Red Hot Chili Peppers is a world-famous alternative-funk-rock band formed in 1983 in Los Angeles, California. One of the more prominent bands in the '80s funk scene, they exploded in popularity during the '90s and '00s and are considered by some to be a leading force in Alternative Rock. Their music style and content has significantly progressed from the energetic funk-rock and Sex Drugs And Rock And Roll concerns in their earlier days to more melodic musical backing and more varied subject matter. They were also nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2010, but unfortunately didn't make the cut. They were nominated again as 2012 inductees, and this time were inducted. Notably, Josh is the youngest inductee into the Hall of Fame at the tender age of 32.This band is the Trope Namer to Catholic School Girls Rule, which is an infamous song from their second album Freaky Styley.The band currently consists of:
Considering that between them they've probably done enough illicit substances to kill a herd of buffalo (or at least their ex-guitarist Slovak), it's remarkable that they're all still alive. To give you an idea of how much they've done, John Frusciante overdosed on heroin. Twice.And lived. Many of their songs feature nonsensical lyrics, Epic Riffs and references to California. Especially references to California, considering Anthony Kiedis's lyrical inspirations.The Red Hot Chili Peppers (at the time, the "The" was part of their name) formed in 1983 with AnthonyKiedis on lead vocals, Flea (Michael Balzary) on bass, HillelSlovak on guitar, and JackIrons on drums. Slovak and Irons were forced to leave the band due to prior engagements, and were replaced by Jack Sherman and Cliff Martinez (who had drummed on Captain Beefheart's last two albums), respectively. Their eponymous first album was panned by critics, due to production conflicts between Andy Gill, the album's producer, and the band- Gill pushed for a more mainstream, radio-friendly sound, which was at odds with the Punk Rock nature of the Chili Peppers's music.The Red Hots's second album, Freaky Styley, featured Slovak back on guitar, with Sherman kicked out. George Clinton's production of the album helped establish the band's identity as a Funk Rock band. After Martinez was replaced by Irons, the original four members, reunited, released their semi-successful third album The Uplift MofoParty Plan. The latter album was their most successful one at the time, because the song "Party On Your Pussy" was included only after it was renamed "Special Secret Song Inside" by stuffy EMI agents, creating a marketing gimmick for many adolescent pre-teens.Tragedy, however, struck when Slovak was killed by a heroin overdose, prompting Irons's tearful departure from the band. Kiedis, a junkie at the time, cleaned up, but an initial attempt to continue with guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight and Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro proved unsuccessful. It was only after booting McKnight and Peligro in favour of JohnFrusciante on guitar (their youngest member, then only eighteen) and ChadSmith on drums (their oldest member) that the gang released Mother's Milk, their fourth album, in 1989.The Band Soon Jumped from EMI to Warner Bros., and released their breakout album, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, on which famous Record ProducerRick Rubin gave them his trademark clear, straightforward production and helped them sharpen their mix-and-match funk rock. This led them to critical acclaim and a wider audience thanks to the Epic Riff-filled hits "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge", and Rubin has stayed with them ever since. Frusciante, however, left the band mid-tour in 1992 because he did not perceive that the band would garner such a large fanbase, and he had alienated himself from the other band members. (This was patched up after he returned in 1999. To this day, Kiedis and Frusciante remain best friends.)While Frusciante spent the next 5 years shooting up heroin in the Hollywood Hills and almost killing himself, the Peppers, after much thought, signed former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro in his place. (Since Frusciante had bailed during the tour, they'd had to previously replace him with Arik Marshall, who ended up appearing in the video for "Breaking the Girl".) Their sixth album, after many delays, was released in 1995. One Hot Minute was dark and psychedelic, in response to Kiedis's introspective, lyrical subject matter, where he openly confronted his drug relapse. Despite boasting some great music, it was a let-down from their super-hit previous album, probably due to the change in the band's