Red Hot Chilli Pepper: Beyond the lessons of Funky Monks


OK my comments should not count because I am an ardent Chilli Peppers fan but there is a lesson here, because, honestly, I used to not really get them and there is the lesson. I will explain.
I purchased and viewed the RHCP documentary, or should I say Rockumentary, Funky Monks which was made during the recording of their seminal, at least for them and their future, album Blood Sugar Sex Magic (Yes LAWD!) It was of course done in the now legendary mansion where Houdini lived, it was their first joint with Rick Rubin, and it basically transformed them from a popular Funk Punk band that was semi serious in the eyes of the public into a fire-breathing ROCK N ROLL monolith.
No slam on their older material but when you throw in By the Way it is amazing how much they have grown as a band. It is stunning really, like, this is not even the same band, and it’s not and I do not mean just from an instrumentation standpoint.
Let me qualify that the Chilli Peppers have released their finest work in the last 10 years and they just seem to keep getting better though letting John Frusciante quit again is not fair for me, yes me the fan, as I love him as the RHCP guitar player.
SIDENOTE: John please reconsider. Your replacement is great but remember how many players were burned through only to get back to the only guitarist right for the RHCP
SIDENOTE DONE

Ok Funky Monks is a victory and in a sense a tragedy. You get to witness the silliest bunch of dudes, and when I mean silly I mean silly like I used to be with my friends but even more silly and let me tell you that is silly, living in this cool house and making what I consider a piece of rock history in Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Then only to realize that half the band is strung out on heroin and one of the key members of the crew (Frusciante) will be gone mere months after its release.
Start taking notes musician folk.
I was not at all down with the RHCP and their first 2-3 albums. OK Mother’s Milk was good but I think their attitude as a bunch of different dudes caught my attention as much as anything. So I was not at all impressed when they released anything new. It took a friend, the same friend who played TEN for the first time, to hand me a cassette and say “man you got’s to listen to this @#$$” I did and was properly blown out of my socks. I did not stop listening for a very long time and still return to it, though even it does not compare to the last three releases by them (especially Californication and By the Way) which are just spectacular. This of course is my humble opinion.
Now here is the lesson. The Chilli Peppers would not be allowed to exist today. Sure they might get it together enough to play some initial shows and might even get it together enough to record a demo but you put Flea, Kiedis, Frusciante, and Chad Smith out now as a bunch of 20 years olds (Yes I know they are not the original members and I am only making a point so stay with me) they would not have held it together, period. Why?
The label stuck with them and supported them through, well, basically everything. Labels today would not put up with that kind of nonsense, not in this economy and not in the current environment.
But thank god one did. This is why we may have seen the last of the great monolithic Rock Bands, there just are not the funds to risk supporting a group of guys artistically and financially for that long of a period.
Why is that wrong? The Chili Peppers are a shining example of why developing an artist or band is the real way to go, at least artistically. Why? Why take such a chance with a group that had so much struggle.
Because the Chilli Peppers were made of tough stuff and they pulled off the 9th inning grand slam with bases loaded and 2 outs. It took a few years to get back to Blood Sugar Sex Magic but by goodness they did.
They made good, and are still making good, on their end of the bargain: Making timeless music.
Music that sells and it just keeps getting better.
I would bet that the investment placed on the Peppers has been recouped 5-10 fold if not much more.
And I could not imagine a world without Californication, By the Way, and Stadium Arcadium. (I can imagine one without One Hot Minute but it had its moments).
But the Peppers are tough, they stuck it out, and most importantly
they never gave up on themselves.
With each new album they learned and tried new things.
With each year they honed their craft and built their fan base by making better and better music.
With each new song they were reaching further into the ether, deeper each time, and with each reaching they began not having peers and standing alone as one of the last active ROCK legends and as what they really were: great artists in the art of music making. Which, when you strip back all the money, the drugs, the womens, the whiskey, the dealers, and all the other bulls#$% that comes in that bag, is the goal so many reach for but never fully achieve.
But at the end of the day you have to remember one thing; The Red Hot Chilli Peppers never quit, not themselves, not their fans, and never the music.
They never quit.

“I wish I had a record player” YES!


I talk a great deal about music, think about music, and most of all love listening to real music. It is becoming surprising to me when I get involved in talking about music with kids I always learn so much. I am blessed to have an opportunity to experience music, that is in fact what we do when we listen to music: experience it, with kids. I am simply blown away by the taste of young folks. For example, a great deal of music calling itself rock music set beside, now classic things HAH, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam seems really staid and small, most of it and by golly they notice.
And then this explodes into discussions about who influenced these folks and those that influenced those folks, the six degrees of Muddy Waters, etc., etc. And then in the middle of all this a young man, no more than 13 said out of the blue, in the middle of one of these discussions, “I wish I had a record player.”
Yes
there is hope!