By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
With his face on MTV and countless magazine covers, Kiedis still rides through the streets of L.A. on his small scooter. And while he has witnessed the ruin of many friends, he still views the city as a forgiving and hospitable locale. “Los Angeles is a part of me,” he says. “This is where I got turned on to the magic of life and music and sex and drugs and movies and all the friends that I‘ll be with for the rest of my life. These are the streets that I walk up and down and where I wrote my lyrics. It’s where I got stabbed, it‘s where everything happened to me. So it’s part of who I am, and I don‘t look at it as inhospitable because it never was. It’s the greatest place in the world.”
The band has arrived at a Hollywood soundstage to tape a segment for the venerable English television show Top of the Pops. An enthusiastic audience culled from their fan club has packed the room and is pressed excitedly against the stage. The Chili Peppers stroll out to ecstatic applause and, as cameras roll, launch into a symphonic, big-beat, glitter anthem called “Don‘t Forget Me.” Teenage girls elbow one another and stare lovingly up at Kiedis as he undulates before them, singing, “I’m the rainbowin your jail cellall the memories ofeverything you‘ve ever smelled.” A bearded Rick Rubin stands back in the crowd, smiling and nodding his head to the music. Pausing before the next song, Frusciante casually removes his shirt, exposing his severely scarred arms. Audience members exchange concerned looks and whisper to one another, but Frusciante simply closes his eyes and starts to play his guitar. The song builds and he leans back on his heels, lost in the music. Afterward, the Chili Peppers are walking offstage when someone from the crowd hurls a single white tube sock. It lands directly in the band’s path, yet none of them appear to see it.
In a current musical environment of near pedophilic youth obsession, a veteran band has sold an experimental pop record to the world. Glance at the stark portrait on the album sleeve and you can see the complete transformation. While years ago they would have mugged and posed for the camera, now they simply stare off, like somewhat shell-shocked survivors. What‘s on the surface seems so much less important, it’s what‘s inside that matters. After 20 years of constant unraveling and rebuilding, the band has drawn from the experiences of a lifetime and made the album of their career.
“It feels like it’s a new time,” Kiedis offers. “No one feels like, oh well, we did some good stuff in the past. I mean, fuck all that. That was then . . . let‘s do something great today.”