Guitar World (October 2011)
Scans by Thechilisource.com and transcript by Anthony O’Connor
Get the Funk Out
FIVE YEARS AFTER THEIR LAST ALBUM THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS RETURN WITH A NEW FRET-BURNING GUITARIST AND THEIR SIZZLING 10TH DISC I’M WITH YOU. ANTHONY KIEDIS AND JOSH KLINGHOFFER FIRE OFF ABOUT THE FUNKY MONKS’ LATEST MUSICAL ADVENTURE.
By Alan Di Perna
Photos by Travis Shinn
FOR DECADES, VENICE BEACH, CALIFORNIA, has been the refuge of hipsters, free spirits and outsiders of every description. So it’s no surprise to find Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis here on a blustery early summer day. He’s turned up for a photo shoot in a studio just off the famed Venice boardwalk, where one can get one’s palm read or face painted, or buy incense, essential oils or Rastafarian T-shirts from an array of vendors.
Kiedis himself is quite a sight, tricked out in a manner that suggests the early years of the 20th century-waistcoat, shirt collar buttoned all the way up, an abbreviated mustache and hair combed over one eye, making him look, oddly enough, like Adolf Hitler. He’s accompanied by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ newest guitar player, Josh Klinghoffer. The two men are a study in contrasts. Compact and talkative, Anthony Kiedis has obviously dressed up for the day’s photo shoot. Josh Klinghoffer-tall, slouchy, unshaven and so painfully quiet it can be physically exhausting to draw a few sentences from him-is dressed down in formless trousers, a T-shirt and windbreaker. Anthony Kiedis and Josh Klinghoffer share a quick laugh over their contrasting sartorial choices, then fall to quietly examining the curious selection of funky old guitars that Josh Klinghoffer has brought down for the shoot: a yellow Harmony Stratotone Newport from 1952, an equally archaic Silvertone, and an Airline with a broken jack.
Josh Klinghoffer had a key role in making the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album, I’m With You, a standout disc that marks an intriguing new chapter in the band’s long creative history. It’s the first RHCP album in 12 years without the band’s longstanding guitarist John Frusciante, who left in 2009 to pursue new musical interests. Some wondered how the group would fare without John Frusciante’s wild imagination and well-honed song craft. But Chili Peppers new and old have acquitted themselves beautifully.
“I am the pathetic optimist in the band,” Anthony Kiedis says. “I just naturally think that things are going to go swimmingly well. That’s my department. Even when we were strung out and going down the drain faster than the blink of an eye, I felt like it’s all gonna be okay. It’s gonna work out.”
And indeed it has. In many ways, Josh Klinghoffer is an ideal replacement for John Frusciante. For one thing, the two men are close friends; for another, Klinghoffer has collaborated with Frusciante on several solo projects. He’s also toured and/or recorded with PJ Harvey, Beck, Tricky and Thelonius Monster, among others, and leads his own group, Dot Hacker. After years of supporting other artists musically, he was looking forward to doing his own thing but says he couldn’t turn down an offer to play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“I said to myself, God, you can’t say no to that,” he says, with a laugh. “Just being in the same room with these guys is an honor, let alone making sounds with them. They have such a history and connection with one another. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming group of people or situation. These are three people who deserve to be making music and to be making it with other people who care as much about it as they do.”
Josh Klinghoffer even provided the title for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album. “I’m with you” is a phrase the guitarist saw scrawled on a wall en route to a Red Hot Chili Peppers rehearsal one day, but it also sums up his and the band’s current situation. He is indeed with them-for better or for worse, one might add, given the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ troubled legacy when it comes to guitarists.
“This is the first time I think since Mother’s Milk that someone besides myself titled a RHCP record,” Anthony Kiedis says. “And I was so happy to hear Josh come in with that idea, because it felt so right.”
I’m With You is a strong disc and a worthy successor to the Frusciante-heavy trilogy-Californication, By the Way and Stadium Arcadium-that brought the Red Hot Chili Peppers to new heights of success in the first decade of the 21st century. Klinghoffer shares Frusciante’s experimental edge and offbeat tonal adventurousness. Just listen to the new guy attack the outro to “Goodbye Hooray,” one of many standout tracks on I’m With You, tearing off angular, frenetic lead lines worthy of Steve Howe on “Gates of Delirium.” With an arsenal of archaic thrift shop guitars and more-upscale vintage gear, Klinghoffer is ready to follow the Chili Peppers’ restless muse wherever the trail may lead.
