Alain Johannes unearths 1979 demo of pre-Red Hot Chili Peppers band Anthym featuring Flea, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons

What Is This?
(Image credit: YouTube/What Is This?)

Guitarist Alain Johannes has shared a recording of his high school band Anthym, which featured Red Hot Chili Peppers’ founder members Flea, Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak.

The group first formed at Fairfax High School in California under the name Chain Reaction, initially with bassist Todd Strassman, before changing their name to Anthym.

It was at an Anthym show that the band met future RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis, while Flea (then a trumpet player) joined later, when Slovak offered to teach him bass. Eventually, the group would change their name to What Is This?

It was crucial developmental period for a group of musicians who would become hugely influential, playing across bands like RHCP, Queens Of The Stone Age and Pearl Jam.

The Anthym demo captures a track named Paradox and features Johannes on guitar and vocals, Hillel Slovak on guitar, Jack Irons on drums and Flea on bass.

Johannes shared the track saying, “Found this cassette deep in a box it has a bunch more lol. Can’t believe it still kinda plays. Oh and check out my EHX Clone Theory saturated solo tone on the left. Hillel on Messenger on the right. Ah we were young and innocent.”

The demo sounds really quite good and, to our ears, something like a cross between early Rush and Black Sabbath. There’s a great prog-esque call and response guitar solo, opened by Slovak and closed by Johannes.

It’s hard to believe the tape survived 40 years in a box, given it wouldn't sound out of place among the more fashionable retro-metal bands that have cropped up in the last decade. Let’s hope that, as Johannes hints, he has more in store.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.