For a band that has already sold more than 50 million records, some laurel-resting might have been an option. But Red Hot Chili Peppers ratcheted their funk up to a whole new level in 2006, releasing the double disc Stadium Arcadium in May. The hard work paid off: The album debuted at Number One in twenty-eight countries, and the group hopes to add to its Grammy collection with six nominations, including Album of the Year. Singer Anthony Kiedis checks in from a tour stop in Sweden.
You guys played a ton of gigs in 2006.
We've been working hard since April. It's been amazing, especially the last few weeks in Europe. The intensity of the crowds has been shocking. After all these years, to show up in a place like Stuttgart [Germany], and to walk into an arena full of people and have them exploding like bottle rockets from the beginning of the show to the end . . . it's cool to see how much people still dig it.
But haven't fans always gone nuts for your shows?
Yeah, but it's gone to a freakish peak.
Nice. As the months progress, how has "Stadium Arcadium" been growing on you?
Everything about it is double: the amount of work, the amount of songs we can choose from and the amount of time it's taken for people to comprehend and digest it. It's been different from a normal record; it's still revealing itself and unfolding. It'll be cool when we go back out on tour [in 2007], to be able to choose a bunch of new songs from [Stadium] that we haven't played yet. It's a trip, but I don't plan to rush into doing it again.
Meaning you won't make another double album?
Yeah. It'll be one concise, straight-to-the-point, old-fashioned Beatles kind of record - eleven songs that you can enjoy during your lunch break.
Everyone's obsessed with the Gnarls Barkley record. You?
Well. . . no. I didn't even hear the record until it was a huge phenomenon. Starting in January we're going on tour with Gnarls, so I'll get a lot more exposure to them. Cee-Lo's a great singer, and I love their chemistry, and I hope that they have the stamina to make even better records.
You guys don't make music to win awards, so how does all the Grammy recognition feel?
The recognition is great, but we take it all in stride. The recognition that comes from the kid in the front row, where you can tell it means the world to him, is real recognition.
What are your memories of the 1992 Grammys, when "Give It Away" won?
That was a very surreal occasion. They asked us to play, which seemed completely out of character for them, and we said, "We'll do it, but only if we can play with Parliament Funkadelic." We thought they'd say, "No way, José," but they said, "Great!" So performing with P-Funk made it extra bizarre. And I remember Magic Johnson was in the front row, and I crooned in his face for a minute, much to his dismay, I'm sure. The other thing was that it was the year of Nirvana, and I was so in love with their music that I was happy to lose to them for Best Rock Record or whatever. So when they gave us the Grammy [for Best Hard Rock Performance], it wrinkled my brow for a minute. I was like, "Nirvana should be getting this!" I liked their record better than ours. It seems arbitrary who takes home the Victrola, but it's been sitting on one of my shelves ever since.
In plain sight?
Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.