Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith isn’t at his house very much. When he’s not on tour with the Chilis, he working with his supergroup Chickenfoot (with Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Joe Satriani) or one of his many side projects. That means when Chad is at home, he’s absolutely bombarded with people vying for his attention. During an interview Rolling Stone, the drummer had to repeatedly excuse himself to deal with a confused man delivering a motorcycle to his house and somebody else that came to pick up chaise longue cushions. It was hysterical, but he managed to somehow do the interview while handling all of his other business.
How was the Asian tour that you just wrapped up?
It was hot as Haiti. I guess it’s not the heat, but the humidity. It was really fun. I just got back a couple of hours ago.
This is just the very beginning of what I’m sure will be a very long tour, right?
Yeah. It’s the start of a crazy world tour. We’re here for about 10 days, but then we go to Europe and then South America in September. Then it’s Europe for the rest of the year.
This isn’t even Josh Klinghoffer’s first time on tour with you guys. He played on the last leg of your previous tour, right?
Yeah, he’s used to it – but now he’s not just the auxiliary guy. Obviously, he’s the main dude, totally bringing it, man. He played great and everybody loved it, everybody was in a good mood. There’s a real positive energy around the band right now. It’s really fun. [Phone rings]
Oh, hold on a second. [Speaking to incredibly confused motorcycle delivery man.] Yeah? Did you find [redacted] street? It should be the next light. You’re close. Make a left on [redacted] and then stray to the right. Do you see [redacted] yet? Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . Ok, make a left. Make a right at the stop sign, the second stop sign make a left. That’s my street. Okay, you got it?
Anyway, Josh is a musician. He has been around the world with lots of guys. That part of it is nothing new to him, but being the main guy in our band is new, so it’s fun. I think he’s really looking forward to – and so are the rest of us – playing more of the new material. We don’t want to play a bunch of new songs to a festival crowd. Many of them don’t know the songs and that’s not fair to then. From now on, we’ll be playing more new stuff.
It’s a pretty busy time for you with the new Chilis album and the new Chickenfoot record coming out soon.
Yeah, but I’m not doing anything for the Chickenfoot album. We recorded it and it was great and that was really fun. But they always kind of knew at the start of this thing that, “Hey, this is a fun to thing to do while I had this time off.” We wanted to make another record, but they’re like, “Oh, you’re in that other band, that other band . . . I forgot.” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve got this other thing I’m doing now.” I think they’re talking about getting Kenny Aronoff. I don’t know when they’re going on tour, but the record comes out on September 27th. So that’s all good.
I’m sure it’ll be kind of bittersweet to see somebody else at your drum kit.
You know, it’s cool. Kenny is a great guy and a good friend of mine. I’m sure it will be really fun and they’ll have a great time. It was a really fun project to do with those guys. I just love to play and I get a chance to play with other musicians and I jump on it. [Phone rings.] Oh, it’s this fucking guy again. Hold on.
Hello? Yep. See the stop sign? Okay, make a right and the second stop sign is [redacted] and you make a left.
Sorry about that. He’s like, “I see it! I see it! Right over there!” My motorcycle is going to probably be in six pieces.
How does recording with Chickenfoot compare to working with the Chilis?
It’s two completely different things. With the Chili Peppers, we write songs for a year and record for five months. With Chickenfoot, Joe [Satriani] sends demos around to people and Mike [Anthony] and I come up from L.A. and we just bang it out in a couple of weekends. It’s real quick and just different, real spontaneous energy thing that happens with the Chickenfoot thing. [Phone rings] Hold on.
Hello? Which gate? The wood gate? Ok. Press the button, I’ll buzz you in. No, drive through the gate. Buzz the gate thing. See the little thing that says ‘push’ for the call thing? See that?
At least the guy finally found your house.
Yeah, he made it to my house. Let’s see if he can figure out the buzzer and gate. Nope, nothing yet. Anyway, Chickenfoot and the Chilis are two different things. The Chili Peppers are like a long marriage – [Buzzer goes off] Hey, this fucking genius figured it out! – and then Chickenfoot is kind of like my mistress. When I come back to the Peppers, I have new positions.
