A red hot trail

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LATER this month, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will rock the Stadium of Light. TheGuide caught up with Anthony, Flea, Chad and Josh to find out more.

TheGuide: How does it feel getting back into the promotion process?

Chad: It takes a little getting used to. Flea is more articulate and does more of the heavy lifting. I appreciate him a lot in this process. I prefer to let the music talk for itself. I know you need words in the newspaper, so I get that. This is part of the process of getting it out to people who want to hear it.

Flea: I’m grateful for the whole process. I love everything about being in the band and I’m happy talking about it to people. Whether people like it or not is irrelevant to me, but talking about it is fun.

Anthony: It is very hard. It’s a different part of the brain. We decided along the way we didn’t like this part of it, but the truth is we love what we’ve done together with Josh and we want to be able to share it with everyone in the world. It’s not as fun as playing music, but it’s not too painful yet. It could be all down hill from here, but I gave myself a good talking to. I told myself I have nothing to moan about.

TheGuide: The album has a bit of space jazz about it?

Anthony: Space Jazz – that was so Spinal Tap! Jazz Space I can handle. Yeah! I like that!

Flea: I love that! I love jazz guys like George Duke and Stanley Clarke. I take that as a huge compliment. Our music has a lot of subtleties and a lot of different elements. Under repeated listens you’ll get new things all the time and that makes me happy. Things that are beautiful don’t have one reason for existing, they have lots of reasons.

Anthony: Flea grew up in a household where his stepfather was a jazz bass player. He introduced Flea to the idea of improvisation. So we have a hardcore American jazz element to us, even our name suggests that. That side of us is expressed on this record. Anything goes with our band.

TheGuide: Can you remember the first time you felt moved by music?

Flea: I can remember the first time I ever thought of playing music. I was walking down the street. I was maybe six or seven. There was an alley and there were these older kids with trash can lids and brooms and they were pretending they had a band while they mimed to this hidden radio. And I thought they were doing it and it seemed like the most amazing magic! And I still feel like that. It’s amazing to me now.

TheGuide: Does tapping into your creativity get harder or easier as you get older?

Flea: It depends where you are in your life. It waxes and wanes. It’s a difficult lesson for artists – especially young artists – but there are times when you don’t necessarily feel inspired. On this record I felt incredibly inspired the entire time. The thing is, are you willing to get in and work and roll up your sleeves and that’s what you do. The same thing goes for Nick Cave. He goes to work! Every day. And that’s what I do. Nick Cave is the greatest living songwriter. He is the greatest, it’s between him and Neil Young. There are great moments of creativity that are like falling in love, they’re erotic and free falling, but sometimes it’s not fun. It’s work.

Anthony: It’s like surfing, when there are no waves you have to get out there and paddle and be strong and ready when the big waves comes. Sometimes you don’t feel the cosmic thing, but you have to keep your chops good so you’re ready to ride. Take it like a job. That’s why it’s hard for bands to maintain and stay relevant over many years because sometime it’s not fun.

TheGuide: How has new guitarist Josh changed things for you?

Anthony: He influenced the hell out of everything on this record; he influences my vocals too. He has tipped the chemistry. He’s changed all of us, but, at the same time, there’s an obvious thread from who we have been and who I have been. He’s challenged my brain. He’s made me grow a bit.

Flea: Chemistry is so important for us. We had nearly a year uninterrupted to get to know Josh and we wrote a load of new music and him being in the band has had a huge effect on us all. John was a phenomenal musician, and Josh is great in his own right in a very different way.

TheGuide: Is it hard for you to step into such a big machine?

Josh: Doing this stuff is the newest thing for me. I’ve known the guys for a decade which has been a blessing. At the core it’s just four people playing together. If I think about the hugeness of it it triggers anxiety. I walked into a tiny room with instruments and amps and guys. There was no record company or management company.

TheGuide: Do you all play differently because of Josh?

Flea: Oh of course. We improvise and jam a lot. When you’re jamming with someone you’re listening and learning and you use your body and your mind – it’s spiritual. It’s nice to have someone making you react differently.

TheGuide: What makes a really good record?

Anthony: It’s not the best songs or music it’s what sits well together, what displays a wide range of emotion. You have to think how you can touch people. Rick Rubin says a longer record is not necessarily a better record. As a creative person you can operate at the speed of light or sludge along.

Flea: When you’re making music you can’t think what anyone else is thinking. You have to make your organs dance in your body – the speed of the cosmos is the divine energy that flows through us as we create.

TheGuide: You have a vast catalogue of unheard music – will it come out some day?

Flea: When we’re 90 we might release it.

TheGuide: Your first gig was meant to be a one-off, yet you’re still here nearly 40 years later – can you imagine another 10, 20, 30 years?

Anthony: It’s still one night only – that’s what it feels like! That’s why it happened. We never thought about being a rock and roll band. We only wanted to play one night, that’s how we keep it alive. We all have a different type of intelligence and we want to honour the things that put us where we are and the things that keep us there.

Flea: You know, I try not to think about another 30 years. The thing is, I met Antony when I was 15. We hit it off straight away. We did mad stuff and got into a lot of trouble, but we always had our own ideas and kooky concepts. We constructed our own ways of thinking, our own way of being friends and how we wanted to fit into the world. That’s how this band started. We used to hitchhike around the city. One day we were out at some weird water park in the valley and we’d smoked a joint and we couldn’t get home. We saw this guy driving down the street who was in our geometry class at school and he pulled over. We didn’t know it but he gave us a ride in his Datsun B210 and we started hitting it off. He played guitar and had a band and he was the one who told me to play bass. That was Hillel – our original guitarist.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers play the Stadium of Light on June 24. For details visit www.safcconcerts.com