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Red Hot Chili Peppers: Carry On

Red Hot Chili Peppers, left to right: drummer Chad Smith, lead singer Anthony Kiedis, new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, bassist Flea.
Ellen Von Unwerth
Red Hot Chili Peppers, left to right: drummer Chad Smith, lead singer Anthony Kiedis, new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, bassist Flea.

Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, described his group's music in a 1990 interview as "hard-core, bone-crunching, mayhem psychedelic sex-funk from heaven."

The band has now been together for nearly 30 years, and will release its 10th studio album, I'm With You, this week. Speaking with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon, Kiedis says the only formula the group has for staying inspired is to keep practicing together.

"I don't know what it takes to come up with new ideas," Kiedis says, "other than putting people with passion for music in a room together and just letting the ideas start to flow."

There's one new person in that room: Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer recently joined the band after longtime guitarist John Frusciante left the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a second time.

"When we ... started that process again, we were all kind of curious to see if it would take off — if it would start soaring like we were used to," Kiedis says of playing with Klinghoffer for the first time. "And it kind of surpassed our wildest dreams."

Kiedis says that, despite being a new addition to a decades-old ensemble, Klinghoffer pulled his weight — and not just musically. When the members found themselves stumped for what to call the new album, it was Klinghoffer who gave the winning suggestion.

"We were a little befuddled, because usually we look at a song title, or a song lyric, or some kind of a slogan that happens during the process of making a record. And none of those things were revealing themselves to us," Kiedis says. "Finally, one day, towards the very end of the process, we were sharing ideas for record titles, and Josh had written down on a piece of paper, 'I'm With You.' We all kind of looked around at each other and said, 'You know what? That feels perfect.' "

The band is based in Los Angeles and workshopped the album deep in California's Central Valley. Kiedis was living on the coast at the time, and says his long drives from home to work became the inspiration for the song "Look Around."

"I went through these sort of mood swings of being very depressed that I was in a car on a freeway, to being very elated that I was on my way to band practice," Kiedis says. "I remember, at a certain point, looking out my window and seeing all of this beautiful life: on the sidewalk, in the buildings, in the trees, kids running around and riding bikes. And I just remembered: It's very important to keep your eyes open, even when you're going through a routine."

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