Sorting through the unlikely journey from funk punk to stadium rock.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers has officially turned 30.
Since then, we’ve seen many faces represent the actual Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both in the metaphorical and literal sense of the word. The world watched as RHCP made the transition from cock-sock punks to stadium-packing icons. Theirs is a storied discography, one that connects generations and seemingly antipathetic peers. The longevity and sustained relevance of the Chillis is quite the feat, to say the least.
It’s significant when a band can bridge such a variety of gaps: gaps between parent and child, between the music junkie and the passive fan, between the pierced and tatted and the straightlaced and buttoned-up. Common ground is the ultimate blessing music can bestow upon these diverse groups of people. Where, for a minute, we forget our discordant nature and simply share an appreciation with another human being. The fact that I can still feel something when Anthony Kiedis sings about the “scar tissue that I wish you saw” — despite how many times I’ve heard it — is testament to this notion.
Even as I sit here listening to select fractals of their discography to put me in the mood, I’m immediately taken back to another time: It’s 2006, I’m in 8th grade, and Stadium Arcadium has just come out. To this point, my musical digestion had consisted of the whims of my peers and the occasional guilty pleasure kept to myself. Cliched as it sounds, I fell in love with “Dani California”. Then, casually, the entire album and finally RHCP altogether. And that was it: my first sustained musical boner, one that has yet to go soft. This band was my entry point into the depths of music and my interest in all it can offer. Radiohead, Animal Collective, Black Flag, Fugazi … I’m not sure I would have gotten there if it wasn’t for RHCP. They are the lowest common denominator many of us share, a sentiment that echoes loudly in a world where genres swallow fans whole and put them at odds with each other.
As with all careers spanning three decades, there have been peaks and troughs. Perhaps the last couple releases did not take many risks, a fact that has caused many of my professional contemporaries to sour on the Chili Peppers. This polarization, however, has caused some to lose sight of how we got here. That’s where we come in: to give you a tidy list of where the Peppers went right, where they went less-right, and hopefully to engender the same glowing nostalgia running through my fingertips as they glide across these keys.