Red Hot Chili Peppers have been through multiple stretches of tumultuous chaos that would have ended most groups. Somehow, however, each time they stared adversity in the eyes, the band found a way to survive, even the “troubled time” when Anthony Kiedis found himself at breaking point.
Following the departure of John Frusciante in 1992, the creative dynamic between the Red Hot Chili Peppers was skewed, and they struggled to gel with his replacement, Dave Navarro. They only made one album with Navarro, and the process of making One Hot Minute was a nightmarish experience for Kiedis.
It was a curious time for the Chili’s after they exploded into the mainstream with their fifth album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, in 1991. Frusciante later admitted he was overwhelmed by the success, and said: “It was too high, too far, too soon. Everything happened — or better, everything seemed to be happening — at once, and I just couldn’t cope with it”.
Frusciante turned to drugs, and heroin became his escape from life as this superstar guitarist. However, his predilection soon became all-encompassing, and he was no longer in a fit enough mental state to continue in his role with the band.
In his memoir, Scar Tissue, Kiedis wrote: “John Frusciante had been a true anomaly when it came to songwriting. He made it even easier than Hillel Slovak to create music, even though I’d known Hillel for years. I just figured that was how all guitar players were — that you showed them your lyrics and sang a little bit and the next thing you knew you had a song. That didn’t happen right off the bat with Dave”.
Frusciante’s departure wasn’t the only unwelcome distraction while making One Hot Minute, because Kiedis also relapsed. He’d been clean for years, yet, after a dental procedure, the singer was prescribed valium, and his life once again revolved around his next hit.
“Anthony is not a party drug user,” bassist Flea remembered about the relapse to GQ in 2011. “When he goes on a binge, he disappears for weeks at a time. We finished recording the music for One Hot Minute in 1994, but he didn’t get around to the vocals for another year”.
Kiedis eventually got clean for good in 2000, yet, any mention of One Hot Minute reminds him of his lowest ebb. Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2002, he said: “I’ll run into Dave Navarro out in front of a restaurant, or some kooky kid will come up to me on the streets of San Francisco and say, ‘Oh, I love One Hot Minute. That was my favourite.’ And I’m like, ‘Really?'”.
The interviewer then asked him for his thoughts on the album, to which Kiedis bluntly responded, “One Hot Minute? It was a troubled time for me”.
For the duration of making One Hot Minute, Kiedis had become a shadow of himself, and the version of the singer that created that album is one that he no longer recognises or desires to remember.