A special end of year edition of Kerrang! Magazine (UK) in which RHCP are named as band of the year and as a result feature in several articles.
Kerrang! 2002 Year Book
“Hey, this is Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve been talking to one of your countrymen about this and that and on behalf of the band I’d like to express our gratitude and say that it’s an honour to be voted best band of the year by Kerrang!. I think we’ve come a long way and Kerrang! has come a long way too. So check this out…”
Band of the Year
1 RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
How are they ever going to top ‘Californication’? Like this…
THEY STARTED 2002 locked away in Los Angeles’ infamous Chateau Marmont hotel and ended it risking life and limb on girders high above the streets of Caracas. In between, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their eighth studio album, ‘By The Way’, and promptly became the biggest rock group in the world. “This band means everything to me,” said Anthony Kiedis on the eve of the album’s release.
“There’s a chemistry at work when the four of us go into a room that I’ve just never experienced with anyone else.” That chemistry was working overtime when the Chili Peppers recorded ‘By The Way’. If its predecessor, 1999’s ‘Californication’, saw the bolshy, cock-waving antics of the past heavily toned down, then ‘BTW’ saw them consigned to the sock drawer once and for all. Measured and melodic, this was the sound of a band maturing with dignity intact. Unsurprisingly, ‘By The Way’ crashed into the top of the charts in at least a dozen countries, helped in no small part by the eponymous lead-off single (itself accompanied by a suitably hilarious video in which Kiedis is kidnapped by a deranged cab driver) and a string of ridiculously low-key club shows, including a memorable appearance at London’s tiny Highbury Garage.
Next Year: Having got the ‘secret gig’ bug out of their systems, the Chilis return to what they do best: commandeering the stages of enormous arenas and stadiums. Their UK tour starts on March 5 in Glasgow.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK…
…Because the Chili Peppers never went away. After almost 20 years they’re leaner, meaner and cleaner than ever. Here’s how the gloves really came off in 2002…
January 2002: The year begins with the Chili Peppers in Cello Studios in Hollywood with producer Rick Rubin, two months into the recording of their eighth studio album, ‘By The Way’.
Flea (bass “The real work on ‘By The Way’ started in February 2001, when we first got together in a rehearsal room to write. We spent six months straight writing and arranging every day, so that by the time we got to the studio we were just laying the songs down. Cello is a great place to record, but sometimes recording can be exciting and beautiful, sometimes it’s just another humdrum day at work. Writing is fun, it’s boring, it’s happy, it’s miserable, it’s always different. But we’re disciplined and focused enough to go into the studio every day and work. It’s not some champagne and caviar rock star party for us.”
John Frusciante (guitar): “I started recording most of my parts for ‘By The Way’ in February. I actually probably enjoy being in the studio more than being onstage, just because you can take one moment and capture it for infinity just by pressing the ‘Record’ button. That’s a wonderful, powerful feeling for me. In the past, particularly when we were writing ‘BloodSugarSexMagik’, I’d be writing to fit into the style of what the Chili Peppers – the band that Anthony [Kiedis] and Jack [Irons, former RHCP drummer] and Hillel [Slovak, former RHCP guitarist] and Flea created – were like. But now I don’t feel the need to make our music sound like the Chili Peppers, I don’t feel the need to fit within the blueprint laid down by the early albums. Now, more often than not, songs come from jams, and then Flea and I have what we call a ‘face-off’ where we each try to write a part that’ll be right for that song. One of us goes into the alley by the studio to write and the other stays inside and then we compare the two, and we did that on pretty much every song on there. I’d come up with a basic framework for songs like ‘Cabron’ and ‘Venice Queen’, but every-one writes their own parts so there are always alterations to be made.”
Flea: “There are always differences in the studio with ideas and egos and being at different places in our lives, but our ability to connect with each other gets deeper over time. We know more about ourselves, more about each other, more about music and more about accessing the spiritual content of the songs.”
Anthony Kiedis (vocals): “When we finish the completed basic tracks, we sit back in the studio and listen to them and smile at one another, knowing that all the hard work was worthwhile.”
February/March: Anthony Kiedis moves into the Chateau Marmont on LA’s Sunset Boulevard to record vocals for the album. John Frusciante is already resident in the famous hotel.
Anthony: “The Chateau Marmont is probably the most beautiful, soulful building in all of Hollywood. There’s a good spirit in that building and they treat us nice there. I had lived at the Chateau in the past, and John was living there at that time. As he was doing a lot of harmony vocals we thought, ‘Why hang out in an enormous studio that costs a ton of money when we could just check into a room, set up some microphones and do the vocals there?’. So we rented a room and moved in the Pro Tools computer gear and made it our own. I had a load of vintage film posters from the ’30s and ’40s around my microphone, which helped me get into the vibe.