But while he shares a certain core aesthetic with John Frusciante, he is very much his own man. Where Frusciante is epic in scope, piling on the guitar, keyboard and vocal orchestrations, Klinghoffer is more inclined to make a telling statement with a single plaintive guitar line or artfully chosen chord sequence. He possesses a unique chordal sensibility, one that’s harmonically evolved but never flashy in an over-cooked jazz way.
Klinghoffer’s style is ideally suited to I’m With You. It’s one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most reflective albums, the work of a group that has been through many heavy changes but has still come out on top. There’s been no shortage of ups and downs in the years since the Chili Peppers’ 1984 emergence as a new breed of punk funk pranksters, up from the smoggy streets of L.A. Not long thereafter, in 1988, their first guitarist, Hillel Slovak, died of a drug overdose. Thus began a decades-longchain reaction of flip-outs, rehabs, and guitarists coming and going almost faster than anyone could keep track. “There are some we hired for, like, a week,” bassist Flea says with a laugh during a phone call a few weeks after the Venice photo shoot.
Newfound sobriety fueled Californication and its two successors. The trilogy is like a triumphant sprint out of the dark forest. But on I’m With You, the band gives itself space to pause for a pensive glance over the shoulder. There are ruminations on death, aging and getting your life together for a glorious second act. But for all its wistful gravitas, I’m With You also contains some of the most joyous and youthfully life-affirming songs in the Chili Peppers’ canon. And young Josh Klinghoffer has a guitar tone, riff or color for all these moods.
“Josh is a subtle, sublime and poetic musician,” Flea says. “He’s not this guitar virtuoso/guitar hero guy. He’s a real all-around musician. He plays drums and piano as well as guitar, so he gets a real big picture of the music and has a real intuitive sense of when something is serving the song or not. He puts chords together in a beautiful, unique, Josh kind of way. At the same time he’s very rooted in traditional songwriting and the traditional way chords move. He really has his own take on it and pumps up the system. And he has a very warm, beautiful sound on the guitar.”
But Flea wasn’t always so gung-ho for the new guy. If Anthony Kiedis is the band’s self-pro-claimed “pathetic optimist,” Flea tends to skew the other way. At first he didn’t want to continue the band without John Frusciante.
“Oh. I’ve considered pulling the plug a million times,” he confides. “That’s nothing new for me. Things get to be a bummer and I start going, ‘Mmm, this is kind of a drag.’ And I just couldn’t imagine doing it without John. When he did up and leave, though, some time went by and I just started feeling this deep love for the band and wanted to continue it. Plus, I missed Anthony. So we got Josh.”
The newest Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist is appreciably younger than the other Chili Peppers. But that doesn’t seem to be an issue for anyone. “I’ve always been the youngest one in most performing situations,” Klinghoffer says. “The funny thing is, I’m probably in the worst shape, physically, of all the guys in the Chili Peppers. But being in this band doesn’t feel too dissimilar to anything I’ve ever done before. I’m just making music with people I love, which I have a habit of doing. I’ve never done anything other than what I love.”
Klinghoffer isn’t bluffing about that. He decided to devote his life to music at age 15, promptly quitting high school, and forsaking the L.A. suburb of Northridge to pursue his craft. Before long, circa 1997, he fell in with L.A. underground music stalwart Bob Forrest of Thelonius Monster fame, joining Forrest’s new band at the time, the Bicycle Thief. Which is how Flea and Kiedis first became aware of Josh Klinghoffer.
Kiedis recalls, “Bob Forrest is a good friend of mine, and I remember he was over the moon at having found what he thought was the next musical messiah from the San Fernando Valley. Bob brought me over to his house to play me early recordings of the Bicycle Thief. That’s where I first heard Josh. I think a little bit of destiny was planted at the moment. Bob has a way of matchmaking. I guess you could say. I think he knew Josh would be good for our band years before I even considered it.”
