Cool Pepper Josh Klinghoffer talks about paying homage to T. Rex for Record Store Day
There’s over 550 different titles coming out this Record Store Day from just about every genre under the black vinyl sun. And usually a good amount of the coolest pieces to emerge from this Super Saturday in April are within the confines of the 7-inch or 45 RPM format.
This year is indeed no exception, with the best of the 2019 batch manifested in the form of a single by Josh Klinghoffer and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Fresh from the band’s headline-stirring performance at The Pyramids in Egypt comes this tribute to Marc Bolan and T.Rex from the duo. On the A side is a jubilant and faithful rendition of “Jeepster,” while the flip finds the pair taking on “Monolith” from Electric Warrior.
RNRG was lucky enough to catch up with Klinghoffer and talk to him about the single in this exclusive interview.
“Jeepster”/”Monolith” will be available at participating record shops.
What inspired this T Rex tribute 7 inch?
It was born out of a tribute record Zak Starkey was quarterbacking. At least that was how I remember it. Chad ran into Zak somewhere and asked he asked Chad to do a song. Chad asked me and away we went. Originally we were going to do one song but then… (see question 3)
I’d love to hear the story behind the guy with the projector head on the cover. And is there any significance to the T-shirt as well?
That’s me. Backstage at the Hollywood Palladium taken specifically to be used in a collage for this record’s cover. My friend Eric Gardner (drummer in Dot Hacker) has been making wonderful collages lately and I asked if he would do something involving this photograph. That is a shirt I picked up somewhere because it pulled at my heartstrings. I felt so bad for that poor little dinosaur. I had it for years and never wore it but could never bring myself to get rid of it. Finally, I decided it needed to move on and hopefully find a new home. It was in the ‘get rid of’ pile when the suddenly we needed a cover for this single. I know it’s not a T.Rex, but it worked in my mind. I dug the shirt out of the pile, had a photo taken of me in it, sent it to Eric and he collaged it up. Now that shirt is world famous!!! (Apparently it’s a thing, the “All my friends are dead”. I’d never heard of it)
VIDEO: T Rex – Jeepster
Why these two T Rex songs in particular?
I think “Jeepster” was Chad’s choice, I think. It’s possible Zak asked for that, but I think Chad just thought that’d be a fun, rocking tune to do. My favourite T.Rex song is “Monolith”, (the following song on Electric Warrior.) I always loved that huge hi-hat count off at the top of the song. I had the idea to end our “Jeepster” with that big count off. Then I figured, we booked two days in the studio, why not just do it too, for fun. Now we had two songs to choose from. Perhaps the thought was also that someone else might have already done “Jeepster,” I don’t know. After a year and no mention of these songs going anywhere, we just decided to put them out ourselves.
VIDEO: T Rex – Monolith
Is there more to come from the Josh/Chad duo in terms of original music or more covers?
There is definitely more original music coming from the Chad/Josh duo in the band we play in, yes. As for covers, I think so. These were really fun to do and I think Record Store Day is such a wonderful thing, might as well make a habit of this. We’ll probably do another one next year. Who should we cover? That’s already being discussed.
It’s great to see ORG Music serve as a home for RHCP side projects like the T Rex project and Flea’s stunning Helen Burns EP. What’s your connection with them and what’s to come of your union this year?
ORG released the three records by the band I had before joining the RHCP, Dot Hacker. A friend of mine, Steve McDonald was working at Warner Bros. several years ago and played our first record to the fellas at ORG. They very graciously agreed to release an album by a band who didn’t have time to promote it. They’ve very very graciously released two more records and always kept their door open to me/us. I think it was pure coincidence that Flea’s EP wound up there too. Obviously the WBR connection may’ve played a part. ORG is a wonderful label and Andrew is an excellent person. As I say, his door has always been open to me so perhaps you’ll see more from me on ORG soon.
Do you guys still collect records? Where do you go dig and what have you scored lately?
I do, yes. It’s sick because I barely have time to listen to them, yet I still buy them. I haven’t been digging a lot lately. More just calculated Discogs strikes. Put me in the right place at the right time though and I’ll still go nuts. A friend and I went to town at CD Trader in the San Fernando Valley not long ago. That’s a great store that reminds me of where I worked as a kid.
How important is the physical medium of music for you in 2019?
I’m from an era when you had to hold it in your hand in order to listen to it. I don’t think I can shake that no matter what. It’s definitely changing though and as I said earlier, having the time to listen seems the biggest obstacle for me these days. I listen to music away from home a lot so obviously not on vinyl, my preferred medium. So I can say that it’s still important for me, but I can’t say that for anyone else. Maybe it’s not healthy that I feel I need to own it before I can listen to it. I buy stuff and let it stack up until I have time. Maybe it’s better to wait until you can enjoy it or spend the time you spend shopping and crate digging actually listening to what you already have. I’m working my own issues how here in this questionnaire, forgive me.
VIDEO: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Live at the Pyramids of Giza
Purely as a traveler, what was Egypt and the Pyramids like? I can’t even imagine what the tours of the insides are like….
Egypt was incredible. No other way to say it. It was a stunningly beautiful experience that I am eternally grateful for. Being there, with that group of people, was something I feel so lucky to have done. The pyramids are truly, in every sense of the word, awesome. Awe inspiring. Thought provoking and mesmerizing. We didn’t go inside them but we were lucky enough to be there when they’d already shut for the day. We had them to ourselves. A friend of mine’s mother is an Egyptologist and when she heard that, she wept.
It’s time 25th anniversary of John Frusciante’s Niandra LaDes and Usually Just a T-Shirt. I’d love to hear about your history with that album as a fan and where it lives in your music bank in 2019.
It’s still one of my all time favourite albums. The fact that a songwriter as wonderful as John was documented (by himself) in such a way and then lucky enough to have it released it such a triumph. That record really made sense to me the second I heard it. It’s a rare thing to be allowed in that close to the spirit of a song. The spirit of a person and who they are at a particularly pivotal moment in their life and journey. There is so much in that music above and below the songs. So much in the air that those songs existed in and it’s amazing we all got to hear that air.
At this moment it exists on my shelf. I bought that vinyl reissue they put out a while ago but haven’t put it on. I haven’t listened to apart from maybe a song or two in the past ten or so years. I’ll find it again someday. It’s forever in my heart.
Is there an RSD title you’re after this weekend? Which one and why?
I just looked at the release schedule for the first time last night. I have to make a list. I saw a Dylan thing and a John Lennon thing. I see Howard Stern’s Private Parts is coming out. Do I buy that whole thing just for Porno For Pyros “Hard Charger”? I may use my influence to try and get a “Hard Charger” 7” made for next Record Store Day.
VIDEO: Porno for Pyros – Hard Charger and Mountain Song – Howard Stern Special