“I thought I had written a lot of lyrics. I had lyrics for about 20 different songs, but the problem is that my band had written about a thousand songs and wanted to record about 30 of those. Each morning I’d spend the first few hours writing before I went in to sing. I probably finished about 30 per cent of the lyrics in the Chateau. Sometimes I just have to listen to the music and start writing and the lyrics will be there, but at other times it’s painful and methodical, like figuring out your next move in a chess game.”
April: Acclaimed artist and film-maker Julian Schnabel, father of John Frusciante’s 19-year-old girlfriend Stella Schnabel, turns his ideas for album artwork over to the band.
John: “My girlfriend’s father offered to do the album art so we sent him rough mixes of eight songs and he just got the vibe of the album from that. He said that he wouldn’t be offended if we didn’t like it, but we loved what he did. He’s also given us great covers for all the singles. He’s a true artist.”
May 1 7-20: The video for ‘By The Way’ is filmed in LA by award-winning video directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who had previously helmed the band’s ‘Otherside’ and ‘Road Trippin” videos in addition to directing promos for Korn (‘Freak On A Leash’) and Smashing Pumpkins (‘Tonight, Tonight’). Influenced by a car chase in the Mexican film ‘Amores Perros’, the video sees Kiedis kidnapped and taken for a ride by a lunatic taxi driver played by US comedian David Sheridan.
Anthony: “That video was funny, man. We got to do our own stunts and hang out with comic genius David Sheridan. He never broke character for the four days that we were shooting, and he never ran out of dialogue that wasn’t side-splitting. I actually wanted Jim Carrey to be in the video, but Valerie, our director said, ‘I know someone who’s better’. I was like, ‘Better than Jim Carrey? Are you sure?’ but he ended up being the best choice we could have made.”
John: “The guy was really funny. I have an hour-long videotape of the improvised stuff he’d be doing between takes or during our lunch breaks and it’s just brilliant. Most of the time with videos you spend hours just sitting around waiting to be called, but he actually made that one quite fun.”
May 31: The Chili Peppers play a low-key club show at The Garage in London. It is the band’s first indoor UK date since December 1999.
John: “That show was a lot of fun. I love playing huge shows but playing little clubs is great, it’s fun for me to be able to see people’s faces close up and feel like we’re all one together.”
Flea: “Bands always say that they prefer little shows because they like the contact with the people, and I like that too, but I also like the feeling of things moving and changing. We’ve played a billion little clubs and I think that it makes sense for this band to be playing big places right now. But I was kinda in a bad mood that night, I was having a little tantrum, so for me personally that show was a little weird.”
Anthony: “You’re kidding! I guess there’s no accounting for a bad mood, but personally I was in heaven that day. That was just about as much fun as you can have playing a show.”
June 26: The Chili Peppers play London’s Dockland Arena to a sell-out 12,000-capacity crowd, which includes actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Anthony: “I loved that show. It felt like 150 degrees on that stage, but I had a bunch of friends there and I had a great night. I was really happy with it, it was exciting and fun.”
Flea: “That was one of my favourite shows of the year. Not because we had celebrity friends there, just because it was a cool show.”
July 1: ‘By The Way’ is released as a single in the UK. It enters the charts at Number 2.
John: “It wasn’t really our decision to put that song out first, but our managers thought it was an exciting song and their enthusiasm convinced us. I guess they thought that it combined the wild part of our sound with the melodic part of our sound.”
Anthony: “I thought that single was an uber-bombastic assault of non-commercialism. For it to be so well received over there was shocking to me, but thrilling at the same time. It’s a good feeling when that island of yours embraces our band.”
July 8: The album ‘By The Way’ is released to rave reviews in the UK. Selling 134,000 copies in its first week on sale, the album debuts in the UK charts at Number 1, the first Chili Peppers album to do so. It also tops the charts in 15 other countries worldwide in its first week.
Anthony: “For us, the true experience of an album is the days and weeks and months we spend throwing music around in the studio, so when the album is due for release, we’re kinda like, ‘the world can do with this what it will’. When the mix is finished, we all get to drive around with copies in our cars and we do swell up with a little bit of satisfaction. After that we’re kinda detached but hoping for the best. Of course we get elated when we get a positive response to what we do. We feel like we’re making a contribution to the positive energy of the world.”
John: “It made me feel really good to read the reviews of this album and to see it doing so well in England. I’m more proud of this album than anything I’ve ever done.”
Flea: “In England you can be a great genius one minute and three minutes later you’re the biggest asshole that ever lived, but I’m not going to complain now that we’re popular. I think people connect with the honesty and craftsmanship in our music. It’s not like we’ve had some overnight surge of popularity, but as time has gone by I think people have connected in a deeper way. I’m happy with the way the public relate to what we do.”
