New Again: Red Hot Chili Peppers

By
Photography Michael Haddi

Published February 5, 2014

Over the weekend, the Red Hot Chili Peppers stormed onto the Super Bowl halftime stage to perform their 1991 hit “Give it Away” with Bruno Mars. Yesterday, the band admitted that, at the request of the NFL, they did not use live guitars for their performance. We’re not sure why this is news—but it is—so we’d like to come to the band’s defense and commend their energetic, rousing performance. Jumping around is tiring, and with three-quarters of their members over the age of 50, the Peppers are no spring chickens.

When we first met the band, they still performed with socks on their cocks and were one year away from releasing their seminal album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which contained the singles “Under the Bridge” and, of course, “Give it Away.” It was the spring of 1990 and Johnny Depp was on our cover with his “Winona Forever” tattoo prominently displayed. 

The Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Red Hot Chili Peppers are players and athletes and poets and homepersons. They riff. They rap. They bark. They bite. They strip naked and wear a single sock strategically placed.

Anthony, Vocals     

INTERVIEW: What’s the difference between a boy and a man?

ANTHONY KIEDIS: I’m a combination of the two. Some days I wake up and I’m a boy; some days I wake up and I’m a man.

INTERVIEW: What’s the best thing about being a man?

KIEDIS: It’s the same for men and women: the sadness and tragedies that you encounter during the course of a lifetime.

INTERVIEW: Do you have any hobbies?

KIEDIS: I shoot pool at Hollywood Billiards with my friend John.

INTERVIEW: Are you disciplined?

KIEDIS: I’m generally just a complete out-of-control rogue wandering the streets of life as a sensitive poet. But I try to apply a certain amount of discipline when it comes to practicing my music. And I do warm up before every show. I go into a shower and drink hot water with lemon and go, “Boop boop booooo-oo-oo-oo…ma-may-me-mo-mu-may-me-mo-ma.”

INTERVIEW:  Who’s your favorite musician?

KIEDIS: Hendrix.

INTERVIEW: Who else influenced you, other that musicians?

KIEDIS: My father, and standing in front of 13-foot-tall Salvador Dali paintings.

INTERVIEW: What’s your goal in life?

KIEDIS: To play music till the day I die, to be a good friend to all my friends, and to be nice to nature.

INTERVIEW: Is there anybody you would like to meet?

KIEDIS: Sinéad O’Connor. I’ve met her, but I need to meet her again. I need to meet her hundreds of times. John, Guitar

INTERVIEW: What’s the difference between a boy and a man?

JOHN FRUSCIANTE: For me it’s the difference between being given shit for being different from everybody, and actually being able to be in complete control of yourself and your life and not having to give a fuck what anybody things about you.

INTERVIEW: What’s the best thing about being a man?

FRUSCIANTE: Not being a woman.

INTERVIEW: What’s the worst thing about being a man?

FRUSCIANTE: Dealing with women. It’s sort of a necessary, terrible part of life, but a very wonderful necessary, terrible part of life.

INTERVIEW: Are you a disciplined person?

FRUSCIANTE: Yes. About a month ago Anthony and I went 10 days without having an orgasm.

INTERVIEW: It wasn’t just lack of opportunity?

FRUSCIANTE: No, no, we weren’t allowed to masturbate or anything. In fact, right when we decided to go 10 days without an orgasm, opportunity knocked, and we had to really hold back. And, as far as my music, it isn’t a matter of discipline in the sense that I’m being forced to do something I don’t wanna do. It just comes very naturally out of an unconditional love for something. That’s true discipline.

INTERVIEW: Do you have any hobbies?

FRUSCIANTE: Well, besides sex and pool, Chad and Anthony are some of my hobbies.

INTERVIEW: Who’s your favorite musician, living or dead?

FRUSCIANTE: It’s ridiculous to limit it to one person, but Hendrix has had the biggest effect on the way I look at music. To me there’s no difference between him and Igor Stravinsky, or Edgar Varèse, or Iannis Xenakis, or John Coltraine, or Miles Davis, or Eric Dolphy, because music is one big cosmic swirl of beauty. It’s just all God. It’s not like people who are great musicians are separate entities. I think they’re all one.