You’re also recording with the Bombastic Meatbats.
Yeah, I did that with some friends of mine that used to play with Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple. He’s a good friend of mine and we were kind of his band. We ended up jamming and coming up with this music that we really liked, so we made a side project out of it. It did, like, two Glenn Hughes albums, two Chickenfoot albums and two Bombastic Meatbats albums since the last Chili Peppers album came out. I played on the Dixie Chicks record and the Kid Rock record and the Avett Brothers, coming up.
Why didn’t you just take a long break? Lots of musicians in big bands just disappear between album/tour cycles.
[Motorcycle guy finally arrives] Thank you. Thank you. Good, you found it. Not a problem.
You know, I love to play. Rick Rubin will call me up and be like, “Hey, you’d be great for this thing, let’s do it.” It’s always really fun to do different things. I’m not going to do a band that sounds like the Chili Peppers. I’m gonna do something else. It keeps my chops up.
Do you think that the Chili Peppers have finally found a guitarist that will stay in the band for the long haul?
Yeah, I hope so. The guitar player spot in our group is . . . We’ve had a few. We’re like Spinal Tap.
[To motorcycle guy]. Do you want me to do it? Okay. Hold on. Okay, I got the brake. I got it. Here, I got both brakes.
Things are really good with the band right now, and we just got our feet wet with these shows. It’s really a new band. Me, Flea and Anthony have been obviously playing together for a while – but this is exciting and it re-energized everybody.
There aren’t many people that headline major festivals and play stadiums, and then turn around and play tiny clubs.
I just played at a club in L.A. called the Baked Potato. It fits like 90 people. It’s like playing somewhere in a basement in like Indiana or somewhere where all your friends show up. It’s really fun and there’s a very different energy to that than to play to 50,000 at a Tokyo baseball stadium. I’ll play anywhere, man. I just want to play to people who love music and I need somebody else who . . . [Doorbell rings]. Jesus Christ, it’s like Grand Central Station around here.
[To guy at door]. What’s up? What is it? My wife is not here. What do you need to pick up? Oh, the cushions. They’re down by the pool, you’ll see them. You can just walk this way, go up the steps and you’ll see it.
Sorry, this is fucking hell.
You want my ID? Okay, hold on. Okay. What’s up? I don’t have my card with me, but I’m a cardholder. I’m Chad. I’ll show it to you. Hold on . . . [To Rolling Stone] I’m sorry, man. I’m sure this is distracting for you.
It’s no problem.
It’s just everything all at once.
Not a problem. When we put you on the cover of the magazine a few years ago, everybody thought you were Will Ferrell. Do you get that a lot?
I certainly do. I don’t think that I look much like him, but people really seem to think that’s who I am –especially at airports and things.
Do you tell them that you’re not Will Ferrell, but you are a celebrity?
Yeah . . . no. People who come up to me are drummers or fans of the band. I don’t get it too much, but I’ll be somewhere and someone will have me take a picture or something. Someone else will see that and they’ll come over and and say “Will Ferrell?” I have to say “no,” and they’ll be like, “Bullshit, man. I just saw you taking pictures with that man? Why do you have to be like that?” I’m just like, “Dude, I’m telling you, I’m not Will Ferrell.” So, a lot of the time it’s easier to just agree with them and take the picture and they go away. It’s weird to look like someone so much that people aren’t even asking if you’re the guy. They just come up saying, “I loved you in that movie!”
Have you ever met him?
Actually, I did meet him once. It was at the premiere of Ladies Man Man many years ago. I was in the food line after the movie and I was getting chicken skewers and shrimp cocktail or whatever. I’m filling up my plate and he’s filling up his plate, and there is this guy between us. I’m looking at Will and thinking, “People really think I look like him? I don’t fucking look like that.” So the guy between us splits and there’s nobody between us, and Will turns around. He looks me up and down and says, “You’re very handsome,” and walks away. Totally deadpan. I was like, “You’re funny. You’re funny.”
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