With Pluralone, the almost 40-year-old showcases an ever-evolving grace and artistry beyond the English language
For all those Red Hot Chili Peppers haters out there, 2019 is turning out to be one of those years where this Los Angeles funk-rock staple shall once again prove all your petty criticisms to be null and void as always.
In addition to a soon-to-be legendary performance with Post Malone at the Grammy Awards earlier this year as well as the forthcoming 30th anniversary of their 1989 masterpiece Mother’s Milk in August, there’s a new album on deck from the group’s current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, now in his 10th year as an official Chili. It will be the debut title from his latest project entitled Pluralone, and will be due out in October via ORG Music, the home of his primary group beyond RHCP, Dot Hacker.
However, allow us to introduce you to Pluralone via its debut single release. which features two covers, both in languages foreign to Klinghoffer. “Io Sono Quel Che Sono” was originally popularized by Italian singer Mina in the mid-60s, while “Menina Mulher Da Pele Preta” was written and performed by Brazilian popular musician Jorge Ben, whose catalog you need to explore immediately if you haven’t yet. Klinghoffer performs all instrumentals and vocals for both tracks. The collage artwork was created by Dot Hacker drummer, Eric Gardner, and was mastered for vinyl by Dave Gardner at Infrasonic Mastering.
Beginning August 16th, the songs will be available at all digital music outlets. The black vinyl 7 ” will be widely available in stores beginning August 30th. A limited edition red color vinyl pressing is exclusively available from our online store, while supplies last. Orders will ship to arrive around August 16th.
Pluralone. I tried to look it up online and I mostly got links to your stuff lol. However, I did find this as well, from the Columbia Journalism Review, and wondered if this was where you were coming from with the name of this project. I’m sure everyone who’ll interview you will ask about the name, but it really is an interesting word and I’d love to know how you happened upon it.
It dates back to the struggle to name Dot Hacker. I had come up with this, the smashing together of “plural” and “one”. It seemed to me the story of everything. Singular beings trying with different degrees of success to be plural. To be with others, to hear others, to see things in multiple ways, OR all of this plurality, actually being one. The struggle we all have in remembering that we’re all one. It just seemed to speak to everything. Sadly the name didn’t speak to everyone in the band, or anyone, for that matter. Plurality, eh? I still always liked it, even though there may be a better name out there, I thought I’d stick with it. Things have a tendency to grow. I didn’t want to think of another one… Hey, what would another one be?
VIDEO: Mina performing “Io Sono Quel Che Sono” for Italian television in 1964
Mina’s “Io Sono Quel Che Sono” is such a wonderful piece of 60s Italian pop. How did you come into the song and the culture of that wild Italian 60s pop life? Were there any movies or television programs out of Italy that inspired you?
I first heard this song in a collection of 60’s European female sung pop songs I came across somewhere. Possibly somewhere on the World Wide Web ages ago, when I could justify sitting in front of the computer searching for new music. I don’t do that so much anymore. I listened to this song over and over and just took a wild stab at covering it in Milan some years ago. I’ve always had a penchant for the way songs were recorded back then. Italian film music and library music from the 60’s and 70’s has always been exciting to me.
What was it about “Menina Mulher Da Pele Preta” that made you want to cover it for this single? The way Jorge Ben plays guitar on here is damn-near thrash in the beginning!
I’ve just always loved this song. Of course the first 300 times I heard it, I didn’t know what it was about. Perhaps a person called “Malícia”? You know, that’s the fascinating thing about language, especially when sung and set to music. It can mean anything. I listen to loads of non-English music, in fact, most of the English speaking music I listen to, I hardly know what people are saying. I am drawn to sounds. Maybe that why I sing like I have marbles in my mouth.
I just began collecting Jorge Ben’s music myself, starting with Ben, which was reissued a couple years ago on Real Gone. When did you first discover his music and how far along are you in your collection of his albums?
I’d say probably the late 90’s, but really dug into it a few years later in the early 2000’s. I could be making this up but I feel like I remember hearing ‘Mas, Que Nada!’ Somewhere back then and hearing how he used his voice and just thinking that this was one of the most special singers I’d ever heard. Brazil has always had some of the most inspirational sounding recordings and sexiest rhythms one can find. Wait, is it okay to call something sexy?