It would take some 14 years for that destiny to be fulfilled. From a distance, it looks as if Frusciante’s departure from the Peppers and Klinghoffer’s arrival in the band was a neatly managed transition, almost as if Frusciante chose and installed his close friend as his successor. Klinghoffer first performed with the Peppers in 2007, as an auxiliary guitarist/keyboardist/backing vocalist for the final leg of the Stadium Arcadium tour, when Frusciante was still in the band. Then, in May 2009, Klinghoffer, Kiedis, Flea and Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith performed with Ron Wood and Ivan Neville at a MusicCares benefit in L.A., billing themselves as the Insects. Frusciante was not present that evening. The next thing anyone knew, Frusciante was out and Klinghoffer was in. But Kiedis laughs at the suggestion that the transfer of the RHCP guitar role was a premeditated hand-off. “The invisible powers that be, maybe they had a neat transition in mind.” he says. “But to us mere mortals on earth, the whole thing was a little less obvious.”
Flea adds, “I thought about different guitar players and stuff, but it really came down to the fact that Josh is family.”
The new Red Hot Chili Peppers lineup officially got down to business on October 12, 2009, convening at a North Hollywood rehearsal hall to begin songwriting for the album that would become I’m With You. En route to the rehearsal, they got the news that their old friend Brendan Mullen had passed away. A key mover and shaker on the L.A. punk/underground arts scene, Brendan Mullen had started the legendary punk venue the Masque. As a teenager, Anthony Kiedis would stay up late to hear his father, the actor and scenester Blackie Dammett, recount tales of decadent nights out at the Masque. Later on, Mullen gave the Red Hot Chili Peppers one of their first big career breaks, opening for the Bad Brains at another seminal L.A. rock venue, Club Lingerie. And as the newly reconfigured RHCP began jamming in North Hollywood, the music that emerged became a tribute to their departed comrade, “Brendan’s Death Song.” In many ways, it became a keynote song for the album then taking shape.
“It’s amazing how that song came about,” Flea marvels. “Brendan died on his birthday. And it was our new band’s birthday.”
“We just plugged in and that’s what came out,” Kiedis says.
“You get in a room and you start playing music,” Flea adds. “We start playing, and all of a sudden I forget that I’m playing. You get into this ecstatic state where it’s kind of a hypnotic thing that just starts flowing and it’s beautiful. You feel complete.”
Not that the process was entirely easy at first. “It’s been really exciting, because Josh is such a different player than John.” Flea says. “His approach is completely different. But that was also a little challenging in the beginning. John and I had developed such an extensive musical language together that we both knew really well. With Josh, that wasn’t instantly there. What I needed to learn was to let go and let Josh do what Josh does. And as soon as I would let go and just let Josh be Josh, something really beautiful would happen and we’d have a great song or a great piece of music.”
As a player, Klinghoffer is a bit more minimal than Frusciante, and he provides Flea with plenty of space to soar on I’m With You. The disc contains some of the bassist’s best work ever. His heavily processed, envelope-filtered breakdown in the aforementioned “Goodbye Hooray” is positively Entwistle-esque in its technical mastery and thunderous majesty. The hyperkinetic yet supple and melodic lines he weaves through the last chorus of “Brendan’s Death Song” are low-frequency poetry.
“I feel lucky that I got to watch him do that song over and over again while writing and recording,” Klinghoffer says. “And take after take, what he played was different every time.
But always real free and just totally going for it. He’s very melodic and very rhythmic at the same time. That’s what he’s amazing at.”
Flea’s harmonic inventiveness was fuelled further by a study of chordal theory that he undertook for two semesters at USC during the downtime between Stadium Arcadium and the new album. “Flea’s really got his head around the theory of chords, and how chords work.” Anthony Kiedis says. “But inevitably he’ll sit down at the bass and say, ‘Josh, what’s the diminished note in this minor something or other?’ And without even taking a breath Josh will say what it is. It sounds like Josh has been to school for that, which he hasn’t. He just has that information at his fingertips, being a lover of chords.”
Klinghoffer is a deeply intuitive musician. He’s a bit cagey about his influences, saying only that he figured out any and every piece of music he could when he was young. “I barely considered myself a guitar player a lot of the time.” he says. “For a long time I was working on a lot of modular synthesizer gear that John Frusciante and I got into together. Before that I was playing piano a lot. But as far as where my chordal sensibility comes from, I have no idea. I’m just always trying to make some combination of notes that you’ve never heard before, something that makes your heart and your brain move at the same time.”
