Photo credit: Everett Fitzpatrick
Answering the sustained cheers as he walked onstage, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea remarked, “You know that we’re here to talk about books, right?” On Wednesday night, as part of KCRW Presents: Broken Record Live- Malcolm Gladwell & Flea in Conversation, the musician spent 90 minutes in discussion and performance at downtown L.A.’s Palace Theatre, in conjunction with the release of his memoir, Acid for the Children. Flea, at several moments, was admittedly emotional, particularly when the topics focused on his friendships with his bandmates, singer Anthony Kiedis and the late guitarist, Hillel Slovak. Describing a self-professed childhood of thievery, drugs, and mistakes, he talked of Hollywood in the 70s, growing up in a city as wild and dangerous as he was, with “so much art, so much music.” Wearing a green track jacket emblazoned with Mexico across the chest, he demonstrated for Gladwell the evolution of his bass-playing style, hybridizing the speed of punk rock bands like The Germs with the funk of Parliament/Funkadelic. More than once, Flea affirmed his love of literature and concluded the evening to a standing ovation by quoting fellow bassist, Mike Watt, while his daughter snapped a parting photo from the front row. The special, sold-out event also served as the first live session of the Broken Record podcast; the episode part of the series helmed by Gladwell, producer Rick Rubin, and former New York Times editor Bruce Headlam.