There are a lot of reasons why I should hate them, I’ll be honest. Like their neighbours in the land of rock-that-clearly-isn’t-actually-rock music, Coldplay, the Chili Peppers are one of those bands so devoid of personality, that it takes a not-unsubstantial portion of my energy just to hear someone say their name. It’s one of those easy-answer ‘favourite bands’ that are loved by people who aren’t so much fans of the music, but rather just fans of not having to sit in terrifying silence. The spider-feet guitar sounds mixed with the odd clunking bass and the nasal dross that makes up the vocals all congeal into a thick grey paste of oozing weariness that… I’ve just remembered that this wasn’t what this post was supposed to be about. While I could talk at length about the band’s banal, tedious, trying-way-too-hard weirderies, or the constant, constant, insanely constant shirtless-ness of lead-vocalist-slash-floppy-haired-poodle-frog Anthony Kiedis, what I meant to say was a little more specific.
When I was in my second-to-last year of college, we had a day room where most of us would hang out when we weren’t in class. Since most of the other guys and gals had hobbies or interests or better places to be, the two main residents of this room where myself and my friend, Charlie. In this home-from-home for us was a few weirdly designed chairs that, on reflection, were so much more uncomfortable than I ever allowed myself to believe at the time, and a dinky, half-broken CD player.
And here’s where it gets unpleasant.
Right around the time this weary tale is set, one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ albums happened to have just come out. I don’t know which one it was. I have the internet in front of me right now, and it’d take about nine seconds for me to find out, but I’m not going to. They’re all pretty much the same so what difference would it make? Anyway, someone had bought this CD and, if memory serves, brought it in on pretty much the first day of the year and stuck it in the CD player and just left it there, and it just became something that… was. It just was. It sat in that wretched, tinny radio and just span and span and out slithered those petulant, dismal tones, almost as if the radio itself was weeping bitter tears of noisy sorrow. It was like listening to the death rattle of a million dying peasants, weeping for the lives they should have, but couldn’t have, lived. Before long, the thick, ectoplasmic sludge spread across our brains like the bright red stain of communism across Eastern Europe in those old videos they show you in history class. We were subconsciously haunted, the kind of stress and trauma akin to that of a war veteran whose time in combat had long passed, deluding himself into thinking he had put the horrors of war behind him, simply because the nightmares he has every time he lays down to sleep seem to be forgotten soon after he awakens the next morning, replaced with only a cold sweat and a feeling of dread that he eventually incorporates into his assessment of normality. We could have just switched the radio off, I know; but somewhere down the line it almost started to feel like we didn’t deserve to. We allowed the torment to go on, and in turn gave in to the kind of lethargy and depression that would befall anyone who was forced to listen to Dani California nine hundred times without adequate ear protection.
Perhaps the fault doesn’t lie with the Chili Peppers. Perhaps it had nothing to do with the tedious bass notes that thump around erratically like someone beating your hand with a hammer over and over again. Perhaps it wasn’t the pretentious, nonsensical lyrics that eventually gloss over into what sounds like Pee Wee Herman imitating a dial tone once you’ve realised that there’s no merit in trying to discern what the lead singer is actually saying. Perhaps it was simply the unhappiness of the time, and perhaps I’d have built up the same vitriolic hatred for any band that was put on repeat for a solid year while Charlie and I wallowed in the piteous melancholy of boredom and despair; who knows. All that really matters is what that room has left us with: the grey stain on our respective psyches; that room that we haven’t set foot in for seven years, and yet have never really stepped out of.
Anyway, that’s why I hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Since my girlfriend was lying beside me watching cartoons on full volume when I started writing this, I decided that it’d be in the best interest of this piece if I got out my headphones and tried listening to some of their old songs online; and sure enough, seconds into the very first track I realised how apt my disdain for them was. All I can really think when I hear these songs is that this is probably what it would be like to listen to the soundtrack of a Pixar movie about a group of evil, angry sewer rats that had inexplicably learned to operate instruments.
Okay, I’m done. The only thing I find as unpleasant as having to listen to their music, is reminiscing of other occasions wherein I’ve had to listen to their music. I’d sooner permit entry to my eardrums to some actual red hot chilli peppers.