Almost exactly a year after releasing I'm With You, their first album with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will stagger the release of 17 unheard outtakes from those sessions over the next several months, both digitally and on seven-inch vinyl singles.
Beginning in August, the band will issue two songs at a time on nine separate 45s, with one exception: an eight-minute rocker captured in a single studio take that will occupy both sides of a single, as Klinghoffer told Rolling Stone from a recent tour stop in Berne, Switzerland.
"We're going to have to do that old trick where it fades out and fades back in on the B-side," he said of "In Love, Dying," one of the tracks Warner Bros. has not yet officially named. In June the label announced only six titles: "Strange Man" b/w "Long Progression" (due August 14th); "Magpies" b/w "Victorian Machinery" (September 11th); and "Never is a Long Time" b/w "Love of Your Life" (October 2nd). (Below is an exclusive look at the first two of the set's nine forthcoming seven-inch singles jacket covers, which will interlock to form a puzzle designed by San Diego-based artist Kelsey Brookes.)
"These songs were always sort of kicking around, and we always intended on putting them out in one way or another," Klinghoffer said. "It's not as much of a splash, but it's really all working out for the better. To be honest, there's certain songs that, when we initially came up with the sequence for the record, I was a little like, 'Hmmm, we're not putting that one on?'"
One of those included "Long Progression," which will serve as the B-side of the first seven-inch (it was sacrificed for "Goodbye Hooray" at the last minute). Another cut, "Victorian Machinery," "sounds like a big three-headed monster playing drums," Klinghoffer said, adding that the band captured "absolute magic" with "Never Is a Long Time," a "pop-tastic" number featuring Greg Kurstin on piano.
"It's really one of those cases where they had too many good songs to fit on an album," said Kurstin, who also played on 1999's Californication. "They have this cohesive thing in the studio – when they get that take, that's the take that they keep."
After joining the band in July 2009, Klinghoffer wrote and practiced with frontman Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith for almost a year before they recorded several albums' worth of material between September 2010 and the following February. Rather than release it all as a double album, as they did with their previous one, 2006's Stadium Arcadium, the group preserved the best of the outtakes for this collection.
"It's always difficult, but we use a democratic process and the songs with the most votes are usually the backbone of the album," producer Rick Rubin wrote in an email. "I can just say as is always the case, some of my personal favorites don't make the cut. I'm sure everyone in the band can tell you the same."
Klinghoffer said that the remaining 17 unreleased songs from the I'm With You sessions – they recorded 48, after all – could eventually see the light of day. "It's possible," he said. "We just had so much material back then that certain things just straight-up didn't get enough attention. There's a couple that will probably just remain in our iPods."
Meanwhile, though Klinghoffer said they have not written any official songs while on the road, he noted that the band demoed some material during Kiedis' recovery from foot surgery, which postponed their tour for two months earlier this year.
The outtakes collection will coincide with former Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante's latest efforts: his EP, Letur-Lefr, will be released on July 17th, while a full-length, PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone, will arrive on September 25th.