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The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with a new hit album, Unlimited Love, that sees guitarist John Frusciante return to the band for the first time in years—find out how that happened in Part 1. In Part 2, longtime engineer Ryan Hewitt shares how he captured Chad Smith’s thundering drums, and in Part 3, Frusciante talks playing synths with Flea, while Hewitt discusses capturing bass, guitar and more. In Part 4, Frusciante and Hewitt revel in the challenges—and benefits—of mixing the album old-school analog-style at EastWest Studios. In our final segment, Smith, Frusciante and Hewitt discuss some of their favorite songs on Unlimited Love.
NOTES ON SONGS
Drummer Chad Smith says Unlimited Love is like most Chili Peppers records—a mixture of funk, hard, fast and slower. The single, released on April 1, called “These Are the Ways,” is one of his favorites because he got to completely rock out.
“John [Frusciante] came in with these parts, and it immediately sounded kind of Who-ish with the suspended chords and the way he was playing it, so I went to my best Keith Moon impersonation,” Smith recalls. “It’s got a lot of drumming on that one, high energy and pretty fun, and I get to stretch out a little.”
Smith also loves “Tangelo,” which has no drums. He calls the acoustic guitar–based song “Beatle-esque” and says he knew immediately it did not call for drums.
“One Way Traffic” is another of Smith’s favorites because it’s “kinda loose, and Anthony tells a funny story.” He says there’s a middle section reminiscent of AC/DC, which he describes as “joyful.”
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Smith also mentions “Here Ever After,” which he likens to Siouxsie and the Banshees with a postmodern vibe that’s a little different for them. It was a tune that Hewitt says he had to remix because the original mix lacked the necessary energy.
“In the remix, I just went more aggressive with EQ, with parallel compression,” the engineer explains. “I dug in harder. I amped it up to get as much aggression out of the drums as I could. It’s like this tribal drum beat that’s relentless, and I think I was being a little polite the first time.”
A cut called “Veronica” stands out to Hewitt and Frusciante, who wrote the song at Shangri- La after Rubin and Kiedis asked him to write something around a guitar part they heard him play. Hewitt calls it “Beatle-y and stunning” with great melody and gorgeous lyrics, as well as tempo and time shifts from 4/4 to 6/8. “We played it over and over again to figure out how all the transitions were going to work.” Hewitt says, adding that Frusciante managed it with reverse reverbs and his modular synthesizer.
On “Bastards of Light,” Frusciante says they were able to sync the tape to his 1981 Roland MC-202 sequencer; they also figured out how to sync it to Smith’s drums even though he did not play to a click track.