AUDIO: “Menina Mulher Da Pele Preta” by Jorge Ben
So I found a pretty weird English translation of the lyrics to the Ben song online:
Woman of black skin
That girl, woman of black skin
With her blue eyes, her white smile
They don’t let me fall in slumber peacefully
I wonder if she doesn’t know that I stay here, awake
I think about her, all day long, everytime
Knowing that I look at her, maliciously
Her black skin, maliciously
Her bluest eyes, maliciously
Her white smile, maliciously
Her body, maliciously
It’s pretty interesting to hear how graphic he is about his appreciation for this woman of black skin in the context of the climate of 2019, given how quick you can be called out for displaying such sentiments about the opposite sex in a public forum. But then again, Brazil isn’t as uptight as the USA about sex these days, so it wasn’t a thing for Jorge to express these amorous sentiments, especially in 1972. But I’d love to know your thoughts on the way a song like this can be misinterpreted in these testy times. I hope that makes sense…
The climate of 2019? Again, I don’t speak Portuguese and I wasn’t there when this song was written, but I don’t see how this is any different that singing about a ‘woman of black hair.’ Just because horrible and inexcusable things have been done to people on the basis of race, doesn’t mean that everything needs to be looked at through that lens. One must ask themselves what they think the lyrics are saying and why? Is there anything wrong with the lyrics? Is it okay to look at any woman, or anybody “maliciously” or in a sexually rapacious way? What if they never have and are just singing about it? Should we not have these very common human emotions expressed through our art and writing? If that translation is correct, this person has blue eyes so are they even black, or just fell asleep on the beach? There are real problems out there. We must really try hard to not make them where they most certainly are not.
So this year marks the 10th anniversary of you joining RHCP. Is there a particular song you’ve recorded with the Peppers so far, be it on I’m With You, The Getaway or something not on tape yet, that you think defines this first decade of your time in the band.
Thanks so much for saying that there’s been a positive evolution in the past 10 years. I’m not sure if I can point to a specific song and I think my work with them is still growing. There are songs here and there, mostly songs that didn’t make it onto records, that sound very much like something I brought in, but I think the true success with this band, or any band for that matter, is finding the balance with collaboration. If I bring in an idea, I don’t want it to sound like those guys playing on my song. The hope is that it instantly becomes a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, which it would by them playing on it, but I’d like for an idea to have enough room for everyone to feel that it was theirs and they are a part of it. I still think that is growing and (hopefully) expanding.
STREAMING: Mother’s Milk
Mother’s Milk turns 30 in August. What does that album mean for you as a fan of the Peppers and in the context of your time with them now?
That was when I first heard them as well (Mother’s Milk), but I was 9, soon to be 10 when it came out and wasn’t a full devotee until Blood Sugar came out. When I was first a fan of the band, obviously I connected on some level with every aspect of it, but I had never played a guitar. I was a young drummer and had no idea about space and the air that moves around within a song. I only discovered that when I revisited Blood Sugar and then worked my way back after picking up the guitar age 15. I had become an enormous fan of John’s first, then second solo albums which led me to re-investigate the band. It was only after John left the band did I really learn who he was and the story of his time in and then out of the band.
You turn 40 in October. As one of the youngest members of Generation X, how good of a job do you think we as a generation are doing in bringing the importance of music back into the ground level, like our kids? As a generation who has grown up with punk, metal, hip-hop, rave culture, all that, do you think we can return to that element of danger that made the stuff we grew up on so exciting and necessary for growth and development? Without the hard drugs, of course…
Sadly, I don’t. I don’t think we can “return” to that level of danger. We’ve seen it, so it’s not dangerous. We know what to do with it. We know how to sell it, and we know how to contain it. Thank you for saying that I’m a member of Generation X. Having been born with a few months left in the 70’s, I turned my back on the 80’s like it wasn’t there. Meaning, I hung out with only older people and wanted nothing more than to be older myself. I always felt that if you were born after 1980 (there are many exceptions of course) you were fucked. I grew up feeling so sad about when I was born feeling that it was impossible to achieve anything as special again. After 1980, good luck. It’s silly we’re talking about a few months, but that’s what I mean, I grabbed on to the 70’s and held on as tight as I could from an identity standpoint. My general thought has been that Nirvana was the absolute end of anything dangerous in rock music. There are other types of music that have produced some scary things, but they’re quickly tamed and invited to join us in the hamster wheel. I’m the worst person to ask this question to. I think we, as a society, have failed, for the most part. I don’t think things are moving in the right direction, and I feel sad and sorry for young people everywhere. We’ll never return to that level of danger. There’s too much money, too much choice, too much to lose, too much to be made. The real punk rockers nowadays are the kids who are physicists and theoretical mathematicians. In the face of a world disinterested in them and their work, they’re the ones, if anyone can, who’ll save us.