Audioboom.com – Josh Klinghoffer Interview
Hey, it’s Matt and thanks for checking out the 2 hours with Matt Pinfield Podcast. Today my guest is Josh Klinghoffer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We’re celebrating the release of their brand new album “The Getaway”. Josh went from being an uber fan to a touring musician to a full-fledged member of the band. Now before we start I want you to subscribe to the Two Hours with Matt Pinfield podcast on iTunes and please be sure to give it a rating and let us know what you think. Here’s my conversation with Josh Klinghoffer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
MATT: Last time I was hanging out with you Josh, we were there at (Village Recorders ???) and were talking about how you watched ‘120 Minutes’ and you know, that was a big part of your life. So you being a part of the Chili Peppers, one of my favorite bands of all time and you in the new record, I heared your guitar playing on the single. Just blows me away, I love it, you know, Dark Necessities. Hearing what you’re doing is so cool. Josh man, I love meeting you and hanging out with you that day man, it was cool.
JOSH: I know, that was a monumental moment for me.
MATT: Thank you, man. Two things that were said that day. I heared from Flea later… So good to see one of the closer friends that we love still doing what he does. When you told me that it was a such important part of your upbring and your growth. Turn on the band, playing the guitar, it meant the world, it really did. I need you to know how much that meant to me.
JOSH: Thank you. As I said, hearing your voice in my headphones is very familiar and very comforting.
MATT: Thank you for that. Hey josh, when I heard Dark Necessities, I heard your guitar but I heard the production on the record and the way the record sounded was a blown away. First of all because that was different, after six albums with Rick Rubin and you on ‘I’m With You’ the last time we all hanged out together. Tell me about making the decision to work with Danger Mouse.
JOSH: Well, we didn’t made the decision for awhile. After we started to writing songs for this new album I think it just sort of came about… I think, feeling that maybe a change should happen just to keep things excting or keep people on their toes but mostly for me making the last record was an amazing experience. That was my first with this band. But there was something I felt a little funny about when there is five people making a record, being the producer, in that case Rick, and four band members, those four had being together in the sense for twenty plus years and I was kind of the new person. So it was just a dynamic that I was interested in changing this time around. Regardless of who was. So happen that Brian, Danger Mouse, who I have known for a long time. So is hard to me call him Danger Mouse.
MATT: Yeah I call him Brian Burton too, that is his real name. He has been our friends for years, right? So I wanna ask you, you’ve been friends with him before that, right?
JOSH: Yeah, I met him in 2005/2006. He called me to come play on a record he was working on with an amazing singer called Martina Topley Bird who sing with Tricky back on the early Tricky records, who I had known already. So they we’re working on that record together. So she sugested to I come to play. He called me and I went down there. We were just similar ages, we like a lot the same music. So that was the first time I worked with him. That was a lot of fun. So I have known him for a long time and I was in tour with his band Gnarls Barkley a year or so and after that kind of in a pinch one night a member of the band left the band, he decided that he was gonna leave the band and I…
MATT: So you get the call from Brian to came in. “Come to play with us”. Right?
JOSH: We were at a show, I’ve gone to see them in London… I don’t want to make it sound like I’m this kinda of person, but there was a open bar, after party. And I was like “I’ll do it. I will take over” playing keyboards that I hadn’t done before in a band. So I think I walked to next table wondering what I had said.
MATT: That was great though. Brian is such a good guy. The way that he works with sounds and textures and change as a producer is really amazing. I mean, I love the work that he does. So you became friends with him then and you looked at landscape of him working with people like the Black Keys, and doing an album. The way he always match with working with different artists… So that friendship that you guys have through that period of time. Was that one of the ways that he got to known and get involved with the Chili Peppers?
JOSH: No, he is known Flea. I think for a couple of years just for being around and having mutual friends. When we sort of decided looking to working with someone else for this new record. His name kept coming up. He and I being friends made talking about it, discussing whether he was interested whether be a good idea. Made that easy for texts here and there. He met Flea a couple of times before he came down and spoke to all of us. But it was just a sort of casuality that he came down to the studio where we were working at. We played a bunch of songs that we had been working one for the previously year. He instantly had some ideas. Instantly saw a place for himself in some of the songs he heard. He really enjoys get involved with the band from the ground floor, sort of writing songs with the band.
MATT: From the beginning.
JOSH: Just sort of seeing a song from the beginning, seeing being born.
MATT: Would you say that you have like a couple albums with material that you worked on and then he came saying “Look, why we don’t start fresh?”
JOSH: Yes, sort of. We had written songs from a better part of a whole year before we really seriously start to talk about who were gonna make the record with. Much like we did last time. We just wrote, wrote, wrote and we had a lot of stuff. We were sort of getting up to start record with Brian and Flea got hurt. He broke his arm snowboarding so that gave us some more time to go through songs. When he was ready to play again we were kind of polishing songs. Now a lot of time come by from the songs written. Was kinda of perfect when we finally got the studio, Brian started coming up with new stuff. Cause I think some of the stuff that we had written was already almost 2 years old at that point. So was refreshing to kind of being around new ideas.
