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Collegiate Insider magazine
The Beatles and Stones had it. The Four Musketeers had it. The Lakers and Celtics have it. Synergy, chemistry. That indescribable bond and cameraderie between individuals that helps to make the whole larger than the sum of the parts. Magik.
In the midst of a nationwide tour in support of their brilliant new album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Collegiate INsider caught up with the RHCP's enigmatic frontman, Anthony Keidis, to discuss the album and producer Rick Rubin, New Orleans and Voodoo, the band's legendary chemistry and Magik.
A: Hi, this is Anthony calling from St. Louis.
CI: Hey, how ya doin' man?
A: I just played a show and I'm presently resting my bone marrow.
CI: How was it?
A: It was cool, but every time we play it's kind of like the Superbowl,
you know, and I feel sort of like Mark Rippenaster after a long game
of being sacked 12 times.
CI: Pretty beat up, huh?
A: Yeah, I would say beat up.
CI: I saw your video last night, it was really good.
A: Which one is that?
CI: Funky Monks.
A: Oh, the home thing.
CI: Yeah, it was really cool.
A: Glad you liked it. Where are you?
CI: I'm in Studio City.
A: Studio City, what street?
CI: Off Radford, near CBS? MTM Studios
A: OH, you have to understand that I've been on the road
for eight or nine weeks, and the idea of L.A. is homey to
CI: Actually missing it, huh?
CI: That's funny because I'm always trying to get out of here.
A: Well, I'm on the road going to town day to day, show to show,
folk to folk, and I can just sort of picture my Dr. John CDs
sitting next to my pool table, waiting for me to get home and just completely chill into my company.
CI: Speaking of Dr John, you have a song on the new album about
A: Apache Rose Peacock.
CI: So is it really your favorite place to be?
A: It's one of my favorite places, yes. There's magic in the air.
CI: I sensed that too. The first time I went there, I went to the
voodoo museum, and I spoke to the guide who was about 70 years old.
There was a certain comforting vibe in the room that I'll never forget.
A: Yeah, imagine what it was like in 1753.
CI: Pretty wild. I notice a lot of your songs seem to be about
spirituality and magic. What turned you on to it?
A:Well, your perception about what our songs are about is
something that's very personal, and when I write them, it's obviously
very personal and coming from me, and the people interpret them as they
CI: On the Funky Monks video, Flea was playing a lot of steel drums and
metal objects and industrial-sounding things. Are you getting more into
that or was it on the other records and harder to hear?
A: It has nothing to do with industrialism, for one thing. That's
percussion, and it comes from everything from your dick to a
quarter thrown up against a mirror. Basically, we all play percussion,
it wasn't just Flea- it was Chad and Flea and myself all banging away
on drums and pieces of metal. We always play whatever needs to be
played for the record. On the record, John plays some wooden
vibraphones, Flea played lots of trumpet and a friend of mine played
mouth harp on Give it Away. Flea, Chad, and John are all
multi-instrumental knuckleheads that can play all kinds of things.
CI: When you and Flea changed members around 3 years ago,
how did that affect the chemistry? Obviously you guys seem to be
a band that is really based on cameraderie, brotherhood and
getting the chemistry really happening; it must have been hard
to find the right guys. How did you go about doing that?
A: The Red Hot Chili Peppers as a band has been blessed and stricken.
It's kind of the wild dichotomy of life, and you sort of have to
take the blessings with the strikings. Losing Hillel wasn't really
about losing a band member, it was about losing a life-long soulmate,
best friend. Flea and I found ourselves together after a couple of months
of completely delerious grief and we realized that it wasn't essential
for us, as living beings, to go on with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
We sort of received the gift of 2 new people in our lives. In the
beginning, we didn't know each other like we used to. It just became a
process of being married to four people at once..which being in a
band is often like. Just living with people and touring with them and
playing until you develop a sense of musical telepathy and a sense of
brotherhood and cameraderie. You know, over the years, we've
certainly solidified into a singular unit of musicians striving from the
same point of energy. That's just something that happens with time.
At least we found people that we felt we could lock with.
CI: In the video for Give It Away, there seems to be some sort
of a pagan influence, what is that all about?
A: (Lauging) Are you into pagans?
CI: I don't know, I don't know much about it.
A: No, there was no effort to capture a pagan vibe, we just went
out to the desert, painted ourselves silver, and became more intelligent
towards silver paint under the sun in the desert. Kind of a cross
between Lost in Space and Bowie in his ultimate glam phase.
CI: Voodoo seems to play into some of your lyrics, is that just from
your experiences in New Orleans?
A: Well, voodoo is just another brand of magick and when I'm
painting a picture of New Orleans, obviously that's an element that
needs to be included. There are so many different denizens of voodoo,
some people probably execute voodoo activities without even knowing
what they are doing. But it's not like I'm a master witchdoctor.
CI: I didn't mean to insinuate that..
A: Maybe I am a master witchdoctor, I don't know.
CI: How was it working with Rick Rubin?
A: It was a breeze. Rick turned out to be a very amiable person to
hang with, making us all feel very relaxed, comfortable and inspired.
He's also turned out to be a good friend of mine who I presently miss,
not having seen him for a while. He's very intelligent and very tuned in.
He's kind of a.. I don't know, a twisted master chess player of musical
coordination. He knows what works, and he sits there and he listens
and he doesn't blab unnecessarily at every opportunity, he just
kind of kicks back. He would come to our rehearsal and sometimes
he would make small but concise, poignant assertions about what needed
to be changed and sometimes he wouldn't say anything, he would just
take a nap. He also knows how to surround himself with very proficient
people such as engineers and things like this that end up making him look
good. That's one of his talents. That and his remarkable beard.
CI: Whe the band first formed, I had heard it was just for fun and
not as a serious career. Is that true?
A: It was an accident. It was never intended to be what it (the band) became. My whole life
I grew up with these pople: Jack, Hillel, and Flea, and they were always playing music and I wasn't.
I was doing other non-sensical things like writing and dancing and romanticizing the world
at large, and I never had any intention of being in a band. Then one
day, a friend of ours asked us if we would open up a show with Jack,
Flea, and Hillel with me as the singer. And we said, 'Yeah, that sounds
like fun,' and I had written a poem, a rythmic lyric, and we all sat
down in the living room without instruments, and we said 'Okay,
let's play one song- we'll play a show with one song.' So we never
actually played it with instruments until we got to the gig. Then we
played that one song, and it was such a ridiculously emotionally potent
explosion of funk and fun, that the crowd went completely haywire,
and the club owner asked if we could come back next week with 2 songs.
And we said, 'Yeah, let's do this again next week.' And we never