Edward Norton Explains Why RHCP's Current Era Is Their Best Ever

"They’re in such a fucking groove"

Photo: Matt Forsythe

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jan 25, 2024

Noted Red Hot Chili Peppers fan Edward Norton has been spied dancing side-stage during Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts, and he got Flea to contribute to the soundtrack for his 2019 film Motherless Brooklyn. Now, the actor-director has explained why he thinks the band is so great — and why their 2022 albums are among their best work ever.

Norton appeared on the latest episode of Tetragrammaton, the podcast hosted by RHCP producer Rick Rubin. "When I pulled up, I was playing the Chili Peppers' track 'White Braids & Pillow Chair,'" Norton told Rubin, referring to a track from 2022's Unlimited Love. "I think it's one of the best things they've ever done. In particular, I think the back half off [Unlimited Love], which isn’t the stuff that makes the radio and it's not even what they’ve been playing out on tour, but I think those tracks like 'It's Only Natural' and 'White Braids & Pillow Chair' and 'She's a Lover' and 'Let 'Em Cry' — they’re in such a fucking groove. I went down on that like a kid with the first U2 record, or like the Clash. I was listening to it over and over and over again."

He went on to praise the "level of musicianship" that the Chili Peppers have been operating at lately, comparing them to jazz musicians. "It's just unbelievable," he said. "There's not a lot of people who have been making music together for over 30 years who, in my opinion, find that. It's just great. But I have this theory that, in part, it's because John [Frusciante] stops."

Rubin agreed with Norton’s assessment, saying that it was guitarist Frusciante's long hiatuses from the group that kept the freshness in the band’s music. Rubin said, "There's definitely a feeling of: everyone has a tremendous amount of gratitude that they have it now — and that might not have been the same if you had it all the time. If something is gone and comes back, it's that much sweeter."

At later points in the three-hour interview, Norton spoke at length about the bands, praising singer Anthony Kiedis as a "surrealist" and saying that Frusciante occupies the same tier of guitarists as Jimi Hendrix and Prince.

Hear the interview below.

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