MATT: Kinda setting around the table and doing nothing. When I were reported on Flea of hurting himself at that point I was thinking with myself when Anthony goes surfing on Hawaii or Flea does the snowboarding thing. “Man, don’t hurt yourself, come on guys”
JOSH: I don’t know what they get up to. I was not around so I probably would worry more but that weekend in particular I think is funny… Just a couple of weeks scheduling things, we were all going away and I remember thinking to myself exactly what you said. That friday afternoon when I knew that he was going off to the mountains I think I was going somewhere. I usually think that something like what happen to him will happen [inaudible]
MATT: So the beauty of the single ‘Dark Necessities’. When I first heard it and I heard the song start the beauty of that, it sounds very different from the latest six albums with Rich which are all phenomenal, but I love that there was something about… it was a little more stripdown. The point is, the way that you literally starts with the percussion and then Flea’s bass and then your guitar part comes in. Tell me about recording that song and the metamorphosis about how that happen.
JOSH: Honestly I was trying to think about it a little while ago. I can’t remember exactly how that song was born. It was either Brian and Chad working on a little drum pattern and Flea coming in with some piano chords that he had been working on that morning or that week and marrying those together. Or Flea came with the piano first then Chad added the drums. Other way two first elements. It was probably Flea’s piano chords but I can’t remember which… if he put that on top of drums or not. I think very shortly after we got the sort of basic chord structure for the song we thought this intro would be a great idea. There was just a sort of coming up with that way of making the intro sound exciting but also not very elaborate. I ended up playing a lot of different guitar parts and then holding one note for most of it and then I add something on top, we overdub the piano thing. But essentially it was just Flea playing a couple notes and me one. I think with all those sounds that we put on the songs sort of doing all this new things…
MATT: It made me so happy.
JOSH: That was a nice marriage between the production and the playing
MATT: It was… I love this. Is so great. Because I always been a such of fan. I would like to let people know. Josh, when you got the call to be in the band and you met the guys was that… I mean, you obviously were a fan for years. You love them, I’m sure… as a kid.
JOSH: Yeah, absolutely.
MATT: Tell me about that for you. When you first set down, hanging out with Anthony, Chad and Flea. How was the initial feeling like? I mean you were nervous… how did you feel that period of time? Obviously is a band, you walk into a band that you love very much and you respect all the songs. How was that feeling?
JOSH: Well, wasn’t nerve-racking…I would even think myself because I knew them all for so long prior to that point.
MATT: From the touring stuff, right?
JOSH: Yeah, the thing that was strangest for me was stepping in to the guitar player roll that band was filled by John Frusciante and Hillel Slovak and other people, cause there is a couple more but just a long line of wonderful players and writers. Just kind of being someone that was added to that list, was kind of a lot to do, a lot to do and there is a lot to bring. Kind always trying to find the balance between being respectful to the music that exists before you and trying not to repeat what was been done before and bring your own creativity to everything you do. Having known them for so long and touring with them, knowing how much the family there is, how much love there is in this band. It was just incredible honour to be a part of that family.
MATT: You know Josh, I see that. Knowing Flea, knowing Chad, knowing Anthony and have such a positive vibe of love. Like Chad can talk about music and the years in Detroit forever and talk about great stuff. Loving growing up there. Flea can talk about so many things he loves to do and still always so humble, which I think is so beautiful about Anthony and Flea, everybody in the band. I mean that is a thing about the Chili Peppers that sustain in keeping making incredibly valuable music. Is so important every record, really resonates, it’s beautiful that love like the first time you heard a record or pick up a guitar that is to me where I see the Chili Peppers what I get every time I hang with you guys or do something with you guys over the years. So that was one of the things. So for you… getting up to be part of the band. You felt that enthusiasm that never ends with your band mates with your brothers there.
JOSH: Yeah, it’s amazing, it’s is shocking. All my life I always wanted to be in a band, to play with other people that had equal desire to create music with other people. And that is what it is. That is what they do. That is what they have always done. That is all they know how to be. So I’m very, very fortunate to have found that. I know a lot of people, and myself for a long time, who don’t have that and never find the right people to play with. I’m constantly thanking all kinds of lucky starts.
MATT: I totally get that. Josh, making the record, making The Getaway. In the past it would be with Rick Rubin it has always been part of the practice, to write as many songs or song ideas and the put together and then stripping away. What was different about making this record now that you guys worked with Danger Mouse?
JOSH: Well, I suppose we still wrote a ton of things and we have a big pile but the time Brian got involved which was almost a year into the writing process, there were certains ones that kind move to the top of the list so he picked a chunk of songs… that was great way to do what we probably should have done last time. Thought about what songs we wanna focuses on before going recording. That was different. Recording a fewer number of songs, giving more time and more focus.
MATT: So tell me about going out. You guys will gonna be out here in San Franscisco you will gonna be doing Boottlerock… just about a week or so. Doing the festivals… you enjoy doing? I mean, when you seat there look at the incredible history of the songs that you have before you join the band and since you have. What that felling like? You tour with them long before that and with other people but it’s so much fun to get up there on stage. Tell me about that experience for you, Josh.
