When I first interviewed the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in June, frontman Anthony Kiedis made it a point to wear his now-ubiquitous OFF! cap (the same one he’d wear in their “Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” video), a tribute to the punk supergroup made up of members of Black Flag, Red Kross and Rocket From the Crypt, to name just a few.
The reason I mention that now is because the Peppers just premiered the video for “Monarchy of Roses,” the second single from their I’m With You album, a stark, surging, (mostly) black-and-white thing very much indebted to the work of artist Raymond Pettibon, who made his mark designing album covers, logos and flyers for Black Flag, SST Records and just about anyone else associated with the L.A. punk scene of the late ’70s/early ’80s.
So, in a way, months before “Roses,” Kiedis was already tipping his, uh, cap to Pettibon. Shoot, he even mentions the artist in the lyrics to the song, which makes the clip — directed by Marc Klasfeld — even more fitting. And when you consider the fact that the Peppers basically grew up in the scene Pettibon helped shape (they caught an early break thanks to impresario Brendan Mullen , who booked them at his infamous Club Lingerie), you realize that this video has actually been in the works for a very long time indeed.
While it might not be as flashy or instantly memorable as some of the band’s other clips, it fits both the grit of the song — and the Peppers’ entire legacy — perfectly. Pettibon’s bludgeoning black-and-white images, which he often matches with harrowing texts taken from popular culture, art criticism and commercials, are a true combination of the sacred and the profane, and you could reasonably argue by that logic alone that they’ve been inspiring Kiedis’ lyrics for years now.
The argument could also be made that, by sheer will alone, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have finally earned the right to be considered right alongside bands like Black Flag (and artists like Pettibon) in the pantheons of Left Coast rock, punk or otherwise. Which adds a whole new wrinkle to the “Roses” video, really: It may be their coronation, though I am reasonably sure they did not intend it to be. They’re too humble. And always paying tribute, to Mullen (on the I’m With You track “Brendan’s Death Song”), to their punk forefathers (Kiedis’ OFF! cap) and, really, to the artist who managed to inject iconography into the whole thing.
That he did it in such a stark, shocking way was a testament to the music and the ethos of the era, and as “Roses” proves, it’s a solid fit for the Peppers too. After all, like Pettibon’s work, they know a thing or two about bleak times. And they’ve never been afraid to get a little bloody, either.
What do you think of the video? Let us know in the comments!