Shockingly, for more than a few reasons, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are three and a half decades into one of the most storied, craziest, absolutely off the wall careers of any rock band ever. Since 1983, Anthony Keidis and Flea remain the foundational brotherhood of which the band’s immense legacy rest. Chad Smith has been eating drums and holding down the back beat since 1988. Guitarist- and all around awesome- Josh Klinghoffer has been in the fold officially since 2009- while having served as a touring member and second guitarist during the Stadium Arcadium tour. Through tragic lows such as death and harrowing addiction, to triumphant highs such as dual Woodstock performances and a ton of discarded socks, the Peppers have found a way to remain viable and prolific with eleven studio albums to date. Now though, the question turns to, “What Could Album Twelve Be?” It could be Josh Klinghoffer’s chance to match or beat Frusciante in the eyes of many die hard fans.
It’s a fair question. 2016’s The Getaway served as a raucous, shot in the arm resurgence Peppers’ fans desperately wanted. The preceding album, 2011’s I’m With You now plays more like a slight identity crisis. The album, the first with Josh Klinghoffer after he replaced legendary Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, found the Peppers finding their footing and adjusting their chemistry to best find their way at that stage in their career. The album as a whole had some great highs (“Factory of Faith”, “Ethiopia”, “Monarchy of Roses”) and it’s fair share of lulls In the grand scope of their entire discography, I’m With You falls into a category with their 1980’s albums, early in their career while the band searched for their true sonic representation.
It’s fair to look at Frusciante-Era 2.0 and think that’s as good as it’ll ever get for the Peppers. Calfornication, By The Way and Stadium Arcdium proved immense successes, catapulting the Peppers from 90’s alt-rock heroes to true legends of rock and roll. I’m With You had a monstrous legacy to follow. Add to that the fact that Frusciante now had jumped ship for the second time, the Peppers could have thrown in the towel. But that’s not what the Red Hot Chili Peppers do! I’m With You set the pace for this version of the band. The Getaway showed the band had more than a few tricks left up their sleeve.
“The Getaway”, “The Longest Wave” and “Dreams of a Samurai” will live on as all-time classic Peppers’ songs. “Dark Necessities” and “Go Robot” more hold their own when compared to the weight of their fantastic track record of singles. (Just look up their Billboard stats. It’s sick). And “Sick Love”. Another classic Peppers song. The album was the breath of fresh air the Peppers needed. But now. Here’s a fun fact. Throughout their history, the band has had five different guitarists record on their albums.
Jack Sherman had a cup of coffee on their eponymous debut. Dave Navarro helped the band craft their undoubted masterpiece- the gravely underrated and under-appreciated One Hot Minute. Founding guitarist, the late Hillell Slovak had two albums. The guitarist most associated with the band pulled out five albums. And now Josh Klinghoffer is looking down the horizon at his third album. It’s insane to think but the lineup of Flea-Keidis-Smith-Klinghoffer is only the second lineup to record more one album- the other being the version with Frusciante wielding the axe. So now, Josh Klinghoffer is looking to go or the hat trick and take the foundation of I’m With You and the growth of The Getaway and fully cement his legacy with the band.
What really helped The Getaway was the inclusion of Danger Mouse. His work- as well as longstanding relationship with Josh Klinghoffer helped to break down creative and sonic barriers with the band. Rick Rubin took the Red Hot Chili Peppers as far as he could. Fact. From 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik he transformed these manic maniacs into a well-oiled rock machine. But like a great baseball coach, at a certain time, sometimes you need a new voice to lead the charge. Danger Mouse took the band out of their comfort zone. He changed the way the band worked. The injection of a new creative partner helped the Peppers express themselves in a fresher, more exciting way than in nearly a decade. Lush soundscapes, disco-esque rhythms and wonderfully unexpected piano driven melodies show up all over this record. This diverse, fearless approach is an absolute must for the band’s twelfth album.
After all the touring for these two albums, the band’s chemistry is no doubt on high. Capitalizing on this, the Peppers need to do what they’ve always do best; jam. Let it come to them. They have nothing to prove. There is no pressure on them. They can let the music flow freely and completely become one with the music with absolutely no pretense. It’s rare for a band this age- with this amount of history- to still care. That’s what separates the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They do care. And it’s that passion we need on 100% with this new album.
But most importantly. What they need is a full blown guitar takedown by Josh Klinghoffer. The Getaway really feels like a Keidis album. The lyrics just own you on each song. Stadium Arcadium was no doubt a highlight reel for John Frusciante. One Hot Minute is dominated by an insane rhythm section that saw Chad Smith’s complete dominance of the drums and Flea’s most insane bass playing album since their earliest albums. Josh needs his album to match or beat Frusciante in the eyes of many fans. And this could be the one.
Hopefully we don’t have to wait five years in between releases for their new album. Chad Smith is on record having had mentioned that big touring was not the plan for 2018. Save for some festival dates, he said the band may plan to get in and make another record. I think I speak for all rock fans and especially all fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we cannot wait for this new album and to see the insanely awesome way the legacy of the band continues to go on!