I finished reading 'Scar Tissue' this morning. It's the autobiography of Anthony Keidis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's emotional, honest, hilarious, beautiful, shocking, gripping, wonderful, terrible.. just everything. It's the kind of book that mirrors your own feelings- when Anthony writes about being miserable and angry you ultimately feel miserable and angry but when the book's happy and excited, you're happy and excited. I'm gonna be going on and on and on about it so I'll warn you now, this blog will be lengthy with a lot of quotations and opinions and stuff but you'll hopefully enjoy it if you love Red Hot Chili Peppers or if you have read the book yourself.
I think everyone knows that they are absolutely crazy guys but the book just highlights that in the best possible way. Anthony words all the stories so rhythmically that you get really caught up in what's going on because of the informal-ness and the energy that he explains them. There's parts that make you smile, parts that make you cry and parts that make you annoyed but that's because there's parts in his life that make him smile and cry and so on. The book's written truthfully and although that's a positive thing because you can trust his personal honesty and just engross yourself with what's going on, it also means that when he's made very bad decisions and done awful things and cocked up his life and broken promises and lied, you just feel furious because the honesty has made you almost know and trust him, so you feel a bit let down.
Within the near beginning of not just the book but his adolescence, Anthony's already gone and befriended Flea, had sex with one of his dad's girlfriends, took heroin and asked Blondie to marry him. The amount of ridiculousness that happens is almost unbelievable but at least it's always fun and you never get bored of reading. The book itself is really just like the band: fun, shocking, original, sexy, brilliant, risky, talented but mainly - unforgettable. They are just every possible thing rolled into one which is what makes them so crazy and unique. I don't want to give too much away and ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it but I do need to quote how he met the members and how they made the songs, because it's just very special...
"About a month into the school year, Tony and I were talking at lunchtime when a tiny, crazy-looking, gap-toothed, big-haired kid came waltzing up to Tony, put him in a headlock and started roughing him up. I couldn't tell at first if this was friendly fooling around or if the guy was bullying my best friend at Fairfax High School, so I erred on the side of friendship. I stepped in, grabbed him off Tony, and hissed, “If you touch him again like that, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.” “What are you talking about? He’s my friend.” The kid protested. It’s weird. Even though we were starting off on this “I’ll kick your ass” aggressiveness, I felt an instant connection to this remarkable little weirdo. Tony told me his name was Michael Balzary, soon to be known beyond the confines of Fairfax High School as Flea.""
If a bass playing man named Michael can get away with calling himself 'Flea', dying his hair blue, wearing such items as a skeleton costume, trousers made out of children's toys and sometimes just a sock over his manhood and still be amazing and respectable and talented enough to work with Thom Yorke and Nirvana, then that's enough for me to say he's my hero. And if that wasn't good enough he also has a tattoo of Jimmi Hendrix and several tattoo's of cartoon elephants. Anyway, I love the way the book discretely introduces readers to the people that soon became so important and special, like Flea but also when Anthony talks about his girlfriend's and particularly the relationship with John Frusciante, it's just beautiful. There's quite a few of those bits and they're a lovely little insight into the more tender side of Red Hot Chili Peppers that you don't always see when they're rocking about all naked and high and cool and well, naked.
"John Frusciante had come to me right after he joined the band and told me that I could show him anything and we could write together. One of the first things I showed John was "Knock Me Down". He sat there, studied the lyrics, and started smushing them into his melody. It was uncanny. This was a real epiphany. I felt like anything was possible with this kid. I could show him my most sentimental writings, and he didn't stop to judge them once. There was no moment when he read the lyrics to see if he liked them or if they were something he wanted to do. John and I started to slowly but surely become the kind of friends who would spend every single day together and then go home and call each other to say good night before going to bed. When we woke up, it was "Good morning, what are we doing today?" After a while we didn't go anywhere or do anything without doing it together, which was a sometimes too intense but also rare and valuable experience."
