The West

Chilis go red hot
Red Hot Chili Peppers

"Oh, you're in Perth? Is there any good surf going on there right now?" Surf's probably not up in Montauk, New York, a hamlet at the end of Long Island, but it's not surprising that Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith has other destinations in mind.

The band have been on heavy touring duty since last August's release of their 10th album, I'm With You, and the moments like this at home are rare on the ground.

"It's a shorter break than normal," he explains, "usually we try and get two weeks in, this one is like nine or 10 days. Flea (bass) has never been to Iceland and it's beautiful so he decided to spend some time on that side of the world. I think Anthony (Kiedis) is visiting his family in the Mid-West and I'm with mine in New York. Josh (Klinghoffer, guitar) is in LA. With breaks we try to decompress, relax and recharge the batteries. Then we'll get back at it and be in Russia next week."

It's an album jaunt that will see Red Hot Chili Peppers land in Australia next January, as just-announced headliners of the 2013 Big Day Out. As much as any iconic, longstanding band can, the Chili Peppers mix up their set between shows, a hard task when massive crowds are baying for hit singles.

"I think it's important to change the songs that we play," Smith notes. "Not only for us to keep it fresh - we always want to put in some songs from our new record, so there's four or five of those. You can only play 20-23 songs, we play for two hours. I think for the Big Day Out they only want us to play an hour and a half, so we're going to have to cut it even more, but there are songs that people want to hear and expect to hear every night - Give It Away, Under the Bridge, Californication, songs like that.

"I guess it's a nice problem, to have a lot of songs that people love and want to hear. We just try and keep it rotating, in that way it keeps it fresh for us and hopefully for the audience as well."

And if by chance there weren't enough Chili Peppers songs in the catalogue to choose from, they're throwing even more out there.

A total of 18 tracks were left over from the I'm With You sessions, which the band will release as physical double-A-side singles and as downloads from the official website. "We always record a lot more than what ends up on records," Smith points out. "Even on the last record (2006's Stadium Arcadium) where we had 28 songs, we had another 14 that we ended up just putting on the B-sides of some singles. But that's not really the format these days; people don't buy singles so much anymore. The 13 that we did put on this record we felt were the ones that went best together as that piece of art.

"The others would have probably gotten lost, maybe come out on some boxed set 10 years later. We'd rather just put them out now so people can enjoy them. We're not trying to make it like it's a new album or anything, it's just some songs that need to see the light of day and we want to do that sooner than later."

I'm With You is the first Chili Peppers album to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer , who has replaced the enigmatic John Frusciante, who left the band for the second time in 2009. Klinghoffer had toured as a secondary guitarist for the Chili Peppers and is a longtime friend and collaborator of Frusciante's. Even so, fans have had a little trouble with the "classic" RHCP line-up being changed and have been vocal about Frusciante's absence. Smith recently took to Twitter to pay tribute to Frusciante and to ask for some respect to be shown in Klinghoffer's direction.

"Whenever you change band members it's difficult," he says. "I shouldn't say difficult, it's just different. And of course it's going to be different - different guy, different musicians.

"Playing guitar in the Chili Peppers, those are big shoes to be playing in. Obviously John was a huge part of our band and wrote some of the best songs, he was amazing and we love him but he chose to leave the group. He didn't want to do it anymore, he wanted to do his own thing and we respect that. We honour that and that's what I want our fans to realise.

"With social media it's so crazy these days, you get so many people going, 'we miss John, get John back.' There's a lot of people who love John. That's great, but he's not in the Chili Peppers anymore. Josh has been in the band for two years now and he's great, you know? With that thing on Twitter I was just getting hit with all these 'Get John back in the band or I'm not going to see you guys anymore' messages. It's like 'OK, if you don't want to, don't, but just don't sit there and bitch about it'.

"As far as that goes the one that I responded to was a little negative and I just felt like, 'This is where we're at now, dig it. And if you don't dig it that's OK.' It was John's choice and that's the way it goes. We love playing with Josh and he's fantastic, so get into it. (Screaming) F…… get into it, man!"

Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame early this year. It was an occasion to look back and celebrate but it's clear that Smith is more preoccupied with what the future may bring.

"It was emotional," he says.

"We were very honoured to be a part of that and it was fun to be in with Guns N' Roses and the Beastie Boys, who are good friends of ours, our peers.

"It's interesting to switch speeds and look back on your career and be grateful for it, which of course we are. But we're feeling like we're just getting started. We're on to a new thing and we want to make great music for a long time."

"It's interesting to switch speeds and look back on your career and be grateful for it . . . but we're feeling like we're just getting started. We're on to a new thing and we want to make great music for a long time."

The West Australian

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