line-up, and it failed to retain either the critical acclaim that Magik had brought or spawn a Signature Song like "Give It Away" or "Under the Bridge". ("Aeroplane" and "My Friends" came close, though.)The band entered a low point, punctuated after Frusciante, miraculously, checked himself into rehab in 1997. Navarro was let go to let Frusciante back in. The Peppers' 1999 hit seventh album Californication, and their slow, melodic, eighth album, released in 2002, By the Way, propelled them back to stardom.Starting with those two albums but especially with By The Way, they've drifted away from their energetic, wacky funk-rock in favor of mellow, melodic, vaguely Psychedelic Rock with heavy influences from XTC and the Beach Boys, leading to charges of They Changed It, Now It Sucks from some of their older fans. Reactions to their ninth album, StadiumArcadium, were mixed with some fans liking their new sound and direction, and others declaring that for them it wasn't a Red Hot Chili Peppers album.Frusciante left the band for the second time (this time, on good terms with the rest of the members) in 2009. John was replaced by Josh Klinghoffer, a young guitarist that collaborated with Frusciante on many of the latter's solo albums and toured with the Red Hots during the Stadium Arcadium album promotion. This replacement is nothing new for the band, however, as they have been through a few line-up changes over the years.Their tenth studio album, I'm with You, was released in August 2011, showcasing Josh's rich perspective and eclectic dimension to the Chilis' sound. The Chilis have teased some new songs during their live shows, which probably means that they are working on a new album.Drummer Chad Smith also plays drums for the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot. Chad Smith is currently on a hiatus from working with the supergroup, as he is busy helping promote I'm With You on the tour.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)
Freaky Styley (1985)
The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987) (the only album to feature their initial Kiedis-Flea-Slovak-Irons lineup)
Mother's Milk (1989)
Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
One Hot Minute (1995) (the only album featuring Navarro on Guitar)
Addiction Displacement: Psychoanalysts would agree that Kiedis's addiction to exercise, health and time with his son is a healthy means of channeling his previous drug addiction.
Kiedis said that the line from "Can't Stop", Sweetheart is bleeding in the snow cone/So smart she's leading me to ozone is about his periodic injections of ozone gas and how it helps him fight the hepatitis virus in his body. The entire song, in fact, is about his joy from being clean.
Affectionate Parody: The video for "Dani California" features the band singing the song dressed as humorous, but perfectly accurate parodies of rock acts from the 50s (Elvis) up until just prior to the modern day (Nirvana), ending with themselves dressed in their own typical concert attire, their logo hanging prominently in the background.
Album Title Drop: The Uplift Mofo Party Plan isn't a song on the album but is mentioned in "Fight Like a Brave" & "Organic Anti-Beat-Box Band".
Freaky Styley, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute, Californication, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium all have their own title tracks as well.
In fact, the band wished to break away from the pattern of sharing their album names with a track, which is why they decided on the latest name, I'm With You.
Black Sheep Hit: "Under the Bridge" was such a different type of song than they usually recorded that Kiedis initially didn't want to put it on the album. Of course, he did and it was a runaway success and possibly their best-known song.
Break Away Pop Hit: "Soul to Squeeze" didn't even make the Blood Sugar Sex Magik track lineup, but became a hit after it was featured on the Coneheads soundtrack.
They probably wanted to include it, but it didn't fit. Hence including it on almost every single from the album including its own.
Actually, producer Rick Rubin convinced them to drop it in favor of "Under the Bridge".
"Sikamikanico" (also from BSSM recording sessions) was featured on Wayne's World, and while it didn't become a single, it increased the Chili Peppers's popularity tenfold.
"Melancholy Mechanics" was ALSO never released on an album, but its inclusion in the Twister soundtrack boosted the Chili Peppers's fame.
Creator Breakdown: Many times when either John or Anthony have slipped into drugs and rehab, but both Anthony and John have now been sober for more than 10 years each, with Anthony having the significant sobriety date of Christmas Eve, 2000.
