In one of the first stories written about the Red Hot Chili Peppers' I'm With You, Rolling Stone's David Fricke referred to the disc as the band's "comeback album," a phrase that would seem to make sense to most people, considering it was not only the band's first effort in five years, but also their first since the departure of longtime guitarist John Frusciante.
It should be noted, however, that RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis is not "most people." Because to him, while I'm With You is many different things, it most certainly isn't a comeback.
"What did we come back from? Malaria?" he laughed. "Maybe [Fricke meant it] in the traditional sense of the word, like 'coming back' from our break. ... But [words like] 'comeback,' 'reunion,' I don't know. We took a moment to reflect and consider the possibilities, and we're really fortunate Josh [Klinghoffer] was available and wanting to join forces with us. ... We didn't really ever lose full momentum, so it wasn't like we disbanded and re-banded, we just got kind of flotatious and then reformed together in a new configuration. 'Comeback' sounds like you quit and then started again, we didn't quite quit."
"Quite" is the operative word. After all, I'm With You comes after a lengthy two-year hiatus and an even longer bout of soul-searching. "It's the first time the band took more than a couple months off probably in the last 10 years," new guitarist Klinghoffer said.
While they never seriously considered calling it quits, even Kiedis will admit that the Peppers' break was necessary. In fact, it probably helped save the band. Because when they finally emerged from their hibernation, with a new member and a new lease on life, they were rejuvenated, reloaded and — most important of all — reborn.
Which is why, though Kiedis won't call I'm With You a "comeback album," he's got no shortage of other adjectives to describe it and the newfound joy it's brought him and his bandmates.
"It does feel incredibly fresh, and I feel as excited or more excited about this period — from the writing to the recording to the playing to the anticipation of going on tour — as I've ever felt about anything that we've done, from the beginning," he said. "Sitting here, doing these interviews, listening to Josh, I often just go into a daydream of playing these songs live, and it's the same feeling that I got in 1983, when I couldn't sleep the night before a show, and if I did fall asleep, I would have a surreal little dream about the show itself; and, you know, I still have that feeling about this record and the inevitability of playing live, and kind of dreaming of set-list possibilities. ... It's a good feeling."