Despite published reports, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will NOT be playing Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” when they join Bruno Mars during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday in New Jersey — but drummer Chad Smith is amused that his quip to that effect was taken seriously.
Smith made the “reveal” as a flip answer to a red carpet question when he was attending the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers wing event honoring Neil Young during Grammy Week in Los Angeles.
“I’m on the red carpet, and someone asked, ‘Super Bowl — what song are you gonna play?’ ” Smith tells Billboard. “I can’t really talk about that. It’s supposed to be a surprise. So I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re doing the live version of ‘Dazed and Confused’ by Led Zeppelin — and they ran with it! I got, like, 16 different things, ‘Oh, the Chili Peppers are doing Led Zeppelin!’ Really? Anyone who knows anything about the Super Bowl and/or music should know Led Zeppelin does a very long version, the Super Bowl is 12 minutes long — and we’re just the special guest.”
The Chili Peppers will, in fact, be playing one of their own songs with Mars and his band during their three minutes on stage, and Smith says the group — which is ostensibly on break — is stoked to be part of the big game.
“Yeah, this is what we do in our down time, we play the biggest event on television,” Smith notes. “The Super Bowl people asked (Mars) if he would like to have a special guest, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’d like to have the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m a big fan’ — unbeknownst to us. He called us up and said, ‘Would you like to come do a thing with us, have a jam?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, sure. Super Bowl? OK, sounds like fun,’ and that’s it. They would never ask us — well, maybe in 20 years or something. We’ve done some wacky gigs, but this one will be right up there. It’s a big gig.”
As for any concerns that the Chili Peppers might do…well, what the Chili Peppers occasionally tend to do in terms of attire, or lack thereof, Smith says the censors needn’t worry.
“I’m sure they’re familiar with some of our antics, so maybe they’ll add a few more seconds on their delay or something,” he says. “It’s a little cold to be out there, scantily clad. We’re playing nice, and they don’t leave anything to chance. Everything is all rehearsed — ‘What are you gonna wear? What are you gonna do?’ and all that kind of stuff. Maybe a nipple might slip — you never know. Is that acceptable? If they see Anthony’s nipple, do you think they’re gonna cut away quickly to Diana Ross in the crowd or something?”
For his outfit, Smith says he “might fly some (Detroit) Lions colors” in honor of his home team — which has never played in the Super Bowl. He’ll also be playing a custom drum kit, “double the size of what I usually have,” decked out with the logos of every NFL team. The kit will be auctioned off after the Super Bowl through Feb. 7 to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Once the Super Bowl is in the books, Smith says the Chili Peppers will turn their attention to making a follow-up to 2011’s “I’m With You.”
“We’re gearing up to start writing again,” he says. “We’ve always got ideas bouncing, but until the four of us get in the room together, that’s when you see how it really takes shape. We’re just starting out now, just getting together. We’re gonna take a little different approach to the writing process, but for the most part when we all get together, that’s when it really starts. It’ll be fun to get into a groove of jamming and writing and all be in one place again. We’re all looking forward to that.”
A 25th anniversary edition of “Mother’s Milk,” the Chili Peppers’ last album for EMI before moving to Warner Bros., is also on tap for release this year “with some extra stuff,” according to Smith, who played on recent albums for Jake Bugg and Jennifer Nettles and is working on a new project with Bill Laswell.