Dark and Troubled Past: The whole band to some degree or another, what with the constant fighting and breaking up, the heavy drug abuse and stints in rehab and one of their key members and best friends dying. They got better though.
Darker and Edgier: To some extent, One Hot Minute, as it featured a heavier sound and darker lyrics compared with their previous albums.
Funk: Freaky Styley because George Clinton produced it. Blood Sugar Sex Magik with its rhythmic grooves and funk. The band themselves, when not called Alternative Rock, are usually just classified as Funk Metal, though that probably doesn't apply as much after 1999.
Garfunkel: While Chad is considered a great drummer, he's the least influential of the band (Anthony writes the lyrics, Flea and John Frusciante write the music, Chad just plays).
It should be noted, though, that Chad is highly regarded in drummer circles. He's also liked for being down to earth and for revealing new RHCP information early, even when he not's supposed to.
Chad's somewhat more taciturn personality compared to the rest of the band has arguably been important to the band's continued existence. Anthony Keidis notes in his autobiography something to the effect of Chad being the glue that held them together when things got tough.
Chad himself has said a good drummer compliments the rest of the band, and doesn't blaze new trails for himself, or something to that effect.
Genre Busting: You'll never see a better illustrated example than the music video for "Dani California"
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The record company made them change the names of two tracks. First was "Blowjob Park", which was renamed to "Battleship" for its inclusion on Freaky Styley. The second, "Party On Your Pussy", was changed to "Special Secret Song Inside". The lyrics remained the same. Humorously, EMI had plans to release "Special Secret Song Inside" as a single until they realized what the lyrics were about. "Party On Your Pussy" had its original title reinstated on the 2004 remaster. "Battleship" didn't, but this might had to do with ex-member Jack Sherman co-writing it.
And the version of "Give It Away" that appears in The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled".
Greatest Hits Album: Two: What Hits?!, the biggest hits of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' EMI years (which were not noted for being much of a success, hence the title) and Greatest Hits, a proper hits album featuring their Warner years released a decade later. Both include a song of the other phase ("Under the Bridge" and "Higher Ground", respectively).
There are a number of compilations which have 10 tracks that also appear on What Hits!?. EMI licensed these tracks to various budget labels for unknown reasons. They aren't considered canon.
The song "Show Me Your Soul", which never previously appeared on an album, was featured in What Hits!?. It gained mild popularity following its release.
In fact it was recorded for the Pretty Woman soundtrack in 1990. The target audience of that movie generally wasn't into funk so it wasn't that noticed at the time. It was a promo single and B Side to the second version of Taste The Pain and the Australian version of Knock Me Down (both released in 1990). It was included on What Hits?! because it was a single, sort of.
Grief Song: "Knock Me Down" and "My Lovely Man" are inspired by guitarist Hillel Slovak's death.
"This is the Place", "Soul to Squeeze", "Dosed", and other songs also referenced Hillel in the lyrics.
Gloria Scott, a long-time friend of the band and the woman accredited for aiding Anthony's sobriety, had "Venice Queen" written about her. The title is a reference to the fact that she was planning to buy a flat in Venice Beach before she died.
Immune to Drugs: When Kiedis was sent to the hospital for injuring his arm after a car accident, he needed seven doses of morphine before the pain could be somewhat alleviated. Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a normal 150-pound person would be killed from that kind of dose. A lifetime of drug abuse didn't really help him.
Arguably, his lyrics have gotten even more incomprehensible in recent years, primarily because Kiedis intends them to mean something. Older songs were pretty much explicitly about sex, friendship or the funk. His more recent lyrics use a lot of poetic lyrics about the effects of drug use, romance and the environment. The lyric to Look Around, for instance, seems to be a collection of random phrases, but has a meaning.
Surprisingly averted on "Californication", which actually has more to do with cultural homogenization.
Nearly every song on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but their eight-minute "Sir Psycho Sexy" is arguably this taken Up to Eleven. Averted with that album's "Give It Away", which is actually about giving away possessions. Well... semi-averted anyway.