INTERVIEW: Who else that’s not a musician has influenced the way you look and hear things?

FRUSCIANTE: John Waters, the filmmaker. J. Krishnamurti, who’s a philosopher. Anthony, the famous God.

INTERVIEW: Do you have any goals in life?

FRUSCIANTE: No. Goals are the kind of things that tend to throw a man off. Right now I feel like I’m doing something that’s really worthwhile for the world, which is playing some of the most ground-breaking music of all time in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And to me, when you have that sort of beauty in your life, goals aren’t necessary. 

Chad, Drums

INTERVIEW: What’s the difference between a boy and a man?

CHAD SMITH: Probably about four inches.

INTERVIEW: What’s the best thing about being a man?

SMITH: For me, personally, because I am the hairiest member of the band, I would have to say it would probably be all the hair on my ass. It’s really great, because if we’re all naked and it’s dark, if men are just being men—as men like to be —if they just feel different asses and they come to a hairy ass, then they know it’s me.

INTERVIEW: What’s the worst thing about being a man?

SMITH: Well, it is such a male-dominated world, I’d like to see more ladies in important positions. I’m really pushing for equality.

INTERVIEW: Are you disciplined?

SMITH: Just the other day, down in the Reeperbahn, in Hamburg, I took a spanking because I felt I was a bad boy. When I was in Amsterdam I had done some despicable acts and felt that I needed some disciplining, so I took in a bit of spanking. I think my mother would be proud I spent my money in such a good way.

INTERVIEW: Sounds like maybe you’ve been in Germany too long. Do you have any goals in life?

SMITH: Yeah. When I finish up my musical career, I would like to join the golf tour, because it’s a very suave sport and you can play as long and as old as you want.

INTERVIEW: How long have you been playing?

SMITH: A long time, but not seriously except for the last few years. I’m a great Nintendo golfer too—very important part of the game when I can’t get out onto the course. It’s very important that I’m a belt holder in Nintendo. And I think it would be a very good way in my twilight years to get out there and wear cool clothes and smoke and play the game.

INTERVIEW: It’s my game. Who’s your favorite musician, living or dead?

SMITH: There’s just so many. Shit, man. Drummer-wise would help me to narrow it down. I like a lot of the dead guys. Gene Krupa, bringing the drums into the fore, not just being a guy sitting in the dark, had a lot to do with changing the way people perceive the drums and the way that drummers are involved with bands. So I’d say mostly the dead guys. When I die, hopefully I’ll join them in percussion heaven.

INTERVIEW: Is there anyone you would like to meet?

SMITH: I’d like to meet George Bush and tell him what a great job I think he’s doing with the country and that I’m gonna vote for him as long as he wants to stay in office. He’s doing such a great job with the whole thing—education, drugs, the economy, and America in general. So I’d like to compliment him on that. But in all seriousness…

INTERVIEW: Well, don’t take it back. At least he’s doing a good job keeping Quayle out of office.

SMITH: As long as he stay alive, I’d like to tell him to invest in lots of good bulletproof vests.

Flea, Bass

INTERVIEW: What’s the worst thing about being a man?

MICHAEL “FLEA” BALZARY: Being responsible, and having to wear a watch. Having to wear a watch is probably the worst thing.

INTERVIEW: What’s the best thing about being a boy?

BALZARY: Not wearing a watch.

INTERVIEW: Are you disciplined?

BALZARY: I’m very dedicated to what I do, but I’m undisciplined in that I do it whenever I want to.

INTERVIEW: Do you have any hobbies?

BALZARY: Yeah, golfing. I’m a good golfer.

INTERVIEW:  Who’s your favorite musician, living or dead?

BALZARY: Oh, golly, I’d have to say Eric Dolphy.

INTERVIEW: And who’s the biggest non musician influence on your life?

BALZARY: Magic Johnson.

INTERVIEW: Do you have any goals in life?

BALZARY: To be rocking for as long as James Brown but not end up in the hoosegow.

INTERVIEW: Is there anybody you would like to meet.

BALZARY: Magic Johnson.  

THIS ARTICLE INTIALLY APPEARED IN THE MAY 1990 ISSUE OF INTERVIEW. 

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