04/2003 Q (201)

RHCP were featured in this edition several times; only the interview relevant to Anthony Kiedis is featured on this website but everything is featured on TheChiliSource scan.


Cash For Questions

They were nappy to talk about the drugs, a love of “gayness” and buttock tattooing. But don’t mention the socks-on-cocks business to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Unless you want a tedious lecture on Tolstoy, that is…

It’s Flea who arrives first, crossing the austere lobby of Milan’s Four Seasons hotel naked but for a pair of brown jogging bottoms rolled up to his thighs. The wiry bassist has four days’ worth of whiskers on his face and his hair is bottle blonde. Tattoos scream from his chest and he is laughing raucously. The hotel’s other guests — wealthy, upper-class Italians, but none as wealthy as him — frown in disdain. One woman pulls her child aside, and the man on reception does a double-take, about to call for security, before he recognises the world-famous rock star.

“I am feeling fine today,” he announces, as he takes his seat. The word LOVE is tattooed across the knuckles of his left hand, LOVE again across the other. He waves down a passing waiter. “Green tea, please, my man.” Then, and only then, does he turn to me. “Now, who are you and why am I here?”

These are good times for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Hollywood band whose legendary appetite for drugs should have sent both them and their career to an early grave years ago have kicked the habit and remain clean today. Tonight they play Milan’s Fila Forum, but before bringing the funk to 10,000 Italians, they face a grilling from Q readers. Drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Frusciante amble into the room, smiling, friendly and open, but bringing up the rear is frontman Anthony Kiedis, his face following some way behind his frown. He looks wary.

“I have a sneaking suspicion as to the nature these questions will take,” he yawns. “Come on, let’s get it over with.”

Have you ever recorded anything that was just too funky to release?

Michelle Harrison, Clapham

Keidis [sic]: Yes! We were convinced that it would send the world into a state of chaos, so we haven’t released it. But it’s amazing, maybe 15 minutes long, and it’s called Strumming In D On J. Funkmeisters would love it.

When was last time you all went out together as mates?

Rogerlones, e-mail

Flea: We’ve spent the best part of 20 years in each other’s company, so we’ve done everything together as “mates”. But we are very different people, so it’s important that we give each other space. Last night, after the show in Spain, we all went out for paella, and it was good, it was fun. Although, by the end of the evening, I did want to throw my tea in Chad’s face.

K: Well, we don’t necessarily seek recreation together.

Who’s got the best pecs in the band, and at what age does it become undignified for a man to bare his chest in public?

Richard Fallon, Canada Water

F: I have the best pets. All the US fitness magazines use pictures of my torso over and over. I’m convinced of that. They just change the heads. I’ll still be showing my chest at 95, and not just my chest. Cock and balls, too. Grey pubic hair has a certain dignity.

Smith: No it doesn’t! I noticed just the other day that I have two very long grey pubic hairs, and it freaked the fuck out of me. I’m considering plucking them.

F: In your case, I’d agree. You want to maintain brown pubes and a tight ass for as long as possible.

When was last time you spanked an audience member?

Peter Fletcher, Coventry

F: That would be the last time we were in Florida. But it wasn’t really a spanking. We just happened to play the bongos on somebody’s head. It was a bad thing to do. We learned a long time ago that it is not advisable to touch any member of the audience.

Flea, when you dyed your hair blonde, did collars and cuffs match?

Sheila Lyeholit Northampton

F: No, I have shaved them, though, but it looked pretty damn silly. You don’t want to dye down there because you could damage the reproductive organs. Is it true Elton John waxes? Because I’ve got a great Elton John story. It’s very funny, and it is 100 per cent true, but I can’t repeat it.

S: Is this the beach thing?

F: Yeah, but keep quiet. The guy’s recording us here…

Have any of you ever had a gay experience?

Leslie Sykes, London

F: No [laughs]. OK, yes. I was just a wee lad. I did it only because I was horny. Did it do anything for me? Absolutely, especially when I came in the guy’s mouth. Then there was also this time when… No, maybe I should keep quiet? Let sleeping dogs lie.

K: I always have gay experiences. Every day is a gay day in every way. Gay and happy and joyful and exuberant. I love gayness.

I’m thinking of getting a tattoo on my buttocks. What should I get?

Will Thornton, Cambridge

F: A tattoo of Mighty Mouse flying out of his asshole saying, Here I come to save the day.

S: Or if he’s gay, he should have an arrow with the word Enter. I’ve seen that on someone, up close. I’ve also seen some guy with the letter B on one cheek, B on the other. His name was Bob.

Anthony, did it cross your mind that you had pulled out of your skin when you met Heidi Klum?

David Beet Stamford

K: What the fuck does that expression mean? Out of my league? [Q explains] Oh, oh, OK. Well, the nice thing about Heidi was that she didn’t carry herself as if she existed in a different league. She was warm and friendly, completely without pretension. That’s what attracted me to her. So was I out of my skin? No, I wasn’t.

Chad, why do you wear a baseball cap the whole time?

Marie Barrett, Crystal Palace

S: I don’t wear it all the time, just a lot of the time. I need the protection. [Takes cap off] I’m going bald, see? I’ve got a toilet seat going on here — hair around the sides, bald on top. In the near future I may just shave my head because, believe me, the toilet seat is not a good look.

Do you miss drugs?

Carlo Raineri, Milan

S: You know, I was smelling some hash at a party the other night and I have to say it smelt pretty good. I used to sell hash back in high school. Chad’s Grams. But I wasn’t the best businessman. I smoked all the product.

F: I went to hospital a couple of years ago because of really bad stomach pains. The doctor shot me up with some-thing and, man, it felt good, I was floating. Those were the first drugs I’d had in years. I loved them. But then they wore off and I began to feel cold and lonely. I’m glad I got out of drugs.

