The Uncertain Future of Tony Flow & The Majestic Masters Of Mayhem

By Joe Halawani | halawanij11@gmail.com

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are easily one of the most praised rock bands of all time, but this was no easy feat for the group. Upon many lineup changes, we are at the bands 6th incarnation, and that’s only counting studio members recordings, not touring lineups in between. In the case of Josh Klinghoffer, he is the first exception to the rule by being a touring member who has actually served as the band’s lead guitarist further on.

Fans had reason to believe that the future looked grim for the RHCP when John Frusciante quit the band for a second time in 2009. However, while some still believe that to be the case, both absolute diehards and casual fans alike have stayed by band’s side for the past eight years.

Before Klinghoffer became a full time member of the group he had been involved in many other projects, including Thelonious Monster, PJ Harvey, Beck, Gnarls Barkley and Warpaint among others, while fronting his own band Dot Hacker. To some his most notable collaborative efforts are with John Frusciante, and oddly enough this all took place while John was still with the RHCP. Other than his studio efforts, Klinghoffer had joined the band as a touring rhythm guitarist during the second leg of the Stadium Arcadium tour. This helped the band expand their setlist to play more technical songs that included overdubbing or additional guitar work, for instance a song like “This Velvet Glove.”

The band was uncertain of their future after the departure of Frusciante; Flea admitted in a 2011 interview that they had planned on calling it quits. Thankfully, Anthony Kiedis asked Klinghoffer to be the band’s full time guitarist. He hesitated and told the members he would like to sleep on it before heeding the call. The band’s first concert with Josh as lead was a performance at the 2010 MusicCares tribute to Neil Young. It was an odd way to present a new guitarist, but maybe not as strange as when the band debuted Dave Navarro during their infamous 1994 Woodstock performance, where the band were dressed as lightbulbs for no discernable reason. Nevertheless, the band soldiered on to recreate their vision once again with another guitarist to showcase their love of music to the world.

In any event, the band’s first collaborative session was a bittersweet one, as the band dealt with the loss of their old friend and former promoter Brendan Mullen, spawning one of the best ballads the group has ever made with the aptly titled “Brendan’s Death Song.” The I’m With You sessions spawned an apparent 60-70 songs, many of which are in varying states that may or may not be complete. Following the release of I’m With You, the band released 17 album outtakes on 7-inch singles and a vinyl only compilation, the cleverly titled I’m Beside You.

Despite critic and fan divisiveness towards Klinghoffer’s debut, the I’m With You tour was one of the band’s most successful, and saw them trotting the globe from 2011 until early 2014.

Following that, the band had difficulty recording a follow up, despite having what Chad Smith called “fancy demos” from the original sessions of what would become The Getaway. There are rumoured to be thirty songs from this period that were left aside after Flea recovered from breaking his arm snowboarding. After going through this process while having no set producer, the band decided to bring in some fresh perspectives by getting Danger Mouse and Nigel Godrich to work on the bands 11th studio album. Subsequently, the band toured extensively in support of The Getaway which featured many headlining festival slots in their usual fashion.

Following the end of this touring cycle, band members were interviewed about the future of the RHCP. Chad Smith replied on Sirius XM’s Eddie Trunk’s show, when he suggested that age could be taking its toll on the band, “We were riding in a van after a gig and Flea was like, ‘How much longer do you think we should… How do you think we should end this?' I was, like, ‘I don’t know!’ I want to make records, I still love making records, but the touring part… I don’t know if we can continue.” He then added “I mean, three of us are 54 years old. Anthony, me and Flea. Josh is 38 or 39, so he’s a young man. But I don’t know if we can continue to do the long tours, the year, year and a half we normally do. That’s a good question.”

After this interview had fans and critics alike speculating that this may very well be a hint at retirement from the group, Flea responded that “retirement talk is silly.

Despite Flea’s response, this does lead to the very question of how much longer the Red Hot Chili Peppers will continue to be a successful touring act that continues to make new music. Smith suggested of doing a touring cycle similar to Metallica in which they play 50 dates or so a year, which may help the group to keep going. While the RHCP have been quiet since The Getaway tour concluded, they have been playing a series of benefit concerts, showing that they are still happy to be on stage despite the retirement rumors.

Hopefully the band gets back in the studio soon enough to calm the naysayers, and then support it with another tour to come.