Testspiel.de: Interview with Josh Klinghoffer
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So, Klinghoffer is a german name, right?
Yeah, I’ve been told. And then sometimes I’ve been told it’s austrian and then I’ve been told that the family actually or the name or the beginning of it comes from the very, very western Ukraine.
But you don’t have any german ancestors you know of?
I don’t have anybody that lives in germany that I know of.
Do you remember the first time you listened to a Red Hot Chili Peppers song?
Erm, I think I do. But I’m not sure if I’m correct. A friend of mine put a cover of “Higher Ground” on a mixtape for me in 1990. So when “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” came out I knew who this band was and I was really excited about it.
That was a very interesting time in the 90’s, when “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” came out and Ten from Pearl Jam and Nirvana…
… yeah, the big three.
… and the “Black Album”. What was your favorite kind of music back then?
Well, I liked all of those records. The Metallica “Black Album” I suppose at the time seemed it was a different genre than the others. I liked Nirvana and Pearl Jam a lot. I liked the Chili Peppers. I had e weird childhood affinity for Seattle. when I was 12 years old. I really bought everything what the press and the media said about what they were doing up there. All that I felt then about it, I still feel the same and I am still attracted to it. They painted a picture of a city full of musicians who were all friends, all played together, all looked out for each other, all did their own thing or did something together. I love the idea of a community on the outside that creates something on their own.
That was pretty unique back then. Do you think times like these will come back?
No (laughs)! Yeah, I think it was unique, I mean, there had been times like that in history. I’m sure it will happen again on some level, but it will never be that small and selfcontainend. Back then they were very localized.
And may it wouldn’t have that personal impact on you because you were a youg kid at that time and this music was part of your education.
Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to sound like an asshole when I talk about this stuff. I don’t know what it’s like to be a young person today. I feel that people my age really got the last of what it was like to follow a band, be passionate about it and go to the record store and buy their records, looking on the liner notes and really care about the things you were listening to. I don’t know. I am sure kids do today, but, I don’t know what it’s like to be young right now.
You still are…
Yeah, I suppose. But I am really feeling like an old person when it comes to new music. More importantly, there was something that happened in the early 90’s you now, after the 80’s and the excessive nature of popular music, looking at it from the outside. I mean there was amazing music going on in the 80’s but there was something about the rebellion to that. And figuring out how to market sadness as it was done in the early 90’s. Nirvana, but all the bands figuring out how to sell beeing a really sad kid in shopping malls. In the US we have a store called “Hot Topic”. I remember when I saw “Hot Topic” for the first time, I wanted to throw up and I was only about 14 years old but I still knew that there was something terribly wrong about selling clothing that had safety pins in it. Selling stuff that your parents were supposed to dislike though your parents dropped you off here saying: ok, we are picking you up in about an hour. Something was terribly wrong about that, or, let’s not say wrong but that’s the end of rebellion in music and the end of, you know, there would be anything that drove some of the people that made great music in the past.
But coming back to the Chilli Peppers. You already toured with the band before you joined them. After the “Stadium Arcadium” Tour John (Frusciante) quit and you took over. What was that process like? I guess you had not to do any auditions?
Yeah, and it wasn’t as quick as that. there was quite a bit of time in between him (Frusciante) quitting and me joining. But even before I toured with them as the back up guy, I had already known them for almost ten years. I was in bands that opened for them, I toured with them. I knew how everything worked, I knew everybody on the crew and I was very familiar with things. And for them that made it easier. I don’t know if they could have pulled someone of the street and had it feel as comfortable to them. Because I think John was such a big musical force and a big part of what made this band so succesfull. I think having a brand new energy would have just felt strange. With me, I made records with John, I played on stage with John and the band. It was a very familiar feeling. So I think that was part of the reason why it worked.
Now you are in the band for seven years. How did your personal life change in that time?
I think I have become a little more solitary. I don’t have as much time as in the past for other things, other music…
Do you miss making other music?
Well I had a band with some friends that I actually put together before the Red Hot Chili Peppers and we have actually done records the entire time I’ve been playing with the Chilli Peppers and we are about to put out our third album. So I have had time, but there’s no time to really focus on it. It has become a bit of a side band. And before the Chili Peppers this was my main band. But I don’t miss it. I like having a focus and working hard on what ever it is I’m working on. Nothing has really changed about my life. It doesn’t feel like to me, except obviously you have a little more money when you tour with a band that makes a lot of money and that allows you to buy more equipment. But I mean really, I still strongly disapprove with how I spend my time like I did before. Because I purchased a bunch of things which I never get a chance to play with or learn. I still feel that there’s not enough time in the day.
I have to admit, before you joind the Chili Peppers your Name was nothing to me…
…oh yeah, I am sure! (laughs)
And when I did some research I learned that you were the youngest inductee to the Rock‘N Roll Hall Of Fame just three years after you joined that band. Wasn’t that weird? Didn’t you feel to be in the wrong place at day?
Well, kind of, erm, ja. But I wouldn’t say the wrong place because I am in this band. I am in this band with these guys. It probably would have felt like I was in the wrong place if I had been in my hotel room while there where on stage or in the audience. At the same time the easiest way to look at it is: the Hall Of Fame is lovely and I am very proud of them for beeing in the Hall Of Fame. I know for well that I have done nothing to deserve for beeing in a Hall Of Fame. It doesn’t really mean anything to me. The best thing about it is just knowing that my band mates care enough about me to bring me along. And that is the true honor as beeing in their band. Or more importantly beeing their friend. They asked me if I wanted to speak and I was never even near about to speak. I was actually wearing a Cure shirt under my sweater because The Cure were up for beeing inducted that year but they didn’t get in.
Last Question. Before the interview I listened to both of the albums you made with the Chili Peppers. I think “The Gateway” is a huge improvement, it feels like: ok, now we are a band.
What`s your thought about that?
Well I think it is definately a progression. It definately feels like I am even a little more familiar with them. I still feel we are learning how to write with each other and still growing as a band.
To me it feels the same. I wrote in the same way I wrote with them in the first time. They were just as open to me writing. I don’t necesserily feel that anything really changed. The last album, the “I Am With You” album, I was just dropped into the same situation that they had made records since “Blood Sugar” with Rick (Rubin). I was just dropped into that scenario. And that’s fine. It was a great experience making that record. Until the last minute I didn’t know, none of us knew, what songs gonna be in the “I Am With You” album. I really had a different impression of what the album shoud be like, I thought it should sound more like a new, you know, there should be some few different songs on it that would make the band seem like it was somewhat going in a new direction. But to me being democratic it went out what it was.
Thank’s for your time Josh.