Pretty much averted on every album made after 1991.
Although "Get On Top", "Purple Stain", and "She's Only 18" are some of their more... ostentatious songs after BSSM.
EMI knew this, which is why they licensed the band's then biggest hit Under The Bridge from Warner Bros. Behind The Sun was released as a single to promote What Hits?! and was a respectable hit at the time, thanks to cashing in on the popularity of the band's Blood Sugar Sex Magik album.
Lead Bassist: Despite being a respected, famous bassist, Flea adheres to a minimalist philosophy, focusing more on playing melodic, supporting bass lines that complement the other instruments, rather than playing multiple notes at the same time.
This is actually only dating back to Blood Sugar Sex Magik. On previous albums, Flea was happy to show off and play ultra-fast slap-bass assaults, and he said that it was only on BSSM that he got tired of his busy style and decided that "I have to chill out and play half as many notes".
Of course there are more than a few exceptions, most notably in tracks like By The Way, Throw Away Your Television and Hump De Bump.
Lighter and Softer: By The Way (and the subsequent albums, depending on whom you ask) is often seen as this by hardcore fans.
By The Way is intentionally so. Rick Rubin suggested to the band that they play down the punk and funk and focus on their poppier elements. At the time, some of the older fans thought that the band had abandoned funk music, but it was apparent this was not the case for Stadium Arcadium.
What makes the case of this album particularly egregious is that even the vinyl mix was ruined - apparently, it was run through a digital dynamic range processor before being mastered for vinyl, which is usually mixed from analogue sources. The CDs of future RHCP albums were also brickwalled, but the vinyl mix of at least Stadium Arcadium was made from a pristine analogue mix by audiophile favourite Steve Hoffman that basically cancelled out all the CD version's flaws. With Californication, listeners don't have that option with any of the commercially available versions, so the whole thing is basically ruined.
There is, however, an unmastered version making the rounds on the Internets that does not have the clipping problems. This is one of those cases where the album can basically only be truly appreciated through piracy.
It's worth noting that One Hot Minute was pretty loud too, especially for its day. Not Californication levels of awful though.
Meaningful Funeral: While these songs are upbeat than most of this genre, "Venice Queen" and "Brendan's Death Song" are both about dead friends. The latter's music video even features a funeral march, while the former is more of a To Absent Friends.
Magick: for some reason spelled this way on Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Metal Scream: "Around the World" has one of these in the intro, and another partway through the song.
There are a few in "Give It Away" as well.
"Wet Sand" is a surprising one. The song is soft, until the ending bridge, when Kiedis lets off a pent-up scream with an all-out guitar solo from Frusciante.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally 4 or 5. They drop to a 3 with Breaking The Girl, while songs like Californication and Under The Bridge would be a 2. Occasionally, they go up to a 6 (Parallel Universe, etc.), or write songs with different sections that make them a bit harder to place accurately (Does the ultra-fast, distortion-laden, Metal Scream intro and bridge of Around the World make it a 5? Does the melodic chorus make it lower?).
They covered 45 Grave's song Black Cross, which proves that they are capable of playing at least an 8 on the scale.
Mood Whiplash: Some of their albums are sequenced in a way that causes this. An example would be how "Under the Bridge" is immediately followed by "The Greeting Song". Or the way the hypnotic, moving guitar solo coda of "Sir Psycho Sexy", despite seeming like a great place to end the album, is interrupted by the fast cover of Robert Johnson's "They're Red Hot".
Motor Mouth: Anthony used to be able to rap quite fast up until Magik. Afterwards he started to de-emphasize rapping in favour of singing. (Or as a joke goes, he used to mostly rap and sometimes sing, but now he mostly sings and sometimes raps.)
Anthony doesn't like playing rap-heavy songs like "Storm In A Teacup" live, but he still raps "Give It Away" due to its popularity.
New Sound Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik perfected their funk-rock fusion. Californication unveiled RHCP v2.0, which became more and more of a melodic rock band than a pure funk-rock band.
