Never let it be said that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have lost the ability to surprise their audience. After making a triumphant return with Unlimited Love, their first album in six years seeing the band welcome erstwhile guitar virtuoso John Frusciante back to the fold, the band announced a second studio album of 2022, Return of the Dream Canteen.
Recorded with long-time producer Rick Rubin at his Shangri-La studio in Malibu, California, Return of the Dream Canteen is scheduled for release on October 14, through Warner, and RHCP have shared the first single and video from the record, Tippa My Tongue.
Seasoned observers could press play on the video and have a good idea of where the Chilis are taking this musically. The psychedelic visuals, the RHCP logo acid tab on the tongue of frontman Anthony Kiedis, the color-timing and extra-trippy animation that looks inspired by Monty Python and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine; it’s a not-so-subtle tell that the the band going all in on the funk.
“We have only just begun, funky monks are on the run,” sings Kiedis, referencing one of the breakthrough tracks from 1991 breakthrough album, Blood Sex Sugar Magik.
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers are in this mode, they tend to take an elementary approach to their sound, with Frusciante on the Fender Stratocaster, Flea on the Jazz Bass, frequencies all very complementary to Kiedis’s vocal, with plenty of space for drummer Chad Smith’s groove to land.
That, too, typically suggests that Frusciante will have something special when it comes time for a guitar solo – and he does – but it’s very much the less-is-more approach, hitting a note and holding it, letting it bloom, while all around him the beat goes on.
That the Red Hot Chili Peppers have returned with a follow-up so soon after the release of Unlimited Love is a testament to the creative chemistry that Frusciante says was responsible for him returning. Speaking to Total Guitar, he said there was a challenge there, to tap into that chemistry, to play an active role in band democracy, and to get one of the most bankable songwriting machines in rock history back up and running.
“There’s an appreciation of the chemistry that I can’t say I really had towards the end of being in the band last time,” Frusciante says. “An appreciation of what we’re capable of – when you get so used to something, you sometimes tend to take things for granted.
“I’d had lots of time making music where I do whatever I want. And that was great. And I continue to do that. But it seemed like a really good step for me as a human being to try to play in a band again. Most of all, I just have a lot of fun playing with those guys.”
If initial months of Frusciante being back found the band playing covers, that was just to get their eye in. The original ideas soon followed. That they had 45 tracks all in by the time they stopped writing for Unlimited Love, which goes some way to explaining how they could complete Return of the Dream Canteen in short order – an album that is now available to pre-order via Warner.