A mutual absorption in the piano and its harmonic possibilities was another thing that forged a bond between Flea and Klinghoffer during the making of I’m With You. “I’d never dipped my foot in the academic world of music before,” Flea says. “I’d always been going mostly on emotion and intuition. But because of having to do my homework, like analyzing Bach and stuff, I started to sit at the piano and I started to get into playing the piano and writing songs on piano. So I wrote a lot for the record on piano. And so did Josh. What’s cool is not so much that we have a lot of piano on the record, which we do, but also what happens when you take something written on piano and reinterpret it for bass, drums and guitar. Just the act of reinterpretation in itself really made the creative process a lot different.”
One other bonding experience that Klinghoffer and Flea shared, and which had a considerable impact on I’m With You, was a trip to Ethiopia. “It was awesome, but physically taxing,” Klinghoffer notes. “It was like a musical field trip, a musical tour around the country, from villages that each had their own dance style to a four-in-the-morning Christian church service, while Muslim prayers were being shouted through loudspeakers outside. It’s pretty amazing. There are three major religions there, all working in harmony.”
“I’d gone to Nigeria with the same group of people the year before,” Flea adds. “The vibe was so just so good. Every night we went out and saw this amazing music. We jammed with all these Ethiopian dudes. That was the thing, man, just playing with the Africans. Just digging the scene.”
The trip impacted several songs on the album, perhaps most notably the song “Ethiopia,” which features a conga-driven sax break played by the great jazzman Joshua Redman. Another track, “Did I Let You Know?,” boasts an Afro-jazzy groove and trumpet solo by Mike Bulger. Touches like these make I’m With You perhaps the most jazz-inflected album in the RHCP canon. “We love so many different kinds of music,” Flea says. “It would be silly to limit ourselves.”
With so much inspiration in the air, the songs began to coalesce quickly and plentifully at the Chili Peppers’ North Hollywood rehearsal space. “We almost always start the day by jamming,” Anthony Kiedis says, “whether it’s to find song ideas or just loosen up the machinery. And most of the time, something striking pops up. I also felt like we had the benefit of a surplus of song ideas that Josh had that maybe hadn’t fit into any of his previous musical endeavors. He would come in with these songs that were incredibly beautiful and unique to him, and I felt like maybe they’d been stored in one of his archives for just such an occasion.”
“That’s absolutely right.” Klinghoffer confirms. “I’ve been writing and writing for years and years. I don’t always finish things; it takes too long to finish them sometimes. But there were many of those ideas that worked in this context, that Anthony worked on. There were almost too many.”
“The chalkboard filled up quickly,” Kiedis says. “We have a tradition of putting up this massive chalkboard and writing down songs that are at least partially solidified.”
The band did take one break from songwriting, on January 9, 2010, to play a MusicCares tribute to Neil Young in L.A. This debut gig for the new Chili Peppers lineup took place in front of a star-studded audience that included Elton John, Leon Russell and of course Neil Young himself. “We chose to do a song of Neil’s that didn’t necessarily come easy,” says Kiedis. “We did ‘A Man Needs a Maid,’ which is at the highest possible end of my register, on a good day. The original was done with an orchestra, so it was a challenge to rearrange it for a rock hand.”
“All four of us were preoccupied with getting the song right, rather than focusing on anything else,” Klinghoffer adds. “Especially with Neil right there. None of us knew where
he was in the audience. But right after we were walking out, I saw him.”
“Elton gave us a little pep talk beforehand.” Kiedis recalls. “He very amusingly referred to Chad as ‘handsome.’ Not that Chad isn’t handsome, but Elton actually called him ‘handsome’ Like, ‘What’s up, handsome?’ It was exciting, but just a little deviation from our work in North Hollywood, where we were showing up every day with this real blue-collar work ethic, punching the clock and trying to create this record.”
Once songwriting was complete, the band did a few weeks of preproduction at Big Sur in Northern California. They worked at Red Barn, a recording studio that belongs to Beach Boys member Al Jardine. The experience was particularly inspirational for Klinghoffer. “We walked in and there’s the white piano that I have a photograph of Brian Wilson playing,” the guitarist says. “I have that photo up on my piano at home. So it was really cool to see Brian’s actual piano.”
With preproduction complete, the band adjourned to East West Studios in L.A., where they began tracking with their longtime producer, Rick Rubin. East West was formerly the legendary Ocean Way studio, which before that was the even more legendary United Western, site of many historic recordings by luminaries like Ray Charles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Radiohead and many others. These days, somewhat sadly, the studio is mainly used to record instrumental samples for sound libraries, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers rocked those hallowed halls with some good old-fashioned live tracking sessions.
“Our whole thing is that we track all live together in a room.” Flea says. “Which is becoming a lost art in rock music. It’s ridiculous. Everyone is piecing shit together, you know? But for us it’s all about the feel. The feel is everything. We’d much rather have something that has some mistakes in it that we all played together and there’s a magic feel in it, as opposed to getting it all perfect.”
Klinghoffer relied on two guitars for tracking: a reissue 1957 Fender Custom Shop Telecaster that had originally belonged to John Frusciante and an early Fifties Fender Stratocaster borrowed from Chad Smith. “I never had a really good Strat,” Klinghoffer says, “so I borrowed Chad’s. It’s hard to play with the Chili Peppers and not rock a Strat. For tracking, I kept things simple with those two guitars. The Tele and the Strat are both very even-sounding guitars. In some cases I wasn’t sure what direction the overdubs would go in, or those guys would call out a song and we’d just go for it. I knew the Strat or Tele would sound good somewhere in the mix.”
For basic tracks, the Strat and Tele went through a 200-watt Marshall Major-the same kind of amp that John Frusciante used with the Chili Peppers-with one 4×12 Marshall cab. When it came time to do overdubs, however, Klinghoffer brought a much wider array of gear into play. He’s something of a compulsive guitar shopper and lover of funky old junk.
“I do a lot of looking on the internet,” he says. “A lot of eBay and stuff like that. I just love cheap guitars. I have a lot. I couldn’t even tell you how many. I like having guitars all over the house. I’m starting to buy ones that match the colors of my walls.”
An old Magnatone is one of Klinghoffer’s favorite thrift-shop specials. It accounts for the oddly muted rhythm guitar tone on the song “Take Me Home.” There’s a kind of pathos to the sound that contributes greatly to the overall emotion of the song. “T wrote that one part on that Magnatone,” Klinghoffer says. “And I said, ‘When it comes time to record that song, it’ll be on that guitar. And sure enough, it sounded great.”
But Josh Klinghoffer is a fan of more upscale vintage gear as well, such as his early Sixties Fender Jaguar. He also has a Fender 12 and Bass VI. Another key guitar used on the Red Hot Chili Peppers album was a Gibson Firebird of 1963 or 1964 vintage. “That was my big extravagant purchase,” Klinghoffer says. “A three-pickup Firebird. It’s a monster.”
For overdubs, his guitars were routed via a Radial Engineering switcher to seven different amps: his Marshall Major, 1959 Fender Deluxe. 1958 Fender Super Reverb, Fender Super Six, Gibson Falcon combo amp, Silvertone Twin Twelve and Ampeghead with Orange cabinets. The latter rig was brought in by one of the session engineers. “We would find tones by combining amplifiers and different mics in the room.” Klinghoffer says. “We would usually blend between three and five of the amps.”
Another gear preference that Klinghoffer has inherited from Frusciante is a fondness for the Ibanez WH-10 wah pedal. “It’s this cheap, Eighties plastic wah, and they often break,” he says. “They’ve become harder to find.” The guitarist also digs the Mid-Fi Electronics Clari(not) fuzz/pitch bender, which can be heard on the song “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” Josh Klinghoffer has also adopted John Frusciante’s predilection for treating guitar sounds through modular synth gear. But on this album, I didn’t do as much treating of the guitar as I thought I would,” he says. “We had a lot of material and were focused on getting the guitars down on that. And when we got to mixing, the guitars didn’t seem to need much in the way of treatments.”
One of the pleasures of listening to I’m With You is the great variety to be found in the guitar solos. Each has a distinctly different tone and vibe. “When something calls for a solo.” Klinghoffer says, “it’s important to approach it in different ways and hopefully do what the song calls for, rather than having just one thing that you do. Solos are pretty free in this band. John always did something different every time. That’s the best part of seeing them live. You stretch when a solo comes. It’s unlike me to write out a solo.”
