Interview with the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Last year, through the efforts of a fried of mine, I was able to talk to Red Hot Chili Pepper's lead vocalist, Anthony Kiedis, and bassist Mike Balzary (better known as Flea) about Amateur Radio. It hasn't been reported often, but both Anthony and Flea are hams and in between tours operate out of their California homes. We stopped over at Flea's house. In the driveway he points out his self-supporting 200 foot tower.

"I've got it loaded up for 160...the whole tower. Radials all over the [expletive] place. Damn thing was hell to put up!" he said.

Kiedis and Flea laugh as we walk inside. Flea's living room filled with old tube gear of every kind and parts are lying everywhere on tables, shelves and the floor. Amid the mess, various Hallicrafters, Collins, and Drake rigs can be seen, though Flea's affinity for Johnson equipment is obvious as it dominates the landscape.

"I love AM. A bunch of wankers told me AM was old and too wide on the band. I told 'em to [expletive] off and I went to AM and never looked back."

Flea takes us into a back room. A four bay Gates AM transmitter graces the room which is amazingly spotless in contrast with the previous room. Flea flips on a huge breaker mounted to a piece of plywood on the wall and the beast comes to life and a deafening roar of fans and tube air blowers fills the room. We go into the next room which is soundproof and contains his operating position with a mixing board and a high-end Heil microphone on a boom.

Kiedes explains that he currently doesn't have a station, though he often comes over to Flea's shack on the weekend and operates while having a few beers and grilling steaks.

(This is a brief excerpt from my upcoming book, Unknown and Undercover Amateur Radio, due out in September from Simon & Shuster.. )
Anthony Good, K3NG, is a regular contributor to and writes from Pennsylvania, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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