Chad Smith: ‘No John Frusciante Questions, Please’
Come inside for a chat with drummer Chad Smith about his brand new Bombastic Meatbats project. Of course, we couldn’t resist talking to Smith about his other band, Chickenfoot. Not to mention his other band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers – just what the hell is going on there?
Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats – an instrumental unit comprising guitarist Jeff Kollman (Phil Mogg’s $ign Of 4), keyboard player Ed Roth and bassist Kevin Chown – came together through recording and touring with Glenn Hughes. Debut album Meet The Meatbats is out now.
Interview: Dave Ling
With all of these projects going on, how do you find time to sleep?
Things are starting to slow down, actually. Thanks to [producer] Rick Rubin, I’ve just finished Kid Rock’s album, which came out really well. And I’ve started again with the Chili Peppers, which means I won’t be able to do any Meatbats stuff for a while. [Ed’s note: Since this interview took place, the Meatbats performed in Japan with special guest Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver on drums].
Were the Bombastic Meatbats always destined be an instrumental band?
Yes, because they came from playing with your friend and mine, Glenn Hughes. What happened was that Glenn was late for rehearsal one day and Ed [Roth], Jeff [Kollman] and I started jamming together. I suggested we write some songs, and that’s exactly what happened. Our jumping off point was Blow By Blow [Jeff Beck’s instrumental album from 1975]. We didn’t bother with lyrics and nobody wants to hear me sing, believe me.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a 70s funk thing going on.
Playing in the Chili Peppers, obviously I have a love of that style. The Meatbats definitely lends itself to that, yeah, but we wanted to bring it into 2009.
It could’ve turned into a bit of a muso wankfest, but the hooks are there if you listen out for them.
[Laughing]: A muso wankfest! That’s great. The perception of this type of music is that it’s super-serious and an impenetrable bunch of notes. We didn’t want that. It’s party music, basically. We’re called the Meatbats; how serious do you want us to be?
Chickenfoot were voted New Band Of The Year at the recent Classic Rock Awards. Has the response to the group taken you a little by surprise?
Very much so, and it’s great. It’s a band we did purely for fun, having come out of being friends down in Mexico. We all have other commitments, obviously, but people like the fact that we get together to play the music we want to play, with no outside pressure.
You almost ended any possibility of a second album by decapitating Sammy Hagar during the encore of a gig at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Yeah, I threw a floor-tom and nearly hit Sam. It could’ve been all over. But Shepherd’s Bush was the home of The Who, right? I guess I was channelling the spirit of Keith Moon. I just let it rip without looking. Boy… that was a terrifying moment. We had a lot of laughs about it afterwards.
From the stage that night, Hagar said that Chickenfoot will come back and do some bigger shows. Is that still likely?
That show sold out so quickly, we had no idea it would happen. We would love to come back… I dunno, maybe we can return next year?
So the Chilis have finally returned to work, following the 2006 double-set Stadium Arcadium. Did guitarist John Frusciante, who in recent interviews seemed to express antipathy towards doing so, take some persuading?
[Sounding uncomfortable]: Well… at this time I can’t talk about that. I have been told to stay away from the John questions.
Nevertheless, the tenth album is underway?
What I can tell you is that the Chili Peppers are writing songs, and we’re looking forward to making a record next year.
Who might produce it?
I really can’t go into any more detail than what I’ve said.
* Meet The Meatbats by Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats is out now on the Ear Music label.