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They're Red Hot

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"They're Red Hot"


The Red Hot Chili Peppers are widely known for their punk-funk music. They got their start in Los Angeles, California at a small venue, the Rhythm Lounge at the Grandea Room on Melrose, playing in front of thirty people (Scar Tissue, p. 104-106). They were known as Tony Flow and the Miraculous Masters of Mayhem. It wasn't until after their second performance under this name that they decided to change the band's name to the better known Red Hot Chili Peppers. They are still performing and are currently on tour with The Mars Volta, promoting their newest two-disc album titled Stadium Arcadium.

The band's history starts long before they ever considered playing together as The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary (a.k.a. "Flea") and Hillel Slovak met during their freshman year at Fairfax High School. They spent most of those early years smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, going to shows and pursuing girls. The trio didn't actually start performing together until they reached the age of twenty.

"Out in L.A." was the first song performed by the newly formed Tony Flow and the Miraculous Masters of Mayhem. This quartet consisted of Jack Irons as the drummer, guitarist Hillel, bassist Flea, and vocalist Kiedis. Kiedis says, "In some ways, I owe my career to my friend, Gary Allen" (Scar Tissue, p. 104). Gary Allen was a member of the headlining group playing the Rhythm Lounge, Gary and Neighbor's Voices. Gary had asked Keidis, Slovak and Balzary to play one song to open up for his band. At the time Balzary, Slovak, and Irons were playing together in another band called Anthym. When Kiedis joined the mix for this supposed one-time thing, they "latched on to the energy of Defunkt and the raw edginess of the Gang of Four, and of course, the cosmic freedom implicit in Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing" (Scar Tissue, p.104). Though Keidis wasn't a singer, he found he could rap poems to the funk riffs being played by his band mates. Their performance at the Rhythm Lounge went great and they were asked by the club's owner to return the next week with two songs ready. After their second successful performance, they realized, as Kiedis says, "This was way too much fun to give up. At last, I had something to do that had meaning and purpose" (Scar Tissue, p.107). With this new inspiration to perform, they decided to get serious and rethink the band's name. From that point forward, the four would be known as The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers would go on living their lives as a giant party filled with drugs, alcohol, and music. Keidis and Balzary were definitely the hard-core partiers of the four, constantly trying to find whatever drugs they could get their hands on. Keidis would use his experiences and the people he would acquaintance himself with as the inspiration for his lyrics. On the other end of the music Balzary, Slovak, and Irons, though still playing in other bands, found themselves focusing more on the energy of funk for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Keidis describes the process, or lack thereof, for creating the band's music as "...all things are born from the jam. We go in and start wailing and see what works" (Scar Tissue, p.109). This line-up would remain predominant for the band, though there were some temporary changes; up through Slovak's death in 1988 due to a heroin overdose. This tragedy contributed to Jack Irons quitting the band. This left Balzary and Keidis to simultaneously find a new drummer and a guitarist. It was through Balzary that The Red Hot Chili Peppers stumbled upon the guitarist that would stay in the line-up to this day, John Frusciante. Chad Smith would become the new drummer for the band only a few weeks before the recording of Mother's Milk. The original line-up of The Red Hot Chili Peppers had recorded three albums, including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Freaky Styley, and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. They would go on to headline a number of tours. Their live show is what they prided themselves upon. They would always joke around to get a reaction from the audience. One of the most recognizable stunts to fans was when the four members of the band would go out onto the stage with nothing but their musical instruments and a tube-sock covering their privates. The current line-up would go on to produce six more albums including Mother's Milk, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute, Californication, By The Way, and Stadium Arcadium.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a unique style that fuses their punk attitudes with a profound funk influence on their playing. Flea says, "We're coming from listening to Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Defunkt, Funkadelic, the Meters, James Brown, the real shit. And it's coming from jamming, playing a billion hours of that that no one will hear, getting cosmic in a darkened room and developing musical telepathy" (Red Hot Chili Peppers' naked truth). The band consists of four components: bass, guitar, drum kit, and vocals. The driving force of the band comes from the very syncopated hard hits of the bass and drums. Balzary uses a technique known as "slap bass", which is when the drummer uses the side of his thumb to slap the string of a bass against the fret board. This is often followed by a "pop", which is when the string is lifted up from the bass and released to snap back into place. Balzary uses these techniques to accent off of the beat set by the drummer. The tone he uses with his bass is also very important to punk-funk. When listening to recordings by the band, the growl of the bass is very distinguishable. Another defining characteristic of the band's sound is Kiedis' rap style of singing. Recognizing his unpolished singing ability, he would write poems as lyrics and then rap the poems on top of the groove set by the band. Often the inflection in his voice would coincide with the accents of the music. Even though the band has had a number of temporary guitar players Hillel Slovak and John Frusciante have had what the band was looking for. Both guitar players have done an excellent job meshing with the band. Usually when a band goes through a line-up change their sound changes noticeably. This isn't the case with The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hillel and John have such a soulful playing style whether their playing solos or individual notes or slamming out a full syncopated strumming pattern the mesh together to create that unique sound accredited to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The same is true for the predominate drummers of the band, Chad Smith and Jack



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