Unlimited Love

Unlimited Love

“One more time, for whatever reason, the universe saw fit to inject this band with another giant shot of plasma,” Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis tells Apple Music. “Left to our own devices, we probably would've withered on the vine somewhere along the line, as we all do at some point. But it wasn't quite time for us to do that yet.” The shot of “plasma” that Kiedis is referring to is, in large part, the (second) return of guitarist John Frusciante, after roughly a decade away. You can immediately hear the difference—in the aqueous funk of “Poster Child,” the stadium-ready swings of “These Are the Ways,” or the acoustic phrasing of “Tangelo,” the album’s delicate closer. “It's so clear when he writes and when he plays,” Kiedis says of his bandmate, whose guitar work proved galvanizing on career highlights like 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999’s Californication. “It's really fun to listen to because it’s sound and emotion and color. He's not trying to play the right notes—he's just trying to play the notes that are truly him.” Also back in the fold: producer and honorary fifth Chili Pepper Rick Rubin, who—absent on 2016’s The Getaway—accompanied Kiedis to Kauai for a songwriting retreat that was unexpectedly extended by lockdown. “Nobody could come, nobody could leave,” Kiedis says. “It was six months of being in the land that time forgot.” For the five of them, the aim was simple: Be together, play together, and, in Kiedis’ words, “write and write and write and write. Maybe we'll keep all of it, maybe we'll keep some of it. The process that it had to go through to become this record was very democratic in the sense that we all voted, including Rick.” The result is 17 songs that pay tribute to the veteran outfit’s chemistry and affection for one another, a magnetic coming-together that’s apparent anytime they play. “We're older and different, and enter Unlimited Love, a really fun and wild experience,” Kiedis says. “We accept each other and we love each other and there is an endless friendship going on there—which is not to say that we want to hang out every day. It's nice to go away from it and come back to it, go away from it and come back. But it never dies.” Here, Kiedis takes us inside a few highlights from the album. “Not the One” “This idea came out from ‘I think I know who you are, but maybe I don't. You think you know who I am, but maybe you don't.’ Especially in intimate relationships, we all present something and people always have an idea, but what would happen if we just showed each other our very worst from the very start? Like, not trying to impress each other, or just ‘I’m kind of a fuck-up and here's my weak suit and my flaws.’ And then we would never have to discover that down the line and go, ‘What?’” “Poster Child” “I didn't think that the music from ‘Poster Child’ was going to survive, because Flea brought in two painfully funky basslines on the same day, and they weren't similar, but the way I was hearing it was like, ‘I have to choose. My plate's too full.’ And so I chose the other one, which ended up becoming a song called ‘Peace and Love’ that didn't make the record. The one that I thought was the superior funk was not the superior funk, and then it just took me a long time of living with this music before I found my place. I can't say that any of them were really a struggle or a battle, but it’s the one that I was surprised came to life.” “These Are the Ways” “That's a song that John brought—the arrangement and a version of that melody. I’m never able to recreate his melodies perfectly—he's just on a different melodic level—so I usually put it through a simplification machine. I didn't overthink it. It was the first idea that came to my mind when I heard that arrangement, which is very bombastic and almost like a huge classical orchestra, exploding and then going way back. It was a reflection on life in America, but not a good or a bad reflection—just, this is it. We might be bloated, we might be overloaded with more than we can handle, and let's just take a step back and rethink it just a little bit. But it’s not ‘this is wrong and that's right.’ It's just ‘this is who we've become.’”

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