16 Years Ago: A Look Back at the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Videos from ‘Californication’
Not as intrinsically funky as their earliest releases and not as experimentally metal as 1995's One Hot Minute (their underwhelming one-off dalliance with Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro) Californication marked a sea change within the tone and aesthetic of the Chili Peppers that was perfectly encapsulated by the album's high-concept music videos. Take a trip back with us below.
The first video from Californication was for the melancholy lead single, "Scar Tissue." Directed by French fashion photographer Stéphane Sednaoui (who also directed the band's clip for "Give it Away" in 1991 and "Breaking the Girl" in 1992), the video features the members of RHCP looking bruised and battered as they drive along a solitary desert road. It prominently features John Frusciante, who had just returned to the band following seven years away and after overcoming serious drug addiction and poverty.
The Chili Peppers again enlisted Sednaoui to direct the video for "Around the World" – an alternately upbeat and frenetic song that required a completely different aesthetic from the "Scar Tissue" clip. The performance-based video puts the band (shirtless, of course) on a synthetically luminescent stage with rapid cuts and zoom shots galore. Sednaoui used a similar look and visual technique in the video for R.E.M.'s "Lotus," released the year earlier.
RHCP went high-concept again with the video for "Otherside," directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Shot in a monochrome and Gothic style with obvious references to German expressionism and Cubism, the clip juxtaposes a cartoonish storyline following a young man's dream with images of the band playing surreal instruments.
The video for the album's title track takes the form of a third-person 3D video game intercut with live footage of the band. We follow each of the members as they embark on their own adventures – from running on the streets of Los Angeles to snowboarding on the Golden Gate Bridge. It's the band's most watched music video on YouTube with more than 163 million views.
"Road Trippin'" was only released as a single in Europe and the video didn't surface in the U.S. until the Chili Peppers released Greatest Hits in 2003. A somber acoustic song with no drums, the song tells the story of a surfing trip Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Frusciante took along the Pacific Coast Highway shortly after Frusciante's return to the band. The video follows the narrative pretty literally.