JOSH: Oh yeah, it’s amazing. Especially the way that we recorded this album. We did piece by piece a lot of the time which is very different for this band so since we’ve been rehearsing last couple weeks it just felt great to play with them again. We all playing in a room together. I love playing live. Every time I walk on stage is just as fun as the time before. Even the things going wrong. We haven’t playing while. Is never not exciting, is never not a honour to play this songs for people that mean so much to them. I’m always very thankful that I get to do that. I hope people enjoy as much we all love doing.
MATT: Yeah. We are so happy to have you back. Like I said the morning I dig the song and I put on the radio…The feel, new music. It was absolutely beautiful. Josh, I always ask every artist that I have here… because we’re such music heads. No matter what you do. If you’re a musician or when you do what I do, a radio host, you love music so much. There is so many things, resonate musically in your heart. Songs, albums, whatever. I want to ask you, is there a song you would say that was a turning point in your life as a kid that made you wanna pick up that guitar?
JOSH: The Beatles’ song ‘Revolution” there is a… I had a 45 when I was a kid, it was my dad single, so the version is not in the wide album, but the single version of the song “Revolution” that I always think was one of the first times that I thought “I need to do that. I need to make sounds like that”. That is something that comes to mind.
MATT: That distorcion in your face. Beautiful and confrontational at same time, right? So good. And what about who are your favourite artists that do you love.
JOSH: I’m a child of the 90’s so I think I was in the 6 or 7 grade, early 90’s. I was a big fan of the Chili Peppers and bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, the Pixies, Pearl Jam… bands like that.
JOSH: music from the 80’s, 70’s, 60’s. David Bowie always been a favourite of mine. This year is been kind of a hard one to loose him and Prince. Those two are big for me.
MATT: Two of the greatest of all time. Heartbreaking in my opnion. Josh this is exciting so what is the plan? What is gonna be happening for the band. I know you are doing a lot of festivals, you are coming up here to San Franscisco, you’ll be doing Bottlerock. After the festivals season… are guys going to tour the album… shows in arenas or stadiums. What will you guys gonna do because we wanna see you out. What is the plan?
JOSH: I think we will carry on overseas to the rest of the year after festivals season. We start in this country next year at the beginning of the year. It’s my understanding of it. I never sort of look things until they been confirmed but I hear things and I know we’ve got a whole year plus plan. I’m pretty sure it will be all over the United States starting early 2017.
MATT: We can’t wait for that. Josh, your family… when they see what you are doing right now, your writting and fulfilling your dream and your love for music. How did your family reacted to that?
MATT: I mean, I asked because it’s a interesting thing,,,
JOSH: Yeah. I don’t know…
MATT: If you wanna stay away from that question, is fine.
JOSH: No, no, it’s fine. I wonder if they said “He told us”. They are very happy for me. There is always… I think for the early age I was sort of very… I was not gonna do what I didn’t wanna do. And I sort of made that clear so the fact that I’m able to pretty much do everything that I told them I was going to do.. I’m sure they’re thrilled for me but I’m sure that was a little painfull too have been proved wrong by a twelve years old.
MATT: Everyone had that kind of opposition in work, in music doing that kind of thing. Where did you growed up Josh?
JOSH: I grew up in San Fernando Valley, Northridge.
MATT: Not far, not far. And certainly not far from the Dave Grohl’s studio out there.
JOSH: No, I just drove by that place for the first time last week cause I always known it was in Northridge but I never knew exactly where it was.
MATT: It’s so great, it’s so no assuming and purposely makes sense, right?
JOSH: I rehearsed on the next block over… as a kid.
MATT: Did you? Was a cover band or just writting?
JOSH: Nameless kid bands.
MATT: Yeah, which is great. I wanna put together one day. Josh, talked to all my friends like you, and all my friends that are in bands and collect all the names that they came up with these kids. A lot of them would be probably terrible or funny, whatever. A long long list of that stuff.
JOSH: Is a hard thing to came over. I think that is a good idea.
MATT: Will be funny. Josh, listen thanks so much. I know you have a half hour and I wanna thank you for doing this and is just great to speak with you again.
JOSH: Yeah, you too. I hope my answers made sense.
MATT: They made all sense.
JOSH: I was not hearing you so well.
MATT: I’m sorry Josh, but honestly you are great. You are really great. The last record… when I was with you guys for ‘I’m With You’ was really a pleasure to meet you and hang out with you that day..
JOSH: I’m looking forward to see you in person again.
MATT: We’ll gonna hang out again. I look for too. I really do.
JOSH: Will you be there at the Bottlerock?
MATT: Yeah. I’m coming up for that. Absolutely.
MATT: IT’s my birthday actually. See you and the guys and hang. Not that matter that is my birtday or whatever. I don’t need another one, really.
JOSH: It’s something…
MATT: Josh, is so good to have you on man. Really was.
JOSH: Thank you so much.
MATT: Much love to you and to the rest of the guys. I love everybody in the family there and I will definitely do this… Say hello and hang out for few minutes at the show.
JOSH: On your birthday I look forward too.
MATT: I look forward too. Thank you so much, Josh.
JOSH: Bye, man.
MATT: Bye bye.