Flea explains Red Hot Chili Peppers’ unplugged Super Bowl Halftime performance, plus Axl Rose weighs in
Given that more people tuned into the Super Bowl Halftime Show than actually watched the game itself, someone was bound to notice a few things amiss. It wasn’t long before folks started pointing out that, for all their sock-hopping energy, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ instruments weren’t even plugged in. Now, it’s no surprise that they were playing to a backing track — in such a setting, with so much riding on the sound, everyone does it— but you’d think they could’ve at least tried to fake it.
In a new post on the band’s website, bassist Flea addressed Jack-Gate and the band’s decision to go unplugged. He made it clear that RHCP were skeptical about miming the show, as they’ve always had a policy against such deception. Still, at the end of the day, the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl, and the band “eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it.” Completely understandable. But then why not at least make it look real? “Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people,” Flea wrote. “Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance.” So ultimately, they figured it best to play a fake gig but not pretend it was real, while still demonstrating “the spirit of who we are to the people.”
Meanwhile, Axl Rose of all people has offered his own critique of the Chili Peppers’ performance. In a note titled “In The Name Of Science”, Rose stressed the “need to always look on the positive side of things and to give the benefit of doubt,” adding “that in the name of science and for all mankind Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier.”
He continued, “And besides… If the band wasn’t really playing or wireless or whatever and Anthony was really singing they may have set a new world record for the largest karaoke audience ever! Awesome!” Axl, don’t quit your day job.
Read both Flea and Rose’s respective statements below.
A Message From Flea
When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL’s stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the t.v. viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80′s, we were thrown off of ‘The Top Of the Pops’ television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly, I played bass with my shoe, John played guitar atop Anthony’s shoulders, and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.
We mimed on one or two weird MTV shows before that and it always was a drag. We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us, and anyone who has ever seen us in concert (like the night before the Super Bowl at the Barclays Center), knows that we play from our heart, we improvise spontaneously, take musical risks, and sweat blood at every show. We have been on the road for 31 years doing it.
So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell. Plus, we the RHCP all love football too and that played a big part in our decision. We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun.
We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar.
For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not. Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance. It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people.
I am grateful to the NFL for having us. And I am grateful to Bruno, who is a super talented young man for inviting us to be a part of his gig. I would do it all the same way again.
We, as a band, aspire to grow as musicians and songwriters, and to continue to play our guts out live onstage for anyone who wants to get their brains blown out.
A Message From Axl Rose
In The Name Of Science
In regard to the internet’s “no wireless” controversy regarding the Red Hot Chili Peppers Superbowl performance as reported on ESPN…
I enjoyed the show and I’ve no idea what the real story is nor would I want to suggest or imply anyone wasn’t actually performing or that what they were playing wasn’t what we actually heard. That said I feel it’s important to always look on the positive side of things and to give the benefit of doubt.
So consider that maybe sometime before their actual performance that rather than use a guitar cord or standard wireless, that in the name of science and for all mankind Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier.
Maybe they all had microchips installed in their asses and not only pick up the frequencies of their instruments but get Direct TV and the internet too! Like Google Glass… Google Ass! They could be “Scientific Pioneers!” Like Buzz Aldrin and shit! True (pardon the pun)ASS-tro-nots! Or like Superbowl crash test dummies for bands kinda like those cars that drive themselves!
And besides… If the band wasn’t really playing or wireless or whatever and Anthony was really singing they may have set a new world record for the largest karaoke audience ever! Awesome!
So relax and show some pride! This is probably all just Google finding new ways to enrich our lives with the selfless volunteering of the Peppers and the ever ongoing creative process of true innovation or perhaps a new lounge bar record of super magnificent proportions and a new pinnacle of human achievement not seen since the sign language guy in South Africa!
God Bless America, the Peppers n’ technology… PN’T!