Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats

by Mike Huberty
September 2009

Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats

Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer, Chad Smith, doesn’t take vacations, he makes records. With the funk-rockers on hiatus, Smith has not only recorded and released a record with supergroup, Chickenfoot (with Montrose vocalist, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen’s Michael Anthony and guitar maestro Joe Satriani) but is releasing an instrumental record this month with CHAD SMITH’S BOMBASTIC MEATBATS called appropriately Meet The Meatbats. While in Boston on tour with Chickenfoot, Chad took a few minutes to talk about the new release and their upcoming Japanese tour.

First of all, part of the reason Smith used his name as the title of the band wasn’t his idea. “It’s not in any way my band”, he laughs, “that’s in name only. We were doing a tour of Japan and only the promoter thought it would help sell tickets. I said I was okay with it if it helps out. If you’re a Chili Peppers fan or a Chickenfoot fan, I hope you like it.” The band started when Smith, Ed Roth and Jeff Kolman were playing as the backing musicians for Glenn Hughes, former vocalist of Deep Purple. Smith says, “We would just jam if Glenn was late for practice. One day I thought we should record some of the tracks and have fun.” That was in January of 2008 and they were joined by Kevin Chown on bass in the recording studio. The sessions went well, as Smith recalls, “We made this record and were really proud of it and we’ve already finished recording another record!”

Meet The Meatbats is hitting stores on September 15th and according to Smith, “Jim Ervin from Warrior Records (president of the label releasing the BOMBASTIC MEATBATS album) gets it. He knows we’re not going to sell a million records and that we’re a cult band.” The eclectic music style on the record moves between funk, punk, hard rock, and Isaac Hayes-style moments.. As Smith describes the sound, “I don’t really know what category the music is, but a very nice, astute gentleman from Birmingham, Alabama suggested it sounds like what Frank Sinatra would be listening to while sniffing coke off a whore’s ass.” That irreverent description fits right in with Smith’s view of the group. “Most instrumental bands, people think of it as serious music, but this is fun.” he says. “It’s groove-oriented music, like Billy Preston or Jeff Beck. It’s not a joke, but we’re not the serious musician types. I really want people to know that it’s fun.”

Discussing some of the songs off the record, Smith says that stylistically, they’re all over the map. “‘Pig’s Feet is New Orleans second line, ‘Oops, I Spilled My Beer’ is like a James Brown song.“, he says. ”‘Need Strange’ has a Billy Preston type feel and ‘Into The Floyd’ is for bong hits and putting on your headphones.“

The difference in working on an instrumental album with this band versus his experience in the Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot, Smith says aren’t that big. “Whlie all the creative processes are different by their nature, for me it’s kind of the same, I’m always just trying to come up with something that serves the song.” he remarks. “There’s a little more room to stretch out with instrumentals, but still be tasteful. The most important thing is to listen and have big ears. How you can support it, but how you can complement it. The music has to groove, that’s my role in all these situations. You have to tailor it. With Chickenfoot, it’s big rock and I get to do all that 70’s stuff. With the Peppers, I’m very cautious of knowing where Anthony is singing and locking in with Flea.”

As for the future of the group, Smith is looking forward to playing a few more dates in Japan and fitting in a few more shows in their native Los Angeles. “We’ve done most of our shows in LA at The Big Potato. It’s a small little club that fits like 90 people. It’s like playing a basement if we lived in Indiana. We’re gonna try to do some more but in October I return to the Chili Peppers and that’s my main job.”

And even though it’s only a side project, Smith relishes the music’s authenticity. “It really is ‘musicians playing the music that they wanna play.’”, he says. “There’s no Pro-Tool-ing and no fixing. It really sounds like four guys in the room making music all together. It’s music to party to. It’ll put a smile on your face if you dig the beat!”

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CD: Meet The Meatbats Record Label: Warrior Records
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