Apr 13, 2009
Red Hot Chili Peppers @ The "House" April / May 2005 Sessions for Stadium Arcadium
After many e-mails from ATL readers, I realized I never actually had made an entry about the sessions I worked on for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so as per your requests, here's the story (four years later!) behind my work on Stadium Arcadium:
Back in April/May 2005 Chad Smith magnanimously asked me to come out to L.A. to drum tech on the Red Hot Chili Pepper sessions that would become the double CD "Stadium Arcadium". The record was being produced by longtime Pepper's collaborator Rick Rubin and was recorded at Rick's Laurel Canyon mansion studio known as "The House", an aging Grand Guignol structure where the Peps had also recorded their 1991 breakthrough blockbuster "Blood Sugar Sex Magik".
I shipped about eight of my snare drums out to LA and we also rented a new Gretsch kit and more snare drums from Drum Paradise. The job itself was one of the easiest ones I've ever been involved with. Rick Rubin runs a laid back session and the band was incredibly well prepared, having done about nine months of writing and pre-production before they set foot in the studio. Chad, like many other great drummers, can make any drum sound good, and he was very good about communicating what kind of sound he wanted for each song. We'd pick out a snare accordingly, sometimes changing up after a first take if we weren't getting the right sound. Standout snare drums were a Gary Noonan custom 5x14" brass snare, a 6.5x14" 20-ply Pearl Reference wood shell snare, my Pearl Steve Ferrone, and a Yamaha David Garibaldi 3.5x14" brass shell drum. I used coated CS batters on most of the snares and Emperor heads went on all the toms.
The whole experience was a pleasure made even more comfortable by my luxurious lodgings at Chez Smith courtesy of Nancy and Chad, who's son Cole was born in the middle of the two month session. The resulting platinum-selling album speaks for itself and went on to win a whole mess of Grammys and other awards. I'm proud of the work I did, but to be honest I could have put up garbage cans and they would have sounded great.
Sadly, my early-vintage digital camera died during the session and I lost a lot of great pics, so these shots came from a disposable "analog" camera my last night on the job.