With another Chickenfoot tour and the first release of his instrumental side band Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats looming, the drummer has October circled on his calendar for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' return to active duty.
"That's the plan," Smith tells Billboard.com, noting that what was announced as a one-year break turned into two for the quartet after touring to support 2005's "Stadium Arcadium." "Everybody was like, 'Y'know, I really like having this time off, not being a Chili Pepper and doing other things...It'll be two years in September, so now we're ready. You can't force people to play when they don't want to play or aren't ready to play or whatever -- not in our band, anyway."
Smith expects bassist Flea and guitarist John Frusciante may come in with some musical ideas, but the group will mostly likely "do a lot of improvising and jamming and songs will come out of that, too. That's what we usually do. I don't know why it would be different."
No prospective release date has even been considered yet, and Smith says he and his bandmates also "haven't talked about" who will produce, though he acknowledges with a laugh that Rick Rubin, who's produced the group's last five studio efforts, "always ends up being the guy...But we haven't discussed it."
The looming Chili Peppers sessions do make Smith "the bad guy" in Chickenfoot, but the other members of the all-star group have assured him they'll continue to work according to his schedule. The quartet, which begins its next tour Aug. 2 in Halifax, has also filmed shows in San Francisco and at this year's Montreux Jazz Festival, and the Aug. 30 show in Atlanta and at least one more will be documented for a possible DVD release.
Meanwhile, Smith is excited about introducing the world to the Meatbats, a group that formed a few years back as an outgrowth of Smith, guitarist Jeff Kolman and keyboardist Ed Roth's work with Glenn Hughes. They first performed live in 2007 and have continued to work together intermittently.
"It's all very loose," Smith says. "It's instrumental music -- power, funk, rock music. It's a niche. We're not going for the Mariah Carey crowd or anything. It's just really fun and they're great guys and we just have fun hanging out and playing."
In addition to debut album, which comes out Sept. 15, the Meatbats have already recorded a second set of songs that Smith predicts will be out in early 2010, along with a live album at the Baked Potato in Los Angeles. "We have three albums in the can and none of them are out yet," Smith says with a laugh. "But we won't wait very long. It's not like we're putting out singles and we have to have some kind of strategy. This is stuff we can put out whenever it feels right."