Ahead of next summer’s Stadium of Light gig, TheGuide caught up with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Band Members Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Michael “Flea” Balzary (bass), drummer Chad Smith and recently added guitarist Josh Klinghoffer are on a UK arena tour with new album I’m with You.
LAST week it was announced the Red Hot Chili Peppers will play the home of the Black Cats on June 24, one of only two UK large-scale gigs they will play in 2012.
TheGuide (TG): How has it been on stage with your new guitarist Josh?
Anthony Kiedis (AK): It’s really good. He’s a good natured guy with a lot of creativity, and multi-instrumental. He lives for music and art, and all the cool things.
He’s definitely a catalyst of positive rock power on stage. I look over and he’s always inventing new sounds and textures. He’s trippy. He’s a real artist.
New chemistry is an interesting thing, sometimes it kind of backfires on you horribly but this time it didn’t. So certainly acquainting myself with the ideas that he brought to the table when we started writing was a real fascinating process. I think it’s only going to get better.
TG: How do you decide your set list?
AK: Well it’s kind of my job to do the set list, but I get input nightly. So I sit down with lots of old set lists, and lots of books full of all of our songs, that actually go back to 1983.
I look at it and I know there are a certain amount of songs that people know and love, and want to come and hear – also known as the hits – and then we have to play songs that make us happy, so we have to divide it up with the songs that are the most beloved over time and then we throw a lot of wild cards in there as well.
Then its got to have a dynamic flow. You don’t want it to be all fast, slow, fast, slow, but you do want it to have some sort of dynamic change though.
Then I have to factor in will my voice hold up with 90 minutes of screaming my lungs out, and sort of pace it that way as well. Every night it takes me about 30 minutes to decipher the code of what’s going to work for tonight.
TG: Do you prefer big or smaller venues?
AK: Yeah, I prefer both. I really prefer both. I wouldn’t want one without the other.
I’m grateful for everything. Definitely appreciative that people care about us and we get to play these big shows, but it’s equally as fun for us to play the tiny little shows.
And it’s very important for us to keep doing that, because that feeling is different, and special, and intimate, and a bit more manic perhaps, you know. Delivering a message to 60,000 people is different than a hundred people, but generally speaking our motto is we’ll play anywhere, anytime, from a Laundromat, to a festival. We don’t mind.
TG: What to you prefer writing and jamming, or being up there?
AK: It’s part of a balanced meal, one doesn’t necessarily satisfy without the other, so far. You basically go on tour until you can’t do it any longer, then you are dying to write something new, so that you have something new to play and have that experience, and you stay in the studio until you’re like, let’s go play live.
And it really is this symbiotic, circular, one doesn’t exist without the other kind of a situation. Both are lovely, but both have a beginning and an end.
TG: What’s the secret to your longevity?
AK: I don’t know that I care to find out what the secret is, whatever it is I’m thankful for it. I don’t know, Flea and I have a friendship that has survived a lot of ups and downs.
It’s kind of like that brotherly link, that is both creative and destructive, competitive, and loving all at the same time, so we kind of push each other in a way.
I don’t know, I don’t care. I don’t want to scare it away.
TG: Do you get time to enjoy the places you go to?
AK: Yeah, some days yes, and most days no. It’s more venue, hotel, travel, airport lounge, on repeat over and over again. But every now and then, we’ll leave immediately after the show, and fly to the next town so that we can have some time off.
But our mission is to play well, and sleep well, and eat well so that we’re ready for the show more than anything else.
TG: Excited to come to the UK?
AK: Yeah, we love it. It’s kind of a strange home away from home. It’s so weird because we started of with the most antagonistic relationship possible with the UK. Yeah in the early 80s.
Well we came over the first time in 84 to play a little club called Dingwalls. It’s still going, wow.
We were just adversarial, and confrontational, for no good reason. So much beautiful music has been born in the country of England over the years, really we admire the hell out of it.
But as youths we felt compelled to contest everybody and everything. That’s how we started off, as little haters. Then the more we went, the more we realised this place is pretty magical. The reception has been phenomenal over the years, we like it there.