- Jul 1 2022Some fascinating insight into the Californian funk-rockers' eagerly-awaited 12th studio album – out now!
Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Unlimited Love': A Track-by-Track Breakdown by Bass Legend Flea
Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Unlimited Love': A Track-by-Track Breakdown by Bass Legend Flea
Californian funk-rock legends, Red Hot Chili Peppers' highly-anticipated 12th studio album Unlimited Love is out today (April 1st)! Get it here.
Legendary bassist, Flea has given us some fascinating insight into the band's newest release, their first LP since 2016's The Getaway, that sees the return of the return of their prodigal-son guitarist seminal guitarist John Frusciante, who returned to the fold in 2021 following a ten year plus hiatus. Enjoy!
You know, we started off, John Frusciante came back to the band. It was really exciting. You know, I can't speak for John. But I feel for him it was equal parts excitement and also like, 'Whoa, how do I navigate this thing I've been in for a long time? Like, does this still work? Does it still go on? And I don't know if you're thinking that or not. But, early on, John came in and he goes, 'Yeah, I got this idea for a song.' And he's mentioned recently that he hadn't written a rock song in a long time. And it's a song that became Black Summer. One of the things I really love about Anthony's lyrics is that even though I know they're deeply personal to his experience in the world, they're also wide open to interpretation. Like his metaphors, his sense of poetry and the way that words sound when they're next to one another is really magical to me. But they're wide open and everybody can apply them to their own experience and I love that.
Here Ever After
Here Ever After started musically once again, with John, he just, you know, had this melody and this movement, this chord movement, this melody that was really kind of just beautiful and simple. I just wanted to honour it and tried to find a rhythm that went counter to it in a way that worked really well. It just happened and Anthony started singing this great melody that went along with this guitar melody which is cool because there's this simple guitar melody that goes, it's really profound, it goes through the verses and Anthony sings this other rhythmic, kind of hypnotic phrase that goes over it. There's a lot of room for everyone to be themselves within this structure that John had created and really awesome.
Aquatic Mouth Dance
This next song is called Aquatic Mouth Dance. I remember it being born as often before we would work on things we just, and this is very typical for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is we just improvise and we jam and we go for it. Oftentimes I will initiate a jam, and in this particular case I did and just picked up the bass and without thinking started playing the baseline of what Aquatic Mouth Dance was. And everyone just fell in and started jamming and we're improvising and jamming and Anthony really liked it. I could tell he got real lively and jumped up on the mic and started spitting. When we were recording horns and I was writing horn arrangements for some of the songs, John had the idea for all of the horns to play at once real freely on this track. And we just blew free, and all solo'd and went wild and then we used it in different parts of the song. Get deep, get into the rhythm, get lost. I love this track, one of my favourites.
Not The One
This next song, it's called Not The One. We had started playing with John and started rehearsing and writing and gotten kind of deep into the rhythm of doing it, and then the pandemic hit. We stopped playing for a while together and just went home and we're like, 'you know, let's isolate and wait for this pandemic to pass'. And we did that for a couple of months, and I was just home alone a lot during that time writing stuff on a piano, and this is something that I wrote... you can kind of hear that two beat triplet piano groove going through it. Made a little demo of it by myself at home and then brought it into the guys and John had some ideas to switch the chords up in the choruses and Anthony started singing this beautiful melody over the whole thing. I actually, I think at one point I suggested because I feel so much yearning in him on the record, that we call the record 'The Yearning' but that was a shitty idea by me... clearly. It's called Unlimited Love and not The Yearning which sounds like the name of either a Disney movie or some bad horror movie that never even has a sequel made.
The next song is called Poster Child, and it was kind of born of a funk groove that I had been playing on the bass. I had been spending a lot of time in South Los Angeles and Watts during the writing and making of this album and got involved in that community. And there was one woman that I had met there named Faye, my wife and I were friends with her and would kind of hang out with her on her stoop and talk, getting a feeling from her and from being there. And came back to rehearsal one day after hanging out there, had this rhythm in my head that just kind of resonated with my experience there and started playing that. And then you know, it became 'Poster Child'. Anthony when I heard him just bust this great rap on it going through this completely psychedelic world of words and storytelling, it really just thrilled me that Poster Child became what it became. I love this song, Poster Child.
