  Every now and then, I need to get reminded that I’m just a person with these feelings.”

And who reminds him?

“Hillel reminds me.  More than anything else in this world, Hillel reminds me.  The other day, I was going through this thing where I’ve got about forty appointments, and I’m answering a million phone calls and opening letters and packages, and I got this package in the mail from this girl who’s been a friend of mine for years, who had been holding on to this box for me, this little brown-paper box which Hillel had given me in 1986.  There was something written on the box, and it said:  ‘Anthony, you think what I feel and understand what I say.  I love you.  This is our year, 24.  Hillel.”

“I went out into my back yard, and I just sat there for a minute,” Kiedis says.  “And all of a sudden, I managed to get through all of those layers, and I got down to the real me.  I started crying and talking to myself – and talking to Hillel.

“You know, “My Lovely Man’ is about my love for Hillel and the fact that eventually I will find him.  It’s kind of like when I die, I am counting on him to save me a seat.  And whenever I sing that song, Hillel is completely in my world.

 

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