Once a Season: Or (nearly) once an album: an ode to deceased guitar player Hillel Slovak ("Knock Me Down" from Mother's Milk; "My Lovely Man" from Blood Sugar Sex Magick; "This is the Place" from By the Way).
Protest Song: "Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky" is about the US government's mistreatment of Native Americans. (Kiedis himself has Native American ancestry.)
As is "American Ghost Dance".
Punny Name: Name of their 7th studio album, Californication.
Rap Rock: Much more so in their earlier days. Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" was a profound influence on Kiedis' songwriting.
Chris Rock even said that the first time he heard the Peppers live was when he went to a concert, expecting to listen to Flash. He went to the wrong venue, however, and he noted that the Red Hots were just as good as Flash.
In fact, Blood Sugar Sex Magik,Stadium Arcadium, and a variety of songs were even recorded in Rubin's house, "The Mansion". John Frusciante claims that during the Magik sessions, the band felt that the house was haunted, and they are not the only band to have recorded at "The Mansion" and said that afterwards. John didn't mind, but Chad was so unnerved that he refused to live in the mansion with the band, going back home whenever a day's session was finished.
Reclusive Artist: John Frusciante hates being famous and it's a miracle he ever came back after he quit the first time. During his time away from the band, he continued making music but largely avoided playing shows.
He doesn't hate being famous anymore, but he likes to be in control of his career and release records and play shows according to his own schedule.
Recurring Character: "Dani", a character referred to in the lyrics of three of the band's post-1999 songs (coincidentally, all of them were hits for the band): "Californication", "By the Way" (where she is first mentioned by name) and the aptly titled "Dani California", which focuses on her. There's also the taxi driver who kidnaps Anthony in "By The Way", who later reappears in the video for "Universally Speaking" by way of a Chekhov's Gun.
Anthony co-wrote "What It Is" with Nina Hagen, and a lot of the lyrics from the song are featured in his earliest songs.
The lines Love all your brothers and love all your sisters and With the power of it we are about to astound are featured in "The Brother's Cup."
The line The smile of a dolphin is a built in feature is used in the song "Green Heaven."
Anthony references a girl named "Dani" in the songs "Dani California", "By the Way", and "Californication."
Refrain From Assuming: Some of the songs aren't named after the chorus, e.g. "Dani California". One would assume the song is titled "California Rest In Peace".
Rockers Smash Guitars: Hillel and Flea. John and Josh don't get that into their music, but they have broken their fair share of strings.
Both have had temper tantrums with their equipment on stage, however. Josh, in fact, recently broke his foot in Oakland, California after getting angry with the tone of his guitar solo during the song "Otherside". He later apologized on stage for it, though.
Subverted when it seems as though "Dani California" samples Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane" at the end. "Dani California" is tuned a half step higher than the latter, and Tom Petty didn't really care whether or not the song was intentionally copied or not.
Shout Out: The video for "Dani California" features the band dressing in the style of several other bands, and in some cases even doing an homage to one of the band's videos. Most blatant during the line "Gone too fast," when Kiedis is dressed like Kurt Cobain.
"By The Way" is a notable example. The band intended for the song to be a ballad describing a Los Angeles evening: a girl singing songs to her boyfriend and a night of partying. The hardcore rap verse and the song's popularity in the UK led fans to give it a different connotation. Even the music video, towards which the band had ambivalent feelings due to the epic car chase, gave the song a shift in meaning.
"Around the World". The funky verses, the melodic choruses, and the distortion-heavy bridges do not have effective transitions between them. Listeners are left confused.
"Transcending" on One Hot Minute begins as a soft song for the first 3 1/2 minutes- the song progresses into a screamed metal song for the last 2 minutes.
