Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis on Rick Rubin & Drug Addiction: “I felt whole by putting these things in me, until I had to pay the toll” – 2022 – INTERVIEW
The Joe Rogan Experience:
Anthony Kiedis on Under the Bridge, Rick Rubin, and Addiction.
You can listen to the entire interview @ this location. An excerpt from the interview has been transcribed below.
INTERVIEW EXCERPT (transcribed by full in bloom):
On Rick Rubin:
He’s (Rick Rubin) another person, if you look at his origins, it’s no accident that he ended up being the person that he is. Single child, out in the suburbs of New York City, I think, Long Island, and he had an aunt. Very cerebral boy, already a very smart kid, but living a boring, culture-free life. He had an aunt that lived in Manhattan, who loved her nephew and every weekend, or every other weekend, he would go spend with her. She was cultured. She was like: “We’re going opera. We’re going to the symphony. We’re going to the museum. We’re going to see all this different stuff.”
I met him in maybe 1985 and we (Red Hot Chili Peppers) were flailing. I was lost in a retarded sea of drug addiction. I was basically a junkie but still showing up for work from time to time, which was the basement of the EMI studios on Sunset Blvd. They gave us a little basement to rehearse in. They had signed us, but we were going nowhere very slowly, couldn’t get out of our own way. But we were still making a buzz; there was still something exciting about us that caught people’s attention.
It caught Rick Rubin’s attention. He was with the Beastie Boys, and they were exploding with success and greatness, writing incredible music. So, Rick brought the Beastie Boys to our dingy little rehearsal spot. He sat there, and we rehearsed, while they watched. They’re on these dirty couches watching us, and we went through our songs. Rick stood up and said, “We’re going to go now.” I was like: “Ok, do we talk again? What’s going on?” “We’ll get back to you,” didn’t see him for years.
Years and years and years went by. Eventually I got clean, and he came back and said, “Let’s make a record.” But I said: “What happened that day? You came and we played, and you disappeared. I never talked to you again.” He was like: “I thought somebody was going to get murdered in that rehearsal space. I thought somebody was going to die. I had to leave.” That’s how dark we had become. That’s how dark I had become is he was afraid someone was going to die, and it was time to leave.
I think the road was already in me from birth, a combination of being predisposed physically and then emotionally I developed the tendencies that I needed to squash some of the noise. Spiritually, a little depleted.
I started smoking weed and loved it. It was, at the time, a very fun and subversive thing to be a part of. Like today, it’s pretty damn common, but then it was very outlaw as a young teenage boy. Years went by and there was no problem. Then I started introducing narcotics at a pretty young age and really had nothing to say about it anymore. I was like the caboose of the train, just going wherever the hell that train said to go. It was interesting and exciting, but it was also painful as hell. It was just like, in the end, this is a life of suffering. Fortunately, my destiny was meant to survive that.
It isn’t really events or advice or anything that gives you the window to step out of that, but it’s a little gift from the cosmos that just makes you look at yourself and say, “I’m going to give you a chance; I’m going to give you an opportunity to put in the work to get better if you so choose, if not, carry on.”
Narcotics of choice:
Of choice, I would have to say the combination of heroin and cocaine. It had nothing to do with rock n’ roll or impress or put on a pretense. It was happening around me in my world. It was exciting and dangerous, like, everyone’s afraid of that. I think I’ll do that thing that just the word scares people. But it was also a way of checking out in the same way one person will sit down at a bar to have some beers and just not stop. That allergic reaction to the sensation of finding your medicine. I had that reaction.
I felt whole by putting these things in me, until I had to pay the toll. You know, it’s like you steal from Peter, you got to pay Paul the next day, and it’s a terrible paycheck to write. Yeah, it was finding the thing that I thought was going to make me well but really it was just killing me.
I think I was twenty-seven the first time I was able to put in the work and get sober. Then I went to my young thirties and kind of forgot where I came from and forgot the process of maintaining. It’s like, you get physically fit, but it’s not going to be for life. You’ve got to show up. Or anything else, your craft – you put it down, it fades. I put down the craft of sobriety, and it opened an opportunity. I ended up going out there for a bunch of years, like, five years, which was even worse because now I knew that there was a solution. I was just ignoring it. So, there was nothing fun about it. Then the window came back, and I had another chance to commit to sobriety, and I did. That was twenty-one years ago.
How he got sober the first time:
My best friend died (bandmate Hillel Slovak died from a heroin overdose in 1988), which did not instigate sobriety. It definitely destroyed me emotionally, but I continued to use after he died. Then I got to the point where I couldn’t turn off the noise with drugs and alcohol. Literally, flooding my body with substances and still wide awake, and I was not getting the desired effect. I was like, “This is terrible; I’m putting all this poison in me, and I’m still here.”
I called up a friend. Rehabs were not a thing at that time. I called up a sober friend, and I was like: “What are those rehab things? I’ve got to find one.” He’s like, “The only one I know of is very expensive, ten grand,” which in the ’80s, for a struggling musician, was like, “I have ten grand, that’s exactly what I have.” And I spent it. I gave my last ten grand – my only ten grand ever – to a rehab.
I went and checked in and there were thirty dope fiends in the room from all walks of life but all with a common sickness. The counselor said, “I’m looking at thirty of you, and, stats-wise, one of you is going to get sober.” I was like, “Get out the way cause I’m taking that spot.” I was such a little ego maniac, just like, “I’m taking that, please, the rest of you can go back to where you came from.” There was like a guy from the SWAT team. There was a professional athlete. There was just every variety of person in there. I was like, “I’ll take it.”
Then I realized there was a process to it, and there’s a being of service aspect to it. There’s a becoming humble aspect to it, and that was the beginning of me taking many years to go from being a complete idiot to only a partial idiot.