Many thanks to Rita Bussetta for transcribing and translating this!
“Me?” says Anthony Kiedis pretending to be astonished as if he found strange that I wanted to know something about him. “I’m a mystery. An enigma. A riddle. Don’t even try to understand me, you couldn’t succeed”. He is quiet for a moment as if he wants to emphasize his words but then he bursts out laughing and gives himself away. “No, I was just kidding”, says before asserting to be ready to reveal the secret that have kept bound his band for twenty years: the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“I love life wildly”, says, this time without being hilarious. “I find it amazing. I like it even when everything goes wrong, I like it anyway. I’ve got a strong desire to live life, even during its most dramatic moments, and this makes me write songs. If I didn’t do it I would go crazy. It’s somewhat of a relief valve for all the strangeness, the beauty and love I have inside me and that I need to share with other people. Because you must give to receive.”
Mystery, beauty and love: this could be the title to a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album, therefore I’m not surprised at all that the band’s charismatic, provocative and sensual singer/author finds out this feelings inside himself.
Since they started together, during the early 80s in the suburbs of Los Angeles, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have imposed themselves for their aggressive eroticism and the powerful sound full of punk, funk, rock & roll and R&B. Throughout the years, the band’s members – from the original team remain only the 41-year-old Kiedis and the bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary – have indulged in any excess: from posing naked with only a sock to cover up their genitals for an album cover and the magazines, to using hard drugs. Hillel Slovack, their first guitarist, died from an overdose in 1988 and both Kiedis and John Frusciante, the guitarist who has replaced Slovack, have struggled hard to recover from heroin addiction. The fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been to the point to split up many times is the last of their problems; they are very fortunate to be alive. But now, just like an old married couple, Kiedis and Flea are celebrating twenty years being together (and not only at the artistic degree) in their life. The two of them, together with Frusciante and the drummer Chad Smith, think that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have never been in such a shape as now. Therefore they don’t like to focus on the past. “The twenty years of the band excite us” says Kiedis, “but this doesn’t mean that we are going to shout from the rooftops ‘Hey motherfuckers we’ve been around for twenty years!’. No, we live it as a more intimate thing. At a certain point in the backstage of a gig, Flea and I have looked at each other and were like: ‘ok and with this show we have been together for twenty years, we’ve managed to put on something. Not only, we’ve managed to make it last, to make it well and to keep it alive for the right reasons’. This is our own thing though, very personal. We were feeling happy for something we have done and that we keep on doing.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers had never figure out that they would have last so long, neither when they started nor later, to be honest. The band has walked through long and uneven routes, even though most of the obstacles they encountered were there because of them. “During many moments, the thought of lasting so long seemed absolutely unlikely”, admit Kiedis. “All considered, the kind of persons we were and our lifestyle, it was already difficult to think that our projects could go beyond one week. We were deeply punk rock, used to live life day by day in the Hollywood streets or in some occupied houses, literally dragging from a floor to a couch, a garage and vice-versa. Those days our future wasn’t surely one of our worries. But after six or seven years…” He stops talking as to focus on the thing but he eventually bursts out laughing and concludes: “Well, one goes on not thinking about future as there’s who dies and who goes away, so there’s nothing else to do, just seize the moment. And after all, that’s a blessing”.
Seizing the moment means that Kiedis is not really interested in talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Greatest Hits collection released last November (which includes, among the others, “Under The Bridge”, “Californication”, “Scar Tissue”, “Give It Away”, “By The Way” and “Otherside”); he cares more about telling what happened when the band got into the recording studio to compose two new songs to put into the album. “We got into the Swing House, our recording studio, with the idea of composing just a couple of pieces and went out with 17 brand new songs” says without hiding his enthusiasm. “Strange enough, it’s been always happening like this, lately. We could go back to that studio again tomorrow and start everything again from scratch. It’s like there was an infinite music supply in the air and we were in the right wavelength to pick it up”. The new pieces, which he describes as “strange, dark, beautiful, different”, will draw the new album of the band that should be released by the half of next year and that, according to what Kiedis says, matches up to masterpieces as “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991), “Californication” (1999) and “By The Way” (2002). “We released a greatest hits compilation not because we run out of ideas but because, at this point of our career, it was due”, says. “But we already have our new album ready. That is like saying: ‘the wax museum can wait, open your ears cos we have something new to tell you’. Greatest Hits to me sound like a testament even though it’s just a compilation of some very good songs that still appeal to everybody despite the passing of time and that it’s worth presenting again. I know that our pieces are always valid because I play them every night and every time I like them. I love what I do, all of us of the band love what we do, and we feel like we have just started to enjoy it”.
I enjoyed that – thank you 🙂
thanks for this interview 😀 it was really interesting
Glad you enjoyed it!
“I love life wildly”
indeed! i can feel this love for life in their music!
On a similar note,, Many of my friends back home in LA ask me what it is like living in Tuscany, especially in a small town. Chiusi has a population of approximately 9000 people and growing. This includes all the little surrounding towns, called “frazioni”. I have to say the one thing that I do love, that really puts a smile on my face is the fact that you know so many people and they know you….by name! Imagine going to the pharmacy and everyone greeting you by name and asking about your entire family, knowing all their names, where they go to school, what they did this summer. You cross the street to the bakery and they greet you too and tell you you don’t have to buy the bread today because your husband got enough this morning when he brought your son to buy a snack. Amazing. When you go to restaurants there is always someone you know sitting at the next table. This was so foreign to me being from LA. How often do you run into the same person twice in LA?? I mean you have to plan meetings weeks ahead, right?