Replacing a member of arguably one of the greatest rock bands of a generation is a daunting task, but newly recruited Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer has handled the challenge admirably.
To his credit, the 33-year-old has managed to do so while simultaneously promoting Dot Hacker, the band he formed prior to his recruitment by the Chili Peppers.
The experimental rock stylings of Dot Hacker sees Klinghoffer playing with Clint Walsh and Eric Gardner, two fellow ex-touring members of Cee Lo Green and Danger Mouse’s Gnarls Barkley.
Having also played in bands like The Bicycle Thief and Ataxia – where he performed alongside John Frusciante, the man he replaced in the Red Hot Chili Peppers – Klinghoffer has a string of achievements to his name. In April 2012 he also became the youngest artist to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
[do action=”pullquote”]“They [Dot Hacker] understood my obligations with the Chili Peppers, so this band was cursed by scheduling and economics”[/do]
Klinghoffer is perhaps most proud of having maintained the life of Dot Hacker while other musical ventures were active. Bassist Flea actually asked him to join the Chili Peppers before Dot Hacker’s debut album Inhibition was recorded.
“We always wanted to have our own band so we were able to somehow do that,” says Klinghoffer. “They [Dot Hacker] understood my obligations with the Chili Peppers, so this band was cursed by scheduling and economics”
Despite the timetable clashes, Klinghoffer was determined to see his side project progress. “We were lucky to have Inhibition finally get released in 2012 after being recorded in 2009, as it could have very easily just died and lived solely in our iTunes libraries,” he chuckles.
With Inhibition out in the US for over a year now, Smack Face Records are finally releasing the album in Australia this August.
The extensive history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers means that Klinghoffer still identifies himself as a newcomer. “Before I was even 10 years old, I have always wanted to have that band,” he reflects. “That band of friends that got together and just played music in their teenage years.”
Despite having not achieved his adolescent hopes, Klinghoffer has managed to satisfy his personal aspirations. “There is something special that Dot Hacker has, where I know that I started it – even if it didn’t happen when I was 17.”
The band formed when Klinghoffer developed a network of musician friends between Gnarls Barkley and other musical projects he was involved in.
“I was friends with Danger Mouse and after a while he had to put a band together for Gnarls Barkley” Klinghoffer describes. “He rang me up and asked for my help to find a few people that could be trusted, with me being one of them.”
The problem was that Klinghoffer was unavailable to join the band at the time, at least until he filled in during a show of theirs in Scotland.
“Clint Walsh and Chris Renner [Gnarls Barkley drummer] couldn’t do the very first live performance that this new band was persuaded to do,” explains Klinghoffer, “so I came to rehearsals to watch them and ended up doing the one show on guitar.”
[do action=”pullquote-2″]”Playing in a band that people care about is something you just don’t take for granted.”[/do]
After this performance, Klinghoffer joined the Gnarls Barkley touring band as a full-time member and developed relationships with the other touring musicians.
Of course, equally notable in Klinghoffer’s musical journey is his recruitment into the Chili Peppers in time for the I’m With You album cycle. “One of the big reasons why they asked me to join the band, and why it worked, was because I’ve known them for so long,” he says.
“As well as the connection with The Bicycle Thief and Bob Forrest [frontman] who John also played for, Gnarls Barkley wound up opening for the Chili Peppers a few times, so I’ve been friends with them for over a decade.”
Despite the extraordinarily large shoes Klinghoffer had to fill, the guitarist integrated well and contributed solidly to 2011’s I’m With You. “I’ve seen how they work and how everything fits together,” Klinghoffer articulates, “so in a way the recording process and the writing process were pretty seamless.”
The Californian appreciates the fortunate circumstances that have allowed him to end up playing permanently with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “To be in that situation of making a record with them made me realise that I’m doing something important,” he reveals. “And playing in a band that people care about is something you just don’t take for granted.”
“The reason why the Chili Peppers are so amazing is because they still maintain this real love for doing what they do,” Klinghoffer says, affirming that the band don’t just ‘go through the motions’. “It might feel or sound like that with a band of that size, but I came to realise that it’s really just for the love of playing music.”
Australia last saw Klinghoffer in February when the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the national Big Day Out tour, but he is sceptical that we will them on stages again anytime soon. “The Chili Peppers are done with their tour now, so we’ll probably start writing and recording another album at the end of this year and more than likely go on tour after that.”
Big name bands aside, there’s always the project closest to his heart to act as a touring vehicle. The release of Inhibition and single “Order/Disorder” makes it seem a lot more likely.
“There might be talk of bringing Dot Hacker to Australia later this year in the summertime for you guys, which would be phenomenal.”
Inhibition is out on Smack Face Records on August 2nd.Write a Letter to the Editor