The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a lot of irons in the proverbial fire at the moment.
In addition to their May 9 double LP, Stadium Arcadium, there’s the video the Peppers just shot with “American History X” director Tony Kaye for the track “Danni California.” According to bassist Flea, it explores “the tradition and the beauty of the history of rock and roll.”
The funkmeisters have also been booked for a handful of European summer festivals, and Flea divulged that they’ve even agreed, in principal, to play Lollapalooza (see “Lollapalooza Returning As A Three-Day Festival” ). Oh, and then there’s that idea they’re kicking around that involves them doing a U.S. arena tour with Kanye West, which, if all goes according to plan, would launch in late August with dates running through the winter.
“I think we’ll be doing some legs with Kanye, but I don’t know if that’s confirmed yet or not,” Flea said. “I think we’re going to do a month or two with him. I think it’s going to happen, and I hope it happens. He’s a great artist … and we always try to get the best people to play with that we can.”
Last month, frontman Anthony Kiedis told MTV News that discussions had been initiated between the Chili Peppers and Kanye camps. “I’m a fan of him in general and I think his music is very good, and I just like his vibe and his energy,” Kiedis said. “We’ve had good success with bringing bands [on the road with us] that aren’t traditionally seen as going together, and the more we can kind of break the mold of a genre-specific bill, it’s kind of good for us. It would be great. I hope it all works out. The channels have been opened.”
A spokesperson for West had no comment.
But even if things don’t end up working out with West, it doesn’t look as if it’ll dampen Flea’s enthusiasm about the 25-track Stadium Arcadium. He said he hasn’t been this excited about the band’s music since “we first started in 1983.” The songs, he said, “mean so much to me — it’s the best record we’ve ever made. I feel so important to share [this album] with the world. Making this record, I just feel like each one of us was at the best that we could be. This Stadium Arcadium, this is our grand statement — this is the best that we can do. This is the best we’re capable of. If you don’t like this [record], you don’t like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Period.”
Flea said that all the ingredients were in place for the band’s “magnum opus”: Producer Rick Rubin (Slayer, Jay-Z) was back on board to twist the knobs, and “we worked really well communally together. We really respected each others’ opinions and didn’t waste time arguing about stupid stuff. We really just got down and made some music.”
This was not the case when the Peppers recorded 2002’s By the Way. “It was an unpleasant experience for me,” Flea explained. “There was definitely tension in the group, tension between [guitarist] John [Frusciante] and I, and I didn’t feel comfortable creatively within the band. I didn’t feel free to express myself. All of that [was] resolved [during the Stadium sessions], and we got to this place where we felt very free. We were all getting along and all working together well, and when we do that, that’s when we’re at our best — that’s when the real magic happens.”
Arcadium, Flea said, is a funk-riddled rocker, which should be good news for the band’s longtime fans. But the album has its tranquil, muted moments too.
“I’ve always loved being mellow,” he said, smiling. “Love being intense too. I can’t describe what effect [this music will have] on people and whether people [will] perceive it as being mellow or what. We keep rolling along and we learn stuff as we go, and the more that we learn, the more we keep adding. I think initially with us, the main thing we knew how to do was rock out. Just rock the f— out — to just go into animal mode and get into this primal thing. We’ve always loved that, and that’s always the essence of what we do: complete surrendering to the groove and giving it up.
“But as you go, you learn other things,” he continued. “You learn harmony and melody and how beautiful it is to love something as delicate as a flower petal. You deepen. To me, we’ve retained the intensity and used it in a lot of different ways. But I think people are going to be able to rock, and I think people will get their boogie shoes on and have a good time. I think that everybody likes to feel the power of life.”