Red Hot Chilli Peppers

BY THE WAY: A Conversation with Anthony & Chad

 

By George Tsioutsioulas

So much has come before those battles lost and won
This life is shining more forever in the sun
Now let us check our heads
And let us check the surf
Staying high and dry's more trouble than it's worth
In the sun"

'Road Trippin' from 'Californication'

The Red Hot Chili Peppers struggled for years to find commercial success through continuous line-up changes, heroin addictions and even death. They finally found it in a big way in the early 1990's and they haven't slowed down to look back yet. Almost two decades after first forming, the Chili peppers are releasing their latest disc 'By The Way' which arrives on the heels of 'Californication', a critical and a commercial success for the band. Besides death and taxes there are not many things that are 'sure things' in life but one thing I think you can count on is for the new disc to follow in it's predecessor's footsteps.

GT: When you put out a new album, you obviously want to get the word out.
The way you do that is by hitting the road, doing promo and playing shows.
I'm sure you've had some highs and some lows along the way. How do you feel
about heading out on the road again.

AK: If everyone is healthy the road is good. Personally I love going
places and having a reason for being there. Nothing makes me happier but if
we're not getting along as a band or if there's some kind of internal
inflammation of the collective hemoroid in this operation then it's a drag
because it becomes a painful process.

GT: I'm assuming the hemoroids are okay now.

CS: Everything's under control. We're drinking lots of water.

AK: (Mumbling to himself)
Hemoroids...steroids...altoids...androids...You know, we've played just
about every type of show you can imagine. We used to play this thing called
the 'L.A. Street Scene' in downtown L.A. and one time we opened for James
Brown and I was wearing a skirt that was made out of the American flag. The
police were there and you could tell they didn't like the looks of us. They
we're staring at us with their riot gear and they had a look on their face
that kind of said "if you weren't on stage in front of all these people
right now we would just kill you". I wasn't wearing anything under my skirt
so I kept going up to them and flashing them just to piss them off.

GT: So it worked.

AK: Oh yeah...but then they got me in the end. I wanted to stick around to
watch James Brown's show and that's when they put me in a some complicated
choke hold and dragged me out.

GT: But it was done with love of course.

AK: Oh yeah....but I've got to say your cops here in Canada are cool. I
can't say the same thing about immigration though.

GT: Oh oh, what happened?

AK: Ummm...well, I think they were sexually attracted to me. There was
this girl and she was so slow and painfully methodic in her interviews. We
all had our passports but she had to wield her power so by the time I got to
her I was frustrated and late for the show. I guess I looked at her kinda
funny so she gave me the stripe that says you've got to go for the second
interview.

GT: Did they pull out the rubber gloves?

AK: No rubber thankfully so I yeah I guess it could have been worse.

GT: I'm sure you've been asked this a million times but---

CS: Here we go, a million and one.

GT: Why do you keep losing your guitarists? What's' up with that?

AK: Musicians are inherently sensitive people. Music breaks your heart.
When you play music your heart becomes swollen and sometimes it's just TOO
MUCH! It's too much emotion, it's too much spirit and fervor for one man to
take and all the pain and the beauty is sometimes exposed. Hillel, our first
guitarist died as a result of something like that. Once in a lifetime you're
going to meet a friend that's that amazing of a musician that you want to
play with. Lightning strikes twice, enter John Frusciante. Same thing. His
heart becomes wildly open. He's a very intense person and maybe too
sensitive. He was written off by many as good as dead. Lightning strikes
three times and he comes back. We've played with a lot of interesting and
amazing musicians between Hillel and John like Arik Marshall and Dave
Navarro who turned out to be beautiful people and fun to hang out with but
not necessarily the sort of God given guitar player that this band needs.

GT: So somehow you feel like it works best the way things are now.

AK: Right. (Pause) Long story short, we're cursed and we're blessed and
we're cursed and we're blessed and we're cursed. Right now we're counting
our blessings.

GT: You have a very poetic way of speaking and that comes through in your
lyrics.

AK: Thank you.

CS: I could never do what he does. Come up with 15, 0r 16 things to write
about and put melodies to them. That's a difficult job. Good work buddy!
(They playfully punch each other and hug).

GT In the video for 'Scar Tissue' you're all driving through the desert,
battered and bloodied. You all look like you've been in battle. Would I be
reading too much into it if I suggested that that could be a metaphor for
your career so far?

AK: Battle? Ummm...yeah it does look like we've been to battle and back
again but we're still well. So I guess it could be a metaphor for life,
for career and this and that.
But really, it's supposed to be a mystery. Are they bleeding? Are they worn
and torn? What happened to them?

GT: Killer hemoroids. That's really what's going on.

AK: (Motioning over to Chad)

CS: (They both break out laughing) For the record, I don't have hemoroids!