|Released May 9, 2006|
Label Warner Bros.
Release date 5 May 2006
Artist Red Hot Chili Peppers
Producer Rick Rubin
|Recorded September 2004 – December 2005|
Studio The Mansion, Los Angeles
Stadium Arcadium (2006) Road Trippin' Through Time (2011)
Genres Alternative rock, Funk rock
Awards Grammy Award for Best Rock Album
Similar Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, Alternative rock albums
Stadium Arcadium is the ninth studio album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. The album was released on May 9, 2006, on Warner Bros. Records. The album produced five singles: "Dani California", "Tell Me Baby", "Snow (Hey Oh)", "Desecration Smile", and "Hump de Bump" along with the first ever fan made music video for the song, "Charlie". In the U.S., Stadium Arcadium became the band's first number one selling album. According to the band's vocalist Anthony Kiedis, Stadium Arcadium was originally scheduled to be a trilogy of albums each released six months apart, but was eventually condensed into a double album. The album is also the group's last to feature guitarist John Frusciante, who confirmed his departure from the band in 2009.
- Commercial performance
- Critical reception
- Track listing
- Additional tracks recorded during sessions and released on singles
- Album outtakes
The album was critically praised for integrating musical styles from several aspects of the band's career. The album gained the band seven Grammy Award nominations in 2007 including an award for Best Rock Album and one for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package. Winning 5 out of 7 Grammy Awards, it was the most nominations that the band had garnered in their 24-year career. Kiedis attributed the album's success to less abrasive dynamics within the band, saying that the band's "chemistry, when it comes to writing, is better than ever. There was always a struggle to dominate lyrically. But we are now confident enough in who we are, so everybody feels more comfortable contributing more and more valuable, quality stuff".
After the release of their previous album, By the Way, the Red Hot Chili Peppers embarked on a world tour, which lasted from July 2002 to a mid-June 2004 date at London's Hyde Park. The band later appeared at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and at Rock am Ring to tie up their tour in support of By the Way. The band then settled down to begin recording their next album in September 2004 with producer Rick Rubin, with whom they had recorded four albums previously.
The formation and recording of Stadium Arcadium took place at "The Mansion" where the Chili Peppers had recorded their 1991 breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Given the house's reputation for being "haunted", guitarist John Frusciante recalled that he felt "there were beings of higher intelligence controlling what I was doing, and I didn’t know how to talk about it or explain it...it was very clear to me that the music was coming from somewhere other than me." However, Kiedis noted that during the recording process of the album "everybody was in a good mood. There was very little tension, very little anxiety, very little weirdness going on and every day we showed up to this funky room in the Valley, and everyone felt more comfortable than ever bringing in their ideas." The band originally wanted to create an "old-fashioned Meet the Beatles-like record", and to keep the number of songs down to about 12, to make "a small, digestible piece of art." They ended up writing 38 new songs, with Rubin producing all tracks.
The musical style of the album combines many aspects of music from throughout the band's career, with many fans and critics welcoming the return of the band's signature funk sound and the use of power chords after its significant absence from By the Way. It was also noted that Frusciante's playing style had changed from his signature 'less is more' style, inspired by punk and new wave guitarists, to a more flashy approach, not seen extensively in his playing since Mother's Milk, his first album with the band; drawing influence from guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix and Steve Vai to even hip hop artists such as Wu-Tang Clan. While he received moderate acclaim before Stadium Arcadium, this change in style gained him far more recognition than before. Frusciante's approach to guitar on Stadium Arcadium was influenced by progressive rock group The Mars Volta and R&B singer Brandy. Of Brandy, Frusciante says "she's doing something different, she's doing so many vocals that there is never a space. Whenever one voice stops, another one does something in its place. There's very little space, and there are so many vocal parts that are breathy, you don't know what you're listening to. There is so much going on, you can't hear her voice with your conscience, you have to hear it with your subconscience. Some of them have a watery sound, then metallic, she really creates a lot of dimension with her voice. I'm impressed with that." Of The Mars Volta, Kiedis states: "John's always had an understated confidence, but he likes being loud now, and part of that came from hanging out with The Mars Volta. Omar Rodríguez-López is such a rocker that John was like, 'It's time I let it all hang out.' Being at the forefront, going for the heavy blistering guitar in your face: John's always been capable of that. But he didn't feel it. Now he feels it." Rodriguez-Lopez appears on the album, performing a guitar solo on the track "Especially in Michigan". Frusciante subsequently appeared on The Mars Volta's next three studio albums and performed a few times live with them as well. Frusciante would also go on to release a joint studio album with Rodriguez-Lopez, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez & John Frusciante, in May 2010.
Frusciante also began using layering in his guitar playing, which is something he had not done before (many layered guitar parts appeared on Mother's Milk, but this was mostly because of the insistence of the producer, although it was against John's will); he also used a modular synthesizer on many songs after doing so on his 2004 album Shadows Collide with People. While John was pleased to have used the modular synthesizer on the album, he admitted that when the band began rehearsing for the tour, it was very frustrating because many of the songs sounded very empty without it. This meant the band had to rework many of the songs to perform them live.
Unlike By the Way, where bass player Flea was displeased with what he felt was Frusciante dominating the songwriting, Stadium Arcadium saw both Flea and Frusciante much more musically conjoined in the writing process.
