RHCP's Anthony Kiedis Says His "Black Summer" Pirate Accent Was Inspired by Cate Le Bon
"I wasn't trying to be Welsh. I wasn't trying to be Irish, or Scottish, or English, or a pirate"
Published Apr 11, 2022When Red Hot Chili Peppers released their comeback single "Black Summer" earlier this year, it got a lot of chatter because of the way frontman Anthony Kiedis sings with a curious lilting accent, drawing comparisons to a pirate shanty. He has now revealed the surprising inspiration for his accent: singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon.
Speaking with guitarist John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin on the latter's Broken Record podcast this past week, Kiedis explained that Frusciante brought the song's chords and melody to the band.
"There's this girl Cate from Wales, who's a folksinger that I admire," Kiedis said. "When [Frusciante] wrote that verse and it came with that kind of folk-ish melody, I was like, 'Yay, I get to try something new.' [It was] very exposing, which was hard to sing in the beginning, because it's kind of this verse free-flowing melody in space there. Maybe not hard for you, but harder for me."
He never actually mentioned Le Bon's last name, but an interview with the Los Angeles Times confirms that "Cate from Wales" is indeed Le Bon.
Rubin told Kiedis, "You almost have a bit of an accent at the beginning of the song," to which the singer said, "It's not almost."
Rubin then asked Kieidis if Le Bon had inspired said accent, and the singer said, "Yes," adding:
So, I wasn't trying to be Welsh. I wasn't trying to be Irish, or Scottish, or English, or a pirate. But I did feel like, I need to be in character to sing this verse. This doesn't have to be my normal me. It can be a variation, a version, a character. And it was just, quite simply, easier to sing with a little bit of that amalgam accent than not, for whatever reason. And I also feel like that's the right flavour for the verse.
It's not entirely surprising that Kieidis admires Le Bon: former RHCP guitarist Josh Klinghoffer has performed with Le Bon extensively in recent years, appearing in her touring band and playing on the 2019 album Reward. Klinghoffer is also part of Le Bon's improvisational ensemble BANANA. Le Bon is Welsh, but she's been living in the Chili Peppers' hometown of Los Angeles for close to a decade.
Revisit "Black Summer" below, and read Exclaim!'s review of RHCP's new album Unlimited Love.