"One day in April, (years of trouble after that first quote) Flea went over to John's house and they sat together and listened to records. Then Flea popped the question. "What would you think about coming back and playing in the band?" John started sobbing and said, "Nothing would make me happier in the world." They both cried and hugged each other for a long time. Then me and John went to the Farmer's Market, one of my favourite places in all of L.A., and sat down and had some salmon tacos. I broke the ice. "Do you have any problem with me at all about anything?" "No, not really," He said. "What about you? Are you mad at me for anything?" "I thought I was, but I don't feel mad right now."
None of that mattered. We just wanted to get in a garage and rock out together.
John wore a look of uncertainty but he plugged in his guitar and we started playing. It was us again. I think I might have been the only one who thought so, but the room filled up with heavenly music. For me, that was the defining moment of what would become the next six years of our lives together. That was when I knew that this was the real deal, that magic was about to happen again. Suddenly we could all hear, we could all listen, and instead of being caught up in our little balls of bullshit, we could all become players in that great universal orchestra again."
Although that was so beautiful to read that I will admit to having had tears of joy, it was also a little bit heart breaking to think that right now, John actually isn't in the band because he left again. God the book's just a roller coaster of emotions! At times I actually hated reading it, at times I even hated Anthony cause everything was such a huge mess and he was in such an unhealthy and addicted state that drugs became first priority above everything else. It was very upsetting to read - because it's very upsetting to go through - but I guess that could show what a powerful writer he is if you could feel the turmoil of drug addiction and depression simply by reading it. And then it got me thinking about how much I can understand, because my dad went through the same thing, so reading 'Scar Tissue' really really helped me get how people become so obsessed with drugs and that it really isn't a cool, rock n roll thing to do. It's dark and dangerous and miserable and overpowering and if you surrender to it you end up alone with little but that desire to get high.
Addiction isn't something to look down upon as if in disgust at somebody's way of life, because that doesn't help at all. People don't take drugs to draw attention to themselves, they take drugs to escape from themselves. I'm not an expert simply because my dad died from drug and alcohol addiction or because I read books about my musical hero's suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, I just know that it's a disease and an illness that will only heal if you want it to and if you are dedicated to getting better.
"I began to feel like the outsider in the band, because part of Flea and John's new bond was their mutual appreciation for pot. One day I showed up to rehearsal and Flea and John were blazing on pot and in a "Let's ignore Anthony" state of mind, and I experienced this melancholy sense of loss that John was no longer in my world. I could tell from the way he was looking at me that we weren't really friends anymore, other than the fact that we were in a band together and respected eachother on that level. My sense of loss about John and the loneliness that I was feeling triggered memories of my time with Ione and how I'd had this beautiful angel of a girl who was willing to give me all of her love, and instead of embracing that, I was downtown with gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge. I felt that I had thrown away so much in my life, but I also felt an unspoken bond between me and my city. Even if I was a loner in my own band, at least I still felt the presence of this city I lived in." And that is how this beauty of a song was born http://bit.ly/69FBY7 *Notice that his ex-girlfriend practically has the same name as me
I think my favourite bits of the book are the song descriptions. 'I could have lied', 'Breaking the girl', 'Californiacation', 'Venice Queen' and of course 'Scar Tissue' are all in there and it's lovely to read the process of how such incredible and inspirational songs were created. From the moment I first started reading 'Scar Tissue' I was recommending it to everybody in the common room and giving them daily synopsis' then I hit the middle, which was ultimately followed by the bit after the middle and the beginning of the end and I was reconsidering my love because it just got so messy and dark with less wonderful and happy things to counteract, but then the end came and it's perfect. The end is just absolutely uerophic and glorious and it made me joyously happy and relieved and now I think you should all listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers then read Anthony's book. It's hilarious and stunning and talks about having an insect in his ear, falling in love with Sinead O'Conner, invading The Ramones gig with no clothes on, spending new year's eve in a hot tub with Kurt Cobain and Courtney love and last but definitely not least- being friends with the Spice Girls.