Amid discussion that he and Red Hot Chili Peppers lead guitarist Josh Klinghoffer were unplugged and thus appeared to be miming their instrumentals during Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII performance, bassist Flea initially responded, “No trickery. No choice, but no trickery.”
While not overt, the comment seemed to be confirming speculation that the band’s instrumentals were pre-recorded. “No trickery” was not an assertion that the band’s instrumentals were live but that RHCP, by not plugging in, was not even attempting to pretend they were.
The vague Tweet was not enough to silence discussion, however, and the iconic bassist responded with a detailed blog Tuesday.
“When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno to play our song Give It Away at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded,” wrote Flea. “There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.”
Noting some bad experiences the band had with mimed instrumentals, including an incident that took place during a 1980s edition of “Top of the Pops,” Flea explained, “the Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it.”
Unfortunately, the unparalleled opportunity to play at the Super Bowl forced the band to compromise with that position.
He explained, “So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it. We had given this a lot of thought before agreeing to do it, and besides many a long conversation amongst ourselves, I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell.”
After deciding to seize the opportunity to play the Super Bowl halftime show, the band recorded a version of “Give it Away” “that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar.”
Since Flea, guitarist Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith were playing along with a pre-recorded track, “there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not.”
“We thought it better to not pretend,” declared Flea. “It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance. It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people.”