I’m With You, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

23 Dec

What to write about a band that’s been making music since over a decade before one was born, and has seen the arrival and departure of not one or two but eleven different members over their years?

As long as their music is still centrepinned by Michael “Flea” Balzary‘s audible, driving basslines, and memorable lyrics and melodies are channeled through Anthony Kiedis‘ distinctive vocals, the Peppers with always be the Peppers… but with the subtraction of one guitarist and the addition of another since the band’s last studio album, I’m With You definitely brings some new sounds into the mix.



Red Hot Chili Peppers' timeline of band members


New RHCP lead guitarist Josh Klinghoffer – who had already been part of the band’s “extended family”* for a number of years before stepping in to replace John Frusciante in 2009 –  is “stylistically very close to John but has a completely different trip”*, says producer Rick Rubin.  “Josh is a very subtle musician and it’s not so much about the big riff – it’s more subtle, sublime, poetic texture type of playing”*, adds Flea.

Another prominent change in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound since Stadium Arcadium, and a clear result of the band’s much-needed hiatus of over two years, is the addition of piano into a number of their songs. During the hiatus, Flea studied music theory at the University of Southern California, where he picked up piano and began using it in compositions. Flea says that composing on piano has a more “liquid”* feeling than on other instruments, possibly for the piano’s capacity to sustain notes with more consistency of texture and volume than others – particularly guitar. “Happiness Loves Company” definitely has a less choppy texture and flows more smoothly between verses and choruses than other tracks on the album. Additionally, whilst the rhythmic structure of this song’s piano part is a fairly common one, RHCP have employed it in a chord progression atypical to the piano, creating an interesting mutual adaptation of styles between the piano and the Peppers.

In terms of inspiration, Flea states that (along with J.S. Bach and The Rolling Stones) he was listening to a lot of underground electronica at the time of the album’s creation. This influence comes through in “Factory of Faith”: a bass-and-vocals led track which slowly brings in Klinghoffer’s guitaring and eventually disolves into a 40-second instrumental  piece layering bass, drums and Trance-inspired electronica, again presenting an interesting mutual adaptation of RHCP and the new musical corridors alluring them.

Whilst the band faces obvious adjustments since Frusciante’s departure, they continue to expand their musical horizons. The album title I’m With You was chosen for its open, inviting connotation, which the band felt reflected the album and their current state of being*.




2 Responses to “I’m With You, Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

  1. bagheadkelly 28 January 2012 at 8:27 PM #

    Terrific review worthy of NME, although very neutral.

    • Michelle Avenant 31 January 2012 at 6:37 PM #

      Thanks 🙂 Yeah, it is a bit filled with facts… but heck, the Peppers have such an interesting history!

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