Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chad Smith talks Chickenfoot, Red Hot Chili Peppers & Bombastic Meatbats

Chad Smith may be more of a juggler than a drummer these days, keeping three gigs going at the same time: The Red Hot Chili Peppers
, Chickenfoot, and the Bombastic Meatbats.

Ultimate-Guitar.com caught up with Chad recently to see how one guy does it all.

Here’s a bit of that conversation:

UG: There was a rumor that you weren’t going to continue with Chickenfoot.

Chad Smith: That’s not true. Sam likes to talk. He was kind of frustrated. He knew all along that I was in another group. A little band from Hollywood – well, two bands – but one of them takes a lot of my time right now. So he was a little frustrated. But we played the other day and it was really fun. We had a great time again. So Joe is doing his solo album tour, and I think he’s starting now. In December or maybe two weeks in January, we’re going to start up. I’ll be done with my Chili Peppers stuff long before then. We’ll go into the studio probably in the middle of January. That’s the plan.

UG: With the Bombastic Meatbats, was most of the material on More Meat finished during those initial songwriting sessions? What was the process like this time around?

Chad: This time it was much different because we played together. Kevin, the bass player, I met him the first time in the studio when we recorded that first record. There was another bass player Phil Chen, he was supposed to come and record with us. He was playing with The Doors at the time or something and he couldn’t show up. So we called Kevin, and he literally came down and started playing right away. This time we played together new songs and wrote new songs. It was much more of a band effort. That was really the main difference. This record, we finished it before I went to New York last year. So it’s been done for about a year and a half. We had the first record, the second one, and then the whole live thing that we recorded in L.A. at the Baked Potato. We had two studio albums and a live album done before anything had come out.

UG: Looking back at the last few years, it’s insane at how prolific you’ve been.

Chad: I just like to stay busy. People want to play, and I’m so happy to play with them. I love it so much. I have a great job and it’s really fun. We were just kind of waiting for the right time to put it out, the second record. The songs are better because we know each other musically and personally and have traveled around playing the songs. It just had a better vibe to me. It sounds much better. We’re very proud of it. And it’s got a song called “Shag”!

UG: How unique is the songwriting process with the Bombastic Meatbats compared with Chickenfoot or the Chili Peppers?

Chad: They’re different and they’re the same. Your ultimate goal is to play what’s best for the song. In the Chili Peppers, we always jam. Then we have people come in with ideas, so it’s a combination of both. The Chickenfoot thing is more – certainly on the first record – Joe had a lot of ideas. He would send demos around. He’s got a little studio in his house. Then he and Sam would get together. Then Mike and I would come up from L.A. when it was like, “Yeah, we’ve got great ideas.” Joe comes up with the initial ideas, not just songs but riffs. Then everybody puts in their input, which is great. For the Meatbats, it’s really organic. Out of 12 songs, I would say eight of them came out of jams. We came up with them in this little place that’s cool called the Tiki Room. In the Tiki Room, it all goes down! I may have a beat or Jeff might have an idea. That’s usually how it goes. Somebody has got something, and then we run with it. We start playing and jamming. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s a real organic process, which is really fun. It just comes out of nowhere and it’s real. I prefer it because everybody has their input.

UG: Do you have a dream collaborator with whom you’d like to work?

Chad: Yeah, I’d like to play with Jimmy Page. Who wouldn’t, though? We have the same managers, and he used to come to some of our gigs. I was like, “Man, do you want a rhythm section?” He smiles! I can tell that he wants to play. He’s frustrated. I don’t think Robert Plant wants to do it anymore. I could play Led Zeppelin songs all day long, but supposedly he has a bunch of ideas and a bunch of stuff recorded. I don’t know. That’s what I’ve heard. I mean, Led Zeppelin was my favorite band. I think it would be fun to get in a room and bang out some ideas and see what would happen. I think there would be five million drummers right behind me wanting to do the same thing. I’m so fortunate. I get to play with the best musicians. I’m in a fantastic musical situation. The Chili Peppers have been together for 25 years and we’re still happy to be doing what we’re doing. We’re lucky, fortunate, and grateful. We’re changing and growing. I think wherever I go in all my musical situations, I am just happy to be playing music. That’s what I love to do. I’m just really lucky, but I work at it. I want to keep growing and getting better as a person and a musician and a friend and dad and a husband. It all goes together.

UG: I understand the Chili Peppers do have an album in the works.

Chad: We’re working on it as we speak. In 20 minutes I’m leaving for the studio and we’re cutting songs. We’re making the record and I’m very excited about it. It sounds great.

UG: Is it top secret at this point?

Chad: Yeah, it’s top secret (Laughs)! I’ll tell you what it sounds like. It sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Is it different? Yeah. We’re always changing and growing and trying to get better and write better songs. It’s definitely the Chili Peppers.

Check out the full interview at Ultimate Guitar.com here.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away (1991)