Legend has it guitarist Josh Klinghoffer pulled the title of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ tenth studio album, “I’m With You,” out of thin air.
His bandmates (who’d been scratching their heads over what to title the record) loved the inviting, commutative nature of the phrase and agreed the words described precisely where they were at with one another—and their fans—at the time.
It’ll be a while before the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees cut their next disc, which they’re apparently tracking now “Out in L.A.” Till then, all those “addicted to the shindig” can feast upon the slew of concerts professionally recorded during the group’s extensive 2011-12 tour, and over 130 of which are available for download on the RHCP website.
Pepperheads can also revel in the visual aesthetics of “Fandemonium,” a new photo journal lovingly compiled by Vogue shutterbug David Mushegain, who accompanied the Chilis on tour. The colorful 288-page compendium was assembled with the full blessing from the hit-makers, who granted Mushegain unprecedented access to stage and street as they trotted ‘round the globe performing their raw, funky, ever-muscular music.
Offered in homage to the band’s multinational legion of audio aficionados, the hefty 9×11 Running Press portfolio is the end result of the quirky quartet’s desire to give something back to the people who’ve supported them over the last thirty-plus years. Per Kiedis’ preface, the Chilis simply felt the time was right (given their status in-studio, temporarily out of public eye) to finally turn the cameras on the folks who brought them to fame—namely, you and me (and a few million other rabid ”Rockinfreakapotomi”), and decided that Mushegain was just the guy to head such a project.
“Fandemonium” profiles over fifty maniacal fans hailing from “All Around the World,” threading their personal stories—triumphant and tragic—with Mushegain’s vivid imagery. But the album also contains hundreds of shots of sundry others lounging at home with their RHCP swag, preparing for shows outside stadiums and soccer arenas, and absorbing (and reciprocating) the Peppers’ aural energy whilst thronged in a sweaty mass of writhing bodies.
Heck, scan long enough and you just might spot yourself in one of Mushegain’s many audience portraits.
A melting pot in the truest sense, the Chili’s fan base boasts ambassadors from from all walks of life, both males and females of every age and complexion. Few bands—certainly none as popular or commercially successful as the Peppers—can claim so diverse and multiethnic a constituency, whose demographics and disparate cultures often reflect the band’s own heterogeneous sonic brew.
Through Mushegain’s lenses, we get acquainted with fellow freak-a-zoids in Finland, Denmark, Turkey, Lebanon, Lithuania, Japan, Holland, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland. We bear witness to the unbridled enthusiasm of fan clubs in Italy, Ukraine, and Poland, and get up close and intimate with marathon concertgoers like Henrik in Berlin (84 shows) and Emma in London (102 shows). We rub elbows with VIP fans like boxer Vitaly Klitschko and are privy to the “private” thoughts of “Don’t Forget Me” dreamers like Tyler Murphy (age 16), Danille Thornes (22), and Kasia Gaweska (17).
Think you’ve got a lot of RHCP ephemera at home? Think again. Devotees like Sehnaz Ugur, Marta Lanzillotta, and Nicole Dodds are pictured with personal stashes that’ll put your collection to shame: These “Californication” curators gush over import CDs, vinyl albums, ticket stubs, posters, autographed set lists, T-shirts, books, and magazines galore. One can’t help but wonder how much time (and money) went into gathering the goodies.
Be proud, Pepper fans: We’re a good-looking gang, almost as photogenic as the band itself.
Mushegain’s captures a slew of beautiful people here—a pastiche of black, white, red, and brown—from infants posing with their “Freaky Styley” parents to “Uplift Mofo” seniors and everyone in between. His sampling is skewed young (many of those profiled weren’t even born when “Mother’s Milk” and “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” hit store shelves) but this makes sense, given that not too many septuagenarians pop up at Pepper concerts, where Mushegain conducted most of his camera-clicking. With beaming smiles and twinkly eyes, it’s evident that the kids are indeed alright, even if some of the boys need to pull up their britches and many of the girls need a lesson in modesty (tsk-tsk!).
Given the Pepper’s aesthetic—which centers on just being yourself—it’s notable how many fans persist not only in decorating themselves with RHCP-related ink, but bear the very same tats touted by their favorite funksters. Sometimes a T-shirt isn’t enough; one guy has all the lyrics to “By the Way” needled onto his back. Still, one can appreciate his passion.