For all the different colors and moods that Klinghoffer brings, I’m With You is still unmistakably a Red Hot Chili Peppers album. A lot of that is down to Flea and Anthony Kiedis, the band’s founding members. Each is a distinctive stylist and a key component in the Chili Peppers’ sonic identity. Flea provides the band’s profoundly funky bottom end, and Kiedis goes over the top, as it were, with staccato, rap-inflected vocal phrasing, and a plaintive sense of melody. With these elements firmly in place, there’s a vast expanse of aural space for the band’s ever-changing cast of guitarists to roam, each leaving his mark. As long as Flea and Anthony Kiedis are there, it’s always going to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“In that sense, I think the band existed long before we ever had a band,” Flea reflects, “Anthony and I started being friends when we were 15, and we were pretty much inseparable, running around on the streets together, getting into trouble and connecting in pretty important ways.”
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. The punk funk cutups who disrupted the Eighties have become elder statesmen of rock. In a way, I’m With You’s reflective mood of romantic melancholy seems an acknowledgment of that. Departed friends are remembered. And several songs are peopled by characters who have weathered the passage-and indeed, often the ravages-of time. But there’s a sense of renewal as well, reflecting the Chili Peppers’ ability to reinvent and reinvigorate themselves, take on new blood and keep moving forward. In one of the album’s most resolutely upbeat songs, “Happiness Loves Company,” Anthony Kiedis sings, “Young love keeps pumpin’ in the streets of L.A.” And so, indeed, do the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“I think the energy of L.A. still makes it deeply into this record,” Anthony Kiedis says. “LA is too infinite to ever stop loving it. The more I change, the more I’m able to discover its different aspects. L.A. is the nucleus of Planet Earth. So much stuff is born in the smelly gasses of L.A. But I live on the outskirts of L.A. now, in another county, on the coast. So I guess I’m looking at it from a different angle now.”
Twenty years after BLOOD SUGAR SEX MAGIK, Anthony Kiedis and Flea reflect on the making of the band’s breakthrough album. BY ALAN DI PERNA
AT THE DAWN OF THE Nineties, four young men entered the decaying, allegedly haunted Harry Houdini mansion off the hilly curves of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon Boulevard. They re-emerged into the smoggy Hollywood sunlight some months later with one of the seminal albums of the Alternative Nineties in the can. Those four young men were collectively known as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the album they made in the famed magician’s house, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“With that album, we really grew into being the band that we always wanted to be,” Flea says. “It was like we took what was great about us and just gave a lot more depth to the instruments and structure. The album really captured a space and a time that was exciting and fun.”
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fifth album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik was the band’s second record with John Frusciante, who was the third major RHCP guitarist. (Fifth, if you count the fleeting tenures of Blackbird McKnight and Jack Sherman.) Frusciante had played on the previous Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Mother’s Milk, but was new to the band at the time and hadn’t quite found his footing. When sessions for Blood Sugar Sex Magik rolled around, however, he had grown confident enough to express his own mercurial personality through the band’s music. “John was really coming into his own as an artist at that time with us,” Flea says.
Blood Sugar Sex Magik was the Chili Peppers’ first album for Warner Bros. Records (they’d previously recorded for EMI), and it was their first project with Rick Rubin. A bearded mountain of a man, and something of a guru figure, Rubin earned the band’s trust enough to help them shape songs and arrangements. It was the start of a fruitful creative partnership that continues to this day.
“It’s a trip to see how much Rick Rubin has changed from that point in time,” Anthony Kiedis says. “Back then, he was just discovering the spiritual path. He’s very non-judgmental. When an evil bastard walks in the room, Rick Rubin doesn’t look on them like an evil bastard; he thinks, Well, maybe there’s something good about that person.
So he’s an interesting guy, and these days he’s in ridiculously good physical shape and health. A year and a half ago he just started exercising and eating smart. And now he’s this glowing Neptune of a person you find walking down the beach with some lovely Colombian girl. He’s just a different cat than he was 20 years ago. But at his core, he’s still a lover of music more than anything.”
Blood Sugar Sex Magik was phenomenally well received upon its September 24, 1991, release. Yielding a string of hit singles, including “Under the Bridge,” “Give It Away,” “Suck My Kiss” and “Breaking the Girl,” the album kicked the Chili Peppers’ career into a new dimension. It continues to be a favorite today and has sold more than 17 million copies.
“It’s tricky to think that 20 years have passed,” Anthony Kiedis says. “When we play songs off Blood Sugar today, the last thing they feel is antiquated. I still have an absolute connection to playing those songs. It’s not like I’m beating a dead horse when I play them. They’re still vibrant and connected to now, in some way. So I guess the album is holding up, standing the test of time.”