"It touched my heart so much and made me feel so much emotion." Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea reveals the album that he thinks defined 70s LA punk rock - and what it taught him about less sometimes being more

Flea laughing
(Image credit: Youtube (First We Feast))

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and co-founder Flea knows a thing or two about the LA music scene, so when he was recently asked for a very specific opinion on the 70s punk rock movement there, he had an answer ready and waiting.

Making his debut appearance on Youtube hot sauce challenge/interview show Hot Ones, Flea - real name Michael Balzary - discusses his early career, the influences that have shaped him and plenty more.

"Is there an album, a specific album, that you think best synthesises the angst and sound of that late 1970s LA punk rock scene?" asks host Sean Evans early on in the interview.

“There are a lot," Flea replies. "So for me, the big one was the Germs album (GI). It touched my heart so much and made me feel so much emotion and feeling, the same as when I listed to John Coltrane."

Released in October 1979, (GI) was the only full studio album released by the Germs; frontman Darby Crash (real name Jan Beahm), took his own life via a heroin overdose the following year.

"I realised that it doesn’t matter how technically brilliant you are," continues Flea when discussing the album. "Like, yes, it’s great to learn stuff and the more colours you have to paint with, the more options, incredible. But there’s something about working with very simple materials and having a lot of restraint and being able to express yourself. Like Bob Marley always talked about; it doesn’t matter what kind of music [you write], all that matters is your motivation and what you’re trying to say. And that really hit home to me when I heard that Germs record. So that’s a huge record for me.”

Darby Crash's death would spell the end of the Germs as a functioning unit, though the remaining members did reunite for a four-year spell in the mid-2000s with actor and singer Shane West, who played Crash in 2007 biopic What We Do Is Secret, fronting the band. Germs guitarist Pat Smear would go on to find wider fame as a touring member of Nirvana and as rhythm guitarist for Foo Fighters.

Watch Flea's Hot Ones interview below. 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.