The Great Apes
The next songs called The Great Apes can remember on my behalf it kind of coming to be, I was sitting in my garage in Malibu and playing along with Gregory Isaacs' song Night Nurse. And, even if it sounds nothing like Gregory Isaacs, that's where it came from in my head. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. I'm grateful that it became a song and I love the lyrics to it. I love thinking about you know, the great apes and even though the songs on about apes, I love thinking about it. On this record Anthony Keidis, he just keeps getting better he keeps growing and getting better and what he does on this record all the way through man. I think it's his finest work. He really focused and got it done. Every song has a different feeling, a different narrative, a different aesthetic, a different vocal approach and I'm so proud of him.
It’s Only Natural
She’s A Lover
She's A Lover. Another one started on the bass guitar, and just sitting on the couch came up with it trying to play some funky shit. I love Too Short, the rapper Too Short, and I love his version of The Ghetto Donny Hathaway, made it famous that's for sure. And Too Short, I think it's on Short Dogs in the House record, he does a killer version of The Ghetto. I was kind of playing something like a baseline that, you know, doesn't sound like The Ghetto at all but it was in that frame of that kind of chord movement and that hypnotic state that that groove gets me into. And started playing it and you know once again it's a series of baselines that go together that formed the core of it, and then everybody else gets into and it comes something completely different. And I'm just kind of like with The Great Apes or Poster Child so grateful that these baselines became a song. I Love it, John's background vocals on the song kill me. I mean I love Anthony's vocals too, he came up with all these different sections, each one funkier than the next. And then when John came in on the background vocals rocks me, it rocks me, the whole thing just rocks, beautiful song.
These Are The Ways
This song is called These Are The Ways. And John just walked in one day with this song structure. And it's my favourite one. It's just rocks is all I can say. And the parts go together so well. I love it when someone does something that I would never think of in a million years, the way it builds and swells and climaxes and comes back down and builds and swells and climaxes again, through this really beautiful, just gorgeous chord movement. And you know, evolving into this thing that is so bombastic. Anthony's vocals drive me crazy with how good they are. When he starts talking about the sound, the taste, the smell, it says so much without needing to go on some diatribe or narrative or a billion words. It's just like, man I feel you, I smell you, I taste you, I feel this. I love this song. These Are The Ways... one of my favourite songs Red Hot Chili Peppers have ever done.
This next songs called Whatchu Thinkin'. It started with a baseline boom boom boom, boom, boom, boom, boom boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom punk, punk, punk, punk, punk, punk, punk, punk, punk, punk punk... wanted to make like a really long cycle of a baseline and it's a very long cycle and very specific. But just all came together and Anthony I love what he does. This one has a different kind of quirky whimsy to it that I'm glad that we have. You know, I love all the songs on Unlimited Love. One of the things that I love about this record and makes me feel like it's our best work is that every song really occupies its own place, it's completely different from all the other songs on the record. Each song has its own flavour, its own colour, its own reason to exist, what you think is definitely its own.
Bastards of Light
Bastards of Light. Anthony has a, I can't speak for him, but he has a real deep relationship to mixed martial arts. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge about this shit. It's not like this like 'rah rah BS you know violent thing' it's like he really loves the science of it and how the different skills counter each other and how you know guys develop these different skills with the fighting. It's a real love thing for him and it's beautiful to see because I don't know that much about it, but I really like his deep relationship to this thing. So John comes in with this you know these beautiful mysterious chords and movement, and Anthony starts singing about fighting Bastards of Light. It's fucking awesome.
