Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith — fresh off contributing to supergroup Chickenfoot and picking up a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — has just launched another project, the all-instrumental Bombastic Meatbats. While the group sounds similar at times to Smith's full-time gig, there is a heavy '70s fusion vibe (a la vintage Return to Forever) throughout their debut album, Meet the Meatbats, which came out earlier this month via Warrior Records.
"The Meatbats came out of jamming with Glenn Hughes, who used to play bass and sing with Deep Purple in the '70s," Smith tells Rolling Stone. Adding that Ed Roth and Jeff Kollman — who play keyboards and guitar in Hughes' solo band — would be late to rehearsals, Smith says the group "would just jam on this funk stuff, kinda Billy Preston and Meters-sounding stuff. I'd be like, 'We should write some songs and make a record,' and that's what we did." Hughes wound up not being involved in the band, so Kevin Chown lays down the bass in the Meatbats.
"It's instrumental music — we're not trying to compete with the Coldplays and the Lady Gagas of the world," adds Smith. "It's just going to be a little cult thing, and it's cool. I want people to know that sometimes there's a connotation that instrumental music is guys playing a million notes a minute, but this is party music. It has a sense of humor and it's not serious."
Despite Meet the Meatbats landing in the Top 10 on the iTunes jazz album charts, don't expect a full-on Meatbats tour of the States. "Not right now," Smith says. "I'm going to back to playing with the Chili Peppers. We're going to start writing songs on October 12th. So I have to be around for that. But I think maybe the Meatbats will have kind of a 'wedding band schedule' — maybe we'll just play on the weekends or something."
And on that note, does Smith have any idea what the Peppers' tenth studio album will sound like? "No idea — which is exciting. It's been two years, and we're going to get back together and play. This is my favorite part, the creative process. It's the coolest part of making music and being in a band. I love playing live, but I get really a lot of enjoyment out of this process."
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