July 9: The Peppers play a 90-minute show on Ellis Island in New York City for competition winners, family members of September 11 victims, and Lower Manhattan businesses. The Ellis Island Immigration Station was the entry point to the US for more than 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954.
Flea: “That was a trippy gig. It was raining and raining and we were out on this little island where the immigrants used to get totally f**ked by the government so the gig had this really bizarre energy. You could feel the history of what happened there.”
John: “My girlfriend’s mom and brother were in the audience which was fun, but it was kind of a rough show for me. Every time I stepped on my distortion pedal the volume would drop to half so I couldn’t hear my guitar solos. It was one of our first shows so we were still ironing out the kinks.”
August 27: The Chili Peppers win the ‘Best Band In The World’ award at the Kerrang! Awards. Anthony Kiedis delivers his acceptance speech by video from the back of a moving scooter.
Anthony: “Did that film look good? I never got to see the finished cut. That award was nice, it means something when you get an award from actual humans, people who actually listen to and appreciate music rather than the industry. Some of the Hollywood award shows have less meaning because they’re more of a corporate conspiracy to get ratings, but when you get the feeling like it’s coming from the public, it’s great.”
Chad Smith (drums): “They really like us in England these days! What the f**k?! What happened?”
Flea: “It’s nice to get an award like that. There are some good bands around now and it means something when people take time to say something nice about you. I’m always grateful.”
Mid-September: The band team up with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris once more to shoot the video for ‘The Zephyr Song’ in Los Angeles. The video finds the band performing against a backdrop of psychedelic images.
Anthony: “The performing part of the video wasn’t that exciting for us, but being there for the go-go girl dancing shooting was fun. We had this girl, Amy Christie dancing, and she was really sexy and she danced very well and had that Russ Meyer’s enthusiasm to her female form. And then we had the talented and lovely Tobey Torres dancing too. She’s the girl whose crotch you actually stare into in the video. She’s awesome, she’s a great girl.”
Flea: “Tobey’s my girl so it was fun for me.”
September 27: The Chili Peppers kick off a 10-date South American tour at the Plaza de Toros in Guadalajara, Mexico. Kerrang! catches up with the band a week later in Caracas, Venezuela, where Anthony Kiedis freaks out his bandmates by walking along a tiny iron beam 20 storeys above the ground.
Anthony: “That was a nice place for me to find myself, just looking out at the hills in Caracas. I was fine standing out there, even though it was 20 storeys up, except for the fact that Chad felt it necessary to get as close as possible to me, and say to me, ‘I’ve got you if you fall, man’. I was like, ‘Just get the f**k away from me, I need some space and I don’t want you to catch me’.”
John: “The people in South America were wild, they really respond to the music. We had a lot of great shows in South America. I think we definitely went up a notch in improvising onstage and because the audience were so into it.”
Chad: “We’ve been around forever and we’ve been to most places in the world, so going to new places is cool.”
Flea: “South America was a f**king trip. The gigs were outstanding, because those crowds are incredible, the best crowds in the world, they go apeshit for every show and just explode. But the down side was that we were imprisoned in our hotel room the whole time we were there, because if you go out you just get mobbed. I lost it when we flew into Santiago, Chile, actually. I snapped at the airport and I was just screaming and swinging at people. I’m not proud of it. People invade your privacy and at first you understand it and tolerate it but it gets to the point where you’re like, ‘Get the f**k away from me’. I wasn’t really looking and all of a sudden there were 50 people all over me, pulling at my clothes and I just freaked.”
Anthony: “In South America the fans have a frightening habit of laying siege to the hotel and that can get painful and isolating, it makes it hard to just exist. But we managed to escape a couple of times. We found a beautiful, pristine empty surf break in Costa Rica and one in Brazil, and we came back from those little breaks feeling rejuvenated. But I did get quite homesick on that tour. Sometimes even when the shows are going great, you just miss your home life.”
October-December: The Chilis’ exhausting itinerary shows no signs of slowing down. A five-date Japanese tour will be followed by a seven-date tour of Australia and New Zealand. Then it’s off to Singapore and Bangkok before the quartet see in 2003 with two special shows at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas (minimum ticket price $200). Looks like Anthony Kiedis won’t have the chance to settle down with pipe and slippers in his LA home anytime soon…
Anthony: “Maybe so. But basically this is the best job in the world and I can never complain about it.” •
Red Hot Chili Peppers
He’s fondled a big cat but don’t get him started on man’s inhumanity to whale sharks. So what’s up, cabron? Listen to Tony…
WAS 2002 a good year for Anthony Kiedis?
