Axl Rose Chimes In On Red Hot Chili Peppers Super Bowl Controversey
The internet has been on fire since word leaked that the Red Hot Chili Peppers weren't actually plugged in on stage at Super Bowl 48, but rather staged the biggest air guitar concert ever recorded. Yes, their performance of "Give It Away" with Bruno Mars was pre-recorded, and the Peppers came out thrashing around with instruments that were plugged into nothing. In the world where most hold dear the idea that music must be pure and honest, there was shock and outrage. How could Flea possible sign off on this? How could they disgrace the sanctity of live music by air-guitaring with billions of people watching?
Well, Flea has an answer. In a message posted on the band's website, the bassist explains that yes, they indeed faked it, but it wasn't really their call. See, the NFL sort of has a multi-billion dollar brand to protect. And the Super Bowl is their golden goose, so to speak. They will go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure every aspect of the event goes off without a hitch. Flea explains that the NFL told the band the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums and guitar would be pre-recorded. No harm, no foul, right? Of course, the musical purists will still hold this over the band's heads forever, which is where Axl Rose comes in.
Always the voice of reason, Rose, in an op-ed for Billboard, commented sarcastically (in the name of science as well) about the "largest karaoke audience ever" and seemed to make a joke of the whole situation, which in reality is what is is. Axl somehow works in a reference to the "sign language guy in South Africa," referring to the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral who actually didn't know sign language. In the end, much ado about nothing when it comes down to it. The NFL doesn't negotiate with musicians, period.
Check out both responses in all of their glory below. The Chili Peppers will reportedly go into "hibernation" for the time being as they begin work on a new album to follow-up to 2011's I'm With You.
Here is the full transcript of Flea's message:
When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL’s stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the t.v. viewers. There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80′s, we were thrown off of ‘The Top Of the Pops’ television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly, I played bass with my shoe, John played guitar atop Anthony’s shoulders, and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.
We mimed on one or two weird MTV shows before that and it always was a drag. We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us, and anyone who has ever seen us in concert (like the night before the Super Bowl at the Barclays Center), knows that we play from our heart, we improvise spontaneously, take musical risks, and sweat blood at every show. We have been on the road for 31 years doing it.
So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell. Plus, we the RHCP all love football too and that played a big part in our decision. We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun.
We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar.
For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not. Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance. It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people.
I am grateful to the NFL for having us. And I am grateful to Bruno, who is a super talented young man for inviting us to be a part of his gig. I would do it all the same way again.
We, as a band, aspire to grow as musicians and songwriters, and to continue to play our guts out live onstage for anyone who wants to get their brains blown out.
And now for Axl's full response:
In The Name Of Science
In regard to the internet’s “no wireless” controversy regarding the Red Hot Chili Peppers Superbowl performance as reported on ESPN…
I enjoyed the show and I’ve no idea what the real story is nor would I want to suggest or imply anyone wasn’t actually performing or that what they were playing wasn’t what we actually heard. That said I feel it’s important to always look on the positive side of things and to give the benefit of doubt.
So consider that maybe sometime before their actual performance that rather than use a guitar cord or standard wireless, that in the name of science and for all mankind Flea courageously had a newly invented breakthrough in microchip technology installed in his ass that picked up the frequencies of his bass and transmitted them to his amplifier.
Maybe they all had microchips installed in their asses and not only pick up the frequencies of their instruments but get Direct TV and the internet too! Like Google Glass… Google Ass! They could be “Scientific Pioneers!” Like Buzz Aldrin and shit! True (pardon the pun)ASS-tro-nots! Or like Superbowl crash test dummies for bands kinda like those cars that drive themselves!
And besides… If the band wasn’t really playing or wireless or whatever and Anthony was really singing they may have set a new world record for the largest karaoke audience ever! Awesome!
So relax and show some pride! This is probably all just Google finding new ways to enrich our lives with the selfless volunteering of the Peppers and the ever ongoing creative process of true innovation or perhaps a new lounge bar record of super magnificent proportions and a new pinnacle of human achievement not seen since the sign language guy in South Africa!
God Bless America, the Peppers n’ technology… PN’T!