Interview by Brian Giffin – loudmag.com.au
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is probably best known for being the newest member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers following his invitation to join the band in 2009, an act that led to him becoming the youngest living person to be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame when the Chilis were added three years later. Klinghoffer’s credentials are extensive, however, with previous touring duties with PJ Harvey, the Butthole Surfers, Beck, Gnarls Barkley and more. It was during his time with this last group that he made the connection that would lead to the creation of his own band, Dot Hacker, who have just released their second album, How’s Your Process?
“That’s where I met Clint Walsh, the other guitarist in Dot Hacker,” Klinghoffer says pleasantly “He and I became fast friends whilst touring with Gnarls in 2006. When that tour ended – in Australia actually – all throughout that tour we spent a year talking about music and talking about bands and how neither of us had had a band of our own growing up. That has always been my dream and my obsession.”
The band, completed by drummer Eric Gardner and Jonathan Hischke on bass, began work on Inhibition in 2008 only to have the project curtailed when Klinghoffer was drafted into the Chilis. Unlike most of his previous appointments as a touring band member, this was a permanent gig, and Dot Hacker was forced onto the back burner.
“So we formed Dot Hacker and everything was working and then Flea called me to join the Chili Peppers and that wasn’t anything like before,” the guitarist says. “That wasn’t just going to tour with another band, they were asking me to join as a member of the band.”
Two years ago, Dot Hacker was finally able to issue both their self-titled EP debut and the Inhibition album four months later. It was the realisation of a lifelong ambition for Josh Klinghoffer, his own music with his own band.
“It took me a long time to even admit to myself that I wanted to be the lead singer and main songwriter in a band,” he says. “I started my musical life as a drummer and then sort of picked up the guitar because I wanted to express myself in a more tonal way. Before I knew it I was involved with Bob Forrest and we had a band called The Bicycle Thief and I started going on tour with all these amazing artists and having all these incredible experiences. I woke up one day and I was almost 30 and I was on tour with Gnarls Barkley again and having all this fun and I wasn’t writing songs and I didn’t have the forum to play my own music.”
Those who know Klinghoffer’s work with the Chili may find Dot Hacker very different from their expectations. How’s Your Process?is airy, experimental rock, far removed from the funky groove of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but more familiar territory perhaps for those who have heard his work on John Frusciante’s solo albums. Klinghoffer wrote most of the material for Dot Hacker and is also the band’s lead vocalist, a role he has not previously played in other bands. It’s a testament to the versatility as an artist that has allowed him to work with a kaleidoscope of talent over the past 17 years.
“I don’t really know what people would expect from me,” he says with a chuckle. “I guess Dot Hacker doesn’t sound like the Red hot Chili Peppers. But I used to make records with John [Frusciante]. The Chili Peppers have their sound and the records I made with John have a different sound and I make a record with the Chili Peppers and then a record with Dot Hacker and to me it all sounds like it all comes under the same umbrella!”
How’s Your Process? was intended as a single release but has since been released as two separate entities. The first subtitled(Work) came out on CD and vinyl in July. The second digital-only half – (Play) – in October. The decision to split them was made due to no one in the band being able to agree on which songs should be cut from the track listing. Twelve songs seemed like too many to issue all at once.
“We wanted to make a concise album. No one could agree on which songs to take off and no one could agree on what running order to put them,” Klinghoffer explains. “I was being really stubborn and wouldn’t back down and somehow at some point John suggested we do two albums and break ’em up into two albums, six songs each and both came in at around thirty minutes. It just made sense to everybody. Somehow that’s evened out the sequencing problem. All the songs are so dense and there’s lots of sounds to take it that it really made sense to give one group first and the second a thirty minute record a couple months later. They made us give them these parenthetical names, but they’re really just two halves of the same record. It’s just one album. I guess you could think of it as two releases, part one and part two, but we thought that was a little bit too Guns N Roses! It’s essentially Dot Hacker’s second album. It gives the album a longer life because we don’t get to tour.”
With the schedule he has, touring Dot Hacker has always been an issue and so far the band has been restricted in its ability to play live. That may be sorted out for them later in the year however when his other band takes a break. They may even make it to Australia.
“We love playing live and we think that we never get our fair shot to do that. Obviously the Chili Peppers’ schedule is pretty demanding. I’m doing both bands right now. I’m in the middle of writing our next Chili Peppers album and rehearsing with Dot Hacker to do a show here and there. I really hope Dot Hacker gets the chance to become more of a live band because we love doing it. There’s talk of coming to Australia at the end of the year because the Chili Peppers will be a holiday break. Any chance this band gets to do it, we’ll be doing it.”
Despite the long time to took to establish a band of his own and the interruptions to Dot Hacker’s momentum, Josh Klinghoffer is nothing less than incredibly thankful for the opportunities he’s been afforded throughout his musical career. If anything, he considers himself to be very lucky to be able to express himself in so many ways.
“In the PJ Harvey, Butthole Surfers scenario I was just a touring musician, mainly brought in after there was a body of work and to play that body of work,” he says. “In both situations I was given pretty free rein to just be myself and do whatever I would normally do but it was nothing like being in your own band with your own music. With the Chili Peppers it’s a role I play where I’m the guitarist and an equal writer and with Dot Hacker I’m the main writer and the singer. I’m really fortunate to have all these amazing situations to put myself in and they’re all different parts of myself.”
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