On Wednesday morning, a cavalcade of comedians and musicians started posting a link to the site rhcp2014.com, claiming that it hosted a brand new single by Super Bowl halftime performers Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song, titled “Abracadabralifornia” is a spot on parody of the non-sensical lyrics and festishizing of California we’ve come to expect from a band that is allergic to both shirts and the ability to make a straight face in a photograph.
The fact that the song was the result of a March 2013 Comedy! Bang! Bang! bit featuring comedian Jon Daly (Kroll Show) didn’t prevent a large chunk of the internet from assuming the song and its website were real. The collaboration between Daly and musician Cyrus Ghahremani went viral almost instantly. The following conversation with Daly took place at 5 p.m. on Friday, and by that point he claimed the song had been downloaded 300,000 times and the site had already racked up millions of hits.
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You do a lot of really popular characters on the various Earwolf podcasts and on the Kroll Show, but is this the thing that has had the biggest breakthrough for you in terms of finding an audience?
Yes, I would say. It’s gotten me more press and publicity than literally everything I’ve ever done. In comparison to “My Imaginary Friend Is Kenny G” which did very well. I was very happy with how that did, it’s a weird video. Just with this one, it had a lot of synergy involved and if they [RHCP] hadn’t done the Super Bowl it never would have happened.
The version of the song you performed on Comedy Bang Bang (#204 The Pepper Men March, 2013) sounds like it was improvised. What’s behind taking a song that happened kind of spontaneously on that podcast and turning into the polished finish product it is now?
Well, it started with me and Zach Galifianakis doing a bit at a party and there were a lot of celebrities at the party and I was like “Hey man, Flea is stuck in traffic” and then he was like “Kiedis is parking, he’ll be here soon.” At the end of the night, we were singing “Bing a bong, Burbank” and all that stuff. So we already had the roots of the song. I wanted to make it a podcast, but it wasn’t to be. One of us was too busy [laughs]. I’ll let you figure out who that was. So, then we did it on Comedy Bang Bang. And then me and Cyrus [Ghahremani], I knew Cyrus from his band Hot Karate, and we had worked together on three songs and a lot on my podcast [Rafflecast] and he’s a genius. He did all the production on the song and I wrote the song.I tried to make each part of the song correspond to an era of the Peppers.
Yeah, I noticed that ’cause there is definitely a lyric that reminds me of “Sir Psycho Sexy” [off of 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik]. The part where you sing “she jammed by butt with a big stick.”
“Jam my butt with a big stick” [singing], yeah, that’s all “Sir Psycho Sexy.” The tune of that, if you can call it a tune, is generally more Blood Sugar Sex Magik, “Suck My Kiss.” But yeah [starts singing] “Sir Psycho Sexy…she poked my butt with a big black stick/ I said what’s up/ Now suck my dick.” That’s the Peppers lyrics, which are actually way more graphic and fucked up than mine. [laughs] That’s exactly what that was.
And then [starts singing] “Tell me love what the Pepperman said,” is much more “Snow (Hey Oh)” [laughs].
And then [singing] “I’m a bad mama jama/ from here to Alabama” is both new and old, I would say. That was influenced by RHCP or Mother’s Milk.
You’re obviously making fun of the band’s inherent ridiculous, but it also sounds like this parody comes from a place of love.
It’s coming from a place of love. I love those guys and my older brother gave me their CD when I was in high school and it blew my mind. I became a fan and I would always pretty much say that my favorite bands are the Peppers and Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains and Nirvana.
So your taste in music is very ’90s Lollapalooza.
Exactly! I went to Lollapalooza like five times and saw the Peppers like five times when I was a kid. I saw them at Lollapalooza.
So was your gateway album Blood Sugar Sex Magik?
No, my big gateway was Mother’s Milk. When Mother’s Milk came out, they were one of the bands I listened to, but when Blood Sugar Sex Magik came out, they were the only band I listened to for like six months. Something like that.
You mentioned their inherent ridiculousness, and I think they are only inherently ridiculous because of their longevity. I mean, funk punk is a tough racket and it’s done. And I mean, what are you gonna do, not do this thing where you get to be a king among men? They get to do this amazing thing into their middle age and they’re all 50-years-old.
But they have to be in on the joke. I mean, they’ve got kids. They’re living life. They’re on the other side of it.
When you created the track with Cyrus, were you looking for someone who shared your affinity for the Peppers?
Well, I’m a fan of Cyrus and I’m a fan of Hot Karate and he can just do anything.More than one comment regarding the bass playing on “Abracadabralifornia” has said, literally “I feel bad for Flea because he has to play these dope bass lines over shitty lyrics.” So, basically, Cyrus plays bass so well that people think he is Flea.
“Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!@johnmoe: From what I understand, this new Red Hot Chili Peppers song is 100% real: http://t.co/pvUrkiTSA1“
— Chad Smith (@RHCPchad) January 30, 2014
So when you put out this pitch perfect parody of the sillier aspect of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music, were you afraid of getting a negative reaction from the band?
I would say yes, I think that I was, but part of me thought they would understand, you know? And then yesterday [Thursday] at 5:59 p.m., Chad Smith tweeted out a “hahahahahahaha” and tweeted the link and everything. That was huge for me. These guys were probably like “Alright. He did it. If someone was gonna do it this was the right way to do it.” Probably.
As a longtime fan of the band, are there any songs besides your song that you hope make it into the halftime set?
Here’s my great, great hope, besides them playing “Abracadabralifornia.” That they in the intro to “Under the Bridge” that they fake-out into “Give It Away Now.” If during that guitar riff to “Under the Bridge,” Kiedis goes “Bing a bong/bing a bong Burbank.” and then [does imitation of a guitar screech] “Give it away now!” That’s my great hope.
The aesthetic of the website also plays a big part in the song’s popularity. How did that come about?
The website was Cyrus’s genius.
There’s a certain amount of the hoax working when people see the name “Abracadabralifornia” and they get a little bit angry because they’re like “I can’t believe the Chili Peppers’ new song is called this.
Then there’s another level of anger when people go to the website and they’re assaulted with Bruno Mars and corporate logos and the Chili Peppers logo is the color of Pepsi. It’s horrible, so they’re like “fuuuuuck you!”
So part of your mind is already in fuck you mode when the actual song comes on. So, you might think it is real. Yahoo Music, by the way, wrote an entire article on it as if it was real. They were completely fooled by it. That was the biggest coup of the entire thing. They have since printed a retraction.
Cyrus also made a second level of deception that if you doubt that I’m Kiedis, so if you click the links, they are all active links. So there’s a Dodge symbol that goes to Dodge.com and if you click the actual truck that goes to the specific Dodge Durango page. Bruno Mars’ picture goes to Bruno Mars’ ridiculous website.
That spinning Peppers symbol kind of makes it too. Like, it makes your mind stop because it’s so corporate and you’re like “Alright, this is exactly what they would do.”
In the actual recording of this song, did you find yourself taking on the Kiedis persona with the dancing and hand motions?
Absolutely. That’s the time to do it. Why would you not? If you’re not gonna embody Kiedis then what’s the fun in doing a whole thing as Kiedis? I want to play this song desperately with a full backing band, as Kiedis, wearing only a sock. I want to and I will.
Aside from the halftime show, which team are you hoping wins the Super Bowl?
The winner of the Super Bowl will not be a football team.