K: There’s a lot of gratification in drugs, instant gratification, but no work goes into that gratification and the price you pay is way more than the pleasure involved. But, yeah, I do miss drugs, especially if I’m lacking love. They are difficult to replace. It’s not like there’s a gum you can chew which magically takes away the craving.

What’s heroin like John?

Tom Gray St Austell

John Frusciante: “For me, it was a place where there was no pain and inner confusion and there were no questions as to why I was going through the stuff l was going through. For a long time I thought I could only survive if I kept on doing heroin, but I was wrong. Leonardo da Vinci said that wine, when mixed with the body, becomes like a poison that can cause man to kill his brother. Heroin is very much like that. You are no good to the people who love you; people you love can do no good for you; you stop functioning, you can’t focus, you can’t work, you can’t do anything. Things don’t flow when you are on heroin. All the energies of the world work against you. I know this guy on heroin, OK, a singer-songwriter, and he… [talks uninterrupted for another quarter of an hour or so] …so, you know. It’s bad, bad stuff. I don’t miss it a single bit.

Do you ever get embarrassed about lyrics like “1 wanna party on your pussy”?

 Kevin Massey Kingston

F: No, absolutely not. Why should we? They are not misogynistic at all. Single-mindedly sex-obsessed, sure, but not in any way degrading as far as I’m concerned. I’m proud of lyrics like that.

Apparently Dave Navarro thinks Anthony somehow resembles a unicorn. What the hell does he mean?

Brian Thompson, Runcorn

K: I don’t know. Is that a double entendre? If it is, I take it as a compliment, and a rather fantastic one at that.

My mate thinks that the All Saints’ version of Under the Bridge is much better than yours. What do you say?

Joe Keane, New York

F: I agree, I wholeheartedly agree. The sense of R&B and rhythm they conjure is amazing. All Saints will stand the test of time. We’ll be playing All Saints in 50, 100 years. Think about it: The Beatles, Stravinsky, All Saints, Bob Marley, Billie Holliday, All Saints, Marvin Gaye, All Saints…

When was last time a member of the opposite sex turned you down?

Jason Davies, Leamington Spa

F: That happens to me a lot. The last time was at the All Tomorrow’s Parties show about a year ago. But that’s fine, I don’t have any illusions about being some kind of Don Juan. Anyway, getting knocked back is good for me. I don’t use who I am — an international rock star, a famous celebrity — to get girls. Not these days, anyway. Maybe in the past I did. But I’ve moved on, I’ve matured.

S: I use my celebrity the whole time. I’m like, Hi, I’m Chad from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Want to come to the show and maybe backstage afterwards? Works every time.

Who needed the biggest sock during the socks-on-cocks era?

Alex Perry, Milton Keynes

F: Want to know my response to that question? It’s this: have you read the new Tolstoy translations? I have. They are amazing, incredible, so very interesting. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. Go check them out. Expand your minds.

Could any of you ever pass for normal?

Katie Richards, Gloucester

F: That all depends on how deeply you wish to pry into our psychological make up, the kind of existence that lies hidden within our very core. What would you find there? Many conventions — “nor-mal” conventions — that would take you by surprise.

Anthony, I’ve seen pictures of you balancing on the edge of a skyscraper. How did you get such a good head for heights?

Kelly Dodd, Preston

K: I’ve been climbing to the tops of buildings and bridges and trees since I was a little boy. It’s a fetish, I guess. I like the feeling of being half-dead and half-alive. It’s exhilarating. When I was 16, I jumped from a building into a pool, but I missed the pool. Broke my back. Three months later, I went back and did it again. This time, I didn’t miss.

When was the last time you cried?

Gilbert Finch, Weston-super-Mare

JF: Last night, when I finished reading my book, The Moth by James M Cain. It’s a great book. [Spends the next 17 minutes describing every nuance of the plot in astonishing detail.] When I got to the last page, tears were rolling down my cheeks, man. I cried at a Leonardo da Vinci painting a couple of days ago, and before that, I cried because I was thinking about Frank Zappa dying.

John, you infamously claimed in Q that it was the Empire State Building, not the World Trade Center, that was destroyed on September 11 [Q192]. How do you keep so up to date with news events?

Katie Hilton, e-mail

JF: I’m glad I have the chance to finally put this straight in the British press. Here’s what happened. I don’t read the newspapers, OK? They make me sad. But when it happened, 9/11, I noticed a lot of changes in the air and in the energy of people on the streets — I never even saw the images of the planes crashing—still haven’t, in fact.

Anyway, I was talking to the film director John Waters, and he was telling me about that Andy Warhol movie, Empire, about the Empire State Building. And he said that the movie had become especially profound after September 11. So it was him who put it into my head. See?

K: Can I just say that I’m proud of John for not knowing? I think it’s pretty cool that there can be a person in this world who doesn’t watch the news and isn’t so controlled by the forces of a media who only want to terrify everyone by shoving all this stuff down our psychic throats morning, noon and night. I think it was a beautiful, naive statement to make.

John, how much did it costto get your teeth fixed?

Nick Patterson, e-mail

JF: It definitely cost a lot, something like $70,000. That’s what I heard, anyway. It took a long time to fix, maybe a couple of years. They had to take bone from my hip to replace my gums. It wasn’t pleasant. But it was worth going through all that pain. I was convinced I’d have to live life without teeth. Now I have teeth. I’m happy.

Anthony: why do you talk garbage all of the time?

Jamie Sullivan, Torquay

K: Garbage? Where’s this guy from? Torq-what? I hate that flicking place, that low life, dirty, scum-ridden place. Fuck that, and fuck him. Seriously. I don’t talk garbage, do I?

JF: You used to, about 15 years ago. Now you’re pretty… pretty nice.

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