White Braids & Pillow Chair
White Braids & Pillow Chair. You know, I can start every song on this record by saying I love this fucking song. John came in with this guitar with Dome Dome bonk bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk. I just tried to play in this rhythm against it. And Chad and I kind of chimed in together with that rhythm, and when I heard that Anthony was writing about White Braid Pillow Chair and I didn't know what the words were. I just imagined him dating some hot girl with white braids sitting on a pillow chair and him like going 'look at that beautiful girl on that chair'. And I just assumed, stupidly foolishly assumed that was what was about and he was talking to me about it one day and he told me that "no he had seen this couple in a cafe or somewhere and it was an elderly couple. And I guess the woman had white braids, or maybe the guy had white braids and this elderly couple he saw that we're deeply in love, sitting in a place and it's like...man that's so beautiful.
One Way Traffic
One Way Traffic started with bass riffs, you know I kind of put the series of bass riffs together, bought them in for the guys and fell together pretty quick. And then it was a while, I had no idea what Anthony was going to do on it and he went off to Hawaii to do the vocals and came back and he just tells us this really funny story over it. And I love it, it's such a fun celebratory rockin’ song. At the time I was listening to X playing along with Nausea. I know it sounds nothing like Nausea, but you know sometimes you just play along with something that gets you in a certain head. I started playing with a pick and strumming chords like I was playing along with X and came out with One Way Traffic and everyone else just took it to another level.
Veronica is a song that was come up very late, it was written in the studio, we're just kind of jamming in the studio, I think on a riff that John probably played. Anthony really loved it. He started singing the melody for the verse, it was really comfortable to him and I've heard him sing that melody before and I think he was always searching for a home for it. And John started playing this beautiful guitar part like "I finally have a home for this riff" and he was very gung-ho about it and then John came up with that chorus with a tempo change and a time change and shifting and Anthony singing this great shit on it. And so it is, and Anthony sings about these different characters starting with a girl called 'Veronica' from different walks of life in the world. And you know, I feel him, this yearning to build bridges between different people in different cultures and I love that idea that makes me really happy because that's something I think about a lot.
Let ‘Em Cry
This next song Let Em Cry started with a verse with a baseline. Anthony sings that beautiful 'Cry cry let them cry' that beautiful melody over it. John came up with that pipe for a chorus on the spot, but we do this thing called a face off sometimes where we have a verse that we really like and we'll be like, 'Okay, we need a chorus or we need a bridge' and we'll say 'face off' and me and John will go into different rooms and both come up with something, and come in and do whichever one and the band thinks is better or more appropriate. And I think this was a faceoff and John came up with that chorus part, that's what happened. Anthony fucking rocked it, we've got deep groove on it.
The Heavy Wing
The next song is The Heavy Wing. John came in with all these musical parts, these instrumental parts, epic thing. And we just went for it. John is just such a studious, disciplined, focused man. John just came with all these parts man, all these chord parts and riffs and stuff. We all did our thing, we all did our thing. We did some good arrangement work on it with Rick before we tracked it and it just comes out banging. It's great, I love it.
I love the smell of a Tangelo. It's the kind of thing where you smell it and you feel your whole, all your little insides vibrating. When Anthony told me that it was called Tangelo I was very happy. But just beautiful, John, he's such a ripper and shredder on a guitar and is sonically so exciting... sometimes when forgets he will just like get into an acoustic guitar and get going in the most beautiful way and it's just the raw simple sound of a beautiful guitar played by a man with great sensitivity. He created this structure and came in and you know, my younger daughter, Sunny Bebop, when I played her the record, this is her favourite song and it's not even close. I think there's a lot of people whose favourite part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is when we play quiet pretty things, and so for those people who really enjoy that part of us. I'm excited for them to hear Tangelo, I really am. Here it is.
Red Hot Chili Peppers' highly anticipated 12th studio album, Unlimited Love is out today (April 1st)! The LP is available on CD, vinyl and cassette tape, along with a range of awesome merch bundles that include a t-shirt, hoodie, poster and more. Check out the options and get Unlimited Love, here.
“We yearn to shine a light in the world, to uplift, connect, and bring people together. Each of the songs on our new album UNLIMITED LOVE, is a facet of us, reflecting our view of the universe. This is our life’s mission. We work, focus, and prepare, so that when the biggest wave comes, we are ready to ride it. The ocean has gifted us a mighty wave and this record is the ride that is the sum of our lives. Thank you for listening, we hope you enjoy it.”
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