Addiction can make people behave in ways that they wouldn’t sober. In the case with Red Hot Chili Peppers, they were apparently so “terrifying” that they scared Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys away when they first had the chance to work with the producer because he feared “somebody was gonna get murdered.”
Anthony Kiedis made a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, and the singer recalled meeting Rubin for the first time sometime in 1985. It’s unclear exactly when the meeting took place, but the Chili Peppers had two albums out by August of 1985, so it was either prior to the release of Freaky Styley or after. However, Kiedis confessed that he was in the throes of his drug addiction at the time,
“I was basically a junkie, but still showing up to work from time to time, which was the basement of the EMI studios on Sunset Boulevard — they gave us a little basement to rehearse in,” the singer remembered. “They had signed us, but we were going nowhere very slowly, couldn’t get out of our own way. But we were still making a buzz, there was still something exciting about us that caught people’s attention, and it caught Rick Rubin’s attention.”
At the time, Rubin had been working with rap-rock group the Beastie Boys, whose first album Licensed to Ill came out in 1986.
“They were exploding with success and greatness, writing incredible music,” Kiedis continued. “So Rick brought the Beastie Boys to our dingy, little rehearsal spot, and he sat there and we rehearsed while they watched. They’re on these little dirty couches watching us, and we went through our songs. Rick stood up and said, ‘We’re gonna go now.'”
Kiedis didn’t see or hear from Rubin for years after that meeting, until he became sober. Then, Rubin wanted to work with the band — but first, Kiedis wanted to know why the producer had left that day with the Beastie Boys.
“He was like, ‘I thought somebody was gonna get murdered in that rehearsal space. I thought somebody was gonna die. I had to leave.’ That’s how dark we had become! That’s how dark I had become, he was afraid someone was gonna die and it was time to leave,” the vocalist continued. “That’s what he said. He’s like, ‘You guys were terrifying, you were scary and it felt like somebody was gonna die. We had to go.'”
Kiedis wasn’t quite sure what Rubin meant about someone being “murdered” per se, but he admitted that there was definitely a lot of darkness surrounding him and his bandmates at that time.
“But I didn’t realize it was that dangerous!” he added.
Rubin ended up working with RHCP for the first time on their 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, which had become their most successful release at that point. The producer has since worked with the rockers on every album they’ve put out except for 2016’s The Getaway.
See the full clip from the interview below.
The Chili Peppers just released their second album of 2022, Return of the Dream Canteen, last week. Grab your copy here.