In fact, a lot of songs from One Hot Minute fit this trope. "Warped", "Deep Kick", "One Big Mob", and "One Hot Minute" all have ostentatious verses, followed by a melodic shift at some point in the song. On a symbolic level, this somewhat represents the conflict between the Red Hots' chill, funky music with Navarro's dark, psychedelic guitar-playing.
"Venice Queen". The song literally fades out and goes quiet for a second before the second part of the song begins.
Funnily enough, Clinton was going through problems with his drug dealer during that time: in order to repay him, he let the dealer sing "Look at that turtle go, bro!" on the song "Yertle the Turtle". The band was obviously miffed, but nevertheless decided to go through with it.
Flea even played the trumpet on tracks such as "Torture Me" and "Hump de Bump", and he has played the trumpet live on many occasions. In fact, he initially learned the trumpet.
On Magik, the band's friend Pete Weiss played jaw harp on "Give It Away", and mixing engineer Brendan O'Brien played the mellotron on "Sir Psycho Sexy", nearly inaudible piano on "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" and nearly inaudible toy celeste on "Apache Rose Peacock". John's mother Gail Frusciante and some of her friends were brought in to perform the female choir part in "Under the Bridge".
The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López, a friend of Frusciante's who collaborated with him on a few of Frusciante's solo albums, played the solo in the song "Especially in Michigan" on Stadium Arcadium.
Ironically, Frusciante himself. He wrote the guitar riff for the song "Did I Let You Know" on I'm With You.
Step Up to the Microphone: "Knock Me Down" (rapped by Anthony and sung by John in unison), "Funky Monks" (where John sings "if you have to ask" during the chorus and "you are on the road" in the verses) and "Pea" (sung by Flea). John's distinctively high-pitched vocals played an important role in the band after he joined, and are very obvious in many of their songs. In fact, Executive Meddling meant that for the single release, "Knock Me Down" was subjected to additional mixing to make John's vocals louder than Anthony's.
Surprisingly Gentle Song: RHCP has quite a few of these, for example: "If", "Porcelain", "This Velvet Glove" (to an extent), "Dosed", "This Is The Place", "I Could Have Lied", "Breaking the Girl", "Under the Bridge", and "Soul to Squeeze".
However, the lyrical content of the songs is often dissonant.
"This Is The Place", "Soul to Squeeze", and "Under the Bridge" describe Kiedis's drug addiction and a retrospective analysis of his past misdoings. Although "Under the Bridge" has a generally happier tone to it than the other two. (Frusciante admitted that this was intentional - when Kiedis showed him the lyrics, Frusciante claimed he mentally interpreted them as "sad", and wrote a "happy" riff for contrast.)
"Breaking The Girl" and "I Could Have Lied" are about breaking up with girls, the latter being about Sinéad O'Connor, and the former being about Kiedis's father's womanizing tendencies.
"Porcelain" is about a girl Kiedis met at a shelter with a young child, whom he feels sympathy for.
"Dosed", "This Is The Place" and "Soul to Squeeze" reference Hillel's death.
Their very first one would probably be "Lovin' and Touchin'" on Freaky Styley. "Behind the Sun", "Knock Me Down", and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand" helped shift their musical style.
Take That Me: The video for "Dani California" features the band singing the song dressed as humorous, but perfectly accurate parodies of rock acts from the 50s (Elvis up until just prior to the modern day (Nirvana), ending with themselves dressed in their own typical concert attire, their logo hanging prominently in the background.
Trash Can Band: For the bridge of "Breaking the Girl", the band went into the nearest garbage dump and rounded up a bunch of garbage for Chad to use as percussion, giving off this effect.
True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked at the end of "Can't Stop", with a board reading: "Inspired by the 'One-Minute Sculptures' of Erwin Wurm". Wurm is an Austrian modernist artist/photographer whose works revolve around unusual situations, like the ones the band protagonizes in said video.
Also "Otherside"; it's supposedly modeled after German art films, but whether it's a straight use or a parody is debatable.
Listening to them rant about their songs and their inspirations is... well, it helps to keep an open mind. Especially since they are so down to earth.