Usually after big outdoor performances there are complaints that a performer might have lip-synched their songs. But this time, it’s a group being called out for finger-synching.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers acknowledge that they pretended to play along to a track they had recorded in advance of their Super Bowl halftime show with Bruno Mars.
The group had said it decided a long time ago they would never do that — but the group’s bass player ‘fessed up to the play-along after some fans watching on TV noted that the band’s instruments weren’t plugged in.
Flea says they played along to a special track of “Give It Away” while lead singer Anthony Kiedis sang live.
Flea says the NFL asked them to record the track beforehand to avoid any possible sound problems.
It’s unclear whether Bruno Mars had similar tracks backing him up when he performed at the show — Flea didn’t put Mars out there, though he does say Mars knew the track the Peppers did had already been recorded.
In an open letter to fans on the band’s website, he writes, “When we were asked by the NFL (National Football League) and Bruno to play our song “Give It Away” at the Super Bowl, it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums, and guitar would be pre-recorded. I understand the NFL’s stance on this, given they only have a few minutes to set up the stage, there a zillion things that could go wrong and ruin the sound for the folks watching in the stadium and the T.V. viewers.
“There was not any room for argument on this, the NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period.
“The Red Hot Chili Peppers stance on any sort of miming has been that we will absolutely not do it. The last time we did it (or tried to) was in the late 80s, we were thrown off of ‘The Top Of the Pops’ television program in the U.K. during rehearsals because we refused to mime properly… and we basically had a wrestling match onstage, making a mockery of the idea that it was a real live performance.
“We mimed on one or two weird MTV shows before that and it always was a drag. We take our music playing seriously, it is a sacred thing for us…
“So, when this Super Bowl gig concept came up, there was a lot of confusion amongst us as whether or not we should do it, but we eventually decided, it was a surreal-like, once in a life time crazy thing to do and we would just have fun and do it… I spoke with many musician friends for whom I have the utmost respect, and they all said they would do it if asked, that it was a wild trippy thing to do, what the hell.
“We decided that, with Anthony singing live, that we could still bring the spirit and freedom of what we do into the performance, and of course we played every note in the recording specially for the gig. I met and spoke with Bruno, who was a beautiful dude, a real talented musician, and we worked out something that seemed like it would be fun.
“We recorded a track for the day, just banged one out from our hearts that was very like in spirit to the versions we have been playing live the last few years with our beloved Josh on guitar. For the actual performance, Josh, Chad, and I were playing along with the pre recorded track so there was no need to plug in our guitars, so we did not. Could we have plugged them in and avoided bumming people out who have expressed disappointment that the instrumental track was pre recorded? Of course easily we could have and this would be a non-issue. We thought it better to not pretend. It seemed like the realest thing to do in the circumstance.”
He adds, “It was like making a music video in front of a gazillion people, except with live vocals, and only one chance to rock it. Our only thought was to bring the spirit of who we are to the people. I am grateful to the NFL for having us. And I am grateful to Bruno, who is a super talented young man for inviting us to be a part of his gig. I would do it all the same way again.”