At thirty-some pages, Kiedis’ foreword reads more like a thesis on the phenomenology of fan-hood, as it applies to the Peppers. The singer shares memories of relocating from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Hollywood, where his actor-father introduced him to celebrities like Sonny & Cher and The Beatles. Kiedies secured autographs from the cast of “Gilligan’s Island” as a boy, bumped into Godfather of Soul James Brown in an elevator, and marveled at the gridiron exploits of O.J. Simpson (“I’m no longer a fan”), but never went out of his way to meet his mentors and never quite “got” stalker mentality even when roving in celebrity circles in the late ‘70s.
It wasn’t until his late teens that Kiedis awakened to the majesty of music and began worshipping at the altar of Iggy Pop, Jimi Hendrix, and The Germs. Even then, the aspiring vocalist recognized that these artists were mere mortals, just regular (if prodigiously talented) human beings like everyone else. Kiedis respected their privacy, interacting with fellow thespians and musicians only when invited to do so. He’d learn soon enough that it’s a drag to have one’s dinner interrupted by autograph hounds and tourists eager for a photo opp.
Kiedis reflects on the band’s beginnings, and how fans and groupies multiplied as their profile ascended in the early ‘80s, but how some listeners pigeonholed them based on their image (the notorious “sock-on-cock” EP cover and poster) or a single song (“Higher Ground,” “Under the Bridge”). One particular female—Nina Hagen—so impressed Anthony with her selfless charity that he penned “Give It Away” in tribute, but he insists he’s still not turned on by women who so willingly proffer themselves just because of his vocation or fame.
Kiedis recalls gigging in clubs like Toad’s Place, Dingwalls, and the Cathay de Grande, and how RHCP audiences gradually swelled from one hundred to 100,000. He also remembers how guitarist John Frusciante started out as a fan of the band before joining the lineup (in the wake of Hillel Slovak’s death).
Conversely, Kiedis explains how fatherhood forced him to rethink his boundaries. He chronicles the amusing antics of overzealous fans like Kenji, who followed the group in Japan and chased other autograph-seekers and gift-givers away in a bizarre display of devotion. Later, other misguided RHCP maniacs seek Kiedis out through his relatives (including a hospitalized uncle) and turn up at his home, forcing the singer to enforce a “separation thing” to protect his family. Sharing a sentiment expressing by many celebs, Kiedis says today’s phone technology gives people the false impression that they’re entitled to photograph anyone at any time.
But the “Scar Tissue” scribe says he was always amazed whenever Mushegain would show him teaser slideshows on his SD memory cards (he took some 20,000 photos over his three-year stint with the group).
“You mean, those people are camped out for us?” Kiedis would respond—incredulous, flattered, and humbled. “That’s all happening here? Right now?”
Strangely, despite having sold millions of records and entertained hordes of ticket-holders in mega-arenas and on sprawling festival grounds (including a free show in Argentina and tense gigs in Russia and Northern Ireland), and in spite of (or perhaps because of) the countless awards and accolades they’ve notched over the years, the Red Hot Chili Peppers remain remarkably well-grounded…and in perpetual awe of their multitudinous minions.
“I was moved more than I could have expected,” Kiedis says of Mushegain’s output. “I had my own awakening to the fascinating kaleidoscope of people who give their love to our mission as a band, and I’m truly grateful for that.”
Kiedis’ chapter is spiced with several recent live shots and a smattering of behind-the-scenes pics. There’s even an adorable shot of him posing with his son on Halloween in Minneapolis.
Smith, Klinghoffer, and Flea also contribute touching thank-yous (on pages 244, 284, and 276, respectively) to “Fandemonium.”
BOOK SIGNING EVENT with ANTHONY KIEDIS and DAVID MUSHEGAIN
LOCATION: BARNES & NOBLE, THE GROVE, LA
DATE: NOVEMBER 17, 2014
TIME: 7:00 P.M.
NOTE: Strict Signing
More info: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/85098
BOOK SIGNING EVENT with ANTHONY KIEDIS
LOCATION: BARNES & NOBLE, UNION SQUARE, NY
DATE: NOVEMBER 21, 2014
TIME: 7:00 P.M.
NOTE: This Event will feature Anthony Kiedis in conversation with David Fricke, Senior Writer for ROLLING STONE, along with a signing
More info: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/85099
Order “Fandemonium” through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0762451483
Or directly from the publisher: