Chad Smith talks Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot

The Chili Pepper gets a Chickenfoot
The Chili Pepper gets a Chickenfoot

As drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith is in one of the biggest bands in the world that practically everybody has heard. But as drummer for the new 'supergroup' Chickenfoot, he's in one of the most talked-about bands in recent memory that practically no one has heard.

"It's so crazy," Smith marvels during a pre-interview chat. "I've never been in a situation where there was so much interest before a single note of music made it to the public. I would say it feels like pressure, but we're doing this for ourselves as much as anybody else, so we're hell-bent on keeping it fun."

The 'we' Smith speaks of, the group that goes by the code name Chickenfoot, consists of himself, singer-guitarist Sammy Hagar, guitarist Joe Satriani and bassist Michael Anthony. Already they've made waves earlier this year when Hagar, in a tequila-induced state of euphoria, said the band could "rival Led Zeppelin"- a boast he mostly denies, although he admits to saying something to that effect.

Smith, for his part, chuckles at Hagar's enthusiasm, but in his view, "Led Zeppelin is the last band we're trying to sound like. Influenced by? Who isn't? But we're doing our own thing, and it's coming out great. I can't wait for the world to hear this powerful stuff we're doing."

This from a hard-hitting drummer who, since he joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988, has burned a hole through the musical community with seismic rock-funk performances on half a dozen Peppers albums and almost a hundred guest spots on records by artists ranging from The Dixie Chicks to John Fogerty.

A self-described 'entertainer,' he's not above performing at times nearly nude, and other times with distinctive headgear like giant light bulbs and flame throwers. Antics aside, Smith remains an obsessed, dedicated musician who relishes conducting clinics around the world, especially since these events afford him the occasional opportunity to jam with heroes such as Ian Paice from Deep Purple.

During a break from Chickenfoot sessions, Smith sat down and talked with MusicRadar. The expansive drummer held forth on a wide-range of topics and was delighted to answer questions from MusicRadar readers. More significantly, he addressed the topic on everyone's mind: Does he think he looks like actor Will Ferrell?

Part one - Chad on building the perfect supergroup
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Part two - The Chili Peppers, current status and early days; playing with legends and heroes; and how it feels to perform practically naked
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Part three - Chad answers your questions
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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.