Inspired by music from the ’60s and ’80s like The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Erasure, John felt for the first time that he wasn’t writing for a perceived idea of the ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers sound’, but instead creating “a Chili Peppers album that didn’t sound like a Chili Peppers album”. Even in its production, he was cooking up the record’s core ingredients, directing the sound to fit the slicker, more clarified production alongside Rick Rubin, and refusing to be tied down by the success of their bluesier, funkier records like 1991’s Blood Sex Sugar Magik.
Such was John’s heavy control over the record’s conception and lack of camaraderie, Flea felt alienated and even side-lined. He was uncomfortable about abandoning the fun of funk in search of more mellow, melodic tracks; and, with John in creative command and shunning the bassist’s ideas, Flea was reaching the end of his tether. With his voice losing its power within the band, the bassist even threatened to quit ahead of the By The Way tour, stating a desire to become a full-time music teacher instead. Ultimately, peace-restoring conversations cleared the air on their rocky relationship. It was a good thing, too – because what followed has proven an era-defining album in their history.
A month before the album’s arrival, the title-track was shared, sending shockwaves through the Chili Peppers fandom and music fans alike. Like any good single, it was a pure hype generator, with its anthemic alt.rock chorus and groove-ridden verses ensuring it spent 14 weeks as U.S. Number One, and ramping up excitement for the full LP.