The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will launch a North American tour Friday in Minneapolis with fellow rockers Foo Fighters, plan to begin work on a new album soon after the outing ends this summer, according to their bassist, Flea.
"I imagine we'll go pretty quickly. I feel like we're on a good roll," Flea said Wednesday from his California home. "We're definitely better than we've ever been."
In the meantime, Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, who returned to the seminal punk-funk band for last year's massively successful Californication (RealAudio excerpt of title track) after a six-year absence, is finishing his third solo album.
The album, which Flea said Frusciante recorded in his home studio, is slated for release this year, according to Chili Peppers spokesperson Gayle Fine.
Frusciante released two previous solo albums, 1994's Niandra Lades & Usually Just a T-Shirt and 1997's Smile From the Streets You Hold during his time apart from the Chili Peppers. The guitarist struggled with heroin addiction during those years.
Both Flea (born Michael Balzary) and Frusciante have been experimenting with sampling technology, which may well show up on the Chili Peppers' next album, according to the bassist. "John and I both have samplers, and we love to play with them. But then again, we have a great drummer," Flea said.
Eight months after its release, the Chili Peppers' Californication still is thriving. Its latest single, the catchy, plaintive track "Otherside," is #1 on Radio and Records' Alternative chart and is also flourishing in several other radio formats.
"It's huge," said Mike Peer, music director for New York modern-rock station K-Rock. "Obviously this is a great album, a really enduring album."
Californication and the band's live shows since its release is helping to define a new era for the band, Flea said. "It's just life, how it spells itself out in that tangible audio way," he said. "It expresses itself in a lot of different ways, but we've learned to make a poignant sound that's not as frantic."
Along the way, the band also has been experimenting with riffs and grooves that could end up on their next record, Flea said. "We just want to make a really, really good record," he said, "and there's definitely been changes in the band that it should reflect."
Foo Fighters, who released There Is Nothing Left to Lose last year, were a natural choice as tour partners, Flea said. "There's not a lot of good rock bands out there, y'know? I mean, who are we gonna play with, some rap-metal band, a Korn Jr.?"
But the bassist is most looking forward to having his recording equipment on the road with him for the first time. He said that will give him a chance to work on material for the next Chili Peppers LP and for a possible solo album.
According to Flea, he scrapped plans for a solo release that would have featured him "playing acoustic guitar, singing folk songs," after Frusciante rejoined the Chili Peppers. But some tracks from that record might eventually see the light of day, along with new solo songs, Flea said.
Right now, however, the bassist's focus is on his revitalized band. "I love being in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I love playing with John Frusciante."
In Frusciante's absence, the Chili Peppers, who released their self-titled first album in 1984, recorded one album, 1995's One Hot Minute, with former Jane's Addiction member Dave Navarro on guitar.
Red Hot Chili Peppers/Foo Fighters tour dates:
March 24; Minneapolis, Minn.; Target Center
March 25; Madison, Wis.; Dane County Expo Center
March 27; Carbondale, Ill.; SIU Arena
March 28; Champaign, Ill.; Assembly Arena
March 30; Dayton, Ohio; Nutter Center
March 31; Columbus, Ohio; Value City Arena
April 2; Amherst, Mass.; Mullins Center
April 3; Albany, N.Y.; Pepsi Arena
April 5; State College, Pa.; Bryce Jordan Arena
April 6; Roanoke, Va.; Civic Center
April 8; Bloomington, Ind.; Assembly Hall
April 9; Lexington, Ky.; Rupp Arena
April 11; Knoxville, Tenn.; Thompson-Boling Arena
April 25; Omaha, Neb.; Civic Auditorium
April 26; Iowa City, Iowa; Carver Hawkeye
April 28; Columbia, Mo.; Hearnes Center
April 29; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Myriad Center
May 1; Little Rock, Ark.; Barton Coliseum
May 2; Austin, Texas; Frank Erwin Center
May 4; New Orleans, La.; TBA
May 5; Pensacola, Fla.; Civic Center
May 7; Greenville, S.C.; Bi-Lo Center
May 8; Norfolk, Va.; Scope Exhibition Arena
May 11; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; NEPA Arena
May 13; Providence, R.I.; Civic Center
May 14; Portland, Maine; Cumberland County Civic Center
New tour dates:
May 27; George, Wash.; The Gorge
May 28; Vancouver, British Columbia; GM Place
May 30; Salt Lake City, Utah; E Center
May 31; Salt Lake City, Utah; E Center
June 2; Phoenix, Ariz.; Desert Sky Amphitheater
June 3; Albuquerque, N.M.; Pitt Arena
June 5; Houston, Texas; Woodlands
June 6; Dallas, Texas; Starplex Amphitheater
June 8; Atlanta, Ga.; Lakewood Amphitheater
June 9; Charlotte, N.C.; Blockbuster Pavilion
June 11; Raleigh, N.C.; Alltell Amphitheater
June 12; Nashville, Tenn.; Starwood Amphitheater
June 14; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Mars Music Amphitheater
June 15; Orlando, Fla.; Orlando Arena
June 28; Bonner Springs, Kan.; Sandstone Amphitheater
June 29; St. Louis, Mo.; Riverport Amphitheater
July 1; Moline, Ill.; The Mark of the Quad
July 2; Milwaukee, Wis.; Summerfest
July 4; Louisville, Ky.; Freedom Hall
July 5; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Van Andel Arena
July 7; Indianapolis, Ind.; Deer Creek Amphitheater
July 8; Cleveland, Ohio; Blossom Music Center
July 10; Bristol, Va.; Nissan Pavilion
July 11; Camden, N.J.; E Center
July 13; Hartford, Conn.; The Meadows
July 14; Holmdel, N.J.; PNC Arts Center
July 16; Mansfield, Mass.; Tweeter Center
July 17; Hershey, Pa.; Hershey Stadium