Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot drummer Chad Smith wasn't quite sure how to…
- Posted on Oct 3rd 2012 1:30PM by Eric R. Danton
It's obvious on the grand scale of the Chili Peppers, who have spent most of the summer filling stadiums in Europe. It's also apparent on a much smaller scale, in Smith's funk side project, the Bombastic Meatbats, which recently released a concert album, Live Meat and Potatoes. Recorded in 2009 at a tiny Los Angeles club called the Baked Potato, the two-CD set finds the band in its element.
"This is where we shine," Smith says. "We're comfortable on stage playing live, we have musical conversations with each other, we stretch it out and have fun with it."
They're certainly having fun. Alternately nimble and brawny, the band steers its way through instrumentals with names like "Oops I Spilled My Beer" and "Mountain of Meat." It's silliness, sure, but in the most virtuosic way possible.
"We're called the Meatbats, we have cartoon characters, we all have nicknames. We take the music seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously," Smith says.
Making a live record, though, was a way to document how seriously the band takes the actual music. They skirted the temptation to make fixes in the studio afterward, which is not as rare as you'd think on music supposedly recorded in concert.
"It just takes the soul out of it," Smith says. "There's something about the rawness of the live thing, there's no rhythm guitars behind the solo, nothing other than what you hear the people playing at that moment. It's exciting, it's about the performance."
As far as performing goes, the Meatbats aren't exactly an afterthought, but when Smith isn't playing with the Chili Peppers, he's often busy in Chickenfoot with Sammy Hager, Joe Satriani and Michael Anthony. The Meatbats is what Smith does for fun when he and bandmates Jeff Kollman, Kevin Chown and Ed Roth find themselves together in the same city, with some free time.
"They're my friends, you know? We enjoy spending time with each other," Smith says.
Also, the group allows the drummer to stretch out musically in a way that's not really possible in his other projects. "It scratches the hopefully appropriately overplaying itch," Smith says, laughing. "We don't have a singer, so you don't have to worry about stepping on the singer. You have to be musical and play with dynamics in any musical situation, and we do that, but I do get to stretch out and play a lot, and it's really fun for me. Whereas I think in a couple other situations I do, it's more of a supportive role and I have to do what's appropriate for the music."
He continues, "I'm a little more of a lead instrument in the Meatbats," then he pauses, and laughs. "Lead drums!"