One Old Mob


February 17, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a young people’s band; this is odd though seeing as how they’re all 50 years old.  I’m pretty sure they don’t have any fans born before 1987, and many people their own age don’t think anything of the band.  The unfortunate thing about this predicament though is that the Chili Peppers have become old men, but refuse to acknowledge it.  Obviously they can’t still be singing songs like “Special Secret Song Inside”, “Suck My Kiss” and “Sir Psycho Sexy”, as they shouldn’t.  However, the problem comes when they still try to act like they are still that same band, as a band they haven’t really grown with either their fans or themselves.

Becoming old isn’t a bad thing, for some like Paul Simon, and U2 it’s actually helped their careers as they’ve grown along with their fans.  The problem comes when a band refuses to even acknowledge that they’re growing old.  It’s for this reason why Aerosmith is rock’s biggest joke, and why the Smashing Pumpkins matter less than Styx.  What’s most emblematic of this for the Red Hot Chili Peppers is their constant refusal to play songs from their album One Hot Minute at their concerts.  By not playing songs that their fans request to hear on a constant basis the band is essentially admitting to the fact that they’ve become stubborn old men.

One Hot Minute was released in 1995 and marked the darkest time in the band’s history.  Guitarist John Frusciante quit the band and went on a downward spiral of heroin and shitty avant garde music and was subsequently replaced by Dave Navarro who never really fit in with the band.  Bassist Flea was going through a rough divorce with his wife at the time, and lead singer Anthony Kiedis replaced into heroin after six years of sobriety.  Coupled with the enormous pressure to deliver an album as good as Blood Sugar Sex Magik, these troubles led to the band going to a dark place with their music.  Songs such as “Warped” and “Aeroplane” deal with drug addiction in a rather blunt way, while other songs such as “My Friends” deal with loneliness.  “Tearjerker” and “Transcending” deal with the death of close friends that occurred while the band was recording the album.  Obviously enough, this wasn’t a fun album to record, so I could understand that some of these songs could bring back some not to pleasant memories.

But, is it really any different from a song like “Under the Bridge” or “Otherside”, two well known staple songs of the band.  Both deal with tragedy and loneliness in a similar way to songs on One Hot Minute.  “Under the Bridge” deals with loneliness inspired by drug addiction and “Otherside” is about the ending slide of being depressed whether it be because of drugs or the death of a loved one.  Thematically they’re no different that songs from One Hot Minute.  Since the band has changed and gotten to a better state since One Hot Minute, why then should any of the songs still have clout over how the band feels about them?

When Frusciante rejoined the band, he refused to play any songs from One Hot Minute, because they weren’t his songs.[1]  Following his most recent departure from the band, there was hope amongst fans that the band would bring back certain songs from One Hot Minute, namely “Aeroplane” and “My Friends”.  Such was not the case however, because according to Kiedis those songs “don’t vibe with what we’re doing now”.  A bunch of bands have songs that they hate performing live, but they do it anyway out of gratitude for the fans.  Pete Townshend hated playing “Dreaming from the Waist”, but he did it anyway.  Kirk Hammett hated playing songs from And Justice for All, but after being asked to by hundreds of fans the band has slowly been reintroducing songs from that album.  Prior to 2011, they hadn’t played “Hold Me, Thrill Me Kiss Me, Kill Me” since 1997 (the same year the Chili Peppers last played material from One Hot Minute), but once they brought it back fans went crazy.

The point is though that as an artist you have certain obligations to your fans, as they are the ones that make you what you are.  For a band, any bad to ignore their fans, it’s unacceptable.  To be honest people don’t go to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers to hear “Look Around” or “Throw Away Your Television”, they want to hear “Around the World” and “Taste the Pain”, and “Aeroplane”.  By refusing to play songs that fans want to hear, they’ve relegated themselves to being grumpy old men, who have lost touch with their fan base.  I understand that they were touring in support of a new album, but the album wasn’t very good, and most of the songs sounded like a bunch of 50 years olds trying to pull the blinds over our eyes and convince us they were still 30.  The way I see it, if they’re not going to be putting out any good music anymore, than just do what the Rolling Stones do and go on tour every other year and play songs that people actually want to hear, including ones from One Hot Minute.

[1] While understandable at the time, soon his demands began to spiral out of control.  He would later refuse to play songs from Mother’s Milk and would only play the hits from Blood Sugar Sex Magik.  Keep in mind though, this is the same man who made Flea re-write bass lines.  I can’t stress that last part enough.


One thought on “One Old Mob

  1. Becky says:

    HEy, I am 55 and have been a fan of the RHCP as long as I can remember

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