According to Kiedis, the album is musically and lyrically influenced by the various relationships the band members were experiencing at the time of its conception. Kiedis states that "love and women, pregnancies and marriages, relationship struggles - those are real and profound influences on this record. And it's great, because it wasn't just me writing about the fact that I'm in love. It was everybody in the band. We were brimming with energy based on falling in love."
Kiedis recalled that the band "wanted to [release all 38 songs] on three separate discs that [would] be released in installments...something about those songs made us really like each one. However, by the time we planned to release the third installment in two years, we’ll be writing new music." This was the impetus for the band to pare those songs down to 28, a process Kiedis described as "heartwrenching." 9 of the unused songs have been released as B-sides (see section on B-sides below). He explained the reasoning behind the decision to name the album "Stadium Arcadium" by saying that it had more "variety and verve compared to its predecessors [and] we each have things we do best and it’s all in there. Everybody played their part and expressed their creativity to the max."
Stadium Arcadium sold 442,000 copies in the United States in its first week and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 making it the band's first number one debut in their career. In its second week, the album remained at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 157,000 copies (down 65 percent). In Canada, the double album debuted at #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 64,000 copies in its first week.
"Dani California" spent fourteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and is one of three songs in the history of the chart to debut at number one.
Stadium Arcadium received generally favorable reviews, with Rolling Stone stating it was the band's best album yet and giving it a rating of 4/5. Rolling Stone also declared it to be the second-best album released in 2006, behind Modern Times by Bob Dylan. Rolling Stone critic Brian Hiatt also noted Kiedis' growth as a singer and songwriter: "the guy [Kiedis] who once yelped, 'I want to party on your pussy!' whisper-sings a gentler, though not unrelated, proposition: 'All I want is for you to be happy/And take this moment to make you my family.' The delicate 'Hard to Concentrate' is the most vulnerable Peppers tune ever—a full-on marriage proposal from Anthony Kiedis, with Flea's muted bass and John Frusciante's layered guitars slow-dancing over Afrobeat hand drums." Q magazine said it was one of the year's best albums and rated it at 5/5, whilst Stephen Thomas Erlewine at AllMusic called it over-produced and self-indulgent and thus gave it 3.5/5. The Observer stated it was "relentless, purposeful, as moreish as McDonald's - is mainstream America in excelsis." Josh Kun of Los Angeles Times observes "...they've never sounded this good as musicians. The use of analog tape lends a raw, organic touch to the whole album and the Chili Peppers come off more assured and confident than they ever did back when they made a career out of bragging."
A problem often pointed out by audiophiles is Vlado Meller's mastering for the CD release. It can be regarded as a product of the loudness war, with heavy use of dynamic range compression, and suffering of frequent clipping. In contrast, the vinyl master by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray was praised for its quality.
In May 2006 the Chili Peppers announced that they would be touring Europe in May through July, followed by 26 dates in the USA and Canada from August to November. Josh Klinghoffer, friend of John Frusciante, and multi-instrumentalist joined the band on tour in 2007 (Klinghoffer would replace Frusciante two years later as the band's lead guitarist). Rolling Stone named it "Most Anticipated Summer Tour" in an online poll. The Mars Volta were the opening act. The band also headlined the Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans.
Artist Storm Thorgerson, known for providing iconic album artwork for numerous bands including Pink Floyd, T. Rex, Audioslave, The Mars Volta, and Muse, was asked to create the cover art for Stadium Arcadium. Thorgerson provided at least three possible covers for the album, however, his ideas were ultimately rejected and a simple cover featuring yellow "Superman" lettering and a blue background with planets was utilized instead. Thorgerson publicly denounced the chosen artwork, stating: "For the Stadium Arcadium cover they elected to feature the title in 'superman' lettering which was already old fashioned in itself, plus some "planetary embroidery" and that was it! It was trite, dull and derivative completely unlike the music, which was colourful, eclectic, imaginative, positive, and endlessly inventive. I am not often inclined to publicly criticise the work of others for I see little purchase in it, but there is, in this instance a vested interest, for the Peppers turned down our offerings in favour of this piece of unadventurous graphics. How could they?"
The inside artwork of the album featured a band portrait, another band portrait recreating the classic cover of the Odds & Sods by The Who as well as images of the band floating and on fire.
All songs written by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Additional tracks recorded during sessions and released on singles
Stadium Arcadium featured a handful of outtakes that would eventually appear on singles from the album. "Million Miles of Water", "Lately" and "Whatever We Want" were released on the "Dani California" single, "A Certain Someone" and "Mercy Mercy" were released on the "Tell Me Baby" single, "Funny Face" and "I'll Be Your Domino" were released on the "Snow (Hey Oh)" single and "Joe" (which is a tribute to the late Joe Strummer) along with "Save This Lady" appeared on both the "Desecration Smile" and "Hump de Bump" singles. The vinyl version of the album contains an alternate guitar solo on "Especially in Michigan".
To date 37 of the 38 songs recorded have been released. During pre-album interviews, many of the songs were known by alternate/working titles: Early Eighties ("Strip My Mind"), Forty Detectives and Ghost Dance 2000 ("Hump de Bump"), Wu-Tang ("Dani California"), Funkadelicish to Me ("She's Only 18"), Fela Funk ("We Believe") and Public Enemy ("Storm in a Teacup").
2Snow (Hey Oh)5:35