CHICAGO — It's almost like a warped episode of "Making the Band" or "Rock Star."
In the video for "Tell Me Baby," the second single from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest double-LP, Stadium Arcadium, fans of the funk-rock scoundrels will see the members of the group — frontman Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith — vying against complete unknowns in what seems to be an audition for a spot in the Chilis.
The clip was helmed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer), the directorial team behind several Red Hot videos including "Californication," "Otherside" and "By the Way" and the new independent film "Little Miss Sunshine." And according to Flea, it's "the best video of our career." The bassist even feels the clip is "the most beautiful piece of film that has ever represented us."
The video features several dozen fresh-faced actors, musicians and dancers, all a bundle of nerves before heading into an audition room. The Chili Peppers are among those lingering about in various waiting rooms, anxiously anticipating their moment to shine. In the clip, the Chilis are all matched with total strangers for their try-outs, which is a common practice in auditions to gauge chemistry between performers.
Each of the Peppers is grouped with different musicians, playing together in pairs, and then in threes and fours. The unknown musicians are eliminated, one by one, until the Red Hots are finally reunited. The directors wanted to capture the tension between the individual bandmembers as they rocked out with unsigned and would-be musicians.
Dayton and Faris also kept those musicians in the dark about which band they might be performing with for the video — the duo wanted to ensure they'd catch the look of surprise on their faces when, say, Kiedis strolled into the audition room to take his place behind the microphone.
"[Dayton and Faris] had a great idea that really went with the song and the lyrics and it was just so much fun to do a video that lots of other people were involved with," said Flea backstage at last weekend's Lollapalooza (see "Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West And More Rock Out At Lollapalooza 2006"). "The excitement of all the kids that were in the video, and to just be a kid among kids, doing something fun — it made it really fun.
"Making videos can often be a real boring, long, arduous day," he continued. "You know, you think it's this glamorous rock-star fun thing: lots of hot chicks in their underwear and rock stars running around, rappers in baggy pants with big muscles. But let me tell you, making videos can be a really boring, hot day. But making this video was just a big, wild ball of fun."
The "Tell Me Baby" video's debut comes on the heels of last week's announcement that the Chili Peppers' "Dani California" is in the running for seven MTV Video Music Awards at the August 31 ceremony, including "Video of the Year," "Best Group Video," "Best Rock Video" and "Best Direction in a Video" (see "Shakira, Chili Peppers, Madonna, Panic! Lead List Of Nominees For MTV Video Music Awards").
In a few days, the Peppers will embark on a 26-date North American tour that begins August 11 in Portland, Oregon, and concludes in St. Paul, Minnesota, on November 5 (See "Red Hot Chili Peppers Reveal Stadium Arcadium Tour Dates"); the Mars Volta have been tapped as the opener for the run.