What could I possibly say about multiple Grammy Award-winning band the Red Hot Chili Peppers that hasn’t already been said? Well, how about this for starters. A few years ago I interviewed Jazz Bassist Linda May Han Oh and I asked her was it true that she was a big Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Not only did she confirm my suspicions that she was a huge fan but she also told me an amazing story. Here is what Linda said:
“I had the pleasure of meeting Flea at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago. He is a big fan of drummer Brian Blade, who was performing with the Wayne Shorter Quartet. I was playing in the opening band – Sound Prints. After our set I walked out during intermission and I see Flea in the crowd. We chatted briefly, he complimented me on the set and asked where I was from. I said I was from Australia, he replied “me too” and I said “ yes, I know!”
Like Linda, I became obsessed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1991 with the release of their fifth album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Give It Away, Under The Bridge, Suck My Kiss and Breaking The Girl were all massively influential songs that saw me not long after, embrace whole heartedly the alternative rock explosion of the early 90s, and rejoice in the sounds of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. Later, of course, I would go back and dive deep into the Red Hot Chili Peppers back catalogue and discover that the one thing that stood out the most to me about the Red Hot Chili Peppers was Flea’s innovative electronic bass and funk hooks. If I am to be honest Flea made me a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan for life.
This short retrospect isn’t complete without mentioning a few fun facts. So here we go. Since forming in 1983 in Los Angeles, the Red Hot Chili Peppers has sold over 60 million albums worldwide. And it’s fair to say I’ve bought some of them! In 2012 they were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ahead of some very big bands and if my memory serves me correctly it was ultimately because of their inventiveness, incorporating a lot of different sounds and genres into their music. That said, when you listen to their music you will undoubtedly be surprised to hear vast elements of funk, punk, rap and psychedelic rock. Interestingly, the one constant and probably the single most important factor, apart from the importance of lead singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael Peter Balzary aka Flea, is also their songwriting flair and their affection for and at times unforgiving portrait of Californian life. (Check out Under The Bridge and Californication.)
Importantly, and I cannot let pass without saying that the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their heyday were a force to be reckoned with, especially on stage. Like Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were a band renowned for their live shows, offering up a live funk-rock experience that was often wild and physically invigorating. Still today they are playing incredibly sold out shows reminding the faithful that they aren’t a spent force yet.
With the Red Hot Chilli Peppers here in Australia currently on tour, their first headline shows since 2007, it’s safe to say they have been on my mind a lot this week. I’m a little bummed I am not attending their Melbourne show tonight but it wont stop me from having my own non stop Red Hot Chili Pepper extravaganza at home. High on my playlist of favourites tonight is Otherside, a somber emotionally charged mid tempo alt-rock classic, released way back in 2000. It was the third single from their acclaimed album Californication which was apparently written about former band guitarists Hillel Slovak’s battle with heroin addiction. In short, songs like Otherside are ever-present throughout their back catalogue, a reminder of their own struggles and shared experiences as a group. Enjoy!