“It really was, and I didn’t even realise it until 10 days ago. Sometimes you get so devoured by your own struggle that you fail to realise how many beautiful things are going on around you. About 10 days ago it became clear to me that everything I’ve done this year had a purpose and it all got me to a very special place. I came home and my dog had just recovered from a pretty bad little accident which he had while I was on tour, and I just realised that all the hard work and attempts at discipline that I had been exercising were all coming into a good thing.”
Have you learned anything about yourself this year?
“I’ve learned that it’s important to be happy every day and to get rid of the restless, irritable and discontent side because life is just too short.”
I believe you’re turning 40 soon…
“I believe you’re correct sir. When I step off the plane in Japan to begin our next tour I’ll be 40. The number seems enormous and significant and kinda frightening, but the actual feeling of life in my mind and body feels the same as it has for the past 20 years. I’m kinda stepping into it with a little grace.”
Have you any big celebration planned?
“I celebrate life every day. I’ll just have to remember not to forget to do that.”
Are you getting more mellow as you get older, learning to accept things as they are rather than stressing?
“I definitely like when I can do that, acceptance definitely works a lot better than stressing. But it’s still something that I need to be reminded of on a daily basis.”
Is that tiger tattoo on your forearm a new addition to the collection?
“It’s not that new, about two years old.”
Is there any significance attached to that?
“I was having a feeling, I just felt like getting a tiger. Sometimes you get a tattoo then you find meaning. I got to meet a tiger once. I went to some fancy-pants party up in the hills of Beverly. It must have been the home of some Arabian prince because there was an enormous Bengal tiger on the front lawn with a caretaker, a big fat chain around his neck, it was very mellow. It was lying on its stomach and there was a small line of people that were waiting to touch it on its buttocks area. The tiger was laying there, accepting these little pats. I got in line because I figured this could be my one chance to touch a tiger and it didn’t seem drugged but it did seemed bored. I got up there and said, ‘Is it okay if I move to the shoulder area?’. The caretaker, trainer person said, ‘Yeah, just take it real slow and gentle’. I got my shoulder stroke on, the tiger takes its enormous head, cranes around and starts licking my hand so I felt I made a connection there for a moment. I’m the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar too, and my name is Tony…”
Does anyone call you Tony?
“My mother and my two sisters, and my nephew call me Uncle Tony.”
We spotted you out at the ‘Jackass: The Movie’ premiere in LA a few weeks ago: did you enjoy the film?
“I enjoyed it up to the point when they started swimming with the whale sharks. I was laughing my ass off the entire movie, louder than anyone else in the theatre, and then they did this thing where they swim with whale sharks that are in a giant netted compound somewhere, and I thought that was kinda idiotic in a bad way. It’s funny when those guys are beating the shit out of each other and humiliating each other, because they’re theatrical and charismatic, but to bring animals, especially whale sharks, into it kinda pissed me off. They lost me at that point, I went from being elated to wanting to talk to somebody about it. Have you seen the movie?”
No, it’s not out in the UK until January.
“It’s pretty well put together. You should go see it.”
Thanks for the tip. Do you feel comfort-able these days with the Hollywood A-list?
“Well, those premiere things always make me nervous. It feels funny having a lot of people screaming at you and wanting to take your picture. I could take it or leave it.”
Fred Durst and Tenacious D’s Jack Black were at the same premiere — do you count those guys as friends?
“I like Jack Black, I used to really like his Tenacious D thing when they were kinda unheard of. I hope they stay cool now that they’re actually having some success.”
You seemed to enjoy your UK shows this year… is England getting to be a more fun place to visit?
“I think it was always fun, I think I just liked to pretend that it wasn’t. I’m a lot more open-minded now and I’ve come to appreciate all of my experiences.”
What music floated your boat this year?
“The best record I’ve heard all year is The Mars Volta EP [‘Tremulant’]. I don’t know of anything else that exciting that’s going on right now. I’ve always loved Stereolab, but for new bands The Mars Volta is the best I’ve heard. It’s definitely worth investigating. They’re going to be a really challenging band to bring on tour.”
You have a song called ‘Cabron’ on your current album ‘By The Way’: is it true that ‘Cabron’ means motherf**ker?
“What’s cool about that word is that it means about 10 different things. It could mean ‘motherf**ker’, it could mean ‘tough bastard’, it could mean ‘bad ass’, it could mean ‘motherf**ker in a friendly way, like when you call your friend and go, ‘Hey, what’s up motherf”ker?'”
So you won’t be offended if someone calls you a ‘cabron’ in the months ahead?
“Depends who’s saying it!”
Words: Paul Brannigan Photo: Paul Harries